You know what, I think enough is enough, I better embrace my tag and learn to live with it. Yes, I am a housewife (mega cringe!) and that’s that! No point beating about the bush and telling myself the condescending homemaker bullshit.
This enlightenment, by the way, dawned on me when I was filling in government papers recently to register my Mumbai address in important documents.
India wants to know whether you are married or not and then immediately “what do you do?” I have often ticked the euphemistic: “self-employed” or “work from home” options but who am I kidding. I am a housewife – plain and simple. Home and hearth come first in my daily schedule, everything else, including my own self, comes last.
Here’s then to us, the housewives – defined as “a married woman whose main occupation is caring for her family, managing household affairs and doing housework.”
The stereotype, seen all around us in ads, films, households, soap operas and stories, expects us to look like Shilpa Shetty and clean squeaky clean dishes. Then put on one of those severe-looking kurtas to fight roaches and mosquitoes as we reclaim our fiefdom at home having defeated the critters.
That done, it’s time to put on a smile and deck up for a “hot poori making session” in a healthy-for-heart oil, while the table is laden with matar-paneer, salad, raita, kofta, chhole – you name it, and this is just breakfast. Oh and the kitchen looks spotless.
Moving on at some point it is time to clean the gutters at home with detergent, so that Akshay Kumar can come in and give us a toilet cleaning lesson. If only the advertisers knew what I’d say if I met that handsome hunk! Sigh…
My personal favorite is this depiction of the not-one-hair-out-of-place housewife taking tremendous motherly pride in cooking up quick fixes for growing kids, synthetic mayo slathered on a sandwich or an instant ready-made soup boiled in water or just tetra packed milk poured into a bowl full of corn flakes!
Hey bhagwaan how lazy do they think we are! Just to put things into perspective not one of my friends does this nonsense, so kindly do not glorify junk food with the housewife as your cheerleader.
By evening, having done all the cooking, cleaning, driving, teaching and groceries, she needs to look “nikhari hui” with an array of anti-wrinkle, whitening, no dark spots creams and body washes – do not forget the hair removing paraphernalia – so that the “thaka-hara” husband can tingle with the electricity of first love – every day! Reminds me of the saying “Both of us can’t look good at the same time, it’s either me or the house!”
In case I forgot to mention, the freshest groceries were ordered during the day at the “cheapest” rates, clothes were pour-rub-poured, the floor scrubbed so clean with a germ demolishing liquid, that you could eat off it, saas-bahu serials were savored at siesta hour at 49 rupees a package and all the extracurricular activities expertly handled courtesy an “elixir” health drink or if god forbid you are over 40, some shilajit infused tonic!
That’s the work bit, the general appearance is always “neat and clean” conservative, smile in place, mild make-up, clothes out of the functional racks that every woman wants to avoid and a gung-ho attitude, come what may.
Very interesting indeed! So there you are girl, that’s you, the housewife. Live up to her, everyone’s telling you.
What is all this nonsense about having some me-time? This feeling that you want to run away sometimes from the sheer drudgery of being the “vacation-less class”. This wanting to scream out of sheer frustration at the dice life tossed at you. This tremendous fatigue of living up to everyone’s expectations.
This “unfair” deal where your role stays in a hazy zone, neither here nor there, when it come to the crux of things, especially finances and ownership!
Just for kicks do read the 1955 good housewife’s guide. And then compare it to your life. Sadly we do live up to many of the archaic and utterly senseless roles assigned to us, by god knows who. WHY? Have you ever asked yourself, and then tried to make maybe just ONE change? I think it’ll go a long way in re-modelling the severely undervalued housewife.
“All work and no play, makes Jackie a housewife,” – guys we really need to change that because “each time a housewife stands up for herself, she stands up for all housewives”.
(Gunjan Pant Pande speaks her mind in her short stories, blogs, opinion pieces and poems. When not on mom duty to her teen, she reads, writes, travels, watches re-runs of stand-ups, photographs birds, paints, knits, chats up her girl gang and cooks soul food with her twist! A College and University topper, her editing/feature writing at The Hindustan Times, Times of India, Career Launcher, Expat Magazines Oasis, Momspresso, CSE, Redomania, Women’s Web and now SheThePeople reinforces her life motto: Normal is Boring!)
Source: shethepeople.tv March 19, 2019