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Women: walking on a tightrope

“It’s hard to be a woman. You must think like a man, act like a lady, look like a young girl, and work like a horse.”


A few days back while browsing through my Facebook page, I got to read this lovely quote in a friend’s wall. I strongly agree with the person who said it. The life of a woman is indeed a challenge since the time of her birth until she reaches her pyre. She is expected to do a number of things par excellence. Sadly, many of her male contemporaries males think that she is not very different from them.

I have often heard many of my male friends asking why women should be given more preference in any sphere, be it using public transport or at work. Since most of us women abhor calling ourselves “fragile” and demand equal status, men start comparing! But being a woman is really a tough job and it is only real men who can understand it.

When I was a kid I used to hear stories from my grandmother about how she raised her four children in the absence of my grandfather. My grandfather was the headmaster of a reputed school in Calcutta. He left his coveted job to participate in India’s struggle for independence. He was away from home for years. Unfortunately, there was no telephone at the time to keep in touch with his family.

All that my grandmother knew was she had four children who she had to educate. However, she had no money, no job and no economic support from anywhere. She sold off her precious gold jewellery to make ends meet. She had to be the man of the house to  raise her children in the right way. There were innumerable nights when she sobbed alone, got frightened with the utter thought of her future, but had to face everything single-handedly. Inspite of this, men of her generation dubbed her as a”fragile” woman!

By the time I was born, times changed, but  common mentality remained the same. Fortunately, my mother had a secure job and my father did not have to participate in India’s struggle for independence. However his job was demanding and required him to spend six to seven months a year away from home and his family, in different parts of the country. My mother, just like my grandmother had to manage the household all by herself.

She used to wake up long before the rest of the world would start celebrating the day, prepare our lunch boxes get us ready for school. Since she was a working mother, her job was not just limited to the household. She had to make sure she reached office on time and that her work was complete.

As if that weren’t enough, gossip mongers always had something to say about her, since my father was away a lot of the time. Many times I saw her crying alone at night. Whenever I asked she would just smile and say, “Oh! Am not crying dear, something just went into my eyes.” I was too small to understand mom at that time and believed whatever she said. But now, I am an adult and the mother of a baby girl, I can completely relate and understand her tears. Was it her fault to let her husband leave because of work? Was it her fault to stay strong and work like a horse, think like a man and take care of an entire household in the absence of her partner?

My mom always remained my idol. I never saw her staying a night with her parents. When I had a baby brother, unlike my other aunts, she did not stay with my granny for her comfort. Instead she was with us all through, taking care of me (a five-year-old toddler then), my grandparents and the house in general.

When I got married and was expecting my first baby, everyone wanted me to stay with my parents, because I would be treated as a princess there! But, like mother like daughter, I took up the challenge to stay all alone during my entire pregnancy with my husband. I took this decision mainly because I did not want my husband to miss out the moments of the developing baby inside me. I wanted him to feel the kicks and pangs of pregnancy along with me.Strangely enough, my decision to stay with my husband was looked upon as if I were someone who seeks comfort from her partner all the time. Some even told, “You can’t have sex at this time, then why do you need your husband at this hour?” As if sex is all that happens between a man and a woman in a relationship?

Even after the birth of my baby, I was advised by many of my relatives to sleep in the other room with my baby and mother (who came to help us for two months). All they wanted is to spare my husband from getting disturbed with the baby crying at night. They never thought that being a new mom, breast-feeding a baby all the time just after a delivery takes a bigger toll on me, rather than my husband who just has to go to office and come back at the end of the day. Fortunately, I am blessed with one such real man who fought against all to share the baby’s tantrums with me every night.

Staying far away from your family is not an easy job for women. Patriarchal societes hardly understand it. Why don’T men leave their families and adapt and acclimatize with a new family- their wife’s? Whenever you have a man staying with his wife’s parents , you always have a bitter story to hear. When a woman says she cant adjust with her parents-in-law, she is pacified, she is forced and if she still can’t fit in, she is simply considered a bad woman!

We live in a society which says there is no glass ceiling for men and women when it comes to work. If so, why is it that maternity leave for women is around three months and paternity leave is for a week in most private companies? Both a man and a woman take part in the birth of a child, then why should the woman face the baby blues alone?  There are many professions like acting, aviation and so on where women are still not allowed to get married and have a family if they want to go ahead in their career. However for a man the rules of the game are different. He is free to follow his will!

We still live in a society where women are objects of pleasure, subjugated to work as per the whims and guidelines of their male contemporaries. If she dares to raise her voice against anything, she is considered unworthy and her upbringing is questioned! Even today when the world will celebrate the International Women’s Day, many of us, women will still face the slurs from our patriarchal societies!

Author: Debarati Mukherjee

Editor: Manasi Gopalakrishnan


08.03.2014 | 17:44


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