“You are washing dishes? What kind of man are you? We never raised you to do things that women are expected to do! We never raised you to be such a weak man! You are under so much influence of your wife that you are turning into a weak husband, Rahul! You don’t say anything to her and go out of the way to do things for her! She is using you and you are letting yourself being used!”
“Maa, what’s wrong with washing dishes! It’s my house too! And, I won’t be less a man just because I washed some dishes and helped my wife! Ma, we are equal and I am not ashamed of doing household work.”
“Yes, beta! I know you are learning new lessons from your wife on how to be a good husband; how men and women are equal. But, there are differences – some things that men are expected to do and some that only are women expected to! What people will say if they come to know that Bahu Rani sleeps in the room and my son washes utensils! What a shame!”
While I was lying down because I was too tired with all the cooking and cleaning that I did in the morning as the maid took a day off, I was hearing everything that my mother-in-law was telling my husband!
Rather than being proud of his son and her own parenting style, my mother-in-law was cribbing and scolding her feminist son! She kept calling him a weak husband and Jodu ka Ghulam and kept telling him how society would shame him if people come to know!
But my husband kept explaining it to her how he treats his wife as an equal partner and how he doesn’t care what society calls or labels him as!
At that moment, I was wondering who will tell my mother-in-law that strong husbands stand with their wives and not against them? Who will tell her that strong husbands treat wives as equal partners and not like doormats? Who will tell her that it’s the weak men who are scared of society and become the torchbearer of the patriarchal mindset?
But this is not just my mother-in-law. It is shameful how our whole society labels men as weak if they are feminists or treat women with respect, love, care and equality. Our society still worships toxic masculinity that treats women nothing more than bonded labour. They shame supportive husbands and call them ‘jodu ka ghulam’ (wife’s servant); They blame them for not being strong enough to control their wives!
Even though I wanted to get up and tell her that she should be proud of her son that he understands why women deserve the same respect as men! I heard Rahul telling his mother:
“Maa, I know you had a tough life. Papa never used to help you. And, to be a good mother and a good wife, you struggled so much! You were the first one to get up and the last one to sleep! And, while you never used to say anything, but I understood how you were struggling all alone with your teaching job, then raising me and Ritu along with doing all the domestic chores all alone! I was young at that time and didn’t know how to help! But, now I am making sure that atleast Sonal doesn’t have to lead a difficult like yours! Maa, I am sorry I couldn’t help you at that time, but I will make sure that I help out Sonal!”
After Rahul completed these words, there was a long pause full of silence. My mother-in-law was speechless. She didn’t know what to say. She went back to her room! And, I went to hug Rahul for being the most supportive and loving husband and son!
After this incident, my mother-in-law never stopped Rahul from doing domestic chores. I am happy that my mother-in-law understood that women deserve better! And, strong men are not the ones who control wives; Rather those who stand by them no matter what happens!