When I was a primary school student my grandparents used to pamper me a lot compared to my younger sister. They used to project me as a hakim (Officer) and never encouraged my sister to go to school. In their opinion there was no point in educating a girl as ultimately she would have to do household chores only after marriage. Girls going out like boys to study and work to earn money was something they could not even think of in their dreams. If by chance I took up the broom to sweep the place of my study my grandparents would scold me and ask my sister to do the sweeping instead. Because of my love for my sister I never liked this but I did not have the guts to oppose. This was the culture of my family in which I grew up.
As time passed my sister, then barely 10 years old, started helping my mother in her work which involved cooking, cleaning, laundry and all other petty jobs. I was never allowed even by my mother to do anything. My only job was to eat my fill and study and play. At times I was feeling pity for my sister but there was no way I could have helped her out. Not only in our house but I had seen the women in our neighbourhood also working from morning to night while men folk in every household relaxed after coming back from the fields. My mother used to work even when she was ill. What would you term this? Was it not exploitation of women in their own family??
I had to do my own work including washing my clothes when I went stay in my college hostel. There was no mother or sister to do the laundry for me. And my financial condition did not allow me the luxury of engaging a dhobi (washer-man). Pressing circumstances compelled me to learn some manageable cooking after I joined my service in a remote rural area. Gradually I loved doing my own work. And I just wondered why my parents and grand parents did not allow me to do any household work at home.
Life took yet another U turn after my marriage. My wife though quite educated was an adept in taking care of the household. She cooked good food and did not allow me to do anything while at home. Perhaps she was trained well at home by her mother and grand mother for this. Initially I did not feel well but gradually I got used to her extreme care. The result was obvious. When my children grew up they saw their mother toiling hard from dawn to dusk while their father relaxed after coming back from office. The legacy had been carried forward.
But my wife never pampered her son more than the daughter and I joined hands with her in this activity. Both my son and daughter were treated equally. Both went to the same school, played at leisure and relaxed at home. Both did small jobs like washing their own utensils and packing their own school bags. My daughter was never asked to learn cooking. And my son was never given a chance to feel that he was superior to his sister. There was no discrimination whatsoever in their upbringing.
Now they are grown up and stay in their respective hostels. When they come home both of them help their mother in the kitchen and in doing the laundry. They openly criticise me for not extending a helping had to their mother after coming back from office. And the fact is now I have started learning from them and have taken up the charge of the washing machine at home. I have also started developing my culinary skills once again. I think my wife has successfully broken the chain of the myth that women should do all household chores. My children in general and my daughter in particular stands testimony to this fact. Traditional gender roles have taken a back seat in my family and I am proud of this. The entire credit goes to my better half and I am sure the foundation stone of a new beginning has been laid by her. My children will definitely build a strong edifice on it. Change is in the offing.
PS:“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.”