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     Volume 4 Issue 4 | July 16, 2004 |

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Slice of Life

The Superwoman

Richa Jha

She wakes up with the alarm at 6.00, quickly ensures that her children's clothes are in place; starts waking up the children in the other room – and this is just round one (which self respecting student ever woke up without some dire threat). In between the several wake-up calls, she hurriedly gets ready, and then finally pulls her children out of bed. Around this time, she also starts waking her still snoring (despite this morning pandemonium!) husband, dashes to the kitchen (let's assume she has help there) and hurriedly asks the bua to prepare breakfast for the family. Back again into the children's room to make sure they haven't dozed off on the toilet seat, back in the bedroom to finally drag the husband out of bed and shove the toothbrush into his hands. Rushes back into the kitchen to instruct the bua on that day's meals, forces breakfast down her kids' system, rushes with hers (or skips it altogether), collects her bag and dupatta, enquires one last time from her children if they've packed their school bags with the right day's books, and out they all leave for their respective areas of work.

At office, between fielding questions, shaping responses, strategising, presenting, planning, executing, or simply jesting with colleagues, the unrelenting pressure is killing. There are days when she wishes she could hang around with her younger colleagues after office hours, but there's always that home plunged in expectations and responsibilities to get back to. Every moment counts.

On her way home she stops by to pick up fruits and vegetables, collects her child's bicycle that went in for a minor repair, sits with her children for their homework, or, drops them off/ picks them from their respective tuitions. Just when she sits to finally stretch herself on the couch comes a call from her friend reminding her of that evening's get together.

On her feet again to dash in for a quick shower, she rushes through her make-up, changes into something gorgeous, makes sure that her husband has not worn burgundy socks with blue shirt and tan shoes, ensures that the children have had their dinner, tucks them in bed, steps out worrying if the bua has turned off the gas, switched off the geyser switch, and has bolted the door secure from inside. Then there's also that nagging concern that they'll be terribly delayed in reaching their venue because there're still those flowers to be picked up. She presses the door-bell, draws up a deep breath, and enters a room full of curious on-lookers.

And then she smiles; for smile is what you have to do when you meet people. Her smile helps her mask her worries, momentarily helps those puckered signs of tension of having to sleep again with half-prepared office presentations and leaking drain-pipes ease from her forehead, helps others believe she is glowing in her efficiency, and makes other women envy this super-woman.

She chitchats, she eats, and smiles some more. Behind those beguiling smiles hide the drooping eyes, the mild head-ache, the revolting body joints, the aching feet. Behind those most heartfelt invitations to others for a get-together at her place in future lies a mind that has already raced to the day she'll be managing the feast over and above her regular chores. She looks at her watch and signals to her husband to leave. Tomorrow is yet another day…

That sounded like the most monotonous piece of writing you've ever read, didn't it? Just think about the person who has to perform this drill every single day of the week.

Not to mention in passing that this was a crisis-free day for her when the domestic aid arrived, and arrived on time, or she herself did not wake up with a massive upset tummy after the previous night's dining out, she did not discover a hole in her saree when she took it out to wear it in the morning, the driver landed and landed on time, the car didn't break down around the corner of her colony, she didn't spend an hour at a busy intersection waiting for the traffic to move, her boss did not expect four presentations from her by evening, she did not receive a mid day call from the school demanding an explanation for why no one had collected the kids from school even an hour after school (it was the husband's turn, and you know what happens when fathers are given school duties…), she did not have to dash home from work because her mother-in-law was feeling slightly un-well, or because her child had jumped off the balcony, her child did not bring home a note saying the geography project had to be submitted by next morning (so she didn't have to sit up all night completing it for him), and so on.

I am glad I am not a super-woman.



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