At times I get the feeling of being whirled around, tumbled dried, pressured from all directions and pulled in many, stretched to the limit and finally left out to dry. This feeling is most evident on a week day, particularly, at eight thirty in the morning. I know I can say this for myself, for sure and don’t doubt that very many of us are going to disagree.
After my twins were born and I say this in all honesty and modesty, I realized why a woman is often called “Devi,” and why is she invariably shown with multiple sets of arms. I think of this every morning while juggling between preparing breakfast, packing Tiffin’s, passing towels, answering the door, filling up water bottles…… the list can go on and on and on…… this multi-tasking, however, I have perfected and if things get really edgy, I just calm myself with Aamir Khan’s latest, “All is well.”
So what makes this well balanced routine of this crazy crazy time of the morning get the better of me and my blood pressure soaring; that would be the consistent buzzing of my mobile. This morning the caller is adamant and the irritating sound is pushing my perfectly balanced composure over the edge. Who could this be? Everyone from my aging mother-in-law to my five year olds is aware that this is the time to follow orders, unless they want to see the “Kali Mata” avatar of the “Devi” they call mom.
Everyone but my aunt, yes that would have to be her because she refuses to take a hint, well any hint, any number of times you may give it, but she would just find a way around it. From experience, I can be sure of what this is about.
As soon as I take her call she will say, “Free ho gayi kya” (are you free now), which would be followed by a dramatic pause and then undoubtedly followed by, “Sale hai, one free on buying one.” It is quiet pointless asking her, “Kya free” (what is free). For her it is irrelevant, as long as it is a sale and something is free with something else, and I get the honour of being part of the grand plan of invading the sale, by virtue of my house being two lanes away from hers.
I also know from experience that no matter what I say, her grey cells are not going to stop revolving around the nucleus – SALE. What is even more amazing is that I always end up obliging her. However, today is different. I have decided to let her know that I am not available for her free-sprees to whichever sale anymore. As I close the door with one hand saying bye to the three most precious possessions of mine, I use the other to take her call and with that take her on as well.
Ok here we go – “Hallo, free ho gayi” (are you free now), to which I reply, a bit too politely, “Depends, what free means to you aunty.” There is a surprised pause from the other end, probably from the tone of my voice as well as the content. “Uh…Oh.., sab gaye” (Has everyone left), that was it. Something snapped and I let her know that though we are both housewives, but I am more of a home maker in the modern middle class sort of way.
Not only do I manage the house, I keep myself updated on the market trends, watch the Sensex movement, and invest and reinvest accordingly. I would rather update myself on the latest insurance or investment plans on offer, than run in the direction that says one free on the purchase of another. Not only that, a number of my “Homemaker” friends and I are engaged in small home business or some sort of freelancing activity.
I finally calmed down and explained to her that “I am going to finish up my work and then watch CNBC, so I am sorry, but I am not free.” It feels good to have finally stood your ground. After a pause, she promptly replies, “Oh homemaker, TV phir dekhi… (watch T.V some other time, homemaker), today is the last day of sale, so let’s go.”
As I start to give in, I hear warnings in my head – watch out, no more giving in. With that I end the call at my end, switch off my mobile, and let her figure it out for herself.
What I do want is to be recognized as a homemaker – an independent identity. I do not work “Nine to five,” I work longer “Nine to eleven.” I work hard at making intelligent decisions, being resourceful and to beat the “Buy one get one free” syndrome. As a woman I don’t want more than that. God knows being a housewife is difficult enough. What do you think?