How Women Pay The Price Of Knowing It All!

A humorous look at why women must have all the answers and the toll that this pressure takes on them.

Richa S Mukherjee
Sep 30, 2022 10:20 IST
Desexualise Women, Women Should Be Superwomen, knowing it all, modern women, perfect mother
Ask mumma. Madam se pooch na. My wife will know. Didi ko pata hai. Sounds familiar? Do you feel that when it comes to any nature or quantum of challenges on the home front, there is only one name on everyone’s lips? Isn’t it wonderful being the universal problem solver, like possessing some all-encompassing solution-astra in the Brahmastra lexicon? Hmm. As far as I’m concerned, this universal neediness will at best elicit a tired grunt.

One could argue that the reason collective brains and abilities shut down in the presence of the lady of the house can be attributed to the fact that women are more inclusive, reliable and methodic decision makers. A research conducted at Harvard indicated that size does matter for women when it comes to the parts of the brain responsible for processing emotions and decision-making. Alas! What a price we pay for being better endowed.

Knowing it all: A boon or a bane?

Let’s start with the one question that drives the stake of fear deep into every woman’s heart. ‘Aaj khaane mein kya hai?’ Working, working from home, homemaker, wanting to just be left alone, no one is spared. Those ubiquitous words ravage all with equal force. It's as if there’s a restaurant menu stuck on our faces and we apply deos made of masalas and sauces that being in our proximity makes family members hungry. There can be a fridge full of groceries, a pantry full of supplies and many family members lurking around, yet the buck stops only at the tired face of the mummy (the non-Egyptian kind). Of course no such consultations are solicited when food needs to be ordered from outside, which, left to everyone else, would be a daily phenomenon. Whether it’s a five-year-old child or a 42-year-old man, it will be done with alacrity and confidence within a matter of minutes, minimal words exchanged. At times, they will even forget to order for her (the constant Annapurna) since her services aren’t temporarily required. Talk about utter selfishness!



Another (not so) favourite is search and rescue operations. Nope, nothing that would impress Byomkesh Bakshi. This sleuthing is of the banal kind. From the favourite giraffe that has gone into hiding, to that Croma bill, to a very specific item of clothing to being unable to locate a dal hiding somewhere in the refrigerator. There is only one human device that will work. Even when it comes to school work, women are expected to be some cool-as-a-cucumber guru; juggling everything from Kumon to coding. Every time my daughter comes at me with a quadratic equation or calculation that I have no intention of assaulting my senses with, I instantly pretend to receive a call and move away from the scene.



I’ve lucked out to some extent on the cleaning front. My husband ticks the two crucial criteria for a happy marriage. The two C’s. Cook and Clean. He can do both. I have the kind of husband who enters the home and darts to arrange the cushions and centre align the table. I secretly believe that when he gets into his cleaning ‘Ramu’ mode, he might just sweep me out of the house one day. Nevertheless I still feel women are ladled with a large share of the mental and manual labour whether they work from home or not (a land where no labour laws apply!)

A few weeks ago, my sister and I were discussing a popular speech by Indra Nooyi where she ">mentions how her mother reprimanded her once as she returned home after a long work day, for not having milk in the fridge. She reminded her that it was her responsibility and that she should not shirk it. So, you can arguably be one of the most successful women in the world, yet lose the popularity battle to a lactating cow. Of course a mother is a well-wisher but it is sad to think that she herself might have been conditioned by traditional and rigid societal structures where it was and always will be expected of women to be the caretakers and providers on the home front. It’s been a while since the stone ages and the division of labour between a man and a woman has been rebalanced and restructured but many still don’t see it this way. A woman who forgets to stock cereal and atta in her pantry does not deserve to become a poster child for a lazy homemaker.


Suggested Reading: Motherhood And Economy: Do We Talk About It Enough?

Alternatively, women are complex when it comes to deciding between self-preservation and being the righteous nurturers. Isn’t there a tiny piece of us that likes to be in control? The little voice that always wants to do right by her family and will cast the unpopular votes like pushing for baingan bharta instead of restaurant Biryani, forcing doctor appointments when no one else will want to make one, sending flowers and cakes to all the relatives instead of sending messages, pushing for a clean-up of the room when it's easier to just let go and watch something on Netflix. There is some secret measure of validation, putting aside the intense heartburn, that comes from everyone turning to you. Despite the rants, the headaches, the stress, does being the forever saviour of paltry causes taste sweet to some? Who is ultimately feeling the gratification here? There’s some food for thought.


Unfortunately, this short acting high might come with its own set of consequences. I call it the cluttered mind syndrome. When your brain is constantly processing to-do lists, the frenzy of activities makes you end up doing things like booking flights at 4 am instead of 4 pm, leaving the car keys safely in the freezer and lathering your face with shampoo. All the stress to be productive and omnipresent will eventually diminish mental and physical immunity.

Though I usually have a tenuous relationship with technology what with it sinking its all-pervading talons into every aspect of our lives, it has its plusses. Did you know that now there are women friendly apps that help share the home chores with other family members? It even allows for basic research and finding quick and easy answers online. I chuckled when I read this. I would actually recommend that the house help, technicians, mechanics, doctors, everybody in the home eco system with their hundred and one questions be onboarded so that the load could be shared in every which way. Imagine, the constant pings on other phones, save yours, and all the irritated clucking while you sit in a cozy corner at home, doing important things, sometimes as simple as being quiet, gathering your thoughts and your energy.

Whether you revel in the glory of being a know it all, or despise it, it helps to pause and take a breath. In between two deep ones, you can contemplate whether you’d rather choose the app or then be brave enough to utter the simple yet powerful words we seldom muster the courage to. I don’t know or I can’t. Try it. You’ll feel liberated. Meanwhile, I’m contemplating setting up a website called While I’m pretending to be the know -it- all, might as well make some money off it!

Richa is an award-winning writer with four books under her belt, two of which are getting adapted for screen. Views expressed are the author's own.

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