I guess there is no definition of a "perfect Indian woman". Nobody can really agree on what a woman should/shouldn't be doing in order to be that "Goddess". But to me, that woman is my mother. Being a mother in the 90s probably wasn't easy, that too for a working woman. I don't know if she even knew that the glass ceiling existed.
It's my mother's 66th birthday and I just want to stop for a moment and acknowledge the fact that what makes her perfect is simply that she did whatever was needed and required, without question or complaint.
And here is the shortest list of things she did for us. I know I can go on and on. But for the next three minutes of your time, I'll give you this:
My perfect Indian mother wasted no time experimenting in the kitchen because she was out there in the world, working hard for our future. But out there in the world, she wasn't having fun or attending weddings and parties, because then, she was at home, helping us with homework.
Mom earned her own money, but she didn't go shopping until she and dad decided together on it. She could splurge on herself any time, but she had to be pushed to go to a beauty parlour. We would only manage to make her get her hair done once in three years (if we were lucky). Instead, she would save all that money to pamper us.
Oh, but wait! When I say "pamper", it's not because she gave her husband and children everything all the time. I swear she made it hard for us, and I swear that if she hadn't done that, I would never be independent today. I owe this life to her. I owe these accomplishments to her. This life is what she gave me, and she fought for it without taking a single day off in my entire lifetime.
At the same time, as if taking care of this crazy family was not enough, she did twice the amount of work any normal housewife would do at home. For most of my childhood, I could not even notice that she was doing a lot of work because it was what I was used to seeing. I thought it was normal. Looking back, I don't know whether to laugh or cry that she hunched over the kitchen sink every night after a long day's work, but none of us ever gave her a shoulder massage. The whole time, she didn't slip up once. To err is human, to forgive is divine, to be error-free in a thankless job is my mother.
My mother invested her salary wherever my dad asked her to. Not for what looked nice in her eyes, nor for what she was comfortable with. But only and only for the future of our family. She would not take any days off at work. Casual leaves were stacked up even if she had to walk out in ankle-deep water, but she would show up to pick us from our board exam centres in the middle of blazing summers. She was responsible for her children and her people.
And, surprise surprise! She had a very loose definition of "her people" because I've never seen her turn away someone in need. Any poor person who crossed paths with us in life would earn her support and blessings, and she earned respect from them and us.
Sometimes people thought she was too modern, sometimes people thought she was too old-school. Society's views maybe work in progress, but my mother has always been completely perfect.