I’m fine- barely! Just have no househelp at all. And running a house this size alone, isn’t easy. The house is covered in a layer of dust barely hours after I dust, the stairs are taking a toll on my knee and one night I just had to lie down and sob in pain. The kids’ school buses come within hours of each other and there are days I lock a lunch-eating Bean alone in the house and run to get the Brat – all in all, a big mess.
I’ll blog soon and tell you about it all.
And because I can never leave with just a hello, have you guys seen the Union Bank of India advertisement featuring Aruna Anand (Viswanathan Anand’s wife)? I’ve always found her very attractive – something so genteel about her. The couple just had a baby after 14 years of marriage and seem over the moon, God bless the little fellow. But getting back to the advertisement, I found it so disappointing. Yes, she’s always the steady force behind him and I realise successful people need the support, but the subtle message that it is only right for a successful husband’s dream to be his wife’s too, just bothered me. The OA is an investment banker and in his success lies our family’s well being because I’ve sort of fallen off the career track and am sitting on the kerb planting roses and smelling them while speedy workers whiz by. But in spite of that I have my personal dreams. It would bring me deep joy if the OA were happy and at the top of his game – but it’s not my dream. It’s his dream. My dreams are different – I want to garden, I want to plant veggies and have organic produce on my table. I want my own column. I want so many things that are my personal dreams and not his.
When I cringed at the advertisement the OA shrugged – he didn’t see why I was objecting. Until I pointed to his daughter and said – “You want her to give up any personal dreams and only dream what her husband dreams?” and understanding dawned on his face. It’s not his fault for having been brought up in a patriachal system and I appreciate his willingness to see my point in a gender neutral way. It also solved the mystery of the whole “Ghar pe maa-beti nahi hai kya?” statement. Most men have a lot more empathy when the person affected is a daughter. A wife can suffer, but not a precious daughter. Makes me want to hit the OA over the head with something heavy, but I think I’ll let it pass this time.
We are currently in the process of househunting and we were talking to a landlord yesterday while the kids ran around the garden of the house we were looking at. The gentleman actually stopped talking and pointed to the Bean and asked me – How old is she? Four, I replied. She’s very intelligent, he said – she speaks beautifully and has a great vocabulary. I nodded thanks, brimming with pride, but keeping a straight face. The father looked fit to burst with pride, that someone noted his precious daughter’s brightness, based on a little chatter overheard while doing something else.
It is important for him that his daughter who has so much potential, so much life, have her own dreams, is a success in her own way. After all who is to define how big or small a dream should be. Support your partner, your friend or your family in their dreams, but to reduce it to two people dreaming of one person’s success denies the very individuality of the other. Reduces her to a mere accessory, an appendage. Surely Aruna has dreams other than being Mrs Anand? Yes, her husband represents the country and is our national pride but at home he should just be her husband, her equal, her partner. Why did the advertising company not use a successful woman like Renu Karnad or Naina Lal Kidwai as the example and show how their husbands support – why are these ads so gender biased? Do their husbands only dream of their wife’s success? No man would ever appear in an advertisement saying that his only dream was to support his very successful wife. Why then is it okay to tell our daughters that it’s perfectly alright to dream your husband’s dream alone – unless of course its something shared like opening a dream business together or a cafe or something. No matter how big or successful or famous a spouse is, is it right to pass on the message that the wife must consider that her own dream? I shudder to think of that happening to my daughter. It must be bad enough to be overshadowed by a celebrity, to live your life around his schedule and needs – but surely something as personal and precious as a dream, should be your own?
This sort of subliminal message is so much more damaging than outright oppression that is easier to see and fight. And it’s a pity really, when it’s supported by someone I’ve always considered bright and intelligent. Today my objection might seem over-sensitive or like nitpicking. But in 20 years time I hope there will be more people who agree with me and less regressive advertising.
Here’s the advertisement.