Recently Shahid Kapoor’s wife Mira Rajput created a furor on the Internet by making a funny statement that ‘innocently’ compared a baby with a puppy following which she gave her preference on being a homemaker. I did not like the comparison personally. Why Mira, isn’t a pup a baby too? In fact, children outgrow your lap but dogs don’t! I don’t have a pet but I know pet parents who shower unconditional love on their pets. Somehow, her statement just brushed many women the wrong way. I, for one, understood only one thing – Mira forgot that the position from where she is speaking held more weight than her words themselves!
Perhaps, had Mira been a mediocre home maker with no celebrity status, it would not have invoked the angst of the feminist brigade. Perhaps, if she were even a budding entrepreneur who would have casually mentioned the same statement, she would not have been taken seriously. Perhaps, if she were some IT professional who in the spur of the moment may have compared a baby to a pup, not many would have heeded it. But then, she is not the regular next door woman for the society. And the minute Mira gave that interview, she forgot that important piece of wisdom.
So, when she made that funny comparison of a baby with a pup, I was amused. But then, I was more startled when the whole twitter went berserk on her comment. Just because she spoke her mind perhaps not using the right analogy, the social media pounced on her as if it was starved off its meat that is mostly sprinkled with condiments of sham and shame! The one blunder she perhaps made is by declaring that she enjoyed being the home maker citing the baby and pup analogy. No good.
And so, her inappropriate statement has brought the home makers and ‘working’ women at loggerheads. Now, I don’t want to get into this useless battle. But, I fail to understand the idea behind labeling women as ‘working’. Recently, when I was flipping through channels, I came across an advertisement (guess it was some promo of a serial) that had a young woman asking a man – “Aapko kaisi ladki chaiye? House wife ya working woman?” and, the man with the mustache answers in a heavily laced kathyawadi accent – “Kya antar hai dono mein? Dono hi kaam karti hain. Bas, jagah badal jati hai!” I loved the way the man thought. But what pinched me was, that kind of demeaning question was asked by a woman. Sometimes I feel, women don’t have to seek enemies in the opposite gender. We are at times our own enemies! Now pray tell, what is so low about a home maker’s job?
I have been a working woman in the past and presently, I am a home maker absolutely by choice. Intermittently, I have freelanced and was also working from home for a while, before certain health issues made me take a pause again. So, when I came across a post on social media about how the home makers can never see working women in good light, I felt stung. If women speak against women in such a bad light, why on earth will men, or for that matter anyone respect us? Fodder for thought?
This Home maker inspires me like none!
Now, there are two inspiring women I have met in life and, I would like to share about these wonderful women on this platform. The first one is my husband’s aunt from his maternal side – Padmini Maami. She is a widow who lost her husband when her sons were aged around 11 and 6. She has been a home maker all her life and yet, she is a living example of the powerful feminine force in her strung the family together with her selfless hard work towards her in-laws, children and the many other members of the joint family she lives in. She has been instrumental in raising my husband (then just 11 years old) after my mother –in-law’s untimely demise in ‘96.
Padmini Mami is not some high flying corporate woman or, some highly intellectual professor teaching in some deemed university. She is just a regular woman in a very normal saree…who you might see, walking towards a grocery store with a sling bag. She is one of those inconspicuous and seldom appreciated home makers who slogs from dawn to dusk and till night with a never ending list of household chores.
Now we all gape in awe when we read about famous and inspiring ladies (well, there are just too many famous ones). But then, there are many unseen gems who also stand at par with the famous ones in their indigenous way. Padmini Mami, is one of them.
Getting up in the morning, preparing the first of the many rounds of coffee, making breakfast, tending to her very old in laws, cleaning and mopping the home, washing clothes, making lunch, paying bills and, going to bank, buying groceries, visiting the temple and sometimes, making rangoli there and so on, and so forth are just some of the countless duties she performs during a day.
There have also been times when she used to take care of her sister in law’s children, given that the sister in law works in a university. And, maami just does her work with no complaints whatsoever. In her daily rigmarole, she also manages a power nap of 30 to 40 odd minutes after lunch. She watches her favorite serials at times, which serves her with the small bout of unreal entertainment at the end of each day. On some nights, I have observed that there would not be much for her to eat, but she would not complain. When I asked her on one of those days, she smiled and said – “Narayani, eating is important. But what is as important as eating is keeping the body parts in motion. Our body should be strong, adaptive and flexible. And, we must be self dependent.”
Today, her sons are grown up and, are independent and well raised gentlemen. While she reminisces her early years of her blissful marriage and, the dark times that befell her after mama’s demise, she leaves a long sigh….. and pauses for a while and then, says– “My responsibilities are now over. My sons are doing well for themselves. And once my duties are over completely, I want to do something at the temple, maybe do some cleaning and rangoli there.”
This time when I had visited her, she had the ball of a time playing with our son, Arjun. While we were leaving, she passed on a precious piece of advice to me – “Narayani, family always comes first no matter what. Our children are our responsibility till the time they learn to fly. And when they fly the nest, we must let them fly without our interference.” Despite not being the ‘working’ woman, her views are extremely liberal unlike the many known ‘working’ women who play their ‘dominance card’ in their children’s lives in extreme ways. In a world clouded by airs of status, higher education and wealth, we miss out on the many diamonds and sapphires, like Padmini Maami. Sad, but true.
This working woman commands deepest respect in me!
Now, the other woman I want to introduce you all to is, Sharada Periamma. She is my husband’s aunt from his paternal side. She is the quintessential working woman who has slogged for more than 3 decades in a government job. When the family suffered a huge financial loss in the early years, the financial burden snowballed into this iron lady’s shoulders. And, how she steered her family through the rough patches of her life is a feat that cannot be expressed in words.
She has a son and a daughter and, both are amazing individuals and invariably, my best cousins too! With all the hardships that periamma faced in her life that even included her working in some remote corner of the state, away from family, she has emerged a clear winner in the game of life. During the times when she was posted away from home, she would visit on weekends. And on her way home in the bus or train, she would utilise the time in chopping fresh vegetables she used to buy from a nearby village. And even on weekend, instead of taking ample rest, she will prepare sambhar, rasam and various kinds of chutneys and kozhamu for the family, with the thought that the first two days of the week would be easy for her husband and children as far as ‘Ma ke haath ka khana’ is concerned.
Today she is happily retired and, post retirement she went for South East Asian trip with her sister and a friend. Her children forcefully sent her and, it was only during the trip she realized how much she needed it after countless years of struggle. Recently, when I met her, I asked if she misses her work life. And she smiles and says – “No, not really. Because many of my friends retired with me. So, we all meet up once a month, have lunch outside and sometimes, go to temples together. Life is good now. Besides, age is catching up. Maybe, I will open a crèche some day. I missed seeing the early growing years of my children, given the financial strain on the family then. So, maybe I want to spend time with kids now.” And, she adores my son, Arjun a lot. Although, I feel the stabbing absence of my mother in law, God has been kind as Sharada Periamma candidly announced during our marriage that they are my in-laws.
Besides having been an ace performer in her professional life, she is also an out of the world cook! Anything she prepares is magical! Every time, I look at her, I feel so proud to be associated with her. An excellent mother, an adoring wife, a dutiful daughter, periamma has played every role with finesse. And it is here, I would like to point out that Sharada Periamma’s is an epitome of humility and compassion despite having been professionally successful all through out. I am yet to meet a woman with a heart that is more indulgent than hers!
A woman works, be at home or in office/school!
The reason I cited these examples here is to help women understand that it is not important to ‘be a working woman’ or ‘be a home maker’. What is important is to first ‘be a good human being’. In a world where judgments are passed as frivolously like passing the parcel, we miss out on the very basics of life. And that is, to be kind to people around. How difficult is that?
Why should a home maker be looked down upon? Because her job is thankless? Or, because you find her job worthless?
Why should a working woman be scrutinized incessantly? Because, she is contributing to her family’s income by missing out on her desire to be with her family as much as the home makers do? Or because, women with financial independence intimidate the crowd?
With the two exemplary women I have mentioned in this post, I have deep respect for both home makers and women who are out working in offices and schools. Both command respect in me and, both are extraordinarily performing their roles with absolute courage and conviction.
SO LADIES, PLEASE STOP SHAMMING YOUR OWN TRIBE OVER SUCH TRIVIAL DEBATES. STOP BERATING YOUR OWN KIND!
If you don’t love yourself and your kind, nobody will!
If you don’t respect yourself and your kind, nobody will!
If you don’t help yourself and your kind, nobody will!
Ever since social media has engulfed the world with its charm, we have become self proclaimed judges of whatever we read and analyse about feminism. But what is disheartening about the entire feminism thing is, it is mostly women who instantly jump the gun to accuse the women with a perception different from theirs. Slamming single women, shaming women who choose an alternative lifestyle different from the one followed by majority, berating women who choose to not become parents MUST STOP! Be kind to each other and trust me, if women unite as a force and give each other the shoulder to lean on during rough weather times, we will never have the need to prove ourselves to the world that we assume is being patriarchal.
Take the first step, woman. Look around. If you can even remotely help another woman by even giving her the basic comfort of being a silent listener by making her feel un judged for her situation in life, then my friend, you have already and thankfully understood what this post is all about.
Every woman is special. See the world that way. The yellow tinge clouding your spiritual cornea will disappear.
And Mira Rajput, although your words were not wisely chosen, I am with you woman! Not your fan though. But yet, I stand by you because we both belong to the same tribe! No one can refute that, right?