I think I am missing something that had been part of my life till recently. The ‘nok jhok’ with MDH. Those who don’t understand what MDH stands for may quit reading further. This is a ‘Wives only’ post and you may not really appreciate it. You may not be married or even if married your relationship may be as formal as with acquaintances. My mother for one was married and yet not married. I had never heard her rave and rant about my dad’s mood swings, late hours and a hundred other things that husbands are accused of.
Twenty years back my mom was on a visit to our house and she happened to over hear a conversation between my husband and me.
“Pick up some refined oil on your way back from office. “ I said.
“I bought two kgs of it 2 weeks back. What happened to all of it?” I thought or rather I was sure that he stressed on the ‘all’ part of his comment.
“I felt thirsty and drank it up.” Was my reply.
My mother was shocked. I was certainly not the daughter she had raised. But the shock was such that try as she might she could not raise her own voice to scold me. She protested by maintaining an annoying silence. I had to literally coax her to scold me and get her displeasure out of her system. According to her no one spoke to their husbands like that.
“Times have changed and my mother in law actually encouraged me to protest when he was being unfair. Had she been alive she would have taken up for me.” I tried to reason but she refused to relent.
I agree I am just being funny. My husband and I take turns to initiate those small tiffs that add spice to a marriage. One Sunday afternoon I got up from my afternoon nap when he asked for a knife I gave him one.
“Where is the one with a red handle?”
“Why don’t you use this one?”
“Why not keep things in their proper place?”
I started looking for it but it had been put to wash in the sink.
“When are you going to learn?”
“Never in this lifetime. Pray for a better life partner in your next birth.” I certainly was not giving in.
I looked for all the knives in the house and tied them up together and put them alongside his set of screw drivers and said
“Pick up the knife of your choice and place it back after use in your toolbox. I am not taking responsibility for any of those. I am getting myself a new set.”
Within an hour the entire set returned to my kitchen. They certainly did not walk back.
While I agree that we quarrel and patch up like children in their pre teens, these little ‘nok jhoks’ have actually helped us bond. He is the one who wakes me up and accompanies me on my morning walk. I beg to be allowed a little more sleep but he treats me like an overgrown schoolgirl and refuses to give in. I try to find excuses to return fast. He insists on a full hours of walking though I am the one with BP and sugar.
However, jokes apart, there is one aspect of married life that leaves me wondering. The mantras recited and repeated during a marriage ceremony clearly state that a wife ought to be considered a ‘sakhi’ or friend and yet Indian women far from being treated as equals are trained to smile even when abused. I have a friend whose husband provides well for her and gives her a lot of freedom. Yet the slightest provocation, not necessarily by his wife, has him hurl abuses at her. He drags her parents and her upbringing into the conversation. She does not say a word in protest and justifies his behavior by saying that he is otherwise good but does not realize what he says when he loses his temper.
“I do point out that his behavior hurts me. He accepts his mistake and apologizes in private. I can’t expect him to do it in public. It would be far too humiliating.” This is her explanation.
Was it not humiliating for her when he insulted her in front of others?
“Men are like that only” ---------
This is an accepted fact. But are they? I may be wrong but I feel society expects them to behave like that just as it expects women to take abuses and insults in their stride.
A girl in our neighborhood rang up a social activist at 11:30 in the night to say that in a fit of uncontrollable rage her husband had beaten up his parents and came chasing after her. She had managed to flee to the terrace and locked the connecting door. He was banging the door asking to be let in. She had the good sense to carry her mobile phone with her. The social worker lived some 10 kilometers from her house. Luckily the DSP had been briefed about her case and when contacted he sent a constable to their house and the situation was brought under control. The husband apologized the next day and the girl was asked not to provoke him when he was angry.
Why is it that we advise our daughters and sisters to be patient? Why not advise our men folk to treat the ladies in their family with respect? While I enjoyed the books by Amy Tan and Khalid Hosseni both the books dealt with violence against women in two Asian countries and left me depressed for days. There are cases of women ill treating their men and sons ill treating their parents. I wonder if the arrangement in Western countries is better.
I started my post in a light note and have ended it on a more serious one. Women education and empowerment was meant to bring about a balance in society. But has it perhaps disturbed it more than balancing it? Is society not yet mature enough to address the social, financial and emotional needs of a woman?