My 18-year-old niece Asha changed overnight. Always fond of lounging in jeans, she started wearing saris or churidar and kurta. A bindi made a sudden appearance on her hitherto blank forehead; her hair tied in a demure ponytail came as a surprise after her wild banshee look of yore! Her mother was worried, though secretly happy to see the transformation for the better. She couldn’t believe her years of nagging had paid off at last and Asha was turning out to be the model daughter. She requested me to probe and find out the reason for the metamorphosis and I cornered Asha in one of the family gatherings.
Unlike her usual boisterous manner, she was very subdued and spoke in soft tones. Unable to contain my curiosity, I took her to my sister’s room and said, “Out with it Asha, why this new look?” Asha blushed, fluttered her eyelashes and whispered, “My boyfriend likes me to be this way”. I burst out laughing “Your boyfriend? Pray why should you do what he wants you to do”.
“Come on aunty. Don’t you understand? I love him and would do anything for him. He’s very old-fashioned and wants me to dress the way his sisters do.”
It was a most touching gesture as well as the most stupid .What women will do to please a man! It reminded me of my friend Kusum who was very keen on cutting her hair short but was afraid to do so because her husband was against it. And why was he so? Because his mother did not approve of a daughter-in-law with short hair!
Sometime I wonder what we women are doing to ourselves. All our life, we are pandering to the wishes of our father, brother, husband or sons. My teenage sons refused to go out with me when I wear my jeans. “You should look like a mother”, was their logic in asking me to wear a saree. They also have set ideas on what they expect from their wives. The other day, I was discussing the attributes of a vacuum cleaner with a professor in an engineering college. He was vehemently opposing the concept of any mechanical device that makes housework time saving. “My wife has nothing to do the whole day, why can’t she do things manually? She has all the time. I don’t like her sleeping in the afternoons, as she will get fat and lazy. I think housewives should not depend on gadgets “All I could say was boooo to him!