Confessions of a Housewife
(Tampa, FL, USA)
They say a woman's home is where her husband is. A woman's life is tied tightly to a husband not just for this life but for 7 lives to come. Is it really a good agreement that a girl signs on without reading the 'terms and conditions of the agreement' more so with stars twinkling in her eyes full of bright dreams.
I too got married early, just after graduation. It was arranged by my parents as is done with every other girl in this country. The boy's family came to see me, I was all decked up for the day. Elders gave us, me and my would be husband some time to know each other and then make our decisions. As if it is that easy to know a person in 10 mins! Both of us were so anxious and nervous that there were nothing to say and know. Astrologers were consulted and elders made the decision. They said I was too young to decide, alright but but not too young to get married, huh!. And it seems astrologers in this country know everything about the person and are the best judge to decide if the prospective groom is good for the girl. But they are nowhere to be seen once the marital problems arise. Well, all said and done the decisions were made and the girl is too shy to even say no. It seems the boys are always more than eager to get married. So finally, a date was decided and preparations started.
Everyone in the whole endeavor enjoys as if they are visiting an amusement park. Teenages are busy eyeing other teenagers and make use of the opportunities and the other crowd is busy judging the whole affair claiming the marriages that they conducted were far better than whatever was happening in front of them. Bride and the bridegroom are left with punditji to perform all the rituals which none of them know why they are doing.
One funny ritual I still remember was to go outside and together see a particular star in the sky. Well, but in broad daylight who can see a tiny star? Well, we performed all the rituals and even smiled heartily for all the pictures. In Indian marriages, there is a custom that the groom can give a new name to the bride. The groom here, now my husband had a choice and he picked up a name. It was nice name but I retaliated. I was coerced by my mother as she also had a different name post marriage. I too agreed, was there any choice?
Soon after the marriage was over, we went on honeymoon and to everyone's dismay I fell very sick and caught typhoid. Blame it on the unhygenic food in the marriage. My husband took me to a doctor. The Doctor checked me up and was about to write a prescription. He asked my name, before I could say anything my husband said 'Sonal Kulkarni'. I said who is she? I was the only girl in the room and then soon realized that the name and surname had changed after the marriage. Was I still the same person?
I was a B.Com graduate, which is like good for nothing. I could take up a job as kindergarten teacher. Then, my husband said why do you have to toil so much. You can relax at home, cook, watch TV and do as much shopping. He would manage the money earning part. Nice deal! And what to do with my life, nobody cares?
Soon the life of a housewife started. First few months passed quickly and before I could realize I was pregnant. Everyone in the family was very happy as if India's population is not high enough. I wanted to get things ready for the baby before he arrived. But the elders didn’t let me. They said it was inauspicious to buy stuff for the baby before he comes. We can tweak the rules if someone else pays the bill and we don’t keep the stuff. God won't know we are cheating. We did that, shopped all the stuff and kept it at a friend's house.
After all the baby shower celebration which was no less than a marriage, the baby arrived. I bought a big bundle of diapers so that we are not bothered by constant peeing of the baby, but the elders came in again. This time with the logic of the diaper is very unhygenic and baby might feel heavy. Nice! So we were left with changing every piece of clothing every time the baby decided to lighten himself. The washing lady was complaining, but who bothers.
Everyone is every ecstatic to see a baby in the house, their smile is broader, may be to tell the world, yes the couple is fertile. The baby changed hands, reached me only when hungry. They say a woman is reborn after giving birth, and hence needs to take double care of herself. I didn’t have to do any household chores, food was served hot and rest was the only task. I was enjoying. I was being fed double the calories and don’t forget about the ladoos. I was worried about the baby fat sticking on to me, but they said don’t worry about it at all, as if nobody would care to look at me.
Soon the honeymoon period was got over and our nuclear family (my husband, myself and the baby) shifted to the city. The regular mundane life started. My husband would go to office in the morning and our baby would wail all day and night. The life of the housewife started with a big bang.
My husband would wake up the in the morning and blurt out only one word - Coffee. I would rush into the kitchen make a hot cup of coffee. If I am lucky I would get a 'hmm' or else' It's too hot. Sugar is less today. Is milk stale? It is stinking'. The day has started. Quickly pack up lunch. Timelines are hard, and chapatis should be soft. The box and the bag should be ready before time else lunch is left at home and then I would keep blaming myself that my husband would be hungry the whole day. How naive was I? As if the office is on moon and there was no hotels there. By that time, the baby up and bouncing, might have pooped too in the diaper. Well, yes I decided to go with the diaper as you don’t have those washing ladies in the city and if you are lucky enough to find one she will charge sky rocketing rate. Let the baby feel a little heavy, I am feeling light, that’s better.
Now the daily chores start with making the bed, cleaning the bathroom, giving baby a bath, feeding him. The number of tasks can increase if the baby doesn’t like the food and decides to throw-up.
The day passes in keeping the baby entertained and keeping my sanity in place. How long can one do baby talk! It can get annoying and then you yearn for some adult talk. Not Adult talk per se, I should say talking to an adult.
The frustration of not doing anything worthwhile kept building up in the background. Yes, I know we normal people are meant for a normal existence and should not worry about inventing light bulbs like Edison every now and then. But the feeling of worthlessness does creep-in at times.
I needed fresh air and got some for free when I was ready for it. There is a right time for everything.
Feeling of worthless can’t come from outside, but has to be cultivated within. One has to feel complete and then only one can be happy. The perspective changed from a victim to victorious. It was a welcome change and life seems effortless and smooth!