Shiva’s Spectacular Gender Divide – Part 3/6

freedomCall me the family adventuress: during long summer holiday afternoons, while the rest of my family was taking their siesta or reading in bed, I’d creep out the back door and scale a wall or climb a gate to avoid being seen, in order to pay impromptu visits to my girlfriends in the hood. Inside their bedrooms, with the fan going full blast, we’d giggle and whisper and gossip as we gorged on sweets and savories.

One family I befriended had settled in Bangalore a generation or so ago. The man of the house belonged to a Brahmin landowning family somewhere up in Himachal Pradesh. For as long as I knew him, he spent his time seated cross-legged or slumbering on his favorite couch, perusing the papers or some crappy thriller. His wife was a very different kettle of fish; a good-looking and hard-working woman, Hindu fanatic and Sanskrit scholar, she ran the household with iron efficiency. And yet, if her indolent husband were to crook his little finger at her—demanding chai, a snack, or someone to clean his ears or trim his finger and toenails—she, or one of their two lovely daughters, would run to obey. Continue reading