Monday, December 26, 2011

A Bunch of Keys

I grew up, like many little girls, seeing my mother with a bunch of keys adorning her waist.
This bunch of big, small, medium, wide and narrow toothed keys would be tied to a hanky or, on occasions, to a nice silver adornment and tucked in carefully into the saree waist.

In a country where women are still on a journey of empowerment and freedom, this bunch of keys always gave  and gives her a sense of control and power within the four walls of her home.

The matriach of the house in joint families are the proud owners of these keys.
She has to unlock all the safes and food larders or "grant permission" to a younger member of the household. In older days, the keys were tied to the end of the saree pallu.They were truly hers.

It is a good feeling.
And shows that, with all the purdah and the men being men outside of home, the women of the house were given the controls.
She may not have been to school, but managed the cash and the flows.
Her sons knew how to cajole her into opening that safe and handing out the money for their dream toy.
The household help never dared to touch that bunch.
The younger women in the joint families waited patiently ( and sometimes impatiently) for their turn to own that exalted bunch.

The handing over of the keys from generations was a ritual- almost.
Tears, fears, words of wisdom accompanied the transfer of the bunch from one waist to another.

Truly, in a way, the hand that held the keys, had the power.
That made life and still makes life for every homemaker a challenging and thrilling one.

1 comment: