When Bani’s little brother was born the entire household was in a celebratory mood. Sweets were distributed for days on end, to neighbours and anyone who came to visit their house. Three years old herself; little Bani was too young to understand what the rejoicing was all about, but she had never seen anything quite like this, in her entire ‘tiny’ life. All her relatives were singing praises for her little brother, including her own parents and grandparents. Bani had never seen such happiness in their eyes before. Infact, there was quite a gloomy atmosphere in the house earlier, which she was told one day by her granny ~ how unfortunate the family was to have a grand-daughter instead of a grand-son a heir. Of course, at first, Bani didn’t realize what her granny meant; but as time passed, seeing the adulation her brother got, compared to her, Bani grew aware of the stark inequalities between them while being from same family. Even if she scored good marks in her school, she was snubbed as “parh likh ke kya karna; learn household duties instead.” While her brother was pampered even if he failed in his exams, time and again. They would simply say proudly, “yeh toh hamara ghar ka chiraag hai; khandaan ko aagey barhayega, hamara sher.” Unfortunately, it was from her granny and mother herself ( both females ), that she faced such discriminations.
Bani wanted to study. She wanted to become a top IAS officer. As she grew up, she devoted more and more of her time to her studies and scored good grades in college. She was also good at other activities. Her parents had wanted to marry her off after school itself, but Bani knew through her education that she was not of legal age yet and protested, till her parents agreed to wait just till she completed her junior college. And even though she faced stiff opposition, Bani was adamant to atleast complete her graduation, which her parents reluctantly agreed. Her brother Rishi, meanwhile, flunked in his studies. He played cricket the whole day with his group of friends in the mohalla-lane, and would come home late in the day; dump all his dirty clothes carelessly in the bathroom and after eating lunch and sleeping lazily for a while, would go out again in the evening, till late at night. After coming from college, Bani would then have to wash her all brother’s dirty clothes.
One day, when he was around, Bani asked him why he didn’t wash his dirty stuff himself. To which, her brother simply laughed and replied that it was 'not a boy’s job to wash clothes' and strutted off. Fed up with his arrogant spoilt attitude, one day Bani decided to teach him a lesson and stopped washing all his dirty clothes. As a result, day after day, her brother's clothes began piling up in a heap, that he had to run to complain to his mother of not having anything to wear. It was all Bani’s fault! All fingers suddenly pointed at her, that she being a girl didn’t do her daily chore ( i.e her taken-for-granted-duty ); and so her brother ( their darling son ) was suffering. Bani faced the entire family’s wrath and had to ultimately give-in and wash the heap. After all being a girl, nobody took her side, not even her mother.
Bani married soon after her graduation. At first, she felt she was lucky as her husband allowed her to work. 'Progessive husband,' she thought happily, as her fears subsided a bit, after wondering initially how her spouse would be. With her good grades and a very diligent personality, Bani soon started climbing corporate success. Though she lived in another city with her husband, separate from her in-laws ( as he was transferred frequently ), Bani would nonetheless have a mountain of chores to finish, once she returned from office. Starting with the dirty cups and dishes left here and there, by her husband, and his clothes too, carelessly flung about ~ the house looked a mess every evening she returned home tired. She often felt she had two jobs - one at office and one at home ( and unpaid one that! ). If she complained, her husband would snap back saying 'who asked her to work'. Thus, she kept quiet and went about her chores. Things became more difficult when they had two growing kids. Entire household work fell on Bani's shoulders, with her husband barely lifting his fingers, except for the TV remote.
After returning home, her husband would simply prefer to relax, listen music, read a book, watch TV and order tea or dinner. Bani tried keeping a maid to help her out a bit; but running after the domestic help, checking if the job was done correctly or not, took a lot of energy as well. Constantly on her toes, it was a tedious thing to do too. She hardly had a moment for herself to relax. Even buying a washing machine to ease the work load didn't help. For one day or two at first, her husband showed eagerness on how to get things done, but later, left everything upto her. For him watching TV was more worthy than doing the laundry. And if Bani tried doing what she had done with her brother once i.e stop doing the laundry altogether, it'd just keep piling on in a heap. And ultimately with fingers pointing at her again, her job would be doubled. As was her brother dependent on Bani for his fresh laundry everyday, her husband was no different - he was completely depended on Bani for doing his laundry.
The tale above is every Indian girl's tale, well almost as per Ariel's survey. While in abroad, household chores are equally shared by both the genders, such statistics still exist in India; that too, not just in small cities but in urban places as well. If we talk about equality, 'change in attitude' should start from early on. Donot discriminate between a boy and a girl child. Inculcate habits like doing household duties in a boy child too, and not just pamper them silly for just being a boy. Because today, girls too earn and earns big! She is no different from boys. Infact, is much better in many ways. Move away from shackles of hypocrisy. It starts from within the four pillars from your home. Don't just speak of inequality, do it. Yes men, DO YOUR OWN LAUNDRY!
Winning post of #IsLaundryOnlyAWomansJob contest in association with BA