When union minister of state for women and child development Krishna Tirath said that the government was considering to bring a law under which a husband would have to legally pay a definite amount to his wife from his salary in recognition of her labour, most wives would have instantly felt empowered. What I often thought was conveyed by the minister and it is sure to empower women financially or in the least keep their spirit to go on without complaints.
Men reading this write-up, by now, must have imagined their wives in their subconscious. They wouldn’t deny the fact that it is the wife who looks after the house and keeps it in order while they are away. She may not contribute to the house in monetary terms but her contribution as a whole is immense. She ensures that when her husband and children leave for their work and school/college carry their meals. Cooking is her primary work but on certain days it comes along with accompaniments – dishwashing and cleaning – when the maid does not turn up. Most housewives would agree it’s a regular phenomenon in their houses.
In case a housewife has popular in-laws, then she has to slip in the role of an ideal ‘bahu’ and entertain the guests with tea and snacks ad nauseam. Besides, there are several household chores that can’t be skipped and keep women on their heels from dawn until everyone goes to bed. The kind gesture of recognising her daylong labour with a fixed monthly amount won’t annoy her. It will be a reward for her fine balance of patience and craftsmanship in keeping the house hearth burning.
But that’s not my point. I want Tirath to include or at least spare a thought for the working women. I firmly believe that even working women should get a fixed amount from their husbands every month. Men would frown at this and call it absurd as the former already earns. Since I have a first-hand experience of the matter, I would pitch for some monetary recognition of my work, be it a token amount only.
I am a working woman. Going by a housewife’s version of her perception of me, I’m supposedly independent, upstart, confident and have a few other such traits to put me in the category. But ask me. Being a working woman has only ensured that I keep working all day long, both, at home and while in the office. Contrast this with my husband’s routine. His work starts at 10 am and finishes at 6 pm. He is then left with his own sweet time in which he either reads, talks on phone, watches television or lazily whiles away thinking for hours. Envy is bound to befriend women in such a scenario. Anger takes control of their mind when there is a firmaaish from the husband for a kofta, chholey, mushroom mutter and other delicacies to tickle his palate for the dinner. This is the story on regular days. Then there are days when the woman has to visit her in-laws or there are visiting in-laws. The wife is expected to play an ideal bahu and please them with her cooking skills while they tend to forget that the bahu also works in the office. All this while, the husband goes back in years and becomes a darling son to his family forgetting he ever got married. Cut to the same act’s scene 2. The husband is visiting his in-laws. While everybody is busy caring for him (which sadly includes me again), he plays the caliph and enjoys delicacies on his bed.
What Tirath has proposed may take time to materialise. Enforcing it as a law would be an uphill task given the amount of work done by women belonging to different strata of our society. It would have to be in accordance with the husband’s income. The good proposal will have to overcome several hurdles. So while the ministry does the maths to arrive at the right percentage of share for women, let’s keep our fingers crossed and pray that our husbands start giving us some until we claim the said amount written in the statute books.