Skip to main content

7:00 AM. I woke up and got ready to go to work. The rest of the house was already up and about.

I heard my father speaking to my son.

“Sweetheart, always be a good boy. Men need to be well-behaved and dress modestly.”

I scowled. I’m happily married to Rajesh, and we are parents to Ayush and Arohi. I don’t differentiate between Ayush and Arohi. If Arohi can do something, why not Ayush?

“Papa, stop saying that. I am raising my son to be independent and strong. Even after marriage, he will work, just like my husband. I allowed him to work too. We are a liberal family.”

My father sulked and went back to peeling the potatoes. My mother was on the couch, sipping her tea.

“Raina, good morning! Rajesh has made tea for you; it’s on the table. Between, today is an auspicious day. I hope he is fasting for your long health.”

“Ma, not that again. He has to go to work. Let him be.”

“I have one daughter, and now my son-in-law has turned her against me,” she sulked.

I shook my head in exasperation. I am an open-minded female who believes in equal rights.

“Ma, cheer up. I don’t want his blood sugar to go low again. That’s why I don’t let him fast.”

My husband was in the kitchen preparing lunch. He usually did that before he headed off to work. I pecked him affectionately and he blushed.

“I’m making your favorite fritters.”

I nodded approvingly.

“Darling, I will be late. Don’t wait up for me, OK? And remember to revise English with Arohi and make sure Ayush completes his homework. I don’t think you prepared him well enough for the last test.”

Rajesh looked apologetic. I picked up a plate and served myself some breakfast. I scrolled down my feed.

“Taliban takes over Afghanistan. Activists fear that the rights of men will be curtailed.”

I was shocked. I would sign a petition demanding that the boy child continued to be educated. I would post on Facebook, demanding equality.

“Mom, I have a party with my friends. I’m going to be late.” Arohi yelled.

“OK, have fun.”

“Mom, can I go too?” Ayush asked me hesitantly.

“No, Ayush. Times are bad. Arohi is a girl; she can go. Tell me, is it the same with you? I will be so worried. There are so many incidents- it’s not safe for boys anymore.”

Ayush sulked. I got ready to go to the office, picked up the lunchbox that Rajesh had packed for me, and drove to work. On the way, I saw a few men wearing sleeveless t-shirts. How terrible!

“They are asking for trouble!” I thought shaking my head.

Why couldn’t they cover up more? This was an open invitation. Now if some woman couldn’t control herself…could we blame her?

I reached my office.

Devi, one of my seniors, came over to my desk, with a box of sweets.

“I am very happy. I just fixed the marriage of my youngest son. I had three children, hoping one would be a girl, but they turned out to be sons. I am so relieved that I have settled them. My mother-in-law kept cursing me saying that I was unlucky and that no one would look after me in my old age since I had no daughters. Finally, I am rid of responsibility.”

“Congratulations! I hope the girl’s family has no expectations?”

“No dowry. They are not that kind of people. We are gifting a car to the girl- for our status we have to give them something you know.”

“Lucky you. I too worry about my son- he is young now, but I want to settle him down as soon as he is in his early twenties. Nowadays boys want to study and go against their parent’s wishes and choose their life partners!”

“I know, did you hear what happened to Suvarna’s son?”

“What happened?” I cocked my brow curiously.

“He ran away and got married!”

I gasped. “He brought ruin to his mother’s name. Disgusting.”

I better check Ayush’s phone today to make sure he wasn’t chatting with strangers. I had to be careful about a boy’s reputation. With Arohi, I was more relaxed- she could have a little fun if she wanted.

“Devi, did you hear that Rammohan got promoted?”

“Oh, we all know he would get the job-isn’t that why he wore short pants!”

We giggled conspiratorially.

“When is Harish getting back after his paternity leave?”

“He has extended the leave by one more month. He says he isn’t able to cope.”

“Such excuses. He must be lounging about in his hammock all day. I mean a newborn sleeps for most of the time anyway. Lazy man!”

“These men! I wonder how it would be if our roles were reversed.”

We burst into cackles of laughter. The thought was hilarious. Completing our gossip session, we resumed work.

That was when a loud siren sounded in the office.

“Wake up, Raina!”

I heard Rajesh’s voice and opened my eyes. Oh My God. That was a dream! It was 7:00 AM, and I had escaped from an inverted world back into my humdrum existence.

I got up and made tea and Rajesh’s lunch. My dream bothered me. In that world, everything seemed wrong. But with genders swapped, the same things happened to women. Why was it that it was no longer abnormal ?


I struggled to write this one, sometimes mixing up pronouns and adjectives. Because there are expectations with SHE…that HE doesn’t have to fulfill. 

Why are women under so much pressure and so many expectations? The expectation to dress in a certain way, to behave in a certain way, to do chores, to follow certain norms, to take care of children, the list is endless. 


Why do expectations don the colors of gender? Let’s teach our children to stop accepting stereotypes and break the mold! No more expectations!


This story was first published on

Leave a Reply