A married man was jailed because his wife committed suicide. The poor woman had taken this extreme step because she simply could not cope up with the work pressure in his house. All her family members had obviously been harassing her. The Supreme Court highlighted the plight of women after this case was resolved. It strongly and clearly stated that:
"Daughters-in-law should not be treated as maidservants of the house. They should be respected and treated equally like other members of the family.”
Well, actually that kind of an extreme thought had not really crossed my exhausted mind. But I could relate to it very well because I too experienced this in a different way in my own house. I know it is my house too. But why does my daily routine revolve around doing all the household chores?
Why is my life only about cooking, feeding, washing, ironing, buying groceries, dusting, and cleaning, supervising and managing things? And then, of course, I have to be an accommodating and adjusting person. I also have to learn the art of being mum. I should never raise an eyebrow or question things.
Most women do precisely this, isn’t it? So why should I be any different? Why was I making such a big deal about it? And yes, I am complaining!
Because I am not a maid. I am a member of my family too!
Yes. I know I am a woman. I am supposed to be the caretaker of my family. But I am also an individual. I have a very valid reason to question my family, the society that I live in, my parents and myself too.
Why is it that only I have to do almost everything for everyone in the house? Am I the maid of the house?
My husband is a businessman who often arrives home late in the evenings. My sons are grown up boys and they indulge in several things. So I should cater to their needs at all times of the day. I have been married for several years. Yet my in-laws find it difficult to develop a liking for me. So obviously I end up being more of a help to them than a daughter-in-law. And yes – we never even considered having a full-time servant at home.
My routine is decided by the whims and fancies of my family members.
All of them wake up at a different time. All of them eat their meals at different times of the day. The minute I finish serving my in-laws their breakfast, it is time for my husband to have his breakfast. After a while, my sons will have their breakfast. It is the same at lunch time too. And dinner at our house begins only post 11. So it is impossible to go to bed before midnight.
We have been married for 23 years now. And when I am constantly doing some chore or the other all through the day, I can’t help feeling that I am more or less a maid in my house. But why do I do all this? Because I am a woman and I wasn’t raised to say “No.”
We often question a man’s upbringing. But I feel there is definitely a fault in my upbringing as well. I have two other sisters and all three of us were raised like queens by our parents. I was the youngest of the three so I received more than my fair share of adulation. I never had to do much around the house because my father was an IPS officer. We were entitled to several amenities. And we had several assistants to help us with our chores. I never imagined that at some point in time in my life I would end up doing all these chores on a daily basis.
As daughters/girls, we were always taught to be submissive and docile. We learnt to let go of our wishes and suppress our personal concerns. The needs and priorities of the family were always considered to be more important than our own personal needs and priorities.
I also regret the fact that we were never taught the art of saying “No.” Why was I never taught to speak up for myself? Why does no one care about me as a person? A few years back, I started realizing that everyone needed me for a reason.
We do have a maid who does the basic cleaning in our house. But I have been doing almost everything else for my family members in the name of household chores. I know most women do so too. But I feel my life is just about serving them. I do serve them with love and take proper care of the house too.
But despite my repeated requests, no one has ever paid heed to my pleas of having some kind of discipline in the house. So I end up working round the clock and cannot even dream of getting some ‘me’ time.
How many men actually pay heed to the woes of the woman of the house? Don’t you feel they take us lightly because it is such a common complaint?
Why does everyone rely so much on me? What about my needs and aspirations? Why does no one ever consider them?
Sometimes I am disgusted by the sheer monotony of my life. I am overwhelmed by all the work that I have to do around the house. Something or the other always needs my attention. Yes, I know I am not a working woman. But does that mean I am not entitled to any ‘me’ time or freedom? None of my family members will ever openly say that I lead the life of a maid but I often feel like the unpaid maid of my family.
Frankly speaking, I have never been treated as a significant entity of the house by my own family members.
Basically, we have never been taught to stand up for our rights. We have been conditioned to believe that it is our duty to take care of our homes and our family members.
That is why we don't even dream of questioning our own deep-seated beliefs.
We have seen our grandmothers treating men with a lot of respect. They believed that it was a woman’s duty to serve her family members and take care of her house. They spent their lifetimes doing this for their families. The society that we currently live in may still believe in such outdated concepts.
But I refuse to conform to such beliefs. Why should I adhere to such outdated norms and follow things that I don't believe in personally?
I don’t really dislike my husband or my sons or my other family members. But we need to address such important issues – not ignore them. The Supreme Court may have highlighted the plight of the womenfolk of our country but the real message that we all need to get from this is: Gender roles are not clearly defined in our society. I don’t think it is only the daughter-in-law’s duty to serve the family members and do all the chores.
None of us will drag our family members to court for such things. We all know this. So let’s bring about a change in our own families by changing our own mindsets first.