Ladies and Gentlemen!
On International Women's Day, March 8, I was going for my regular evening walk when I passed by my neighbour Manish's house and he invited me for a cup of tea. He was seen to be having some arguments with his wife Sneha even as she seemed to be busy sharing some #ChoosetoChallenge IWD posts on Instagram and FaceBook.
"Why these people are creating such a hype on International Women's Day?," Manish couldn't conceal his displeasure. "It is much ado about nothing!" I said let them have their day, what's wrong? "I will explain," Manish put on the air of an academic he wanted to be although he ended up as a manager in a new generation bank. Every programme begins with 'Ladies and Gentlemen.' Have you ever seen someone address the audience as Gentlemen and Ladies?
When it comes to titles, the male folk have only ‘Master’ and ‘Mr’ while women have ‘Miss’, ‘Mrs’ and Ms (neutral marital status). Indeed, Manish seemed to have some valid points and done some home work!
Sneha brought a steaming cup of lemon tea and noticing my silence and embarrassed looks, “Men are Men!”
Meanwhile, Manish was having more ammunition. Someone came with a wedding invitation the other day. And there it was written “Mrs and Mr Manish!” And the invitation begins with ‘xxxx…. Daughter of Mrs and Mr.’ I said it is a common practice in writing to address an individual in general as ‘he’ but some people try to show neutrality by writing ‘he’ or ‘she’. Why take this trouble? (S)He would be fine!
“You find wives accompanying ministers, Presidents and Governors wherever they go. But you won’t find husbands accompanying woman ministers, presidents or governors,” Sneha quipped
Meanwhile, their children Aromal and Anagha had just completed their revisions for online annual examinations. The younger one Aromal in 6th Grade had the Social Sciences revision which dealt with the Constitution of India and BR Ambedkar’s role in drafting it. Thereafter, the teacher asked everyone, what is your ambition? While most of them said, ‘engineer,’ ‘doctor’ ,’IAS’ etc, Aromal said. I want to go abroad, study and settle there. And the teacher was indeed in for surprise with his explanation. Our national pledge says, “All Indians are my brothers and sisters. How can I marry and settle here?!”
That may be the reason Congress leader Rahul Gandhi remains a bachelor while his father chose to marry an Italian, Manish quipped.
Meanwhile, Anagha in her 10th grade revising her Economics lessons asked why the contribution of women in households towards cooking and cleaning was not counted in Gross Domestic Product(GDP). And that question was directed at me. “Uncle you are a market analyst and all… can you explain?” I could see Sneha’s face brimming with pride over her daughter’s remarks.
Manish sensed danger, the weather was indeed getting hot and as we looked out the leaves of the trees were not moving at all. And he switched on the TV which had only Covid-19 updates to show. Meanwhile, as I prepared to leave, my Whatsapp beeped. “No dosa mavu, no vegetables or coconut at home,” frantic message from my wife. Whether her contributions are counted in GDP or not, unless I rush before the super market closing, I would go hungry for dinner!