Smile sheepishly. Well there's housework and cooking, cleaning, taking care of my kids.
Oh ok yes yes I know, there's so much to do.
They would give an artificial smile and move on. But I could hear the smirk in their voice, their words were screaming at me in their silence "She is a housewife, she does nothing".
I walked back silently to the bus stop to get my kids. Their school bus would arrive in 5 minutes. As they alight, their water bottles swinging side to side and they see me, a smile spreads across their face and they run towards me and we all immerse ourselves in a bear hug.Then as we trot home, they recount the day's events about what happened in school and I listen in awe. I always missed this when I was a child. As my parents were working, I used to board the school bus, get down and walk aimlessly, open the door of an empty house. Mother would keep snacks and milk, I would heat the milk, have my snacks and then go to play. I always missed having someone to talk to, share with them about what was happening in school, my fears, gossips, the day I got that medal in sports and so much more. By the time my parents came home tired, there was hardly any enthusiasm and I too had lost that spunk. At that time I had decided, I will be there for my kids, they will not gave to come back to an empty house. I wanted to be a homemaker.
I was never someone who chased coming first in class, win that medal for all rounder, no. I was happy in my word of books, writing poetry and my diary. That made me happy and content. As I grew up, people all around me were busy chasing careers, getting into that MNC and changing jobs to get a better salary. I too joined a job after college but that was just to keep myself busy and my father who thought that a job will improve my prospects of finding a groom.
My marriage was fixed with Harish, a banker and in a few months I was expecting our first child. I had decided to leave my job once the baby was born and had communicated this to Harish much before our marriage. He was not happy but the various household items my father was giving him made him shut his mouth. Once Aarav was born, I quit my job. Harish had to agree as there was no one to look after the baby and he was dumbstruck to hear the amount charged by daycare. He did a quick calculation and figured out my staying at home was more economical. I was only too happy to oblige as that was what I wanted, 2 years later Vidhi was born and my happiness knew no bounds.
My focus was only my kids. Giving them the best of everything, more than anything my time, cooking for them, playing with them, reading them stories , in fact I wrote stories just for them. But Harish was not too happy, he has always been very stingy. Now that I wasn't working so I wasn't effectively doing anything as the bundle of notes dint come from my end every month. Rather I was always asking him for some, and them some more for the kids chart paper, for the fancy dress, for the popsicles and to buy birthday gifts for other kids whose parties they attended. Each note that he parted ways with was always accompanied with a frown "Maya you have no idea how much I toil in office, how much stress I need to take? It would have been nice if you had shown some inclination in getting back to work, now that the kids are not so small. See Mrs Mehra and Mrs Kulkarni, aren't they managing? Mehra's daughter is 1 year younger than Vidhi. Atleast learn the habit of spending wisely, money is not growing on that money plant that we just pluck it when we fancy. For you life is so easy, eat, sleep in the afternoon, watch TV, chat with friends, and have fun. I wish you would understand how difficult life is for working people."
I would remain silent- I wished to tell him that my time is not spent in watching TV, chatting or napping. Cleaning, cooking, washing, laundry, taking the children's studies, running errands takes up all of my time. I am not using his money for shopping or eating out, it is for the bare necessities and what cannot be avoided. I wrote this in my diary each day and made peace by venting out my feelings.
After getting the kids home, I served them hot ragada patties and some chocolate milk. The phone rang, it was Sheena. "Congratulations Maya you have made it" A smile spread across my face.
That night when Harish came I waited while he had his dinner.
"Harish I need to speak".
"Not today Maya I am very tired, they are sacking people I am really worried, can you even imagine what will happen if I loose my job? You have no idea have you, You are blissfully unaware of the recession and whats happening outside, Lucky you!"
I smiled calmly and said,"It wont take long".
I gave him an envelope. He opened it expecting it to be some bill, the frown was deep etched now. He was surprised to see a cheque in my name. He looked at me puzzled.
"Won a lottery or what?" The smirk stayed.
No I replied calmly- This is my first paycheck and I will continue getting this every month for 6 months post which the amount will be hiked by 40%. I have joined a popular publishing house as their junior editor. I have been writing since childhood and have been submitting my content to this site since the past few months. The response has been fabulous, readers liked my work and my articles have been selling like hotcakes. They then invited me to join them on probation for 6 months post which I will be confirmed and the salary hiked accordingly.
"But when? You have been writing? Since when? I never knew. What about the kids if you go to office? You din't ask me before accepting this?"
"I have obviously thought about it before committing to them. They are flexible and I can work from home, they will provide me with all the infrastructure and I will need to visit their office twice a week which I will do when the kids are at school. And on your last question- I don't think I need to seek your permission. And don't be under the illusion that I shall hand over this money to you. This is for my kids , yes you shall have some respite and will no longer need to grumble about extra expenditure. And if you loose your job, we can still manage with my salary.
You have always looked down upon me for being at homemaker and not contributing in terms of money, but you overlooked the bigger and more valuable contribution I am making in shaping our kids future. I did not want them to not have a parent present at this nascent stage of life. I have experienced it and I know how it feels. I wish you would have a broader outlook and realise that a homemaker does so much more, she s not a good for nothing, who cant work or is lazy. But how would you know for you measure everyone's worth in terms of money".
Harish was dumbfound, The silent martyr had finally found a voice.
Yes I had found my voice, my voice to stop my husband and people who snigger when they hear I am a housewife, tell them that I am proud to be one for this is my decision and I do not regret it, not for a day, not for a moment. So yes I am a housewife, a SAHM you may say and don't you dare say "I do nothing".
Bhagwan you speak English with your daughter? What is happening these days?
People want to show off and are forgetting their roots”. I have heard this many times. Earlier my
reaction used to be - apologetic. I would keep quiet and try to ignore the comment
and find an escape route. But now if someone dares to talk to me about this
matter, I snap them off then and there. I am unapologetic I don't think I have
done anything wrong which I need to feel ashamed about. So yes I do speak in
English at home and this is my first language. No qualms about it. And
it's not because of an inter caste marriage in fact I have been speaking
English as a first language right since childhood. To give you some background
on how this came to be. My mother’s parents belonged to Mangalore ( it's a
coastal town in Karnataka) they migrated to Bombay in search of a livelihood
when they were young. They married, had kids and their kids were brought up by
a maid. As my mom and her brother lived…
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