ONCE in a while, when going with a friend to visit someone I am warned before I reach, “he is a henpecked husband!” “Oh!” I whisper, and go with quite some apprehensions of a wife pecking away at every statement her husband makes, and he sitting forlorn and dejected in a corner, pleading with silent desolate eyes for us to rescue him from his terrible ordeal.
Most often, I am quite disappointed: What I see is a very happy husband and a very happy wife too. “I don’t see any henpecking!” I whisper, when they both have disappeared to make some tea.
“Just watch, he’ll bring the tea!” chuckles my friend, and like a prophet who’s been proved right, he grins as the husband comes to the room, delicately balancing the tray with the cups of tea in it. But how wrong he is.
We’ve had the same cook for nigh on twenty five years, and for years I watched her walking from home to home, cooking lunches and dinners and even a breakfast or two, and with the money she earned, sent her two daughters through school and college, and today one of them, has a doctor title prefixed to her name. I always wondered what her husband did, and heard he stayed at home and looked after the house. “Very convenient!” I used to smirk.
The other day, while I was having lunch, and she was in a mood to chat, she told me how it would have never been possible for her children to have grown up with so much ambition and focus, without her husband who with love and care, motivated them and also her. They just switched roles, and since a cook was needed in the area she lived, she took the job route and he the role of homemaker. And how well it’s worked.
Similarly, one finds these switched roles in other areas in a husband-wife relationship. The wife, being good at detail, has a husband who happily allows her to run the finances, “Look at him!” says the world, “He just asked his wife for money!”
In a world where equality between genders is now the norm, shifting roles is going to happen more often, and it is time we realize that a strength of a man needn’t be in what we see but much in what is not seen, where, equality in a relationship can be measured only by the couple themselves.
Finally, all said and done, the taste of the pudding is in the eating, and if the children turn out to be fine, and the family happy, then it’s you and me who need an eye pecking before we talk of henpecking..!