As a child, I always felt it fascinating whenever there was a disruption in our daily routine. Days when my school bus services were closed, and either one of my parents had to drop me off in school; days when our house-helps would take off, we would get the exciting opportunity to work together in the kitchen!
My mother has been a disciplined woman. She set strict regimes for us, and we longed to break free from her rules. My blog name ‘A Rebel’s Diary’ reflects my childhood attitude towards her! As I have already mentioned, my mother never liked me or my sister entering the kitchen when we were in schools. She always tried to manage everything on her own. Even though I always had a knack to try out adulting tasks, my mother never let me take up any serious roles in the house.
Growing up, I find it absolutely mind-boggling how she managed everything so perfectly as if some computer or robot ran our house! The woman was so obsessed with running her house perfectly that she even packed her hospital bags before her second delivery and ironed and folded her daughter’s school uniforms as her water broke! Honestly, me or my sister can never be so perfect like her. Nor we want to!
My mother is carrying generations of trauma and deep-rooted psychology that tells her that she has to execute everything on her own. As a woman, it is her primary duty to look at her children, even though she might not get an opportunity to look in the mirror for days. Thanks to our current circumstances, she realizes how a woman should not burn herself completely while caring for her children. For now, she looks at her children and her grandchildren!
Nevertheless, the days when our house-help took days off, it used to be such memorable days in the kitchen. Apart from the sense of pride that our mother has entrusted either of us with an adulting task, the most important thing was the quality time we spent together!
As I am born and brought up in a joint family, the sense of inclusiveness and team work was always there inside me. It’s always fun when we have ten hands and ten brains around to execute a task! The holidays felt like that, and food always tasted better after our fair share of hard work! I realized it was not an easy task and started complaining less about my imperfect sunny side up eggs to my mother! Some days, I even told my mother to rest; it was just an egg!
Post the pandemic; many Indian kitchen scenes went through a drastic change!
With the house-helps gone, and irregular work from home schedules, many couples felt it evident to share their responsibilities, mainly due to circumstance where they had no one but the Virus to blame.
I think, for many Indian couples, the lockdown turned out to be a boon, as more people realized how difficult the regular house chores could be without any help.
As I scroll through the romantic kitchen selfies, my heart fills with joy! It’s finally happening! People are finally learning to not take people for granted and approve that it’s okay for the person (who handles these tasks regularly) to take a break!
The inclusive kitchen scene can ease a lot of burden from all of us. Honestly, every time I see the couples working together in the kitchen, my little nephew and nieces helping their parents out, it makes me happy. Because that’s a scene I have been longing to see, that’s a scene I never got to see in my childhood. But that’s how things should be, right?
As I also believe that cooking or house chores can also be therapeutic for a person. It has been so for women for ages. For me, I always get to release my stress by kneading dough or structuring my story in my mind while I involve myself in the physical tasks.
If you are mindful, you can find peace through anything. At least, the Virus taught us; it can be so much fulfilling to sit in a clean place and have a stomach full of food!
However, even today, many women need someone to tell them that ‘it’s not just their responsibility to carry all the burden! It’s their home too!’ Be it a daughter or a son; responsibilities can always be shared, which fetches bigger wins for the family. It’s not wrong to take a break (irrespective of age) without feeling any sense of guilt or resentment!’
It’s the deep routed trauma and denial that our elders unknowingly tries to pass on to us. And we need to resist, to stop this from passing on us or to our next generations. I know resisting is the most challenging part! But, we have to find our safe ways and methods.
Perhaps that can stop the random comments from strangers, like ‘What are you doing? Your baby is crying! Take care of him now! Can’t you see your husband is busy with his ‘office work?’
‘You don’t look married enough! How do you find so much time?’
Whether they are settled in India or abroad, I know this is a reality for many women even today. Because many of them are repeatedly compelled to carry forward these ideas, with the whispering of the three magic words ‘You are a woman!’
Although the wounds and damages caused by the virus are beyond my contemplation, and the world still waits to heal, I think there is still a positive outcome of the event. As they say, every event is meaningful, and it impacts us in both ways! I think it’s time to embrace these positive impacts and remember the lessons, the new habits we have picked up.