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Bai-Nama


Every woman (and men living with a woman) reading this will agree with me that ‘kaamwali bai’ (referred to as ‘bai’ henceforth) is arguably the most important person in their lives. Pardon my exaggeration, but haven’t you had panic attacks when your bai “calls in sick” on a Monday, or any day for that matter. Don’t you take more time deciding your bai’s Diwali/holi bonus than deciding what you want on the occasion? Aren’t you equally worried about her kid’s health as you are for your kid (and I am not only referring to your goodheartedness but also to the phobia of bai taking a leave to take care of the kid). Don’t you direct your anger to the first person who comes your way when your bai comes late but don’t dare to say a word to her. I have also heard that bais have made people go on vacations (yeah…why not. If you have enough privilege leaves and good budget, why spend the time doing household chores). Ok…so some of you may not completely agree with all the points stated above, but no Indian woman can say that she has not faced even a single trauma due to the “bai" in her life.However, my point here is different. I mean, I agree that a bai is very important to live a peaceful and (back)painless life, is she important enough to be the star of every conversation? Everywhere I have been- school PTAs, kitty parties, clubs, kids bday parties, morning/evening walks and even mourning- it is amazing how every conversation ultimately ends up on bai. And every woman is competing to prove how her suffering is the worst. There is also a sect of women who are constantly on prowl for a bai. And such social meetings are their “bai parichay sammelan” where all the available bais are wooed with 3-paid leaves per month or 3 sarees a year and a 30% hike on the current CTC. God bless the new “Jodi”.

Now coming to the next dimension of bai-nama. Who would have ever imagined that a bai could be a source of communal harmony or social equality? I assure you she is. Notice how women of all communities feel equally tormented by the bai. And how they find respite in discussing their bai issues with anyone available. I remember somebody mentioning that she was looking for a bai from the “opposite” community so that her festivals do not coincide with that of the bai’s and she remains available to work on all festivals (I silently praised the lady for her smart strategy). Communal harmony in a different color, eh? What I also find interesting is that women from all strata of society are connected to each other by a link called bai. Bai has an amazing capacity to bring everyone on one level, thus bringing in the most sought after “social equality” in the Indian society. In fact, just imagine, Aiswarya Rai and Vidya Balan discussing how their respective bais ditched them while Abhishek and Siddharth discuss the new movie script. Though their problems may be different from ours, like Vidya might have offered a car ride to her bai but she still ditched her for kareena who offered to share some “zero-figure” tips with that bai. After all, a bai needs to be in shape and in good health to see that we remain in good health and spirits. Thus, bai plays an important role in spreading communal harmony and social equality. Hence, proved.

Just before I wrap up, one last question to all my friends in foreign lands where I believe you are on your own when it comes to daily household chores. Don’t you guys feel deprived of an interesting conversation topic? Don’t you feel deprived of the sadistic pleasure to see the neighbor struggle with the cleaning when her bai is on leave while you merrily go shopping? Who works as dedicatedly for social equality and communal harmony in your countries? Does the pleasure of having a bai do the chores for you inspire you to come back to your beloved motherland?

On that note, I will end my bai-nama here. May God bless you all with endurance and wisdom to deal smartly with the bais. Now I can’t wish that you have a loyal and dutiful bai forever. That’s like asking for immortality. So let’s just settle on endurance and wisdom.

P.S.

Dear Bai,

Given the fact that you will soon own a smart phone or a laptop, you might happen to read what I have written above. But I urge you to ignore everything (like you conveniently ignore all other instructions I give). It’s just an effort to keep my spirits high. Please remember, dear bai, you still remain the most important person in my life. I don’t know what I would do without you.





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