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As she dragged herself to the kitchen to make coffee for her husband, breakfast for him and their kids, and then pack their lunches and send them off to work and school respectively… she felt another spasm hit her hard.
Her head pounded so hard that she could actually feel it in every part of her body.
She’d barely slept all night. It wasn’t just the collective sounds coming from next to her – like a bee buzzing around a light source or the rattling of pebbles inside a tin can – AKA her husband snoring all night. The napkin had flooded and needed changing at least three times last night even as she felt constipated and bloated.
Having gone over 24 hours with absolutely no sleep whatsoever, Nisha got up at 5.30am in the morning for yet another day. As she dragged herself to the kitchen to make coffee for her husband, breakfast for him and their kids, and then pack their lunches and send them off to work and school respectively… she felt another spasm hit her hard. And clutched her stomach as she winced painfully.
But needs must. And she quietly went about her morning as she did every single day for the past nine years.
As she served her husband his hot cup of filter coffee he nodded and then held her hand for a quick second.
“Check these guys, Nishu.” He pointed at a newspaper report on the World’s Strongest Man contest. “They lift stones that weight over 100 kilos. They pull trucks and buses with a rope tied to themselves. They do squats with heavy weights. So much strength and will power and stamina, no? These guys are my heroes!”
Nisha smiled wanly at Rahul’s enthusiasm.
“You look so pale and tired, Nishu!”
“I’m beat. It’s my…”
“…I know, I know. You’re PMSing!” Rahul said grinning.
She tried again. “Actually, I have my…”
“It’s all about attitude, Nishu,” he continued uninterrupted. “Mind over body. Look at these guys here.” He gestured towards pictures in the newspaper of contestants in the World’s Strongest Man contest. “You think their body doesn’t hurt like hell when they pull buses? But they soldier on!”
Nisha started to say something and then shrugged. What was even the point? She turned and made her way back to the kitchen to start on breakfast and lunch. As she walked past her husband, he patted her swollen stomach gently. “Don’t let yourself go, Nishu. You’re too beautiful for that!” A mild guffaw followed. He was his own stand-up comedy’s biggest fan. Why wait for others to laugh when he could it himself, she thought savagely.
And then felt a bit ashamed. And guilty.
He was a good man. A good husband. A good father to their kids. A good provider. She’d worked as an architect when they got married but quit to take care of their children. It was her choice and he supported her. They lived a comfortable life. Things could be so much worse.
“I have my…” she started to explain.
“…I know, I know. It’s THAT time of the month! Man. It sucks. Just how it shows up every month. What a drag!”
Right. It was a drag to him. Nisha just shook her head and went back to her routine. A few minutes of blessed peace and quiet followed. I should wake up the kids soon, Nisha thought distractedly. She then heard Rahul get up from reading the newspaper for the rest of his morning routine – shaving, showering, getting changed for work, eating breakfast that was hot and ready and waiting on the dining table, packed lunch to take to work…
“OMG, Nishu. Come here quick! My god! Oh, god!” Rahul’s shrieks from the bathroom broke the rare tranquility Nisha found herself in that morning and she jumped. What happened? She quickly turned off the gas burner and rushed to the bathroom. Did he fall? Did he hurt himself?
As she entered the bathroom she saw Rahul’s left hand clutching the sink even as he held his right thumb over a small portion of his right cheek – as if stemming gushing blood. He’d almost finished shaving. His face looked clean except for one corner on the top of his right cheek which still had some foamy cream on it. Rahul was groaning and moaning even as he continuously cussed, “F..k, f..k, f..k! This hurts like hell, Nishu. I nicked my face when I was shaving. It’s really burning. Oh, god!”
A worried Nisha walked upto him and removed his hand from his face. How badly did he cut himself? And then saw the nick. It was a whopping nick – the entire size of one small bee sting and whatever blood that had ‘gushed’ out – had stopped now completely. As she looked at her husband’s writhing and distraught face through the wash basin mirror – Nisha felt tiredness in every inch of her body. She quietly took out a small roll of cotton and dabbed it with Dettol and cleaned the tiny nick on her husband’s face. Rahul whimpered in pain again as the Dettol did its work but burned his skin.
Nisha then patted her husband’s cheeks and then walked back to the kitchen. As she made her way past the living room she heard an ad playing on their TV. It showed people littering their surroundings even as an indignant voiceover asked, “When is it time to say – enough is enough?”
Image source: a still from the series Anamika
Hi...I'm Roopa. I'm also a messy optimist! I'm an academic-cum-artist. I'm a writer, filmmaker and professor of creative writing. Academically, I've a Double Masters and a Phd read more...
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I recommend reading Manjiri Indurkar's Origami Aai alongside her memoir to have a fulfilling and enriching experience of telling one's story with grace.
It’s All In Your Head, M famed author Manjiri Indurkar’s debut poetry collection, Origami Aai, is independent and yet an extension of her memoir in which she speaks with utmost grace about all forms of abuses that she has survived. In this book of intriguing and evocative poems, the poet weaves words to form images of the everyday life of her middle-class family, love found and lost, trauma, and healing.
The collection is divided into four segments, beginning with the family, slowly moving towards the world, and finally colliding them together.
We aren’t in mourning, but we are creatures of habit.
So we talk of each one who died of drowning,
and I listen to her stories with the patience
of a chronicler.
– Funereal Stories
Homemakers or as we often call them, 'housewives' are IMO the most underestimated and disrespected of women. Time this changed.
I am so glad to write about this as homemakers were and till are the most undervalued and underestimated.
Having grown up in Indian society, I have witnessed people disrespecting homemakers by delivering various comments like, “saara din ghar par to hoti ho karti kya ho” (being at home what do you do full day), “housewives ke pass to bahut time hota hai” (housewives have a lot of time), “subah kaam hota hai fir to free hi free saara din” (you have work in the morning and then you are free the whole day).
I am a working woman and I confess that I can go to work because earlier my mother and now my mother-in-law share responsibilities with me. People feel the work of a homemaker is easy but honestly, it’s not. I see my mother-in-law waking up at 6 am and working non-stop till night. In fact, I would say the life of some working individuals are much more sorted and simple than that of a homemaker.
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