The news from the Supreme Court of India is welcome. The honourable judges have blasted the Government for nursing gender bias in many ways. In one observation, the Supreme Court has called the Government insensitive and callous by calling housewives (or ‘home-makers’) economically unproductive segment of the society, like beggars, in the Census forms. It has also told the Government to arrange for appropriate compensation for housewives getting killed in accidents, by making proper changes in the Motor Vehicle Act.
All this is music to ears. When the country’s topmost court gives so much thought to women, and particularly to home-makers, it is a very good news. For, as the Supreme Court rightly stressed, to be a home-maker is as difficult as becoming a working woman. There is always so much to do, and time does not seem enough to keep the house in order.
I know of a family where the husband and the sons felt that the woman of the house had nothing to do and she is sitting pretty all the time at home while they worked or went to college and studied hard. Having heard such comments for some years, this woman, a middle-aged beauty, decided to teach all the men — her husband and three sons — a little lesson, a little wisdom.
She decided to do only one activity — cooking for the family. That day, she cooked and waited for all to arrive. All came one by one, ate dinner, watched TV for a while, studied, and went to bed. The next day, too, she only cooked and did not do anything at home — sweeping, the cleaning, taking care of their clothes, using washing machine, paying electricity bills, going to bank…..
Two days later, in the evening, the husband exploded. “What is happening in this house? Why are things so scattered here and there? Why is the house so dirty?” The lady did not say a word, arranged the dinner table and called all to eat. The whole house was really dirty. The sons complained of filth everywhere. One son had not found his T-shirt and the other one his socks. The husband had gone to work without his necktie on. And all were unhappy.
Unfortunately for the family, two sudden after-dinner guests came from the neighborhood. The first question the visitors asked upon arrival was, “Bhabhiji, are you unwell? The house is so ill-managed!” The woman only smiled, made coffee for them, sat there talking.
In two more days, however, all the men — husband and three college-going sons — called revolt. They wanted to know why the woman was not taking care of the house.
It is then that this woman spoke, softly but firmly. She said, “Look, you always said, I did nothing at home. So, I showed what happens when I really don’t do a thing except cooking. If you still feel that I do nothing, then the house will run in the same way. I will do nothing except cooking. You make the choice”.
This has happened in all homes at some time or other. Yet, the society, dominated by men who never try to understand what their women do, has always under-estimated the home-makers. That is why, the Supreme Court’s observations and strictures are a music to one’s ears.
Think of some famous home-makers. Jijamata, for example. She made Shivaji Maharaj, didn’t she! And I am sure, Mahatma Gandhiji’s mother, too, was a home-maker. In a civil society, the home-maker should have a great status. For, it is the home-maker who shapes the family and its values. Her contribution may not get noticed, but surely if she stops working, the whole house will come crumbling down. There are studies that indicate that children from the families managed by home-makers have better quality of grooming of children. This is not to deride working women at all; this is only highlighting the importance home-makers should have in the family system even in these modern days.
I know several women who choose to remain home-makers because of the beliefs they hold dear to heart. Their focus is on making a good family, and they make a conscious choice that they would pour in all their physical and spiritual resources into home-making. Such women deserve every bit of acceptance and accolade from the larger society, let alone their families.
The Supreme Court has shown that consideration. Thank you, Lordships!
Published in Womens World – The Hitavada