When His Wife Died, He Didn’t Miss HER, He Missed The Comfortable Life She Built For Him

You were not born to please everyone around you. Those days are over. Live for yourself. Build your own identity and do not exist as someone’s wife or mother.

Recently, I attended two back-to-back funerals.

A forty-year-old mother died all of a sudden, leaving behind her children. I paid the family a visit after all the rituals were over. The husband appeared cool and composed. He informed me that everything was well taken care of. The grandparents will stay with him to oversee the kids. A twenty-four-hour housekeeper to run the house. Tutors to look after the studies. And a cook and a driver. ‘The situation is under control,’ he assured me.

Another friend, whose wife had been ailing for a long time, passed away a month ago. An influencer, he is a regular on Facebook. During the initial days, he lamented how much he missed his earlier life.

Wait! He missed his life, not his wife

He missed his bedtime chai. He missed that there was no one to open the door and take away his helmet and shoes. There was no one to serve chapatis straight from the tawa. There was no one to run the house and buy groceries. Instead, he has to learn to cook now. He has to look after their six-year-old daughter, her homework, pack her tiffin, and send her to school. He rues how hard he is struggling with his current life.

What’s the difference between his past and current lives? The wife – she is no longer on the scene.

And then one day, he wrote, ‘I always thought women had an easier life. They stay at home and do all mechanical tasks. How tough it is, I realise now!’ It’s heartening to note that after a month of his wife’s passing, he realises how much his wife did on a regular basis.

The next weekend is Bengali New Year’s Day. He lets his admirers know how tough it is to raise a child on his own. How difficult it is getting for him to stay at home and do all these menial tasks.

A reader comments, “Remarry.”

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The response is prompt. ‘I need someone who is going to love my daughter as her own.’

That’s when I lose all hope. I block the person and throw up my breakfast.

Let me also share with you that this influencer gets almost 400–500 likes every day. All his posts evoke sympathy among his female fans. There are women who volunteer to help him with his chores. Marriage proposals have already started pouring in.

In both cases, I returned home disappointed. Too many questions clouded my mind.

So, what did his wife mean to him? A helper who ran his house and did all his chores? A woman who bore him a child? A woman, whose sole task was to look after their needs, mainly food and comfort?

We are taught from birth to always ‘be of use’ to others

It’s unfortunate that at this age, some men still consider their wives as nothing but mere helpers who are crucial for decent survival. Women are just enablers who help him settle his needs, both physical and sexual. Wives are meant only for giving him a progeny and being its safe custodian.

In both cases, the role of the wife is that of an insignificant member of the family. When she dies, the husband feels no vacuum. The vacuum that has been created can be filled in by other helpers like a housekeeper, a tutor, or a cook. What a travesty of rights and existence!

Let’s look deeper into this. Women have been conditioned from birth to “be of use” to those around us. Otherwise, our existence doesn’t matter.

Always labelled as the weaker sex or the inferior sex, a girl is a liability unless she proves her worth. Cooking, cleaning, sewing, and serving people have always been considered her virtues. A woman who doesn’t have these basic skills is considered an anomaly. Severely conditioned, the girls grow up learning and mastering these skills. When she gets married, she has to “prove her worth” in the new household. Looking after her parents-in-law, her husband, and then her children, she spends her life keeping everyone around her, happy and content. If she fails, she is labelled a bad wife, a bad daughter-in-law, a bad mother, and a bad grandmother. Till her last day on this earth, she has to keep proving her mettle or else be declared unworthy of existence.

Let us move away from these expectations

To my tribe out there, let me remind you that you were not born to please everyone around you. Those days are over. Live for yourself. Build your own identity and do not exist as someone’s wife or mother.

As we age, we can hope for such a future, for we have in our hands the responsibility of the next generation. The age-old notions change as we bring up our girls to move beyond such conditioning and establish an identity for themselves. But at the same time, we have to remember that our sons have to keep pace with such progressive thinking. Teach your sons to appreciate women. Remind them that their wives are not mere helpers recruited through the process of marriage but equal partners. Cooking, cleaning, and caring for each other are life skills for both. When the woman gives birth, teach your sons to play an active role in the whole process and not just gloat that they now have an heir. Tell them to hold their wife in glory, for she is her mate in this journey of life.

We women, as daughters, mothers, and wives, need to unlearn the conditioning process and create an identity for ourselves that is beyond these roles. The identity that we build for ourselves will show the path to our daughters. As mothers, we become their role models. They learn to give up the stereotypes and move beyond. For our sons, we teach them set the example of a woman.

Speaking of myself, will my family miss me if, god forbid, something happens to me?

While I was writing this piece, I kept asking myself, “If someday something happens to me, how will my family cope? Will they miss me?” Let me tell you that I am guilty of playing the archetypal roles of wife and mother. But then, as I grew older, I grew tired. I took a break from these roles and worked on myself. That’s probably how I emerged as a writer. Today, when I see my articles getting published, a book published in my name, or an award recognising my efforts, I feel proud that I have been able to break the mould. Not just me, my children take great pride in their mother’s profession. The husband was equally impressed to witness my journey.

By shattering the archetypical roles, I have set an example for my daughter to follow. An example which tells her to give up on societal expectations, break myths and carve a life for herself based on her own expectations.

I have also tried to prove to my son that the age-old diktats, roles and expectations set for a woman are parochial and need a total revamping.

To all the women out there, the action starts at a micro-level. Only then can the picture at the macro-level change. Also, it’s never too late. Remember, you are worthy of yourself and not of anyone else.

Image source: YouTube/ All Out ad

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About the Author

S Sen

Sreemati Sen holds a Masters in Social Work from Visva Bharati, Shantiniketan. She is a Development Professional, specialised in Psychiatric care of Differently Abled Children. That hasn’t stopped her from exploring other fields. Years read more...

43 Posts | 171,132 Views

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