After the pandemic struck the world, things changed drastically around every human being. The men and children were at home free from their office work and school work respectively. Working women were confined to their homes but with a double workload. The ubiquitous fear of the pandemic compelled everyone to be indoors. The working woman who fulfilled both the duties of her workplace and the home front now had to focus on household chores. It was only when work from home was introduced that she began juggling her work and home chores. Every home had a woman but barely anyone noticed her as usual. I say ‘as usual’ because that is what happens in the Indian scenario. It is expected of a woman to be submissive, meek, and docile and to suffer and work silently. During the lockdown too, women remarkably proved their grit by managing the house without the help of maids/cooks / any kind of domestic help. There were a few places where the men in the house helped the women in doing the home chores and such cases can be termed as exceptions; otherwise, there are many families who do not know the worth of a woman. Men and children in such families behave like slobs who aren’t interested in doing anything.
The woman in every home had to wake up and manage everything – making breakfast, cleaning the house, cooking lunch & dinner, doing the laundry, and many other chores that always go unnoticed because it is expected of a woman to perform them. Be it a woman from a middle-class family or someone who belongs to the elite class, she has to bear with this. The slobs in the house would come when lunch/dinner is announced eat like hungry pigs and go back to doing what they want. Why is it that we never appreciate the small to big things that the woman in our family does? Why don’t we give her words of praise, appreciation, and courage with which she carries on despite all the pains in the neck around her?
The workload of almost every woman had doubled in the months from March to June and in some homes, it must still be the case. Everyone is hesitant to call back the maid/cook due to the fear of getting infected. No woman got the liberty of being on leave ever – now and before the pandemic too. The reason is that it’s an unsaid rule for a woman – to do all the drudgery and suffer in silence. Nothing can assuage the pain and suffering that a woman goes through in her lifetime. I remember one of the husbands telling his wife, “I decided to gift you something once the lockdown is released” because you have worked so hard during these months. To date, Mr. Husband hasn’t gifted anything to his wife. Forget the time of lockdown, even without the lockdown a woman works a lot. From managing the house to taking care of everyone’s needs, likes – and dislikes, and keeping everyone’s life on track she is always there for the family.
It is not that cooking, cleaning, and laundry are the only 3 tasks that need to be done by a woman. She looks after every nook and corner of the house and organizes the life of her family. If a woman is lucky to have a partner who understands her and helps her with the household chores she feels blessed. It is good to have a helping hand in any chore of the house be it cooking, cleaning, or laundry. With the change in time, men have begun to realize the value and importance of what efforts women put into taking care of the family and they stand in support of their wives. Lucky is the wife whose husband understands her the way she wants him to understand her. This understanding leads to better compatibility and greater bonding between the couple.
Men need to understand that a woman must not be treated as an object. She is human and has her needs for love, affection, sex, respect, and necessities. One cannot expect that she remains silent and suffers in silence. She has a voice of her own and if suppressed for long she is bound to rebel and hit you back like a boomerang. A woman must be full of grit and clarity in whatever she wants in her life. She must be capable of living her life on her terms and so she must be financially independent. The working women who worked from home and managed the chores have a different life because they work. But the woman who is a homemaker has no means of revenue and is dependent on her husband. Being a homemaker she does each and everything at her best for her family. Many homemakers live a mundane life devoid of any enjoyment. They just pass the days, months, and years. Many of them who were ambitious women have sacrificed their ambitions for the sake of family / familial pressure. Even today a working woman is seen as a woman who is very selfish and self-centered because she leaves her family and children to work. She brings home a salary that is enough to provide and satisfy her needs and even supports the family. Then why can’t we let her live the way she wants? Why is it so that she has to succumb to everyone in the family? Why can’t the in-laws understand her and treat her genuinely like they treat their daughter?
There are many statements made on old age homes that depict that it is the daughter-in-law who is responsible for sending the parents to the old age home. The people who make such statements forget that even they are parents to a woman and when they generalize through such statements it impacts their children too. If everyone understands one another would we need old age homes? But the in-laws in India with an orthodox Indian mentality never have tried to reach the root cause and played the blame game by portraying themselves as victims. It is the trivial things that cause a huge impact and as these trivialities pile up; one reaches an extreme level of frustration. The person is no longer under control as she has borne enough. This leads to major rifts but none of the in-laws is eager to let go and forgive and forget. Ultimately the villain is the daughter-in-law. In major cases, it’s just a misunderstanding that has taken place but none of the parties is ready to sit and discuss it amiably. One must remember that – It takes two to make a clap.
The lockdown has made many women reconsider their decision to get married to their existing husbands. This has led to an increase in the number of divorce cases. Sometimes even after living together for a long time if a person is not capable enough to fulfill your, emotional, physical, and psychological needs then why does one need such a husband? Many men try to get away from such discussions as they are incapable of providing the answers/clarifications. A woman today wants to ‘have it all’ – be it her life at home/workplace. She wants to be happy and celebrated. If a man doesn’t respect her self-esteem and does not support her she doesn’t need such a man.
Many couples are not at all attached but drudge along the journey of life for various reasons like – fear of society/fear of parents/children. I have seen men who do not want to communicate with their wives for the reason that – if I talk she is never on the same page and we end up fighting. They do not even intend to keep trying to bring back the compatibility and bliss in their marriage. Some men believe that if you praise a woman she will stop behaving as she did. A woman shouldn’t be praised because then she will make you dance to her tunes. Then why does a man expect praise/respect/compatibility from his wife when he doesn’t want to give it to her? A woman is not a sex toy in the hands of a man. Even if she has her biological needs which can be fulfilled mutually then why does a man create a ruckus over everything he does and neglect his better half?
Whenever I think of these things, I see no solution in India. India is conditioned to behave in a certain fashion and so the men and women here are conditioned to behave in a certain manner. Despite all changes/reforms, our society will take still many more years to overcome the hurdles and transform it. Liberalization of women and giving equal rights to her are just good to read in books and research upon. To change the conditioning of our Indian minds there has to be a 360-degree approach which I do not see in the upcoming years. The remote places in India, the families in India, and the minds of Indian men and women need to be thoroughly recreated to have a better world for our women and daughters to live and survive. Most of our changes are on paper; never in practice. The new reforms are formulated but hardly implemented. Our judicial system is incapable of doing justice to all the cases that have been filed how can they do justice to the women’s laws?
I believe that a woman has no home unless and until she buys one for her. At her parental home, she is raised with a mentality that she will go to a ‘paraya ghar’ where she has to fulfill all the responsibilities by winning the hearts of all. No one tries to win her heart. After she reaches her husband’s place she is always treated as an outsider and everything is done secretly from her. But still, if she does something secretly there is big havoc created out of it. In the husband’s home, she has no voice of her own. If she tries to have it she is a bad and ill-mannered woman. In some families, even her children do not treat her with love and respect. I have seen children ill-treating their mothers and making them cry. But the mother never curses them even though they make her cry for no fault of hers. She is resilient towards all and continues to live her life for her children and family.
In the wake of the pandemic, our society needs to understand that it needs to shed the old conditioning and make the world conducive for women to live in peace. If a woman is happy and satisfied she can give the same to her family. If the family doesn’t give her the basic needs of taking care of her self-esteem then how can it expect the same from her? A woman must be celebrated and appreciated because she is a reservoir of all the good things in the world which can be tapped by giving her a place, by understanding her as she is, and by giving her great respect. The elders in the society must understand that they must not mistreat her / do any injustice to her because if you mistreat someone’s daughter then your daughter is going to receive the same treatment. They need to be open-minded towards the changing beliefs/trends/culture and make their homes conducive for their daughters/granddaughters/daughters-in-law.
One must pledge that no woman must feel that I do not belong anywhere instead she must feel that she is welcomed everywhere.