The conventional south Indian housewife, of which my mom is a typical example, didn't care much about leisure time activity options, because the modern marvel TV has made it easy for them all. The Box has been her true friend with all the tearing sop operas and scintillating news items it provided her constantly. Her afternoons were spent either pitying the poor silver screen daughter-in-law or awe-stricken at the latest divorce of the famous movie star. But in the last couple of years, the TV has failed to get my mom's attention, and my father remains the sole user of the remote. So what about other leisure time activity options.
For a regular housewife the newspaper doesn't hold much charm beyond the interruption of power/water supply info the third page provides. But my mom was anything but regular. Beneath that veil of a housewife disinterested in the more intellectual ways of the world, she had her own convictions about the working of the universe and everything in it. Even when sobbing for the unfortunate daughter-in-law, she would casually browse to the more serious news channels and update herself with the happenings, albeit less frequently and less intensively than Obama. Her focus was on middle east developments, national politics, the USA, the teardrop at the tail of India, origin of religions and their interconnections with science, of course Mugals, how can she forget the Mugals and lastly but not leastly the bullion rates. For such a woman, the newspaper must surely hold more as a leisure time activity. So which portion of the news would interest her more, there is the science page, the local politics page, the national politics page, the international page, the editorials, or the least likely sports page.
One afternoon when I was incidentally at home, I observed that in her room there was the newspaper wide open, with a pencil and rubber parked on it. I thought that these accessories had no earthly business there, 'cause there was no child in the house who would be using them. After some time I saw her entering her room with a vengeful look on her face and I thought she was probably going to relax for a while and by relaxing I mean, sleeping.
Later that day I was informed by my father that solving the new math game that the papers are running on the last page has caught her attention. The game was a 9X9 Sudoku puzzle with different levels of difficulty represented by number of stars, one star for easy and five stars for a difficult level. So that explains the pencil and the rubber. She continues at it for hours at a time until she solves it. She began doing the easier ones and used to check with the answers that came in next day's issue. Slowly but steadily she has reached the four star level. It drives her crazy that she takes a long time to solve them difficult ones. But she is determined. No man in the house would dare to disturb her while she is at it, solving away the squares, constantly rubbing off her errs. Ever since every afternoon instead of sobbing or being bedazzled by sensationalism, she now retires to her room with the newspaper, pencil and rubber and strives to win the battle against the cunning and evil Sudoku. After she has won she awaits the man of the house to come home to proclaim to him what 'star' level she had conquered today.
She has become so obsessed with this that I guess she must probably be thinking of the foe the next day paper is going to bring her before she says her bedtime prayer. It is only a matter of time that she conquers them all and becomes the modern Chengis Khan. Only time would tell us that after this conquest what leisure time activity is going to pick her interest.
Occasionally the unexpected, unthinkable and unimaginable things happen. Today universal women empowerment may seem a distant reality, an ideal that will never happen. But slowly and steadily women will achieve their dream and the world will be a much happier place than it is today. I pray and believe.