Karyeshu dasi, Karaneshu mantri,Bhojyeshu mata
Kshamaya Dharitri,rupeshu Lakshmi, shayaneshu Rambha
A servant in work, a minister in counselling, a mother in feeding,
Mother Earth in patience, Goddess Lakshmi in looks and the celestial dancer Rambha in bed.
Thus the specifications were enumerated for a ‘Kula dharma patni’-A good housewife, according to aSubhashitha, a ‘wise saying’. This must have been according to the law given out by that most chauvinistic of all MCPs, namely Manu.
Women were just not expected to execute the jobs efficiently, they were to role-play also, which means accepting all the concomitant and collateral responsibilities too.
Anyway in this Subhashitha, the very ultimates like Lakshmi, Rambha etc are taken as the acme of perfection and a ‘good’ lady was expected to aspire for that standard.
This set me thinking about the standards a modern woman has to adopt to manage her multifarious activities responsibly to be called ‘A perfect woman’
If Manu were to define the rules for ‘a perfect woman’ in these modern times, they would perhaps run like these:
Thou shalt cook like a five star chef– Idli, Dosa, vada like a South Indian one, Chole, Batura etc like a Punjabi one, Biryani like a Hyderabi one, Chinese dishes like a schezwan .
(Incidentally, a well cooked home food is complimented as ‘Professional!’ and the restaurant fare is considered to be the ultimate if it is like ‘home food’)!
Sorry I digress.
Manu would have continued,
Thou shalt wash and press like a washerman, polish the shoes like a shoeshine, repair the dresses like a tailor.
Thou shalt not emulate Santhana Lakshmi, but stop having children as and when the State/spouse tells you to.
Thou shalt attend to the children’s homework like a Tuition master.
Thou shalt handle family finances like an Auditor General.
Thou shalt type letters, attend phone calls and look after the Bank work like a trained personal secretary.
Thou shalt maintain a neat, tidy house like a paid housekeeper.
Thou shalt look after and drive the family car to the school and back like a professional driver.
Thou shalt maintain thy looks like a professional model, hold good posts and contribute to the family kitty like Dhana Lakshmi.
Thou shalt have own Medical Insurance and Credit cards like Arogya Lakshmi and Aishwarya Lakshmi.
Thou shalt carry out small repairs and replacements like a grease monkey.
On family car trips outside the town thou shalt navigate like a professional navigator apart taking turns and driving some stretches
Thou shalt be a good wife, mother, daughter- in- law and a sister- in- law like Ekta’s heroines.
And the list goes on and on with small changes, generation to generation. I am sure my friends would be eager to add their own to the list.
After all this, I would be immensely grateful to Mr Manu if he would hold himself from making a stipulation like,
Thou shalt annihilate all the household pests (not pets, though both have similar rights in sharing the house)-like mice, cockroaches, lizards etc. yourself like Goddess Durga.