I am not rich enough to claim that money cannot buy happiness. For this reason and also because I am not sure myself, I won’t say that money can buy joy, and I won’t say that it does not have the capability to purchase happiness. But I am one hundred percent sure that money can’t buy common sense and kindness. It could not in the times when emperors would abuse their power and force people to become their slaves. And it cannot in the times when accompanying your spouse in the kitchen is considered slavery by the majority of Indians.
Now, I don’t live in an unrealistic fantasy world of my own, so I do know that when it comes to gender-equality, we have a long way to go. But what I don’t get is the hypocrisy that is ingrained in our system. There are women who claim to understand what it means to give girls the freedom they deserve as human beings. They don’t discriminate; they send their sons and daughters to the same school, invest equally on their education and upbringing (sometimes more on their daughters) and shower upon them the same amount of love. They do everything in their capacity to ensure that following the big fat weddings and dowry that is conveniently called ‘gifts’ (more on the dowry part some other day), their daughters are given the same respect and love in their new homes. These same women, when they find their sons cooking or even refilling a water bottle, say things like ‘itna bhi neeche nahi lgte hain biwi k’. This is the hypocrisy that I fail to understand and honestly, I refuse to understand.
And it does not stop here. Women talk about good husbands in a demanding tone at their kitty/gossip parties and gloat about the ones who don’t move a thing and contribute to the maintenance of their homes only by paying the bills. Men mock the men who publicly express their love for their wives and elderly wonder if the wives of such men are witches or have some connections with the experts of black magic.
When a woman’s life completely revolves around her family in an unhealthy way, the way that is too selfless to give her any happiness in the long run, she is complimented as devoted, doting and devout. When a man lends her a hand in the kitchen of his own home, where his wife is cooking for their family, where his presence should not even be called as help, he is looked at as a joru ka ghulam. You read the last two lines again, then again and then again. Trust me you will find this whole thing more nauseating and bizarre every single time!
And do you know why this is practised so commonly and conveniently in our culture? Because unfortunately, one of the most brittle things to exist in the world is male ego. You tell a seven year old boy that he is girly or feminine and he will do everything he can to prove that is macho enough. Adolescent boys talk about bra straps, breasts, say cheap things about periods and laugh out loud over the jokes that are mostly offensive and seldom humorous. Most of them participate in these discussions to reassure their peers that they are manly enough to understand the inside jokes.This is where it starts from- the episodes of challenging the male ego through stupid comments and meaningless statements.
To all the guys reading this, I want you to know that girls and women don’t associate masculinity with a set of shallow things. And when you grow up to become a man, we don’t respect you any less because an aunty at some family gathering says that you are a slave to your wife for doing the bare minimum. So, please don’t let them attack your ego like it is the easiest target of the people who cannot see other people happy.
There is a fundamental problem with how people say things and their choice of words is wrong, so wrong that there is no way you can justify it.
When they should be saying- “He discusses things with his partner before taking important decisions”, they say “Biwi se puche bina kuch nai karta.” “He loves his wife” becomes “Aashiq bna firta hai biwi ka”. Instead of saying- “They both go to work so they have equally divided the household chores”, they choose to say- “Kama k laati hai na toh neeche laga k rakha hai.” And the most hypocritical part about this whole thing is that when you are in Canada or America, it changes from being ‘jhoru ka gulaam’ to managing things in the country where it is normal and not frowned upon.
I have come to realize that the women who make these obnoxious remarks are either jealous because their husbands don’t understand what it means to be there for the partner or they refuse to give up on what they have learnt about gender roles all their lives. And the men who make fun of such men are simply incapable of understanding that doing laundry or going into a kitchen or managing their own study at home, does not make them any less masculine.
They will turn into a hen or an owl or whatever their job demands for the bosses who don’t care, but have a problem keeping their own plate in the kitchen sink. It’s not even helping in most cases, it is simply being human. It’s not even about being ‘husband of the year’ in most cases, it is just about doing the least you can to be there.
Eligibility criteria for being a jhoru ka gulaam? You don’t have to do dishes, hold her shopping bags, wash clothes, change your kids’ diapers or bake her cakes; you just have to address her with love, call her darling or something in a gathering and you will be labelled as jhoru ka gulaam forever.
But it should not matter for as long as you are happy and your partner is happy, because if your spouse thinks of you as a good man, no scale will ever be good enough to rate your manhood and nothing will ever be strong enough to challenge your masculinity.
And honestly, the jhoru does not want you to be a ghulaam, she just wants you to be there.