The boy of about 16 years of age was smart. To my question about what his father did, he answered: He is a senior marketing executive travelling all the time. What about the mother? – I asked. He said, “Ma’am, she is just a house wife.”
To hear that ‘just a house wife’ was very painful. Obviously, the boy was not happy with his mother’s status at home. e wanted his mom to do something — a job, a career. After all, his mother was educated to post-graduate level. Then, he lamented to me, why should not she work! He was pained that his father did not respect his wife and referred to her as ‘just a house wife’. And whenever the boy’s mother sought a job for her, the man opposed stiffly. The boy was confused, and sad.
It is a sad story. In the changing social scenario, when women are stepping out of the house routinely to earn money, to share the husband’s financial burden, there also is a bog chunk of Indian society that treats the task of a house wife as something that needs no mention — ‘Just a house wife’! And when the women want to work, a big number of men also oppose the idea.
This is a sad as well as a funny situation. A big part of the present-day Indian society is yet to decide what it wants woman to make of their lives. In fact, in the advanced times of the 21st century, this should not have been an issue at all. But unfortunately, this issue dogs our thinking very much.
By the way, a house wife’s job at home is not at all worth the description ‘just a house wife’. Quite to the contrary, it involves hard labour almost round the clock. It involves a lot of patience and attention to detail — how much sabzee to buy, how much money to be paid to the doodhwala, when to give diabetes pill to mother-in-law, when to pay the cricket coaching fees for the son, what husband likes for dinner, and which shirt he loves to wear on Saturdays…
Yet, in many families, kids are taught, rather unwittingly, to say that their mother is ‘just a house wife’.
A survey also had indicated once that house-wives are engaged in unproductive tasks. That is plain nonsense, because whatever the house wife does for days and months and years on end sustains the family in good shape. If she happens to fall ill, or fail in her chores, the whole family goes for a tailspin. The small world within four walls collapses. And when the woman stands back on her feet again and starts doing the thankless work, the whole family peps up and smiles return to glum faces.
Can we, then, say that the woman is ‘just a house wife’? It is time we changed our outlook on home-maker women. It is time we realised how tough it is to run the home. Ask men to do it for a while and there would be small explosions in families.
I emptied out all these thought before the boy. He was impressed. The next day, he returned with his mother, who was in tears of gratification. She said, “Madam, for the first time in several years, my son and husband treated me with such a respect. My husband is a nice man, but did not really think properly about what I do at home. But when my son talked to him last night, my husband was apologetic and talked to me very softly, almost as he did when we got married 17 years ago.”
Thus, a woman at home is not ‘just a housewife’. She is a home maker who deserves some respect.