They were always in a rush- every cell of their body was trained to move in haste as if on wheels.
Fear, devotion, deference and servility were their hallmarks in all situations.
Moreover, society had already convinced them that their foremost duty, responsibility and above all love towards the family could be demonstrated only through untiring service day in and day out. Their very existence was built around these notions. If questioned, they would emphatically insist that they nursed no grievance, no complaints and bore no resentment or bitterness. It was all about complicit compliance.
They would be in the grip of fear and anxiety in most circumstances. They dreaded being the cause for any delay- they shuddered at the thought of being admonished and humiliated in public and were ready to go to any lengths to escape the wrath of the men in charge. Often, they wouldn’t be given time to even dress properly- and there were occasions when they wouldn’t even have had the time to wear their slippers when stepping out of the house!
And in spite of taking all precautions, it was still possible that some obscure reason would be found to upbraid them- and this they would endure with a profound sense of self-reproach, fully believing that they deserved to be admonished.
They enumerate with immense pride and sense of achievement, stories of the umpteen number of dishes they have cooked, the innumerable guests they have served, and the countless vessels they have washed for years together.
They laud and encourage other women who have lived similar lives- they believe that however huge a responsibility or post a woman might hold professionally, it is still desirable that she displays exemplary culinary skills, rejoices in celebrating festivals, entertaining guests, extending impeccable hospitality at every possible opportunity.
It is highly probable that the women of the erstwhile generation would condemn the movie ‘The Great Indian Kitchen’. After all, it would not be easy for them to let go of these deeply embedded values overnight – values that they had been holding close for years together with utmost commitment. Besides, it would mean negating a lifetime of toil and care – why -the very purpose of their existence would be invalidated!