Thursday, February 04, 2010

Joru Ka Gulam - A mind numbing phenomenon

Thankfully I bumped into IndianHomeMaker in this closely knit web world and I got to read her blog inviting definition for Joru Ka Gulam. I was one of the last to read and by then there were quite a few definitions that have come to define JKG. I read almost all of them.

It was quite an expected set of responses. The synopsis of all the comments was a
t-shirt design by a fellow writer Tara Bhatt that said, "I love my wife". So if you love your wife, think that wife is equal to the husband (one comment said, "if the husband touches the wife's feet to reciprocate..."), fight injustice meted out to women, teach the women to be on her own (one comment said, "instead of driving her around, teaches her how to drive), you are a JKG. Ironically, with all these definitions, I wonder if JKG is almost about to be extinct.

I have to say that I disagree with most of these comments. I find a
herd mentality trend in all the answers. A good-at-heart, rationale man who loves his wife, who believes in gender equality, who is socially secure and blah blah blah (meaning the ideal-est man for a woman) is NOT a JORU KA GULAM. I get a feeling that most of these are written by women with high high hopes from men and that they love to call their ideal man - JKG.

Joru Ka Gulam as a concept, is much more complicated. To me, JKG is

  1. is a termination of an extremely complicated and strict social fabric where we have a male and a female staying under one roof for life with a conscience that this is it. In fact, it is not about a man-woman relationship. I had this one room theory when I was in college which said, No two boys, two girls & a boy and girl can stay together as best of friends, company, partners for more than 6 months under one roof. That aside, men intrinsically do not prefer monogamy and their wandering ways (followed by guilt & conscience) take some of the men towards being a JKG.
  2. is a fall out of the inability of most of the men to fight the tears and jigsaw emotions of the women. Men always tend to please their women with short term 'to be broken' promises and lies just to keep the woman happy for the moment and in effect goes towards being a JKG
  3. is a result of male dependencies on the female's expertise & core competency in handling the house-hold intricacies such as managing the vegetables, maintaining cleanliness, managing the kids to a simple task like making a cup of tea. Even when there is a girl friend who is not living in, the house gets a cleaner, fresher and organised look. Men love it and some men become JKG to it.
  4. is a result of the society of JKGs where we have had our upbringing. We are taught to be JKGs for a happy marriage. In Assam, the mother of the groom doesn't attend the marriage because she has to accustom herself to believe that her son is no longer hers now and he has gone onto another woman. Another woman owns him now. One of the first lesson told to me jokingly was, "whatever she says from now is your word of destiny"
For me, JKG is the man who has lost his sense of being, independence to his wife. The man who listens to his wife blindly in front of the wife. Outside of marriage, he may be a different man (though he cant do late nights as 'on the mobile' is almost like 'in front of' in today's day and age). He more often than not, bitches about marriage and wives in general and may also get into extra-marital or into prostitutes. Since he cant feel his authority in the marriage, he wields his authority outside of it.

There are degrees to being a
JKG. Some men go to lowest degree of JKG. He actually lose authority in general and become calm, quieter in general, more so in front of his wife. I wonder if women like such men, for us men, he becomes a changed man - a JacK ass(Gaand).

We all know '
gulam' is derogatory, and for a meaning so negative, to get associated to marriage and then to become a household term requires a hell lot of reasons, circumstances, inequillibrium and chaos. Interestingly, this negative term today has lost its negative-ness to quite an extent. Without a qualm, superstar SharRukh Khan proclaims on TV that he is a Joru Ka Gulam. That whole program was about promoting the concept of JKG.

However easy the term
JKG might have become, I see a sense of helplessness especially in India. Once I was sitting with my uncle (a doctor) and an Italian doctor, who was talking about his late night research work and that he does not get time otherwise. My uncle joked, “Doesn't your wife say anything?” He point blankly non-chalantly said, “No, but if she does, you make her understand. If she doesn't understand, you divorce her for incompatibility and professional reasons”. My uncle was stunned. In India, marriage is largely a one-way ticket convention.

JKG is not the person who is the ideal husband who loves his wife. JKG is the man who feigns it. One interesting comment that I read on the t-shirt design was "my hubby loved the design but he will wear it as a night suit."

Point that I would make is that we cannot make this term so easy and omni-present. A good husband cannot be termed JKG. We are effectively discouraging good husband-ism. JKG to me is a spineless man who feigns to listen to his wife or is afraid to not listen. A man with self respect and confidence to give his wife the same pedestal is the real man.

So we should stop sarcasm equating good husbands to JKG. Lets not allow these sarcasms create social norms or support social norms already so deeply entrenched.

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