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Every Woman Deserves A Break (Down)

She thought about others in her gang of pals from school days. Are their marriages like this too?

She thought about others in her gang of pals from school days. Are their marriages like this too?

The Muse of the Month is a monthly writing contest organised by Women’s Web, bringing you original fiction inspired by women. 

Indu Balachandran is one of the winners for the July 2021 Muse of the Month, and wins a Rs 750 Amazon voucher from Women’s Web. The juror for this month, Jane De Suza commented, “This one was tuned like a violin. Not a word more than necessary. I liked the writer’s unique style, as well, her staccato single-line deliveries.”

She badly needed a break.

On her feet, seven hours daily at the Store where she worked.

Keeping track of inventories high up in the storage lofts, rushing down to serve customers.

Then standing most of the way home, in crowded trains.

Once home, no chance of putting her feet up either. Picking Rob’s clothes off the floor, running the machine, getting dinner, running up to the terrace to water the plants…

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She thought about others in her gang of pals from school days. Are their marriages like this too?

Girls with romantic notions of marrying ‘he men’, who’d lift them up and carry them across the threshold of a new life, and then never lift a finger in the dreadful reality of house chores.

Girls who adored macho guys of muscle– who could move them to giddy fantasies, yet who’d never move an inch in the heavy duty of  domestic responsibilities.

Rita recalled the time she first saw Rob. Tall, rugged Rob.Yes. She’d been swept off her feet.  And now it was her lot to do the sweeping, the swabbing. The fetching, the carrying. The fixing, the clearing.

And whose fault was it all? Her own, of course.

Who said “I’ll do that!” “Relax! I got this!” “No worries! I’ll finish it”. “Stop! That’s my job.” “Sure! I can manage”.

Was Rob a born lazy male chauvinist pig? Or had she turned him into one?

The trick question had begun to seep in, however. It had become a trick situation.

The longer she sat feeling sorry for herself, the less sorry she felt.

It’s called a reverse something or the other. There isn’t time to get into that now.

She was at the end of her tether… something had to happen.

*

Then it happened. A breakdown.

Even her boss at the Store was sympathetic, giving her three weeks off.

Rita smiled as Rob brought her Maggi noodles he’d just made for dinner, just as she instructed him to; as she put her aching feet up on the stool, watching TV.

Rita gazed at her huge bandaged foot again, enjoying a secret laugh in her mind.

Ah, that wobbly step ladder at the Store…

Every woman deserves a break.

Editor’s note: This month’s cue has been selected by Jane De Suza, whose books combine humour with thought-provoking insights, which have got them onto award lists and Amazon’s and Nielsen’s bestseller charts. Flyaway Boy (shortlisted for The Times AutHer Awards, PeekaBook and Neev Lit fest awards) and When the World went Dark bring hope to issues like death, grief and stereotyping. The Spy who Lost her Head and Happily Never After are of special interest to women, and the SuperZero series and Uncool for children. The Midnight Years, out soon, takes on young adult mental health.

The cue is from her latest book When the World Went Dark.

“The trick question had begun to seep in, however. It had become a trick situation. The longer she sat feeling sorry for herself, the less sorry she felt. It’s called a reverse something or the other. There isn’t time to get into that now.

Image source: a still from short film Ghar ki Murgi

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About the Author

Indu Balachandran

INDU BALACHANDRAN was raised on an unhealthy diet of Mad Magazines since age 8-- leading to a lifelong love of humour writing. A 30 year career in Advertising took her from copy trainee to Executive read more...

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