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I looked at my watch. I had taken 15 mins to get ready, including hair wash and make up and clothes. By the time my friends got ready and we all could leave, it was 9pm. We reached the venue at 10pm.
I was attending a male friend’s wedding in a different city many years ago. For the first time, I was out on a holiday by myself, sans family, sans children. I was given a solo room in a club while my friends, all men, were sharing, two to a room. I was so thrilled at being out on my own for a couple of days, that I had a luxurious bath, washed my hair, got dressed (it was the ‘bachelors’ party that night), put on some makeup and checked the time. It was about 7.40 pm. We were all to leave for the venue of the party at 8.
I laughed looking at the time. I had not had the luxury of being ahead of time for many years. Normally, I’d have to bathe the kids, figure out their clothes, dress one, then another, and finally throw stuff on myself and when I’d step out ready to leave one kid would want to go to the bathroom. Sometimes another would spill something on themselves.
By the time I’d exit the door, I’d find the rest of the family, their faces dark as thunder on account of my tardiness – “Hema can never be on time,” was the refrain.
Even now when the the kids are grown up and we go to lunch on one of their birthdays, I play a big part in first deciding the venue, then they’ll consult with me on their clothes, one of them will not find their blue jeans with the rip on the knee which is basically every single pair of jeans in the household. But when I stand in front of their cupboards which they swear they have turned upside down (this part is usually true by the look of it) in search of the errant denims, the pair magically materialises. I roll my eyes while they exclaim at the witchcraft that even inanimate objects are afraid of me.
And so by the time I figure out my toilette, we are all late as usual, because I can never be on time.
For many years I believed that I was tardy in character. Until that year when I went to my friend’s wedding.
I went and knocked at my friend’s room, thinking I’d surprise them and not live up to the stereotype that ‘women take so long to get dressed’, only to find none of them ready. Not a single one. They were all lolling about and when I tried to hurry them along, they laughed. It will just take us a couple of minutes, they told me, we’re not women to take forever to get ready.
For a quarter of a century, I have never had a headspace that only revolved around me and my needs. I have always had to plot and plan, organise and arrange, for at least two more people, and as years went by, more people kept adding themselves to my list of people whose comfort I had to keep in mind.
If I’m going for a walk, I need to remember to pick bananas, regular ones for someone, elaichi kelas for someone else; someone needs peanut butter, but not the chunky variety. Another messages me saying can I please order something for him to eat because he hates the food at home. I have to remember to withdraw money and I have to remember to account for more time because since demonetisation the number of ATMs are fewer and most ATMs have long lines outside. I get back home late from the walk and a senior citizen in my care refuses to let his helper change him, and so I have to attend to that before I can step into my home even though my bladder is about to burst.
Yesterday my son said he doesn’t wish to go to the mall because we take so long. The last time we went to the mall, it was to buy Diwali clothes for the entire family, also none of us had been to the mall for close to two years since the pandemic. We first bought clothes for him for Diwali which took about an hour, then for my daughter, another hour, then shoes and then I was so exhausted, I bought nothing for myself and wore a 40-year-old saree on Diwali day.
And so when a girlfriend forwarded me this meme below, I stared at it for a long time.
It was true, I realised. I have never had the opportunity to wait outside the shop or sit on a sofa inside one. To be comfortable and impatient and not frazzled and feeling guilty of making people wait. I want to experience that. I want the luxury of my time, for myself.
Image source: a still from the film English Vinglish
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Hema Gopinathan left a blight of a corporate career to homeschool her two children. A teacher trained in the Waldorf/ Rudolf Steiner pedagogy, a writer, an artist, a crocheter, Hema spends half her time in read more...
Women's Web is an open platform that publishes a diversity of views, indivisual posts do not necessarily represent the platofrom's views and opinions at all times.
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My house-help asked excitedly, “I am going for wedding. Can you let me wear your red & black saree? To be honest I was stumped for a moment; I didn’t know what to say but I still said yes.
I lent a gorgeous saree to my house-help for a wedding in her family. Soon I stated getting questions if I would wear that saree again or if I was okay to be seen wearing the same saree my house-help was wearing?
We are all so conditioned to give our used clothes to our house-helps but are we okay to wear the clothes they were wearing?
A few days ago she came excitedly to me, “I am going for a family wedding. I want to wear your red & black saree, Ill wash and give it to you after the function. Please can you let me wear it?”
Sivaranjiniyum Innum Sila Pengalum (SISP) is an ode to all of the lost women, who could have been sports stars, singers, bankers, lawyers, doctors, just... happy, if they hadn't been enslaved in matrimony, and then forgotten all about.
One of the cool things about my mother was that she was an ace athlete and a champion sculler as a young woman in the 1950s and 60s. I only found out about this side of her a few years ago. I imagine her in a paavaadai dhaavani, taking on the mighty Kaveri river so many decades ago.
I recently watched a Tamil film anthology on SonyLiv that she would have liked to watch – Sivaranjiniyum Innum Sila Pengalum, (SISP) that has 3 stories of 3 different women – Saraswathi, Devaki, and Shivaranjini.
Like all the heroines in the anthology, my mother’s talents were sacrificed at the altar of matrimony. She pawned her gold medals and silver cups one by one to pay for expensive textbooks for us or a gift for a niece on her wedding, money for which she didn’t dare ask my father, because it was her niece… I remember how she caressed the cups and how her face hardened as she shoved them into her bag to take to the jewellers.
In the 32 years of my life, I have learnt only one thing - nobody will come to your rescue. It is only you who can change your situation.
In the 32 years of my life, I have learnt only one thing – nobody will come to your rescue. It is only you who can change your situation.
Trigger Warning: This post contains details of child sexual abuse that might be triggering to survivors.
The woman you become in the future depends on the men you’ve met in the past. Strong, confident, (sometimes) arrogant, distrustful of men, or a feminist – whoever I am today, it is because of the men who were a part of my life and past.
Ever wonder what are the personality changes you go through during your period? Here's ten of these things that all of us have endured at some point!
Ever wonder what are the personality changes you go through during your period? Here’s ten of these things that all of us have endured at some point!
“Oh! It must be that time of the month!”
No, that is not my husband saying that to me. Especially after determining that my outburst is not remotely related to anything that he said or did, but is merely an outcome of my body doing away with the unfertilised eggs produced that month.