Believe it or not….this afternoon I managed to come across one of the umpteen games shows for housewives that go on air around noon. for a Rs.100 prize, the host was asking the contestant to add 42 and 77. and this wasn’t a rapid fire round. what next…sing the alphabets in capital and smalls?

In school we (and most other people) were regularly told to write essays on given topics. Once the teacher had decided upon “what i did this weekend”. On Monday morning we all walked in bright eyed and bushy-tailed and handed in our exercise books. When she was handing them back she called me and sternly asked what i meant by a particular line. i had written that on Saturday morning i had washed my socks and kerchiefs. i said that it meant exactly what it read. she looked at me with horror….such blasphemy!! how could someone stoop to such lowly heights as to do one’s own laundry and that too at this age? she handed me the book but i guess i went a few notches down in her scale that day. she left next year to join an even more “prestigious institution”. our next teacher was someone i’d be indebted to for a long time. she taught me to think, explore ideas and to believe in one’s own capabilities.

Going back to the previous topic, i have faced similar situations much later as well. Ours is a very small family where each member is actively involved in the everyday chores of running the household. So right from a very tender age i had been initiated into the functions. Housework for us is not a burden. we do it for ourselves and we do it with a lot of unintended pride. Like any other urban household, a do-it-all maid helps around but that’s exactly what she is meant to do….supplement the efforts of the family members. I remember a friend of mine had stopped short open-mouthed when she saw me brooming the frontyard and humming along.

these days we often find young couples engaged in hectic careers that compels them to do away with any external help. they run households of convenience i.e. sharing their housework according to the resources available to either party. if that means that the husband had to cook dinner and the wife had to hammer the kitchen table in place then, so be it.

things were perhaps not the same even a generation back, when the womenfolk of the house would work through the day attending to all the requests made by the men, who enjoyed an exalted position due to their status as providers. the patriarch would sit at the head of the dinner-table with all the other men, while the ladies would serve them. they would clean after them and then eat the leftovers. children were divided into the respective groups according to their gender after a certain age. things have remained the same in a lot of households. and when specimens of the two above mentioned species collide, there is more than just fireworks.

a young couple of my acquaintance have set up shop by themselves. trouble started when the in-laws dropped in for a visit. the elderly couple expected the youngsters, especially the daughter-in-law to wait upon them hand and foot, which they could not due to their hectic time schedules. they were aghast to see their son cooking and cleaning on an off-day. later the daughter-in-law was sounded a mouthful for failing in her duties. thankfully the son came to the rescue. he assured them that he was not losing any ounce of his “male” dignity by pitching in, but was rather contributing his bit to build a healthy relationship that ensured equal amounts of respect and honour for each partner.

So far so good. right now i am ready to turn in for the day. with due credit to cyrus broacha…”Lara Kya Mara”. 400 hundred runs!! that takes a lot of patience on the part of Brian Lara, the English team, and the spectators as well.

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