Posted by Shaily Mishra
The lockdown has given all the blank hours that were always cribbed for not reflecting upon the course of our lives. The long hiatus has ensured all the Veds to not be malleablized by the Tamasha of their life and ignite their minds and hearts to question the routinely that falls under the brigade of ‘yahan toh aisa hin hota hai’. While all the formal economic sector mega industries have come to stand still, the largest scattered and ultra-robust informal sector, a kitchen in an Indian household is on the hop with non-stop hustle. There is a frugal yet a consistent set-up inside a kitchen to deviate the jittered mind succumbed to defending their chosen political binaries and uneventful mood that is worn out of the predictability of the day.
To many of us who have not walked miles to reach our hometown and are required to stay in our relatives’s place, every turning day is not a very jovial vacation. Being a female ‘momentary member’, you’re in the camaraderie of the ‘household manager’, undoubtedly also a female. You miss how the taste of freedom of brazen thinking and carefree actions felt like, how living with a perspective of equity in a bachelorette life was somehow easy. The assigned gender roles, something that felt distant from pages, suddenly felt so heart-wrenching in the days of the lockdown. The confinement of collaborative living that is spooky against any personal boundaries at the same time makes you adhere to the same boundaries all the time.
The ultimate test of a cultured woman begins right from the start of a day, that entails arranging bed, taking charge of brooming and mopping despite a lethargic same age ‘auspicious male’ baffoon snoring while kicking the routinely reprimands by the ‘household manager’. The baffoon regardless of hearing how good-for-nothing he has grown out to be and how giving birth to him was probably the biggest mistake of the ‘household manager’, is known as the darling of the house.
He is barred from all ‘feminine’ tasks which could otherwise lead to possible chances of his effeminization, a ‘derogatory-shameful’ trait. You serve the baffoon, laugh at his tantrums and make sure that you wipe away possible traces of your sanitary napkins, while the chapters of gender studies classes just float by in your mind. You are the ballet girl, always on your toes, adhering to the boundaries which otherwise might resent your own parents indirectly, drench them with another trouble to speak for you, setting spur of chaos.
Nevertheless, any work is not gigantic enough than our ego to perform it and certainly, it does not restrict to women obeying the golden rule. The turn to clean the utensils have never ticked to alarm us while having food until the male ‘CEO of house’ humbly attempts to wash his plates and the ‘household manager’ relays abstract gestures to snatch the plate from him, as a sign of cultured girls you’re ought to be. Maybe, washing his own plates is too demeaning for his authority to withhold.
The phulka roti ( bulged chapatti) often reminds us of our mom who believes that it’s the sense of satisfaction for them to serve the chapattis to everyone directly on their plates and have her part after everyone else is done. What if in a situation, she finishes making it all and eats along with us? the idea of selfishness and unappetizing chapatti plagues the imagery of our mother. She no longer symbolises sacrifice, she is no longer the Nargis of Mother India and our idea of a good mother. She ought to have a finesse in culinary skills cause the society wanted her to take pride, experience lacklustre and jealousy around it.
Maybe, the phrase, ‘the way to a husband’s heart passes through his stomach’ was a hoax to reduce the women to these trivial entitlements. Meanwhile, the arrival of Ramayana in every typical household amidst the lockdown has set too high standards for a woman to be deduced as an ideal. The femme was always a fatale after all pre-ancient mythological text that has now revisited our home, had always a centre conflict created by a woman.
But, who is the ringmaster, buttressing the structure that defines us by the fundamentals and ensure that we always dwell in the sense of inferiority by never being able to checkmark the top-notch ideals?
It is the ‘house manager’ absorbing the pride that the society resonated to her on possession of a son, a good-for-nothing but her darling. It is her who accepted the toys of spatula and tongs, that the society established was appropriate for her. It is her who pulled herself so underneath that it escalated the husband’s self-pride magnanimously because she was a better half, not a whole, herself.
Shaily is a final-year undergraduate student of journalism at Kalindi College, Delhi University. She is a budding cinematographer who better likes to be called a feminist visual storyteller. She mostly drifts around mining the repository of forgotten and underrated Indian Cinema or attempts to unclog her writer’s block. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
Featured Image Source: Deccan Herald