Monday, February 20, 2012

Female Chauvinists!

What do you call the demanding and bullying type of wives, with an air of superiority, who treat their men with little respect. Female Chauvinists? This term would be particularly apt for the wives of the ever growing breed of henpecked hubands in India, thanks to education and empowerment of women.

There are two types of henpecked husbands. The difference is in the way the wives treat them. While in the first instance the husband is treated like a slave, in the second instance he is treated like a ‘kid’ by the wife. In both the cases the wives obviously are the dominant partners.

In the former case the husband will await instructions from his wife for everything. She will dictate the time when he can get up , have his coffee or his meals, what he can or cannot eat, when he can go out, by what time he should be back home, etc.etc. When guests are visiting she will use him as her able assistant – make him do all kinds of errands. She will monitor his conversation with the guests. Openly admonish him if he is off track or says something which he should not have. He has to be at her service every waking moment.

The second type of henpecked husband is one who is not allowed to do anything. Poor chap doesn’t even know how to light the gas stove, leave alone make a cup of coffee in the morning.

I remember a friend’s wife proudly declaring to a group of friends at a party, “You know, Ram doesn’t know anything; he is like a baby. He doesn’t know what medicine to take at what time. I have to literally spoon feed him”. My dear friend Ram far from being embarrassed was beaming with a smile on his face, proud of his dominating wife! His job is only to be the breadwinner in the family, handing over his entire salary to his wife and waiting every morning for the small change she will give him for his day`s expenses. In the evening he has to account for the generous (!) pocket money she had given him.

I know of a cousin who could not have a free conversation on the phone with anyone, without his wife overhearing him on the parallel line and interjecting with her own comments from time to time. It was embarrassing for the callers but the husband was quite happy his wife was steering the conversation. While we may pity such husbands, they seem to thoroughly enjoy their henpecked status.

What happens to such husbands when their wives predecease them? I have seen a few cases where the guys are totally shattered. Just like what happens to women when their dominating husbands suddenly pass away without keeping them informed about their bank accounts or their assets and liabilities etc. They feel like sailors on a rudderless ship in a turbulent sea. Some recover quickly, take charge of their lives and convert their new found freedom into an opportunity to lead a new life. Others languish in depression, unable to bear the loss of the dominant partner and a few follow their spouses to heaven so that they can serve their master in the other world too!

Thank god I am not a henpecked husband and I have my wife`s permission to say so!!!

Feedback welcome on

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Husband for forty years!

I am writing this piece, on the morning of 26th January 2012 when the country is celebrating its 62nd Republic Day – a day when my wife and I lost our respective freedom 40 years ago. Yes! It is our 40th wedding anniversary!

I cannot believe that forty years have just flown by since we got married at Sivakami Kalyana Mandapam on Radhakrishnan Salai in Chennai where the South Indian fast food giant Saravana Bhavan is operating today!

I was 30 years old when I took the plunge; a “late comer” to the marriage scene of those days! My parents were obviously a worried lot! My mother in her relentless pursuit to find a bride for me appealed to every single God in her Pooja room! She even visited Siddhi Vinayak Temple in Prabhadevi in Bombay for twenty one weeks on Tuesdays seeking my favorite elephant god’s help! Lo & Behold; within a month of completing her vow, God answered her prayers! She received a daughter-in-law called Prabhavathy!

We started our married life in Delhi where I was working as a Senior Manager in an Ad Agency. Within thirteen months of our marriage, we gave the greatest present to our parents – grand-parenthood! Our daughter Kavita was born. A year later we shifted to Chennai, had two more lovely children - Sowmya & Balaji, and then moved to our own independent House in Shastri Nagar, Adyar.

Prabha had to face the usual problems that a typical Indian housewife faces in a joint family system. She overcame her problems to start a new chapter in her life, giving full vent to her talents in writing, singing, gardening and other hobbies she acquired on the way!

In due course, our children got married, to partners of their choice, whom my wife and I helped to identify!! My daughters have blessed us with four grand children ( good balance of 2 boys and 2 girls) who are now aged between 8 and 15, while my son who got married 3 years ago is yet to open his account!.

Now a review of our forty years of marriage – was it a successful union, have we lived upto each other`s expectations? Is it a happy marriage?

From my point of view I would say a big yes. My wife has more than lived up to my expectations over the years! Befitting our Indian culture, she helped me look after my family, which included my aging parents. As I was busy with my career and involved with several voluntary organizations, she did a great job of balancing duty to the family and to me. Being a social animal that I was, she attended parties and also hosted plenty of them at home as well. It must have been tough but she did an admirable job.

A fast learner, she overcame several of her initial inhibitions to become a wonderful partner, good daughter-in-law, lovely mother and above all a great homemaker! In the last two decades of her life, she has acquired an identity of her own and walks tall in our social circles! I am certainly proud of her achievements.

What has been my role in this arranged marriage? I believe I have genuinely helped my wife in coming out of her shell. Actively helped her to develop her talents for writing, singing etc. Published a collection of her short stories in Tamil which helped showcase her hidden talents to the world. Far from being a MCP, unlike most of the Indian husbands, I have tried to be a women`s libber in a man`s world! Working shoulder to shoulder with her on many fronts - doing most of the household shopping, helping her in the kitchen when necessary or getting her manuscripts in Tamil typed, proof read them and send them to the publications and always extending a helping hand during parties at home. I have sincerely tried to be an equal partner in this joint venture! We have had our share of fun traveling around the world and within the country.

In spite of the usual quota of differences, misunderstandings and shouting matches involved in any marriage, because of our “forgive and forget policy”, we have never allowed our differences to be carried forward to the next day.

On this special occasion, (when I have completed forty years of being the husband of the same wife!), I thank the Lord for blessing me with a happy marriage and my wife for making it happen! As far as I am concerned it has been a truly successful union.

I wonder what my wife has to say. I must request her to write her piece, which she would probably write in Tamil, her innate language of communication !