<%-- Page Title--%> Slice Of Life <%-- End Page Title--%>

<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 146 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

March 19, 2004

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The Imperfect Woman
The Imperfect Man

Richa Jha

This is old news. About a week before the International Women's Day, a front-page advertisement in the daily caught my attention. Move over the numerous 'Miss' titles of the country, this time someone actually thought about women like us. They wanted a Mrs Bangladesh. Could I be the one, there was no reason I couldn't.

"I am filling this form", I announced to The Hubby. I filled in my name, my occupation, and then, strangely enough, they asked for the husband's name and occupation too. What does the husband's work have to do with the woman being a Mrs. B'desh, I wondered. No big man, The Hubby, I knew I stood little chance of winning the title simply on the basis of my photograph (the ad asked for a passport sized photograph as well). The plans for entering the contest stood aborted as quickly as they had been made. But as I had already got into the mood of it, I decided to enter into another online contest. There are several of these floating on the internet around this time of the year. Most of these contests, which celebrate and salute the 'spirit of womanhood', are usually meant for women who believe that The International Women's Day is all about having a lavish lunch at the latest restaurant.

Al right, go ahead and voice your opinion- that I shouldn't be criticising and participating in these contests at the same time. Well, honestly, I don't know which Devil possessed me, but there I sat keying in my answers. Mind you, most of the 50 questions (a mix of open-ended as well as multiple-choice type) were intensely thought provoking and called for profound soul searching. And there was no point fibbing the replies. In any case, they didn't know who I was. This one didn't even ask for a photograph. Here's a brief sampler, in random order (there was no time limit, so I could take my time over each question):

Q. Do you sing lullabies?
A. No, the only time I tried, my child cried through the night.
Q. Which is your favourite lullaby?
A. NA.
Q. Who do you pamper the most with love?
a) my children; b) my husband/ partner/ boyfriend; c) my pet(s); d) my nails/face/hair; e) others (please specify).
A. e) others- My music system.
Q. Who brings joy to your life?
a) my children; b) my husband/ partner/ boyfriend; c) my parents; d) my pet(s); e) others (please specify).
A. e) others my domestic aid, when she comes with a fresh load of the juiciest neighbourhood gossip.
Q. What is your idea of a perfect holiday?
a) spend time with my family; b) spend time with my friends; c) go on a picnic/ play; d) cook a sumptuous meal and invite people over; e) others (please specify)
A. e) others- cook Maggie and watch three movies back to back.
Q. Who would be a perfect date for you? Some one who is:
a) handsome; b) caring and sensitive; c) macho; d) sexy; e) others (please specify)
A. e) others- someone who fails to show up.
Q. Who would be the perfect partner for you? Someone who is:
a) handsome; b) a companion; c) caring and sensitive; d) dotes on my children; e) other (please specify)
A. e) other- who has dozed off by the time I get into bed.
Q. In an unfortunate calamity like an earthquake, if there was one material possession you had time to grab and run down the stairs, what would it be:
a) jewellery ; b) jewellery; c) jewellery; d) jewellery; e) other (please specify)
A. e) other- my nasal drops.
Q. Out of the several roles you juggle each day, which one gives you utmost satisfaction?
a) mother; b) wife/ girlfriend/ partner; c) bread-winner; d) true friend to my family and friends; e) other (please specify)
A. e) other- the role of a toilet-cleaner.

It took me several hours to finish the form. Having filled in the questions, the online contest form asked for my name. Then for the partner's. This was getting to be annoying, can't a woman breathe without a man? Anyway, I put in bold letters, The Hubby. I quickly skimmed through my answers one last time and pressed on the 'submit' icon. Immediately got a warning from them saying, "Sorry, you have not filled in the partner's name. This is not a correct entry. Please complete the form again and submit". "But this is his actual name. Why aren't they accepting it?", now furious, I muttered to myself. After a couple of more tries, I had to cook up some phoney name and submit the fourth time around. Needless to say, but promptly, another message flashed on the screen saying, "Sorry, none of your entries match with our database of replies. You seem to have entered the wrong contest. This contest is open to women only. You may have better luck at the Alternative Personality contest. Perhaps you may like to visit this link below: www.mrmanofworld.com. We wish you the very best in life…"

Strange as it may sound, yesterday, The Hubby received a mail in his mailbox congratulating him for having been selected as the International Woman of The Year! It so happened that The Hubby, chiefly to spite me, had secretly entered the same contest. And no, he didn't have to lie about his sex status. You see, least expecting a man to enter this contest, the form had no separate box asking for M/F status. But how unfortunate for him now, he can't even celebrate this victory in public. What a womanly thing to do in an unmanly sort of way…there, there, I can already hear so many of you gasp in horror!






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