Three women of different races for blog post of Akshata Shanbhag


Is the word “woman” a synonym for the word “kitchen”? Then why is it that in our society women are forced mainly to do the house chores and cooking? Unlike men, why is it that women are not supported and encouraged to be independent?

An acquaintance -Tara( name changed), had completed her MBBS. It was her childhood dream to be a doctor. When she was practising medicine, she met her “soulmate” through a common friend. Though they belonged to different castes, their parents agreed for their relationship.

After her honeymoon phase, when Tara had decided to resume her work, eyebrows were raised by her family members stating- “Daughter-in-law of this house does not go to work. Their only duty is to look after the in-laws and husband.” Tara was shocked to hear this and found this fact hard to digest. After all, her parents and Tara had made many sacrifices. Tara wasn’t ready to give up on her career. Tara did her best to convince her in-laws but her efforts were nugatory.

“You have just got married. Look after your family first, have children and after they are responsible enough to take care of themselves, then you can get back to your profession. When your husband is working and earning enough to cater to your needs, why do you want to work?”
This was the response she received. Frustrated, she confided in her husband. Moving out of the house wasn’t an option for them. After a lot of persuasion, Tara’s in-laws agreed.

Though she had resumed her work, not a day had gone by wherein she had to face hurdles. Tara never let this come in her way and carried out duties diligently. Eventually, the members of the family got adjusted to her routine.

Another incident which I would like to share- Sharan (name changed) one of our close acquaintances was in the marriage bracket. Sharan has picked up a job in the neighbouring city and considering the time taken to commute, he had relocated and visited his parents on the weekends. Sharan’s parents were disheartened looking at his condition because after he got back tired from work at night which is usually late, he cooked food. Due to his busy schedule, he had no time for laundry and hence when he would visit his parents, he brought the clothes along with him to get them washed and the list goes on. For cleaning and mopping, Sharan had luckily found a maid. But their primary concern was that Sharan wasn’t eating his food on time and they thought it would be best to get him married as soon as possible so that his “wife” would cook for him and when Sharan got home tired, he need not worry about cooking as his wife would have already prepared the meal.

I do get the concern the parents have. But in my mind I had various thoughts running. If Sharan’s parents were worried about his food ,then Sharan could hire a cook. So it looked like the main agenda for getting Sharan married was “cooking”. In my opinion, I felt that this reason was not solid enough for getting their son married.

Another incident which happened a few years ago when I saw my housemaid sad and lost while she was doing her work. When I asked her if everything was alright, she told me that her younger son was in love with a girl and wanted to marry her. Her son was keen on marrying that girl else he would not marry at all. After that girl had completed her exams (B.Com) ,her son had decided that he would tie the knot. I asked her what the problem was. Why wasn’t she happy for them? Did she belong to a different caste? Her answer was no. The girl was good looking, her family background was fine and everything seemed okay then what was the hindrance? I was stunned to hear reply.The maid said that since she was educated that was the problem.

I asked her what was the problem if she was educated. She must be happy about it. She would later find a job too. She was stern and replied “ I don’t want a daughter-in-law who is educated.” I was speechless. You don’t understand Akka (that is how she addresses me) if she is educated, I cannot have control over her. I need someone illiterate or someone who knows very little (a few years of school education) only then I can show my power as a mother inlaw. I did not like her answer and I tried a lot to explain to her that education is important but she seemed least interested.

A few months later, I casually asked her about her son and the girl whom he liked. She had a broad smile on her face. With pride, she told me that their relationship had been called off. She had successfully convinced her son (with a pinch of emotional drama and blackmailing) and he had to give in without any choice.

Why does a woman have to go through so much? They have the right too to decide upon their career and also simultaneously look after the family. Men are never asked to sacrifice?
If the woman wants to give up her career voluntarily to look after the family, it’s her choice and should be respected and honoured but never forced upon.

On the flip side, some women stand by each other. Family supports, colleagues help, friends encourage. I have personally come across such women and it feels so happy to have them around.

It’s weird how one woman does not support the other. How they fail to understand their emotions and feelings. When women support each other, incredible things happen. Respect each other, value their dreams. Women should empower one other instead of being hateful and envious of each other.

Be supportive, encouraging and compassionate. At the end of the day, peace of mind does not differentiate between a man and a woman.

Please do share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section. Thank you.


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