It’s true. I write now and then, but mostly, I care for the home. It’s unpalatable to some, and plain disgusting to the rest. To a whole generation that has seen women working outside of the home, earning quick money, a name and a fame, and not to forget, a decent brand image, I sound like a terrible loser. ‘Well, she must be the cloud nine mom types who has a newborn to care for.‘ Nope. I have no children. Atleast, not yet. So, why am I home?
You’ll find the answer to that question as I narrate an interesting episode that happened in my life. A couple of weeks ago, the National Book Trust (NBT)of India selected me for a crash course on Publishing taught by eminent Entrepreneurs and publishing wizards in India. I didn’t hope to get much out of the course as it was being organized by the Indian government ( remember those dusty classrooms, ho-hum teachers and long lecture hours? ) However, the ad on the newspaper did seem inviting. So I decided to give it a shot. Fortunately for me, I was proven dead wrong. The inauguration began on the dot, they surprised us with free lunch everyday and the classes were thoroughly professional.
But you see, the devil is in the details. What appalled me during the course of two weeks was the plethora of ideological gibberish that was spewed at us, unchallenged by anyone from the audience. Take for example the inaugural speech given by a professor of English at a public school, who was also an author turned publisher. While narrating his success story he unashamedly shared about a secret affair that he had with a Jewish woman back in the US, whom he had to leave behind as he considered her a ‘wandering gypsy’ who shared his home and life for want of space. This shocking tidbit was sandwiched between other good things he said about his career that I doubt anyone even questioned the sanctity of it.
Then there was this young and renowned entrepreneur in an upbeat publishing niche, who jokingly mentioned that no author who requests a prospective publishing house’s annual performance statement ever gets a genuine balance sheet. That’s the norm of the industry, and the authors should know it before they ask for it, was her curt observation. On the contrary, if a self publisher tries to get her next book published by one of the publishing houses, she is nearly anathematized because of her previous independent effort. Again, none questioned which was right and which was wrong. Throughout the course, I heard design managers bare their backs on stealing expensive software and marketing gurus loathe the political mafias showing their muscle in the text-book industry, who had to be appeased with bribes. “I was asked to teach you clean publishing. The rest you’ll learn when you play the game…“, mentioned a top-notch marketer of books. So what’s my problem with all this?
Well, this is it : If an adult like myself had to sift through the tons of nonsense I was bombarded with in less than for 2 weeks, and in doing so, found my mind boggled and challenged from the excessive processing that I was performing with my brain, what would become of my naive child who’s going to be learning everything from apples to aliens from these same pagans for more than 12,600 hours¹ of his growing life? For this reason alone, I would stay at home and school my child. But there is more.
Most of them who attended the course had a fat resume. They were either published authors, aspiring authors, educationists, journalists or entrepreneurs. I was the black sheep there. Not that I didn’t have an envious history to decorate my resume with, but I was just a plain jane home-maker in their eyes. Everyone there loved to talk about what they were doing and were often quizzed by the presenters on why they came to attend the course. Whenever my turn came to share a little about myself, I would say “I’m a home-builder” and not a question more was asked. I thought I was alone there, but I wasn’t. There was another lady who was taking care of the home. When I asked her about what she does, she sheepishly replied, “Oh, I’m unemployed!” which meant, she really didn’t value her contribution to her home as a worthy ‘work’. To me, this is reflective of a generation that has outcast the mother, the wife – the quintessential woman -and embraced the plastic mannequin of the 21st century career woman. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not implying that this is true of all women who work outside the home. However, a majority of today’s women work outside to carve out a niche for themselves in a big man’s world, and careerism is their ladder to get there.
Let me give you a reality bite of what’s happening to our country and culture. Since 2005 our country’s family time has come down from 45% to merely 28% owing to a both-parents-working-out culture². So where is all the rest of the time going? Working, traveling, internet, hobbies and even movies seem to have eaten into family time². The same is true for our children. A majority of kids spend 8 to 10 hours in school, 2 hours attending to home work, over an hour travelling to and from school, 2 to 3 hours in extra tuition and about 8 hours, sleeping³. And then there is TV, internet and friends. So, where is the time for family? Proverbs 14:1 says ‘The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down.’ I wonder what you would call this state of affairs but folly? For such a strong Biblical and cultural warning I would rather stay home and strive to build it.
Soch ka bhoj
In the movie, The Devil wears Prada, the intelligent and warm-hearted Andy Sachs is forced to trade her modest clothing, her family, her fiancée and her friends for fashion goodies, one-night stands and flamboyant friends because of the devil-woman Miranda Priestly who wants her to be on top of her job. As much as she tries to balance the act of being a woman with a family and a career, she is simply overpowered by the pressures of a wanting world. Like her fiancée puts it, “...the person whose calls you always take? That’s the relationship you’re in. I hope you two are very happy together.”
Having been part of the corporate world for sometime, I know this to be awfully true. You simply can’t have the cake and eat it too. When a woman steps out of the home, she loses something in the bargain. The world gives her the money, the name and fame but she pledges her family in the process. The same is true even for men. I’ve known a young man who used to work nearly 14 hours in the same firm that I worked in, and he nearly wept every time he heard raghupati raghava rajaram on his official reliance mobile phone. This is the world we’re called to live in. Sadly, many of us have plunged into it headlong. It’s time we take our callings to be mothers, wives and women of God seriously. Does that mean a woman can’t do anything but mop the house, bake cakes and change diapers? Nonsense. Then why would I go for a publishing course?
PS: I can’t believe WordPress thinks there’s only one possible meaning for a home-builder: a construction worker? Seriously.
- An average 900 instructional hours are spent by a child very year at an Indian school. A child spends 14 years of his life learning at a school. Statistics taken from the the US Center for Public Education, Dec 2011.
- Of Time Share, Wallet Share & Market Share: Survey by Teknopak Advisors and Economic Times, India, April 24, 2011
- Children spend more hours in school than adults do in office: Assocham
- Authors exercise their “write” to self-publish (cbsnews.com)