We women can handle a whole day's work with aplomb. We haul the children out of bed, ready them for school and rush to work. In office too, we have myriad tasks.

The other day, my sister said to me, “You know, Tom and I come home at the same time. Whereas he hits the sofa, stretches out his legs, grabs the paper, and calls out to me for a cup of tea, I get to throw down my bag, wash my face and hands, and head straight to the kitchen to make the much-awaited cup of tea! Now, you tell me, where is the equality and fairness in that?”

My friend says to me all the time, “Men are much better cooks than women. From the earliest ages, it is men who have cooked the most delectable dishes in all the great civilisations of the world!”

Let us fast forward to the age in which we live. The “mallu” culture deems it absolutely necessary that the woman be subservient to her man at all times. She could have been telling her husband that a bay window would be just the right thing for the living room, but who listens? Two weeks down the line, the dear husband comes home and declares, “You know what, honey? Ashok said that a bay window would be the perfect prop for our living room!” And so, by jove, workers descend on the house and up goes the bay window while the wife looks on bemused.

Men are good cooks, there is no doubt about that, but the reason for barring women from the kitchen is based on the age-old premise that women are the weaker, ineffectual sex, and all the power and glory is bound up in the stronger, masculine counterpart. Throughout generations there has been the tongue-in-cheek credo that women are somehow created for the sole purpose of catering to the whims and fancies of the menfolk. My boss used to tremble in agitated discomfiture at the slightest suggestion that I could handle the intricacies of computerised billing as opposed to the flagrant confusion of the novice interns, who were wet behind the ears as far as the original behemoth computer system was concerned.

We women can handle a whole day's work with aplomb and grace, where our day starts with the morning coffee served to the lethargic husband still sleepy at 7 or 8 in the morning, while we have hauled our recalcitrant kids out of their beds, supervised their morning ablutions, changed them into uniforms, and sat them down to their breakfasts. Come time to go to work, and we are equally competent in that field, shuffling portfolios, finding misplaced files for the harried bosses, dealing with befuddled juniors and moronic clients, or soothing frayed nerves of anxious clients.

Back home in the evening, and as my sister said, straight to the kitchen to prepare dinner while fielding questions about the day's activities, questioning kids regarding their unfinished lunches, incomplete school-work, projects to be done, home-work to be completed, quarrels to be arbitrated — she is judge, jury, conciliator, mentor, adviser, all rolled into one.

She looks around at the kids and wonders in amazed bewilderment, “Where oh, where are the little angels I sent out of the house in the morning?” There is not the slightest hint of that in the “Topsy”-like appearances they present at the end of the day. But no time now for abject regrets or frazzled responses — off to the bath, dinner, clean up the kitchen, and at last, oh for the comfort of a soft bed at last! Of course, I have been through this scenario and more.

Now let us see our macho counterparts deal with all the conundrums of a woman's day. Getting out of bed will be a chore, now where was the coffee-pot? You want what for breakfast? Of course, your lunch is not ready. Tell me, where in heaven's name are your uniforms hidden? Thank God, I am in the office at last. What a relief; how on earth does she handle all this; great to be a man, I say.

Gentlemen, any thoughts on this?

(The writer's email ID is chotyanne@yahoo.com)

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