Updated: May 5
"If she's amazing, she won't be easy. If she's easy, she won't be amazing,” Bob Marley. Today’s woman is taking long leaps towards her identity. She is changing and the man in her life needs to as well. In this article, Manoj Kuruvanthody shares with us certain nuances of what is the essence of loving the modern woman.
"To really love a woman
To understand her,
you gotta know her deep inside
Hear every thought, see every dream
And give her wings when she wants to fly."
These words linger in my heart as Bryan Adams swoons over what it is like to really love a woman. While today’s woman is questioning her beliefs and demanding better rights, men too are undergoing an image transformation. It especially holds true for a man like me who feels, to love the contemporary woman is not a cakewalk. While her name includes my surname, I know she carries her first name high with confidence.
Image transformation, did you say? a female acquaintance smirks and raises her eyebrow. To think that women are undergoing a metamorphosis and men being stagnant are old school. I quip. My friend quickly adds, I grew up watching my father waking up in the morning with tea, newspaper, and his office uniform neatly arranged at specified spots. Any important or unimportant decision was solely taken by my father. You think undoing all those years and creating a new sense of equality for my better half is anything less than an image transformation? The smirk gets replaced by a warm smile on my acquaintance’s face. While I smile back, I know there is a long road for an Indian woman to trust her male counterpart, to believe that the man in her life will truly go beyond mere words and show that he keeps her on a high pedestal.
Look around and you will find family values are changing big time. The thick line of demarcation between a boy’s parents and a girl’s parents is now fading, and why not? The Indian society’s hot cup of tea is brewing different flavours, and the bubbles can be seen and heard too. So it’s not surprising when my colleague seriously contemplates on including his wife’s parents as his dependents instead of his own parents in the health insurance form. The reason is more practical than emotional. My in-laws do not have a steady income, while my parents have pension.’
I am a father to a daughter and a son, and if you ask me whose journey do I think would be challenging, I will say my son’s. I try not to leave behind a single chance to embark values of equality in my son. I know kids learn by observation, so as a family we ensure that vacations are neatly divided between my parents and in-laws. My kids know that both set of parents have equal emotional needs and as their children and grandchildren, we must respect them equally. Young couples are starting it quite early, taking a step ahead to show this thought process legally. My friend Mohit Juneja and his wife Maria Frido have recently been blessed with a baby girl. She has been named Elizabeth Frido Juneja after Maria’s grandmother.
Culturally we are a country which considers rituals as a path towards peace and happiness. Without a qualm, I can say many of these rituals are patriarchal in nature. Bringing a change in this arena is the ultimate litmus test, I would say. It was a moment in Indian family history when in August 2018, our illustrious and much adored former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s funeral pyre was lit by his foster daughter Namita Bhattacharya. As much as there was a huge population which supported a strong move like this, but there was another group who said this can happen only in grand families and not simple middle class families. I beg to differ. Change is never big or small. It’s just that.
In 2011, when my father in law passed away, decision had to be taken regarding last rites. My wife is a single child; and my mother in law took a stand that she wanted me, her ‘son’ to take up the responsibility. The emotions I felt as I lit his pyre were that of a son and not a son in law. So when we had to decide appropriate support to my mother in law, it came as a natural decision for us to ask her to move in with us. While I received many pats on my back for taking this decision, I found it uncalled for. Some relationships are not by ‘law’ but as a result of natural progression. It is not about stepping up, but placing my wife’s family at an equal dais as mine.
So what is it that a man can do for his woman? I would say; the modern woman does not need a knight in shining armour. For crying out loud, if she can give birth and raise a family, she doesn’t need a protector. What she needs is a partner who can walk her path of transformation. The question is are you up for it? Well, the answer better be yes, because she would anyway march ahead. Think about what a hell of an adventure it would be if you can walk beside her... to really love the modern woman.