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KBC crorepati Anamika Majumdar might be a winner, but her husband clearly considered her a ‘not good enough wife’.
Most people in India were glued to their television sets on 2nd October as Anamika Majumdar started playing Kaun Banega Crorepati. With media already having reported that she would be the first contestant of Season 9 to be winning Rs 1 crore, the excitement was unprecedented.
This episode was interesting to watch not just because we were expecting her to win Rs 1 crore, but because her personal story was inspiring.
Anamika Majumdar runs an NGO in Jamshedpur called ‘Faith in India’, through which she engages underprivileged children and women in arts and social activities. She educates women on personal hygiene through activities that may interest them, like bhajan. From what I understood, she does not provide education or employment but nonetheless provides positive energy and direction to their lives.
Ms. Majumdar was visibly passionate about the cause. She played exceptionally well. Her mother who was also very knowledgeable helped her win a question as a ‘jodidaar’. Seemed like a family of intelligent women! She was confident, intelligent and kind-hearted. It was hard not to miss her striking beauty. I could not stop admiring her.
A thought came to my mind:
Any person would feel lucky to have a partner like her…
During the course of the show, Mr. Bachchan asked Ms. Majumdar’s husband how he feels about her social work. The husband responded that her primary responsibility should be to take care of her own children and household. For instance, if he comes home and she is not available, it may not be such a great feeling. Mr. Bacchan asked Ms. Majumdar, “Who do you think needs you more, your children or your NGO children?”
Ms. Majumdar explained that she manages her responsibility towards her children and home first. She goes to the NGO only after she finishes her household chores.
Would a male contestant ever be asked, how much of his time he spends on things / people other than his family, and whether such time is well justified?
A lighthearted interaction gave us us a sneak preview into what may be considered the family equations of any average woman. It really hit home! So many good women are made to feel guilty and undervalued in marriage. Often by someone who has vowed to support them for life. This article is not about making a personal attack on someone I do not know. But what I do want to know is:
Why are so many women made to feel undervalued in their marriages despite being good partners?
We all know this woman. She is perpetually juggling. She is doing well in her career but that does not seem enough. She is made to feel guilty all the time. Guilty for putting her child in a daycare, for letting the cook feed the family, for her poor husband not enjoying hot meals. She is no superwoman, she is told.
Women themselves set unfair standards.
I would like to narrate a personal experience with a counsellor. I was telling her how husbands and in-laws can be so unfair. They want a working wife, but they are not ready to support her. They are essentially looking for an unpaid maid who they do not have to pay salary, rather who brings salary. Her response was, “I am also a working woman. If my husband wants food at 3 am, I will get up and cook it for him. Your primary responsibility is to take care of your spouse, his parents and children. You are being allowed to work provided you manage their needs first.”
I told her this was ridiculous. She asked me another question.
“Why do you work?”
“So, if you were a millionaire you would not work?”
“I would probably still work.”
“I like to work. Applying my brains, having something to look forward to every day, friends, social life.”
“Exactly. You work for yourself. For your ego. Not for your husband. Your husband can provide bread and butter. Your mothers and grandmothers were not given these luxuries. And what do you give back to your spouse and in-laws in return?”
I was speechless. Needless to say, I never went back.
This is a lady who practices in a renowned hospital and people pay her money to solve their problems. She is a PROFESSIONAL who charged me money for the same gyaan that so many MILs impart for free!!
Lady B is decent homemaker. Mr. B may have married her because he wanted a “homely” girl. Maybe she does not have any qualification at all. Or maybe it is the circumstances that have left her unemployed. Maybe she keeps moving because of her husband’s job. Maybe she took a break when she had her child and the ruthless job market has no idea where to place her now. Maybe her lack of experience makes her unemployable.
Lady B sees her other friends becoming VPs and declaring promotions. She takes comfort in the fact that she has a lovely family and marital bliss. She tries to cook her husband’s favourite meal. His clothes are always ironed. The children are well-fed.
But every once in a while, she is reminded that there are so many women who take care of the home, and earn money also. Something that pinches her. Something that invalidates her existence.
This is somewhat the category of Anamika Majumdar. She has a hobby, something she is passionate about. But not something that she is monetizing on. Maybe she manages to make some money. Remember Shashi from English Vinglish who made laddus? Her husband laughed at her when she called herself an “entrepreneur”.
I have had some intelligent men ask me intrusively how much money I make through blogging. I tell them that I do not earn anything from my blog. Rather, I pay money for the hosting space and domain name. This is followed by:
“What is the point then?!”
I am professionally qualified and have a full-time job. I write because it gives me happiness. Thankfully, I am not currently married. I cannot imagine living with a spouse with such a mentality who refuses to understand that I can spend time, effort and money on something that is meaningless to him.
I was once interviewing an American lady for an article on Women’s Web. In the context of arranged marriages, she said that Indians consider their family to be their parents, and siblings. In the United States and most western cultures, if you ask someone about their family, they talk about their spouse and child.
This is something I already knew. But hearing it from a foreigner was an eye-opener. It made me realize that the average Indian man does not understand the value of his wife. It is because he is never taught that the wife comes first. He is taught that once he grows up, a wonderful woman would come in his life, who would nurture him and care for him, make sacrifices for him and mold herself for his “family” till death do them apart. He is taught that she is an outsider who should earn her place in the heart of his “family” through her good conduct. He is never taught that he is also making a commitment to love her, and support her.
Indian society holds too many expectations from the wife. Expectations without any responsibilities is plain selfishness.
Most women are not A, B, C but a combination of them during a lifetime. But one thing may surpass the circumstances – They are made to feel worthless and guilty for not doing enough. While it is okay to motivate your spouse to do much better in life, there is no justification for disrespecting them for not being good enough.
It is nice to have your wife available for you 24/7. But as an adult, it is important to understand that she may have aspirations beyond the four-walls of home. It may involve a lot of money, little money or no money. But if it gives her happiness, the least you can do is understand her, and respect her for it. It is okay if she loves her TV serials. It is okay if she occasionally sells cakes that may not be lucrative but are nonetheless loved by the children in the building. Unless her hobby is cheating on you, you should not be humiliating her.
I would like to say this to all the women reading this – Please do not feel disheartened if your husband and in-laws make you feel like a miserable failure. You don’t owe your life to anyone. Please do things that make you happy. People will be unhappy with you no matter what. Little moments of joy do make life easier.
And to all the men reading this – You are supposed to support your wife. You are supposed to protect her from the hurtful and demeaning remarks of your “family” and not join them in making her miserable. Your mother may have taught you that she was born so that she could make you happy. But the truth is you both have to make each other happy. Please value your wife. She is probably doing the best she can. Don’t bother comparing her to your mother. She is not. She did not marry you to adopt a man-child. She is your partner. A little support and empathy from you could make all the difference.
Author’s Note: Before all the men start sending me hate messages about how women can be gold-diggers, and they want rich husbands, no that is not good either. But sorry, this article is about women not feeling appreciated in marriages, despite being good partners.
Image source: Sony TV