It was a weekend, and my 8-year-old nephew, Nikhil, happened to join me on my grocery & veggie-shopping errand (yes, this particular shopping is definitely an errand for me). While we were at it, the phone rang, and there came the chirpy-voice of my other little nephew, Karthik, aged 6, "Hello Kaaki!! Where are you, and how are you??" Excited on knowing that it was his cousin, Nikhil grabbed the phone, and the two got into a conversation.
Nikhil: Hey Karthik!! Why didn't you come to granny's house today? I was waiting for you.
Karthik: What to do, I was very busy you know.
Nikhil (bantering): Oh ho!! What is it that kept you so busy? You know I cycled and played all day today.
Karthik: I swept the floor and helped mom mop it too.
Nikhil (laughing hysterically): What !!! Are you a girl to sweep and mop the floor? Hahahaaa
Karthik: So what if I am a boy? Should I not help mom? You should also do it.
(I was amazed at the little one's understanding and stern instruction to his older cousin).
Nikhil (again laughingly): Why should I do it? Yashu akka will do all of that.
Yashu is my 16-year-old niece and the oldest of the kids at home. And yes, that makes her job all the more difficult, especially handling all the three younger brats when elders are busy with the chores or some serious discussions.
Admiring Karthik's thought process at such young age, and of course my co-sister's educative ways, we drove back home, and the first thing that Nikhil did was to go "Maaaaaa... Ajji....You know what...." & narrated the whole conversation between him and his little cousin. As expected, a fight broke out between Yashu and Nikhil over the same even before he could finish laughing at his cousin's "foolishness." The women of the house (my mother-in-law and sister-in-law) who were watching the on-goings in amusement were quick to reprimand Yashu and lectured her as to how girls or women should take care of all the household chores, and that men were made for other things. Well, I had to console myself that they didn't say - BETTER things.
Such a common sight in almost every Indian household!!! I say Indian because having lived abroad for a couple of years, I have seen how both men and women there take up equal responsibilities right from running the house to caring for the children to earning their bread and butter. It's just wonderful to have that kinda scenario where both get ample time and space.
But here, it's been an age-old practice in our country wherein the women of the house slog round the clock. It doesn't mean the men don't work. It's just that most don't "work" while at home. And this is not a feminist statement (It's a fact ;) :P ).
How many times hasn't a tired and irritated wife come out of the kitchen and yelled at her husband who is happily glued to the television while she has been going around doing her odd jobs, feeding the kids, putting them to bed, serving dinner to the rest of the family, and just wanting to go sleep?? Did you visualize your mum?? Honestly, this would be at least once-a-week thingy at our place, and am sure at many of your homes too. Wasn't it the same years ago when the ladylove would go give a helping hand to her husband at farming, grazing the cattle, and then come back home to cook and do her duties as a daughter-in-law, wife, and mother?? A sister would do all the chores that she could, and her brother would be happily playing around??
No matter how much we speak of gender equality, of women standing on par with the men at work, the scenario at home hasn't changed much. I mean, a woman might be handling the toughest of profiles at work, but at home, she still has to make her own cup of coffee and clean the toilets and do the laundry while the husband can just go hit the sack, because... Oh come on!! Poor thing, he's tired after a day's work. You gotta understand, Baba!! And women!!! Women are supposed to be super heroes who need no rest. This actually makes my dimag ki batti to light up :P. Battery companies like Duracell don't actually need to invest much on making an ad with animations and stuff like that. They can show a woman working round the clock instead. What say? Any better bet for a trust-worthy and long-lasting (non-exhaustive, actually) energy bank??
As I say non-exhaustive, I recollect a friend's mom muttering, "Who cares about me? Even if I am on my death bed, they shall say, 'finish that work, & then you may leave' ."
How unfortunate is that just because someone goes around the errands dutifully, we take them for granted? Wouldn't it be nice for a son to lend a helping hand and say, "Mom, Aaj khana main banaunga," or for a husband to help do the dishes or for a brother to arrange his wardrobe instead of expecting his sister to do it for him? Women, like their male counterparts, would love to put their feet up and read a book, catch up with some entertainment on the television, party with friends, or just have some "me time."
A friend who's been married for 15 years now dreams of a simple luxury of being herself and not having to race against time every single day. She told me one day, "How much ever we struggle, we shall all, in a way, remain bonded laborers. We shall never get freedom from this terrible routine grind."
It's high time we change these ancient, stereotyped gender roles of our society. But then twisting the tag-line of a popular ad, "Why should boys have fun all the time??" Why not share the workload with your partner or sibling and then have an amazing time together? Oh come on, R. Balki has even made a movie on role reversal sharing responsibilities again, but in the non-stereotypical way) now, so if my blog fails to drive any sense, go watch Ki & Ka (I haven't watched it yet, but hopefully they shall work their magic on you!!! :P) :D.
As I write, I realize how truly blessed I have been to have had wonderful supportive men in my life; my dad, my brother, and my husband. My husband, in fact, was the one who taught me cooking after marriage, haha, and it feels super awesome to wake up to a hot cup of coffee or a bread/omelette on a weekend. Once in a while hi sahi, but it makes my day!!
And the story at my place that day didn't end there. I took Nikhil and Yashu to the kitchen and took out a bowl of firmly set fresh yogurt, and Nik exclaimed, "Maami !!!! White Cake!!!" It was my turn, and I asked him if he would like to learn how to make it, and he jumped with joy. I winked at Yashu, and she smiled.
I am joining the Ariel #ShareTheLoad campaign at BlogAdda and blogging about the prejudice related to household chores being passed on to the next generation.