By Puspita Panda from Bargarh, India
I never thought that a small occasion would provide me an award winning story. Being a writer, meeting many personalities from all walks of life and to write on them is my passion. I meet filmmakers, poets, brilliant college students, wise teachers and visionary entrepreneurs. As I always strive for the new ways to grow personally and professionally, each of these encounters helps me to learn lessons on life that brings newness to my character.
On the occasion of Teachers’ Day I had been invited as the Chief Guest of the Teachers’ Cultural Night in an organization of great repute. It was a great experience for me when I was moved by the magical voice of an anchor attired in a gorgeous saree. She was perfectly managing the stage with a tight grip on the audience. My surprise crossed all the limits when I watched the same lady rocking the stage in front of huge audience.
She was of late thirties but still had that charisma, full of vigour and energy. After the show she was surrounded by lot of appreciations by her colleagues and students. Her expression at that moment was like one who got something special from her life. When I saw her I thought of a term called “Reference Point” and Yes! She is my reference point. She is Aruna.
I send her a message: “would you be kind enough to spare a few moments with me out of your busy schedule?”
It was the moment perhaps she has been waiting for. Her overjoyed expression clearly reflected that she was delighted at the prospect of meeting an eminent writer and surprised at his humble request to meet her. She was overwhelmed .She invited me the next day to her official residence. With a hope to explore a strong feminine character I visited her. She was at her home and she offered a warm welcome to me.
She was excited with the visit of a writer to her small house. Her genial gesture can beat any of the traditional housewives. She presented herself truly as a woman with a perfect hold on household work.
Would you like to have coffee sir? She asked.
I responded, “Yes, I would love to take coffee.”
She ordered coffee to her maid. I observed that she was living with her 13 yr old son and a maid servant. During our conversation I came to know that her husband was in a highly paid job, posted in a different city.
Instantly it came out of my lips “How do you manage to shoulder the responsibility of your son and family and profession as well?”
Her remark was simple “It isn’t so easy but I am trying my best to handle each of my roles without any difficulty. I am always doing my bit to satisfy everyone connected with me.”
Really women are amazing!
I got my plot to write my next story. It is the story of Aruna.
Intriguing by the same thought of writing a story on a woman I started.
During our conversation I was shocked, when she said, “I had been a housewife for half a decade after my marriage very carefully handling my duties towards in laws, husband, son and even relatives.”
I felt a professional woman getting all the credit as an important asset of such a prestigious corporate organization had spent a few years of her life as a housewife!
It was stunning to know that such a dynamic personality was only involved in making a home, raising the next generation and chosen a more traditional role.
I was more interested to turn over the pages of the history of her life. “Would you mind sharing the story of transformation of a housewife into a professional” I asked.
She remarked “I was very happy with my newly married life. As my husband was getting 6 figure income, provided me with an abundant lifestyle. My life took a new turn when I gave birth to my son and when I heard the first cry of the new born baby I felt myself on the top of the world, being a mother, a new designation, which thrilled me with the attainment of complete womanhood.”
I marked a glance of contentment on her face while sharing her experience as a housewife.
“It’s often said that being a housewife is a thankless job with little appreciation. The same concept applied to me.” She resumed.
With little patience I was eager to know the concept.
With an emotional expression on her face she shared “As time rolled by I felt as if my contribution to the household work was not valued. I always been teased by the society “having nothing to do!”, “You are only a housewife!” Such comments on me perpetuate the myth that the housewives are useless creatures sitting idle at home all day with little to do.”
I noticed her remarks very carefully and I knew that perhaps she was trying to say being a housewife is also a career- unpaid but challenging.
I waited for further response. She said, “I strongly believe that a housewife isn’t doing worthwhile with her time is simply wrong. It is the problem of the attitude within the society.” “Housewives work hard within their domestic tasks and are often overworked. They should be appreciated rather than criticized.”
Her emotions spread like a wildfire. I was startled at her views on a housewife being a professional now.
Aruna said, “The society taught me that a housewife is a label of being inferior to a working woman. As everyone is bound to accept the norms and views prevailed in the society, I started to feel that I was losing my identity by getting involved in household work.”
Being dominated by the same thought several questions aroused in my mind:
“Did I pursue my higher qualification just to be at home?”
“Somebody should have warned me that I have to study well but not get my hopes high, to be an aimless person and not to dream too much. Because in the end you are going to get married and be a housewife”
With this I got an opportunity to ask about her parents.
She expressed her joy by saying that her mom was also a working lady and she had done her best to maintain the balance and they were brought up well.
In between our conversation she offered me another cup of coffee.
There was a long pause.
Then again when I asked she started her story which bent towards her journey as a professional.
With a deep breathing she spoke out from the core of her heart:
“With the passage of time I realized that it was time for me to show my talent and skill to achieve self-actualization and self –esteem. With the same confidence that I am smart enough to figure out how to work outside my home in a challenging atmosphere, I talked to my husband.”
“I thought at that moment how far my husband would accept my proposal. Because he was habituated to see his wife as only a housewife. I was sure that it would have been difficult on his part to give any decision.”
How her in laws reacted to the situation was an interesting question on my mind at that moment.
She replied, “My in-laws were not enthusiastic about my proposal, but thanks to my husband who understood me.”
I complimented “So, you are lucky to have such a partner!”
She said, “Definitely yes! But for his support I would not have been what I am now. Paying no heed to the objection of his parents he arranged a job for me”
“The problem that awaited me was that I got a job in a different city”, she continued.
I think it would have been very difficult for you then to join the job.
She answered “I was scared of taking up a professional career after spending 5 yrs as a housewife. I was frequently warned by everyone that going alone with a kid was not the right move. Living in a new city staying away from the family is really a challenging task. I was totally confused”
So how she resolved her dilemma was my next question to her.
She admitted by saying “it was really a tough time for me to prove myself as a successful professional after being proved as a good wife to my husband, sincere and obedient daughter-in-law, caring daughter and the best mom for my son.”