If anyone has watched a Hindi or a Malayalam movie from the 1990's/ early 2000's you would know that mother-in-laws (MIL's) were evil. Yes every movie in that decade portrayed the mother-in-law as the big bad wolf. Waiting to gulp down her daughter-in-law because she had nothing better to do! I have watched more than my share of these movies at an age when I was was very naive and a bunch of my young cousins were getting married. I could have sworn every one of them looked miserable and I was sure it was because their MIL's were making them work their butt off!
At that age of probably 18 or 19 I promised my self I would be a strong daughter-in-law - never give into the tyrannical mother-in-law.
And then I met her ... At the first look she reminds you of a really strict high school teacher. The one thats waiting to yell at you. And then she smiles her 300 Volt smile and you wonder... She is still a mystery - behind the smile, the thick glasses and the thin calm face. There is a lot I do not know about Kalyani Joel - But this I know - she proved all those movies utterly false. The lie of the devil!
My first time in her kitchen I was pretending to help her make some dosa and she laughed and said 'In the old days you know - Mother-in-laws would use the palm of their daughter-in-law .. dip it in oil and use it to line the hot pan on which they would then spread the dosa batter' .. I giggled and right then Suresh walked in and I said 'Suresh- Amma is planning to use my hand to spread oil on the dosa tava' .. Her eyes popped out and she said ' O Lord please dont go home and tell your parents that .. they will think I am a terrible person' ... and we three had a good laugh.
Her take on 'raising' children is interesting --- This past March while we were visiting India Suresh commented on disciplining Isaac (I know he was only 4 months - we were thinking ahead). He was specifically taking about Proverbs 23:14 when Amma interrupted ' If you think you cannot raise Isaac without a rod - leave him with me I will show you how you can raise a fine man for God without the rod'. Point well noted. Suresh says he remember's Amma's 'disciplining' him only 2 or 3 times. Once he disturbed her when she was praying and once he scared her by walking up to her from behind silently and grabbing her arm. She thought he was a thief and he got a piece of her! :) I guess he deserved it. I would have to say she raised two fine children! Though the time she didnt spend disciplining them she spent praying for them . Isaiah 54:13 All your children will be taught by the LORD, and great will be their peace.
December 23rd was her birthday and we miss her terribly!
A 5/6 year old Kalyani standing in the corner crying