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How does a man deal with his empowered wife? Here is a tongue-in-cheek look at the musings of a mere male!
My wife is no Indra Nooyi, but we, too, have two daughters and I, too, am at the bottom of her list. She does not leave her crown outside before crossing the threshold of our home. She brings it into the house. Every day, I experience afresh the evils of gender discrimination at the hands of empowered women. The imbalance of power caused in my domestic hierarchy is the fount spewing discontent in my poor life.
Now it is three against one. My two grown up daughters have shown me with vengeance what female bonding is. I am sadly outnumbered and overpowered, whereas my spouse reigns supreme – she has two aides perfectly in tune with her.
My wife belongs to the generation which has beautifully combined careers with family. They are under the impression that they have made more compromises and the men in their lives have made less compromises. I was raised to believe that I am the breadwinner and she the homemaker, the caregiver.
I know, I know, I am on treacherous grounds mined with stereotypes. Therefore, I will step aside and focus only on my status as the member of first generation husbands of working women in urban India.
I try to make myself inconspicuous and unnoticeable. To do so, I have realized, controlling your actions is not enough. You have to mind the tone of your voice, and your expression also. Suppose one day, you ring up (without sufficient notice) that you are having dinner with friends. Next day to subtly underline the message, there won’t be any dinner for you when you come home.
‘What, no dinner?’ has to be asked in a most reasonable voice. If our forefathers were to see us today, they would definitely be ashamed of us for the ground we have lost which they had won for us. You see, nowadays one cannot even raise one’s voice. If the food is without salt, you cannot blow your top. You casually draw her attention to it and she will say off-handedly “Is it? maybe I forgot to add salt.” You cannot rave or rant or throw the plate, and that really rubs salt in your wounds.
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‘Suffer in silence’ is our mantra of making a marriage successful
In India, marriages do not break because of lack of compatibility. The notion of compatibility – performing in harmonious, agreeable or congenial combination as a couple – is really foreign to us. ‘Suffer in silence’ is our mantra of making a marriage successful. Earlier, suffering was borne by women. Now, the shoe is on the other foot and she, like Tarzan, is beating her chest and giving her version of the jungle cry.
She earns. She is unsympathetic. She is a planner. She does not panic easily. She keeps in the background – me, not herself. I am relegated to the background and she is at the forefront, unlike the old days. She has not forgotten the prosaic obstacles, the mundane issues that stopped her from realising her ambitions fully – the motherhood (!) for which I merely provided sperms. Anyway, she never forgets to remind me that I was not willing to share the parenting load equally, whereas I did my best according to my dim masculine understanding. These are not lies. These are partial truths at best…
Then I am forced to dream of the good old days when the husband’s word used to be final. They even used to beat their wives, no? Must be careful, the passing glee on my face may be noticed by madam and her feminist-flag-toting independent daughters who are on autopilot.
I feel I am not needed. My role is over. These modern women can do the rest of the things on their own. They keep me out of habit or out of pity as a relic of the past, a memento of good old days when these young ladies as tiny tots used to wait for chocolate-bringing-Papa. Now they speak in their mother’s lingo that all men are exploiters and papa is no different. Their revered mother had to bear a lot, but grudgingly concede that I’ve had my finer moments too.
With my tail drawn between legs, I bow to their superior authority. My favourite hangout is the couch in the living room. They say television is marriage poison, I say it is a life saving drug, the elixir. I am besotted with it. Sometimes I growl for self protection (and for practice also because chances are that I may forget how to growl )- otherwise, I mind my television and remain out of the firing range.
Today, I fully know what repression is. And a house must have more than one television. Graciously, they have granted me this separate corner and a telly set. I must count myself fortunate, no?
Feminists and armchair critics will growl after reading my post that it is a flawed take on conjugal bliss. Expecting me to be politically correct all the time is expecting a little too much!
Every day, the meaning of ‘love is blind’ is revealed to me in new light – for my marriage is a love marriage. I had gone through a ‘The face of all the world changed/ When I first heard the footsteps of thy soul’ phase also. Then we had waded through the ‘will-it-work?’ phase too. And lo and behold, how beautifully it has worked out.
I don’t even have my wife’s permission to say that I am not the master of the house. The name plate alone proudly bears my name. Today not only the women but the men also cannot have it all.
Pic credit: Paul Mutant (Used under a CC license)
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Mostly Normal is a book of innocence, longing, filial love, angst and acceptance, encapsulating a gamut of human emotions within its lightweight edifice. The book touches the human heart and will stay with you.
Some books enthral you till the last page, and then there are those that you stop reading after turning a few pages. Some books are a one-time read, while you carry some books with you long after you have read them. Then, once in a while, a book hits you so close to home that you find it difficult to slot into any category.
I will put Priyadeep Kaur’s Mostly Normal (BookSoul Reads, 2022) in this last bracket.
At a little less than hundred pages, Mostly Normal is a testimony of the power of words to inspire, irrespective of their length.
Most women do not get to live their lives the way they want, on their own terms. So why should they be tied down in their old age?
Every morning, while dropping the kids at the bus stop, I find a grandfather waiting with his granddaughter. I see him again when I fetch the kids. This has been the pattern for the last few years.
He is seen actively participating in his granddaughter’s activities, from morning and evening walks to attending her parent-teachers meeting, sending her for extracurricular activities to even planning her birthday party. He is admired by all. He is appreciated for making himself useful in his old age. People rave that the doting grandfather is doing his duty towards his children and grandchildren. The much-admired grandfather is also a widower, having lost his wife years ago to chronic disease. It’s also to be noted that both his son and daughter-in-law are working parents.
Every day, the onlookers appreciate his sense of duty and dedication. They say that this is how the elderly should keep themselves occupied. They should bring up their grandchildren while their children go off to work.
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