Milk on one burner; egg boiling on the other, bread slices in the toaster and tap running over vegetables. Latika was running from one corner of the kitchen to the other. Just then the doorbell rang. She ran to open the door.
“Meera, you are late again. You know how important every minute is in the morning. Now chop these vegetables fast,” screamed Latika to her house help.
“Yes Didi,” replied Meera in a low voice.
“Just keep an eye on the gas burner, I will go and wake up the kids,” instructed Latika as she walked towards the children’s room.
“Kunal, Anshu, wake up children. Get up or you will be late for the school bus.”
After spending ten minutes in an effort to pull children out of bed, Latika rushed to pack their lunch boxes and get their breakfast ready.
At the breakfast table, she realized that Ajay was still asleep.
“Oh no! Kunal did you wake up Papa?”
“Mom really? In which house do children wake up their dad? It’s only you who allow Papa to sleep till late,” replied Kunal in an irritated manner while Anshu giggled.
“Honey, he was working till late night. It’s ok.” Latika said in a defensive tone.
“I’ll drop you to bus stop. Don’t worry,” she continued.
Later in the evening, when Ajay came home, Latika was busy teaching her children.
“Latika, please make a cup of strong tea. It was a long day in the office today,” said Ajay as he entered the house talking over the phone, without even noticing what Latika or kids were doing.
“Yes sure.” Latika quickly headed towards the kitchen.
“Will you accompany me to the grocery store Ajay? Some kids’ stationery also needs to be bought,” asked Latika while serving him snacks and tea.
“I’ll rest for sometime. Why don’t you take Kunal with you?” suggested Ajay.
When Latika drove to the market, Kunal questioned her with a deep concern.
“Mom, are all fathers like this?”
“Like what, Kunal?”
“Like Papa. He only likes to do his office work. He doesn’t help you at all. He doesn’t even like to spend time with us. I don’t even remember when was the last time he played with me,” blurted out Kunal.
“He’s just busy with work Kunal. He loves us all,” Latika explained.
“You also work Mom but still you take good care of us. You never ignore us the way he does. He never attends our school events. He doesn’t know my friends and he never takes me for extra curricular activities.” Kunal persisted.
“Archit’s father plays with him every evening; Sam’s dad drops him to school; Rohan’s dad never misses even school PTMs but our dad always has excuse for everything,” the little boy continued to grumble.
“I wish you had a better husband Mom!” he suddenly announced.
“Kunal! You shouldn’t talk like that. Both of us have separate roles. That’s how family functions dear,” Latika justified.
But Kunal’s words lingered on her mind for long.
“I wish you had a better husband Mom!”
Though she had justified to her son that both mother and father had separate roles, she knew in her heart that gender discrimination was deeply rooted in her family. No matter how much women have progressed, their share of family responsibilities was status quo.
#EachForEqual was never practiced in true sense in common Indian families and if anyone tried doing it, they were thoroughly criticized or mocked at by the society.
‘A better husband’ she wasn’t sure but she did hope that her son would grow up to become a better person- a responsible husband!