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Strong women do not cry. It does not mean that they don’t feel the pain. Isnt it ??
At the end of an extremely tiring and stressful day, this was the exact thought dominating Appu’s mind. Looking at Amar her husband and Arjun her six month old son sleeping peacefully, she sighed and realized that her craving for a little pamper and a gentle cuddle will not be met today as well. This is what is called the disadvantage of being an all-rounder strong woman, she thought. Sometimes being a strong woman becomes your weakness.
Aparajita or Appu was raised very independently by her parents and was an exceptionally confident and poised girl with an enormous physical and mental strength which she used very aptly. From cooking, cleaning, grocery and vegetable shopping, planning for parties and festivals to more of boyish tasks like fitting bulbs and tubes, fixing licking taps and broken furniture, she could manage to do almost everything.
Even after marriage, her husband Amar and in laws were very happy with her ability to expertly run the house and started leaving most of the tasks completely to her. “My super woman”, Amar called her with pride. Appu also greatly enjoyed appreciation and the freedom she had in taking her own decisions. After a couple of years, Appu became the whole and sole manager of the house. So if there were no vegetables, tell Appu to get them. Washing machine not working, ask Appu to call the technician. Guests coming over, tell Appu to get some gifts. So much so that, even when she became pregnant, she continued to manage the household the same as before. Of course, she was cared and asked what she felt like eating and occasionally her mother in law would cook. But Appu did not use it as an excuse from her other responsibilities.
Sometimes, she did feel tired and irritated when even for some small thing, her husband would check with her. She was saddened at his lack of interest in household matters. But more than that, she was unhappy because he couldn’t understand her need for break, rest and peace from the “roj roj ki jhanjhat”. Cant he see that I am pregnant and tired and need some pampering as well?? She thought. But she avoided any argument in case it affected her baby. But her longing for a fatherly affection remained unfulfilled.
After her delivery, she was up and active just within one month and with the added responsibility of the baby Arjun. But just within 15 days, she realized that the multi-tasking, she could so easily accomplish before was proving out of her capability. She was physically unfit and with the baby draining almost all of her energy, she felt she had over-estimated her ability to manage everything.
One night, she explained to Amar in detail, how it is getting tougher for her to manage everything and asked him to help. Initially, Amar was empathetic and took up weekly grocery and vegetable shopping. It went well for a couple of months but then Amar started forgetting things and it was again left to Appu to save the day. When again she brushed up the subject, Amar was mostly evasive and told her “Why do you need my help? Tum kar lo na. Pehle to tum sab khud hi kar leti thi. My super woman”.
So this was it. Inspite of watching Appu toil and work round the clock for the family, Amar was not willing to support her. But what was more surprising was that Amar did not think that Appu required any support at all in the first place. Just like her in laws, Amar also felt that Appu was infallible and could accomplish what was expected one way or the other.
Today, when all she wanted was to feel like a baby again in the arms of her husband, she had to force herself to sleep. But she couldn’t sleep and kept on thinking. Why is nobody concerned about my needs? What did she do wrong ?
After lot of thinking, she realized that since the very beginning, she had felt proud when Amar and her in-laws praised her abilities of multi-tasking. In keeping up with her personality of strong woman, she had unconsciously ignored her basic womanly needs of care and indulgence. Also, she had rarely exposed her vulnerabilities in front of Amar. Where she had seen other women cry, get upset, stop talking or sweet talk their husbands when they faced any challenge, Appu was stable and fought heads on with her problems. This in turn made Amar feel that Appu was above “the trivial womanly needs”. In short, her strength had become her weakness today.
Yes. She had hit the bull’s eye now. THE TRIVIAL WOMANLY NEEDS. The only point being – the needs were not TRIVIAL. They were essential. And, four years of marriage, six months of mother hood and several sleepless nights later, she had realized the significance and the real strength of what she considered to be very ordinary feminine traits.
She was a woman. A strong woman. Yes. But a woman nevertheless – with the characteristic feminine emotional and mental needs. She needed appreciation but with a cozy cuddle. She needed care, affection with a little mollycoddling once in a while. She needed to be told that its ok to be unable to multitask every time. She needed acceptance for her imperfections. She needed to cry in front of Amar and still feel strong. Rather than feeling the pain, she needed to ease it and feel happy and light after the tears. She needed all the little silly and girly things which she earlier considered unworthy.
Yes. Appu understood and could sleep peacefully now. From tomorrow, she would still be a strong, all-rounder and Amar’s “Super woman”. But from now on, she decided to stress more on the “WOMAN” part of it rather than the “SUPER”.