My in-laws are perfectly lovely people, who don’t speak a lot of English. I am a perfectly lovely girl who doesn’t speak Bengali. My in-laws are also coming to visit. For a month. And while I find them to be perfectly lovely people, I’m still stressing over every little thing: is the apartment clean, do we need new towels, will she like this shampoo, etc. Its silly, and I know that, but I'm still anxious.
You see, I don’t know my in-laws that well. We communicate in broken sentences and third person translators. Every morning when we lived in Bangladesh as my husband and I walked out the door to work, my mother-in-law would ask Kamon Achen? How are you? Every morning I responded Bhalo Achi. I’m fine. It’s the response I was taught, and the only one I know. So every morning, rain or shine, I’m fine. Besides the lack of communication, prior to last year, I had spent a very small portion of time with my mother and father in-law. I quite literally met them three days before our wedding. They spend the majority of their time in Bangladesh and I spend the majority of my time in America, so we’re not exactly crossing paths at the grocery store.
Which brings me to the second issue: as you may have perceived, ours is a cross-cultural relationship. I love the fact that my husband and I come from different cultures and grew up worlds apart. I love hearing stories about what it was like growing up in Dhaka, where my husband went to school, what he did for fun, even where he took girls on dates. But I am acutely aware that my husband’s parents expected him to go away to college and then come back home and marry a nice Deshi girl. In fact my father-in-law specifically gave my husband three rules when he left home: Don’t do Drugs, Don’t Marry an American girl, and Come Back to Bangladesh. It wasn’t that he had anything against pale girls like me, he had just never seen it work out. Every cross-cultural relationship the family had witnessed ended in disaster: people split up, kids were caught in the middle, finances became tangled. They just didn’t think it could work.
Happily, my husband and I are proving to be the exception to the rule. But I still wasn't what they expected. I know they like me now, I know they see that both my husband and I are happy with each other. Without a doubt, all of the tension and worry is on my end, not theirs. So perhaps I should just chill out and release the anxiety that's knotted in my chest. But I think its much more likely that I'll buy more towels.
And then, on Friday, we’ll pick Abbu and Mamoni up at the airport, have a nice dinner, and then drive back to the small town we currently call home. We’ll help them unpack and Mamoni will pass me the gifts she brought me from Bangladesh. My husband will complain that ever since we got married his parent’s spoil me instead of him. The knot in my stomach will ease, and that will be the start of things.