International Women’s Day.

Today’s newspapers are all full of stories of successful women. Successful in various fields like business, commerce, banking, medicine, social work, education etc, but search as I did exhaustively, not one mention any where of that old work horse the housewife. So, I went to the source of all present day wisdom to see what IWD meant and found that it was originally called the Working Women’s Day. There too I find this discrimination and since my readership consists of a number of women, I thought that I should leave it to them to debate on that point, while I pay my respect to one remarkable housewife, Padma a graceful grandmother of four and a cheerful companion to a difficult man, my friend Kashi.

Padma was all of 16 when she got married to my friend Kashi 50 years ago. Kashi, as you can imagine any of my friends to be, is not exactly the easiest of men to be married to, but stay married to him she did for half a century. That in itself is a remarkable achievement but that is not all that she achieved. I know how much of ups and downs the two of them have seen together and as I see them after all these years, I cannot help but admire Padma’s role in that marvelous relationship. Like all couple who have been married for many years, the two of them are joined at the hips as it were and it is still fascinating to see them communicate with each other without too many words, but with just a few signals!

Kashi’s extended feudal family straddling two states of India consists of innumerable siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, grand children, family retainers and so on and so forth and all of them, and I do not exaggerate, consider Padma to be their own and impose themselves on her wonderful hospitality and helpful nature.

For all these fifty years, she ran a home that was more like a dharamshala and throughout the 35 years that I have known the two of them, I have never known their home to be for just the two of them and their two sons. My late wife Urmeela and I have been their house guests a number of times and I have been on innumerable occasions.

Padma brought up two wonderful sons Rakesh and Vicky who have turned out to be fine young men in the tradition of their father. The two delightful daughters in law Roli and Namrata have become miniature Padmas and the household which I visited just three days ago to stay with, is a remarkable home with the benign but unmistakable hidden touch of Padma’s hands everywhere. The grandchildren were a treat and as always, I was smothered in love and fussed over by the whole family and it was with much reluctance that I left Kolkatta and returned to Pune.

I have every intention of going back once Kashi is back home from the hospital where he is recovering from a pulmonary problem. We intend going to his country estate to enjoy some Indian style massages.

Here is a photograph of Kashi in the hospital with me singing a lullaby to put him to sleep, Padma just behind me and Namrata meditating and going off into a trance listening to my lullaby.
Kashi hospital

Padma, I salute you for being you. Women’s day or no women’s day, I would still do it.