A Stew of Assumptions

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Umm Salih

Umm Salih is a freelance writer, based in Islamabad.

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26 lessons in love

As I slipped my hands into his, my heart somersaulted with joy. Every minute of the wedding had seemed like an enchanted vision. There was some anxiety blended with hope and happiness. Will I qualify as a good wife? Will Salman be the husband I had always dreamed of? With a mixture of emotions, I was led into my new home; a delightful page of life had just turned.

The hustle and bustle of guests, greetings, and dinners soon died down. The roses wilted and the henna faded away. Real life gradually crept in. I began to notice how different Salman was from the ‘ideal’ husband of my fantasies. Yes, he was caring in his own way, but he talked less and was often busy in his own world of sports and news.

The kitchen had been my love ever since I was a little girl; I helped out my mom and was always on the go to come up with some creative cuisine. Though it wasn’t asked of me here and in presence of abundant hired help, there wasn’t any need. However, I soon started taking an interest in my favourite past time.

My mother-in-law was a charming lady. From what I had heard, she was soft spoken, kind, and caring. But that was not going to put me off the alert mode. After all, I had heard my share of ‘mean mother-in-law stories’ from relatives, friends, and, of course, the dramas!


It was a lovely Sunday morning when I decided to prepare a lavish breakfast – Parathas filled with minced meat and a spicy potato curry. As I handed tea around the table, I was expecting a compliment from my mother-in-law for all the hard work I had done. To my dismay, however, I noticed that she was unusually quiet and solemn. She had eaten very little, as if uninterested, and was not taking any part in the ongoing conversation.

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