This is a short play on gender stereotype. The protagonist of the play is Sameer. The words of his Alter Ego (S)Ameer (or Ameer) are written in bold, the thoughts of his inner voice SAMEER are written in Italics and the rest is written using the normal font.
I am Sameer. Oops! (S)Ameer.
No no ; not the guy who cries watching Taare Zameen Par.
Neither the one who cannot stop thinking about the new neighbor who smiled at him yesterday. Yes, he thinks she is pretty but I think she is out of his league. Well, we will see about that later.
You must be wondering – What the hell is he talking about? Let me elucidate.
Sameer calls me his alter ego. I prefer to call myself the real him. Not the guy who touches his parent’s feet in the morning (They make him do that!). But the guy who smirks at the passer buys when they ogle at him. Well, he is kind of good looking . I am the badass, nonchalant and the aloof part of him. And come what may, I don’t let the sheer prattle get to him.
The other day, Sameer heard some crap about Feminism.
Yeah, that word is being used more times than Indian soap actresses cry. Most women are like, “I need feminism because I want justice”.
And they are the ones who expect men to open the car door for them. Now THAT is a gentleman’s gesture. Have you ever seen a woman doing that for a man? Or do we have a separate line at the security check? Or reserved seats in the bus?
No. And the ladies will elegantly claim those advantages and still want ‘equality’. Don’t listen to that bullshit Sameer.
Shushhh! Stop Ameer. Enough is enough. If you can’t help, at least don’t poison Sameer’s mind with your witless words. You all! Don’t mind him. Ameer is a spoilt brat who thinks he can have the best of all the worlds without moving his butt from the sofa.
I am SAMEER.
This world is consumed by so much of negativity that Sameer sometimes finds it difficult to tune it out. That’s when my voice (kind of distant) keeps him sane.
I am the one he comes to when he feels guilty, sad or frightened. He almost lost his best friend because his ego had gotten the better of him.
My voice helps him get up every day with a smile on his face.
(Enters Mother. She finds Sameer watching Suits.)
Mother: I am making dinner Sameer. Make the salad, will you?
Ignore her Sameer. Your mother sits home every day. If you help her cook and clean, she will be dead bored in her own home because she will not have anything else to do.
Go Sameer. You are done with this episode anyway. She looks tired.
Sameer: I just came home Mother. Ask Ashna to help you.
(Sameer’s father is watching the cricket match)
Father: Ashna is working on her project Sameer. Your Mother needs your help.
Him too? Tell him to switch off his match and help Mother. And Ashna is the one who needs to learn all this.
For once, I agree. He should be helping too. Mother is cooking for the guests.
And no Sameer. Ashna has a company of her own to run. She doesn’t NEED to learn anything. She already knows it all. I am sure she can afford a maid when she has a house of her own.
Sameer: There you go. I have closed my laptop. I have a submission too. Mother I don’t even know how to cut the vegetables. Ashna can do her presentation tomorrow. It’s a Sunday anyway. It won’t be due till Monday.
Good. Now we get some much needed silence. It’s the season finale for god’s sake!
(Ashna enters the drawing room.)
Ashna: I’ll help Mother.
(Two years have passed and Ashna is married to a successful businessman. Mother, Father and Sameer have reached Ashna’s home for dinner. Ashna’s husband opens the door. He is wearing an apron.)
Husband : Hello Aunty. Hello Uncle. Hi Sameer. Ashna is working late today. Come on in. Make yourself comfortable.
Wow. Ashna seems to have married a lady. *sniggers*
(Ashna’s Mother-in-law enters.)
Mother-in-law: Welcome. Please come in.
Husband (smiling): I am making spaghetti for dinner. I hope you all don’t mind. The maid is on leave and Ashna had an important meeting. So I have the kitchen all to myself.
Mother-in-law: I told him to let me cook. But he won’t let me enter the kitchen.
(Ashna’s family is confused)
Mother-in-law: We have divided the household duties among us as the maid is out of town. Mondays and Tuesdays are mine, my son manages the house on the next three day. Ashna takes care of the chores on the weekends.
Mother: I am sorry. I’ll talk to Ashna. She seems to be so engrossed in her business that she is ignoring her duties as your daughter-in-law. You shouldn’t be working at this age.
Mother-in-law: Oh you are taking me all wrong. This was my Son’s idea. Your daughter was completely against me or him working. Like always, she wanted to take all the responsibility on her shoulder.
I was telling you. Ashna has married a wack job.
SAMEER perks up.
Husband (to Sameer) : You look perplexed. What happened?
Sameer: You know how to cook? All I can make is Maggi when Mother’s out of town.
Husband: No offence but what will you do once you move out of the house? Or get married and have your own house?
Sameer: What do you mean? I will have a maid of course. And I am positive my wife will know how to cook and clean for sure.
Husband: Do you want a woman who you respect and love or a cleaning lady to do your daily chores?
Husband (continues): I and Ashna, we both have a job. And frankly, she is so much better at it than I am. I make sure none of these trivial issues come between her and her success. After Father passed away, Mother took amazing care of me and the house. She used to go to work, come home, cook, clean, help me with my studies. It used to drain her out. Yet, she never lost that beautiful smile of hers.
Mother-in-law (smiling): I remember one of the days when work kept me at the office till late. I rushed home thinking that my son must be hungry. I was surprised to find salad, curry and half burnt rotis ready at the dinner table. He asked me to sit down, gave me a glass of water. I had the most satiating dinner that night.
Husband: And the curry tasted like sea water. She still scraped the bowl and had it all. From that day, I resolved to keep her and my future wife happy. By happy, I don’t mean I will work hours to feed them and buy them stuff. I will be their equal and share every responsibility. I wanted to build a home that had equal amount of sweat and money from both of us.
Blah blah blah. I think he watches the saas bahu dramas too. Ignore him Sameer. Aren’t you hungry?
(Ashna enters the home. She hugs her parents. Pleasantries are exchanged. The spaghetti turn out to be perfect. Mother, Father and Sameer leave.)
(Father is driving the car. Mother and Sameer sit silently. But Sameer’s mind is in turbulence. Ashna’s husband’s words have left a deep impact on him.)
Seriously dude? You are worrying about what he had to say. I mean, ok you have to respect him and everything. But cooking in an apron is just so weird. You just relax man.
Do you see my point? All those years passed when your mother managed the house. You disapproved of Father sitting and not lending a helping hand. But you never took it upon yourself to change it. You ignored me for so long that my voice was becoming nothing but a distant memory.
We were all born equals. We don’t have a ‘To-do list’ branded on our bodies.
Exactly. We were born equals. But woman expect you to make a move.
She will flirt with you but expect you to ask her out. She wants you to pay for dinners and movies. She wants all the perks of being a girl. On the top of that, you have to do the household chores too? If you cry, people are like, ‘Be a man. Don’t cry.’
And now they talk about equality? Nayy. Don’t listen to him.
First of all, not everyone is like that. Most of the girls you dated have spent equal amount of money, time and tears as you have.
You should talk to her about this. Tell her what you feel. You will be surprised to see her agreeing to almost every word you utter.
I am sure you want a woman who is independent, confident and respects you and not a woman who is bound by duties to the extend where she is frustrated. It will ruin your relationship.
What’s the joy in walking all alone when you can walk hand-in-hand together?
(Car comes to a halt. All of them enter the house. Sameer hugs his mother.)
Sameer: I have never acknowledged you Mother. Years have passed and there hasn’t been a day when you have put your needs before mine. I am sorry. You have put in your everything to make this house a home. Teach me how to cook will you? *grins* Father, lets will be students together, shall we?
Father (tears in his eyes): Mother! Will you take me as a student too?
Mother (teary eyed, smiling at Father): Of course. (to Sameer) I am so proud of Ashna and you. You both have grown to be such beautiful souls. I am blessed.
SAMEER : Ata boy!
Ameer is silent.
Gender prejudices are seen everyday. A woman is supposed to know and do the chores , even if she is studying or working. This is so deeply rooted in our minds that we tend to ignore it most of the times.
It starts when a three year old child is asked not to cry because it is something that girls do. And the process continues. Most of us see our mothers cooking, doing laundry or getting up early and seeing us off to school. We think, it is how it is supposed to be and go with the flow.
Not anymore. Lets #ShareTheLoad .
Let us start from our homes. The problem has to be annihilated from the root. Help your mothers and wives with the daily chores. Teach the art of homemaking to your sons as well as your daughters. Don’t let this issue be ephemeral.
Let us all raise our voices and ask #IsLaundryOnlyAWomansJob?
Why just HER?
Why NOT HIM too?
This beautiful video will throw some light on the issue.