An eight armed Goddess!! With a ladle in one hand, while a laptop adorns the other, a diaper blooming on her open palm as she cradles her little child in the crook of her other arm. A watering can dangles from those deft fingers, as she balances the tray of cookies and other goodies, and tries answering the phone call of her boss, with one gloved hand making its way for the cake baking in the oven.
No, its not an animated movie with special effects, nor has Goddess Durga, the primeval feminine "shakti" condescended to grace thee with her presence!! Its the image that conjures up in my mind almost magically, the minute the phrase "multi tasking indian woman" is mentioned.
Being a woman in India is as challenging if not more than being one in another country with tons of laundry to be done, shopping to be shopped, that delectable sumptuous platter to be presented as per the preference of pizza loving billu and pinki, "dal roti" sasu maa, "mughlai" hubby, and thai curry- ardent guest who had chosen to make himself "atithi deva" that very day and would very much like to encroach upon bhabhi ji's hospitality.. :-)
And to top it all, imagine those incessant calls from the boss ( even when the leave has been duly taken), for this and that and this!! while the little "slice of her heart" clamours for attention and the darling husband playing romantic by losing all his shirt buttons!!
India, a society in transition, still has to wake up to the idea of fair divison of labour as with the educational and economic advancement of the woman, the "best" of both the worlds is "blessing" her with the windfall.
Therefore, the multi-tasking "superwoman" goes round and round, using all her wits and not to mention every ounce of her energy to complete her Sisyphus- tasks only to find many more springing up as from the little droplets of evil blood in ancient lores, many headed Hydras gestate!! the demons which need a goddess with her eight arms to combat and to be finished!!
Having proven their mettle in ever field, Indian women have to crusade against a more formidable foe. Having conquered prejudices, which doubted her capabilities, she now has to conquer "heightened expectations" which prove a more arduous task than any of those given to Herakles himself..
The expectation of being an exemplary leader or a helpful team mate at the work place, along with being an equally dexterous housewife on the domestic front... the expectation of being an understanding peer and following the ideals of being a perfect wife, which as per Indian tradition are "to counsel her man like a judicious Magus, to run errands for him like a slave girl, to feed him like his mother would and to pleasure him like a courtesan"
But the question that arises is whether any human being - especially the one that has been called "the weaker sex" for such a long time, really capable of accomplishing all these tasks, while maintaining her cheery benignity and not to forget her makeup- those waxed arms with french manicured nails??
Is it humanly possible for her, "the weaker vessel" to swim among the sharks just like her man does at her work place and yet must come home all smiling to do a sink full of dirty dishes and basket full of laundry clothes?? Is it humanly possible for her to bring out of her cornucopia horn (or akshayapatra if u prefer), toothsome food which would please the varying palates??
If its not humanly possible and yet she accomplishes these herculean tasks, then the epithet - "eight armed durga" is hardly a misnomer!! :-)