The Ideal Housewife



Nimrat Kaur as the ideal housewife in The Lunchbox


I am not the ideal housewife. If I had a slogan like the followers of Magneto, I’d say: Regular and Proud!

I am not a multi-tasker. I cannot remember the horde of other things that women are somehow superhumanly expected to remember. And I affirmatively say, I don’t regret that; because women who are adeptly doing all that aren’t at peace either.  And I mean women, who – as the SMS forwards go – do the dishes, iron the clothes, prep up the breakfast for the next day, check if the doors are locked, leave water at the dog dish, before they hit the bed; even after they have said goodnight. Trust me when I say I get their phone calls in the middle of the day getting mad over having to be ideal. I am not them and I don’t care if that is the benchmark, the society has subtly set, through social networking.

In fact, thank god I am not ideal. Imagine the hard work to keep up the pretence. It is a pretence because a human being is not a gem. A human being is simply a human being. If she is loving you more for calling her a ‘gem of a woman’, she is perhaps laying the disgruntled snake somewhere beneath her satisfaction of you giving her that credit. Embrace it. Women don’t like to slog or to be ideal. If you think otherwise, you haven’t yet sat together with her till she actually lets out her secrets. It rips off her patience to memorise things, to pick up what you left off, to get crazy about the bed sheets getting wet by the bath towel, to clean the loo after you have left tell-tale signs of your stench and then put on a smile for you when you come home. You think she enjoys all that? No. So, she does it for your love? Well, yes and no. Yes, and I hate to admit because she hates to be lonely and your appreciation brings her the stars. No, because she’d have done it anyway, even if she was alone.

Women get crazy because their biology has made them so, the biology that sends them a red alert to be perfect. Have you met those who, as the saying goes, ‘live like a man’? Those unkempt women have the liberated hormones. Rest of us are dealing with the desire to not care about it and yet ending up tucking the ruffled bed sheet crisply below the mattress. If you think we always get away with it, simply by saying ‘hormones’, go ahead and get a sex change. We’ll see how you deal with it. By the way, I will not fail to mention here that there are men who are deemed ‘lady-like’ because they like to keep their things neat and in order. Who decides that it is a manly trait to mess up and a womanly trait to clean?

Back to the first argument, though. Lately, I have been having doubts if there is at all an ideal housewife or if it is a social construct. Because if there was, there wouldn’t have been any divorces – she’d have taken whatever came her way, with open arms; there wouldn’t have been #MyChoice videos trying to scream out what she really wants (and people wouldn’t have been going crazy over why sleeping around or sleeping out of marriage, cannot be her choice); there wouldn’t have been household quarrels; and finally, there wouldn’t have been restaurants, because all those women would be ‘ideally’ cooking the ‘ambrosial’ meal! So where is that whole pack of the ideal women residing? In the chauvinist’s head, right? It is his dream to have someone like that. Pity.



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