“How are your eyes, Amma?”, I asked over the phone.

“No Amma, we are not eating much rice these days. We have limited our diet due to health issues”, replied my mother-in-law.

It wasn’t that she had not understood my question. I realised that she had merely misheard my question. I repeated the query, this time with child-like clarity to which she replied appropriately and we continued the rest of our conversation heartily.

Its a joy to converse with my parents-in-law everyday though miles separate us and our respective mother tongues seem to pose barriers. But, we do not allow linguistic barriers to obstruct the unalloyed outflow of love that emanates from the deep recesses of our hearts.

On one of my visits, my mother-in-law and I got into packing goodies for relatives. At a particular point, forgetting that I am still an infant in Telugu, she gave me a series of instructions in Telugu. I kept staring at her, unable to decipher a word and then went on to do the things exactly the way I had been doing before. She stopped me unapprovingly and said, “Oho…no, not like that.” I looked at her blankly and then we both burst out into peals of laughter.

No doubt common spoken language helps articulate the message of the mind, but understanding the human heart resonates beyond the horizons of spoken and written language.

I enjoy my father-in-law’s hearty laughter each time I ask him, “How are you, Daddy?” The other day, I asked as usual. He replied in his usual style, “We are well, Amma. God has given us enough strength to go about our daily activities. That is enough for us.” “No, Daddy you are not well. What happened?”, I asked with concern. He seemed very surprised and asked, “How did you know?”, as he went on to admit that he was indeed unwell, having been out the whole day in the scorching summer sun the previous day.

The linguistic diversity across the length and breadth of India is one of its unexplainable precious assets that binds hearts and encapsulates the mind. Having had the exposure to people of many Indian languages, I didn’t think interacting with my South Indian in-laws would pose a problem for the East Indian me. We enjoy a bond of love that expands way beyond our linguistic limitations.

On one occasion, my mother-in-law said, “Please learn Telugu. I want to talk a lot with you.” “You can talk Amma, I can understand koncham koncham (little little),” I replied. She laughed and shared a similar experience from her job days when a team of Hindi-speaking North Indian supervisors had visited her workplace and started conversing in Hindi and she had replied in English, “I know Hindi thoda thoda (little little).”

I can go on sharing several such anecdotes as a testament of our bond of love, but I would limit myself to just these for now as I attest the fact that the language of the heart is nothing but the language of love, which when built upon creates unshakeable towers of relationships, but, which when nibbled at, gradually causes relationships to dissipate into thin air.


It was an arranged marriage for Sandhya. Like any newlywed bride, she was a little nervous on her first day at a new place. Though her husband seemed to be a nice guy, she was particularly worried about her mother-in-law.

Sandhya was a night owl before marriage and hated getting up early. However, now she had managed to get up at 7. Hurriedly she got out of her bed to prepare bed tea for her in- laws. To her surprise her mother-in-law was already in the kitchen preparing breakfast. “Never mind”, she said to herself, “ I will get up at 6 tomorrow”. She got up at 6 the next day, but again her mother in law was already awake. She asked her, “Mummy what time do you get up?” “We get up at 5″, her mother-in-law replied, “not like youngsters like you these days getting up so late”.

Sandhya felt offended to hear such a response from her new mom. Her father in law was a retired person, while her husband used to leave home for office at 10 and used to come back late. She had managed to get up early only to face the wrath of her mother-in-law​.

She decided to prepare lunch for her husband, but her mother-in-law intervened saying “My son likes only the food that I prepare ”.

“At least I can try”, she said. Her  mother-in-law​ agreed and she enthusiastically cooked “baigan Ka bharta”. At lunch, her father in law praised her preparation but her mother in law snapped at him saying, “Salt is less, I would have made it better”.

Sandhya was shattered and wept the whole day. She told her husband about the ordeal, who said that his mother is like that only and it’s Sandhya who needs to adjust.

Years passed and the behaviour of Sandhya’s mother in law did not change, even after she became a mother of a girl and a boy. She felt traumatized all the time and used to cry a lot. Her kids would ask about her tears, but she always used to move away from them. She felt that she has nothing left in her life. She also tried committing suicide, but   stopped everytime thinking about her children. She suffered from frequent migraines, hypothyroidism, spondylitis and continuous back ache. Her daughter, Jiya, who was now 12, saw her mom’s agony.

“Dadi is like that mom, why do you bother? Why do you let her  bitterness come  to you? Ever since I  have seen you, you have always been crying. I want you to be happy mom, please for our sake, stop thinking so much. Just live happily for yourself, live happily for us”.

Sandhya couldn’t believe that her little girl had grown so big. Jiya was true. All these years, she had filled her life with negativity and bitterness. She had forgotten how to be happy because of nagging mother-in-law and non-supportive husband​.

“I have had enough now”, she told her daughter. “Now, I’m going to live for myself and for you both”.