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The whole ordeal began with a rather benign incident. The glass toppled and the leftover milk spilled on the table. It only needed picking up things around and dabbing the kitchen towel to clear out the mess. Instead, it felt like the lock of the Pandora’s box was opened and all the old skeletons were out to haunt them all over again.
After an hour of accusing, counter arguments and digging dirt on each others’ conduct both Seema and her husband wished for it to stop. Seema felt like wreck. In the heat of the moment she had dared her husband to run the household for a week. But it was not the household chores that bothered her. She ran the household, cooked, cleaned, managed her children’s studies, supported her husband, entertained guests-all single handedly. Exhaustion was only a byproduct. The troubling fact was that she felt emotionally bankrupt. She did not enjoy nor attached any value to her contribution to the family. She felt like a free flying bird trapped in a cage. And every now and then she had simmered enough for the lava to erupt into a steaming rolling volcano.
Rakesh understood that. He had been a loving husband and a doting father to their 6-year old daughter. He enjoyed being at home, spending time with his family and mostly seeing her happy. He would shop things online for her, surprise her with little treats, take her to the movies. Theirs was a trusting loving relationship. And to see his wife so unhappy was the final feeling of helplessness and failure. And finally, not knowing what to do, he apologized to leaving the glass on the bed side table and offered to help out in future.
Seema was already in tears and shook her head knowing that though his intentions were well meaning, he wouldn’t be able to help out. He had busy schedules. He worked really hard. The office followed him on his phone and email even when they went out for dinners or people came visiting. And she felt sorry for him and wanted him to get some rest. It was this empathy and deep love for him that drove her to work so hard at home. He wasn’t the problem. She was and he wouldn’t be able to help out.
Rakesh gingerly sat next to her on the bed and wrapped his hands around her. She leaned on his shoulder trying to control her sobbing. Very softly, almost in audibly, between breaths, she said “I hate housework. I want the real work.”
In the quite that followed Rakesh thought of job options and work opportunities. Seema was well educated and hardworking. Getting a job wasn’t a problem. That she couldn’t leave her children with the nanny, or compromise on home cooked food or spotless bedspreads was the dilemma. She wanted the best of both worlds and he knew it never really happens…
The next day, Rakesh was in a meeting with his company’s advertising agency that was developing a new advertisement. When the meeting finished, he casually mentioned that he knows a ad-film production person who was looking for a small assignment. They were interested. They could always use a fresh talent!
The next morning Seema was in a hurry. She was dressed in a navy blue dress and peep-toes. Her hair were pulled back in a tight top knot to reveal her sharp features and big eyes. With one final check on her makeup, she picked her bag and rushed out of the door. It was not until she was waiting in the intimidating conference room that she felt nervous.
In the meeting at the advertising agency she had clearly mentioned that she needed flexi timings! They had happily agreed. For the next three months Seema had squeezed every free moment to work on a short film. She worked when her daughter would go to school and then late at nights. On many occasions she had taken her daughter to work. When she went out of station for a three day trip she had worried herself sick. But the home and family had done fine. Every night she had been exhausted but happy.
Then one day, late in the night she received a call. It was her dad. They had just returned after a film showing and had seen her film. He was proud and congratulated her. The stream of good wishes continued for many days. She was covered in a few magazines as a newcomer to watch. In a small way she had managed the best of both worlds. Seema couldn’t stop beaming and she had Rakesh to thank.