A Paid Job – Vanisha Uppal
Ms. Manushri Chhilar won the international title of Ms World 2017 by answering the question “Which occupation do you think should be the highest paid?” She answered “A mother and a housewife at home should be the highest paid job.” Are we going to stop only at the theoretical level? Are these nice-sounding words only for winning a contest?
Everyone in this world needs attention and appreciation. It is human nature and no one is an exception. Then why women working at home should not receive appreciation?
She no longer wants to be tagged as God. She wants respect, love and financial security.
She is tired of living double standards, one standard for him and a different one for her. Her tolerance is coming to an end – in the name of adjustments for children, home and marriage.
A housewife/mother is smart and intelligent. She uses all her energy for minute details for home and family. She is multi-tasking, efficient and perfectionist, yet she is not appreciated and valued.
We value any services when we pay in terms of money. It is not a fight between genders. It is about changing human nature. When we pay someone for cooking, house-help and childcare, we value them. And if we need to speak our mind with them, we do it carefully because we don’t want to lose them. Then why should a housewife and mother be taken for granted?
One day, passing through a colony I heard someone calling out my name. It was Vandana. The last time I met her was 20 years back, when we were in school. What a coincidence and unexpected surprise to see her!
She invited me to her home. While she went to get me water, I looked around the sitting room. I looked at her family picture on the wall. It was clear she was married with kids and had a pretty good house. Everything looked perfect from outside but her face and health were telling a different story. Dark circles around eyes, and stress on her face made her look older than her age.
I asked an obvious question. “What do you do?” She replied with her eyes down, in a soft and unconfident voice “housewife” as if she was ashamed of it.
Immediately to comfort her I said “That is the greatest job”, my eyes were down too.
She smiled with the eyes down again. What a fake conversation. After some time, I made an excuse and left the place. Her face haunted me for many days.
This is the story of almost every housewife in India. She is suffering from low self-esteem, financial dependency, suppressed anger and desires. Most of the time she also suffers from iron, vitamin B12 and calcium deficiencies, depression and various health issues.
There is a custom in some regions of India during Holi – the festival of colors, that all the wives of the village have total freedom to hit their husband with a stick, and all the husbands defend themselves with a shield. Sometimes while hitting, she cries aloud, sometimes she seems to enjoy. There are different emotions at play, but all is done in good spirit. It might look silly to an outsider but it is a healthy way to get rid of the accumulated anger and suppression.
In urban areas, an educated woman has to step out of her home and take up a job to live in dignity. Now she manages herself, home, children, and her job. She has her own car, bank balance and manages shopping, business meetings, and outstation conferences. She is more confident and secure. She is appreciated for her creativity, spontaneity and ability. She too has less free time like a man.
I feel this is not the solution either. This is just taking the situation from one extreme to another, and that is the truth. This kind of situation often leads to a compromise with children and home. Many women lose interest in motherhood. She is afraid to make a commitment.
What is the solution then?
Silya is a smart girl with many talents. She easily got a job after her college and got promotion in a few months.
One day she met a boy and they fell in love. After two years they decided to get married.
Silya was clear what she wanted from life. She said “I have good experience of job and work, after marriage I want to dedicate myself to my family and children”. The boy agreed and said “This is also what I want”.
Next day Silya penned down some important points on the paper and asked her boyfriend to sign it.
It was written:-
Whatever property, money, and bank balance I owe, I share 50% with Silya in case we separate in future for whatsoever reason. After our marriage, every month I will transfer 25% of my total income to Silya’s account.
He said “This is obvious, why to write and get it signed? Don’t you trust me?”
Silya said “I trust you, which is why I am leaving my, running- income and all other life-style benefits, just to take care of my family. It is like a government job, where we perform our best in a secure environment.”
He said “I wish my sister would have same clarity” and he signed the papers for her satisfaction.
It is now eight years of their marriage and they have two children. They argue almost every day, but no big fights. Silya loves to serve her family, and he loves and appreciates her work.
The solution lies in a little insecurity to men and little more security to women. A mother and housewife deserve payment for her job just like the man. And this agreement is the practical solution.
To identify the root cause of all our problems, we need to be more aware, and for that we need to have more inner silence. Silence enables us to resolve our problems with ease.
The daily practice of mediation helps us to build the inner silence gradually, and to bring back the balance in our daily life. Else we will continue living in extremes with never-ending problems.