Living With Equality
Learning to live with EQUALITY.
I remember reading an article, when Indra Nooyi, just made CEO of Pepsi. She spoke of her climb to the top and the fraying-at-it’s-end speech of having to balance the constantly tipping over home front. Along with the congratulations that flowed in that day, she said, came a virulent jab from her mother-in-law ‘I know you made CEO, but there’s no milk in the fridge.’ Every woman, even CEOs don’t get a day off from the grocery store.
But imagine that they did, for life. Think of it as your get-out-of-supermarket card, or for that matter get-out-of-anything-that-ties-you-down to-household card. I imagine there are not too many of these cards floating around. (Perhaps fewer even than Willy Wonka’s golden tickets.)
And I got one.
A wonderful support system at home meant that I never needed to even enter the kitchen. A husband that worked from home – and made it look like so much fun – meant that I wasn’t need for bus duties, parent’s day, organising play dates or birthday parties.
All I had to do was focus on my career, free to scale the heights of my ambition. No excuse to back out of a gruelling 7 day shoot schedule, no reason my I couldn’t spend nights a week on a pitch or at an editing studio. No maids to let in, no lunches to pack, no daughter-in-law to play for guests from overseas. I’ve even had my entire household spinning out of orbit trying to pack me my lunch every morning. I was living the feminist dream, in the flesh.
Yes, I got to be the man of the house. And along with the perks, also came a new found appreciation for the job. In particular, the part where you selflessly dole out large amounts of money for the people you love. My earnings that were previously just mine to spend on lunches, dinners and holidays or simply let pile up in the bank (for a rainy day), was now the stuff of groceries, school fees and other banal house hold expenses. And every time I bought myself something expensive, I felt a pang of guilt about excluding the rest of my family from the extravagance. Isn’t that what breadwinners do? Surprise their spouses with designer bags, and other such paraphernalia. Is that something I could do for my husband? I wouldn’t be a full feminist if I could play the role down to the last t.
My husband on the other hand imbibed the role of the primary care giver and person-responsible-for-the-home-front with seeming ease. Our kitchen was always wafting with the smell of pesto and hummus, our child was joyous and his snack box, the most sought after in class. And he also managed to set up a business from scratch. I’m sure he went through struggles of his own, but that’s his story to tell.
Our marriage is an experiment, every day, we push the boundaries of what is conventional and expected. And for the most part we’re doing well.