So much has been written about the Indian Woman. I am going to add to the foray of words, perceptions and perspectives about the Indian Woman. ‘A Woman of Substance’, ‘The Silent Endurer’ is some of the phrases attributed to her in the articles I have read. So what is the Indian Woman?
To me, she is the body wrapped adequately, sometimes more than needed, who ensures that she is awake before the family is ready for breakfast. She makes breakfast and feeds the family. She packs off her children to school and rushes to work and/or to her daily chores. Come evening, and she is teaching the children, helping them do their homework, cooking dinner for the family. She makes sure her family is fed. She is almost always the last one to sleep. During all this, she does the laundry; she gets the grocery, plans the next day’s meals, and works with the maid to keep the house neat and tidy. And, she does this day after day after day after day till her limbs stop supporting her. There are the Sonia Gandhi’s, Indira Noorie’s of the world, but those are exceptions. What I am trying to say is that the ‘normal’ Indian Woman is not Aiswarya Rai Bachchan, Sonia Gandhi or Sonam Kapoor for that matter whom the world claims to be the Indian Woman. She is the lady you will see at the grocery vendor, the lady behind the counter at a bank, the lady at school managing a group of 50 children, the lady who walks into your house every day, promptly at 7.30am to clean your house, the lady who picks up the garbage from the apartments, the lady who sells fish by the roadside to make a living for her family. She is the Indian Woman and the Woman of Substance.
It has been raining continuously in my part of the world over the past few days. The rain Gods decide to bless us right when children are set to board the bus, people are getting to work or heading out for lunch. How can I miss the getting-back-home time? As I drive back home from work in my air-conditioned car with music playing on my stereo system, probably a Rhim-Jhim-Gire-Saawan, to suit the weather, I see them. One is holding an umbrella in one hand, and in the other hand she has a bag of grocery, her heavy shoulder bag balancing on her shoulder. She is walking fast to catch the bus. There is another one on the bike holding an umbrella, while her husband tries to steer through the traffic, shielded by a raincoat, yet half-soaked. I see her finding her way, balancing her child’s school bag, umbrella, getting wet, yet protecting her child. I see them everywhere, and I realize that I am so privileged to have a car to drive back home, not soaked.
If you travel by the day trains connecting cities, you will find them; some have started from home at 5am, after preparing breakfast, lunch boxes packed. In the evening you will find them cutting vegetables on the train, to save time. She is carrying a load on her head at a construction site, while her child is playing in the gravel heaped on the side of the road. After the day’s work, she builds a makeshift fire on the footpath and cooks food for her family. Everyone on their own paths, their destinies; they have their share of problems, inadequacies, yet they go on.
How many of these women would have to submit to their husband’s physical needs by night.. Yes for the most part of India the woman still submits to the needs of the husband.
I am not a feminist. Men and Women have their own purpose to serve. But I do believe that we, women, are much stronger than men. We see so much, we endure so much, our brains are wired, not one thought is by itself, and yet we s-m-i-l-e. And we are the women of substance… You and I…
What I salute is her spirit to muster the energy to wake up, to each dawn and do what she did yesterday and the day before and the day before that; knowing what is in store for her and yet she does not give up.
PS: Yes, I will write about the Indian Man, next :)