A Holi to remember..

It wasn’t too back in time and it isn’t dated in memory. As such, it isn’t a childish memory. Only childlike. But it still was a good day, fresh in my heart as if it were only yesterday. This was the day when two hearts met through some thought-out planning and some cheerful, harmless mischief. This was the day that I realized, when things are right in life, you must go about and shout #KhulKeKheloHoli.

I hadn’t met her for five years. It’s not a small time and things do get between two people that make their relationship less nurturing, less fulfilling and finally, tough to carry on. As that, it had been months we hadn’t talked, nor had we exchanged pleasantries on Birthdays even. Bizarre things were starting to happen in our lives and neither of us saw any way out of them. Things weren’t bad or sad. They just were saturated, not leaving time or space for that soft corner you have for special people in life. But that Holi, things took a change for the better.

It was the Hindi new year and her street was abuzz with girls and boys playing and enjoying the different shades of Holi. They would throw water balloons on one another, throw entire buckets of water among them, ambeer-gulaal and the ‘kaala wala rang’ as we always call it. Among all this chaos, I was walking somewhere on a harmless path where my White Kurta and Jeans would not be tattered or spotted by any pinch of stray colour coming from a water-gun. It was an unknown street for me and I was an unknown person to them so somehow, they didn’t bother to get me in their game. They could if they wanted to but they didn’t. Maybe they were good people. Maybe they liked my Kurta too much 😛

Anyway, so as I made my way through the street to her door, I heard an unknown voice call a very known name. Sadly, you wouldn’t get the name here 😛 . And then, a very known voice responded to the very unknown voice as my heart knew no bounds. It was she and she was there. I had made all this plan of coming to her house and surprising her on HOLI on the paper-thin premise that I knew she was having a good amount of holidays at her college and so there was more than a fare chance that I would be able to find her at her place, at her home.

I rang the bell, although the gate wasn’t really shut as a symbol of welcoming guests wholeheartedly on Holi. But I was an uninvited guest and so I had to. Her father came to answer the door as I wished him Namastey, touched his feet and went on to put just a little ‘teeka’ of gulaal on his forehead, wishing him a very happy Holi.

At that very moment, that respected man right there had an expression on his face that spelled a thousand emotions but was blank in words. He had never seen me before and was befuddled as to who this unknown guy was, behaving as a long lost son (or maybe one wanting to be 😛 ). To clear his confusion, I told him my name and that I was his daughter’s friend. Maybe he understood the situation then and called out to her. As he did, she came running to the door and when she saw me, she was flabbergasted. But before she could come over to wish me a happy Holi, it was her mother who came forward first, maybe because the real gravity of what was happening had dawned upon her.

Her mother came up to me and I again touched her feet, wishing her a Happy Holi as I applied another little teeka, this time a green one, on her forehead. Her mother gave a ‘knowing’ sort of nod to me and then to her husband as they welcomed me in. On the way in, I simply wished her a happy Holi and did not even bother to put any colour on her. Maybe we thought it would be rushed. Maybe we thought that there would be a better time.

She made me sit at one of the chairs they had put in their verandah for guests as her father came in with his plate of colour. He called me by my name as I got up to his call. He first put a teeka on my forehead and then proceeded to apply some on my cheeks and chin too. He then did something that made his daughter’s eyebrows go wide. He put down the plate and hugged me a very happy new year, something that was although customary on Holi but something that she wasn’t expecting.

She offered me some of the Holi snacks that she must have set on the table beforehand. I took the smallest looking thing from amidst the box and put it into my mouth. Soon her mother came in carrying a glass bowl in her hand. As she came near, she put the bowl on the table and picked up the plate of colour in her hands. Seeing her stance, I got up again as she put a teeka of red on my forehead, just a little one and brushed off some of the green her husband had applied. She then handed me the bowl containing a halwa, one which I was later told she only reserved for ‘special guests’.

I sat there on the table, trying to act as calm and composed as I could as her parents asked me a little of here and there- that we went to school together, that I used to live in the neighboring muhalla and so on. A little while later, as I got up to leave, she came up to me with her own colour plate and put a teeka on my forehead. I wished her a happy Holi and did the very same to her. Her parents saw this but didn’t seem bothered. And then her mother said something that made our day. She told her that she may go out to play Holi with her friends, now that all the preparations at home were almost done. She rejoiced in herself but didn’t really show it. She just made her way to the door as I once again touched her parents’ feet and bid them goodbye.

I found her parents especially smart in that they did not bother to come to the door as she exited and I followed. As we got out, she gave me a ‘This took guts’ sort of expression but she never gave any sign that looked negative in any way. She looked rather happy and as we moved away from her house and towards the park where her friends would be playing, the complete joy of the festival came upon her. I loved to finally see her that happy and thought in my mind that I had finally made a decision I will look back with the softest of memories.

Once in the park, the complete assault of colour began. I realized that the teeka she had put earlier was just a ‘teaser-trailer’ in the long long film to come. We played with gulaal, the ‘kaala-wala’ colour, water and water balloons and what not. And while we did all that, we were least bothered about getting it off later on. All we cared was to get those colours on and to get those moments in. That day right there was one that had made everything right as we played Holi #Khulke all morning.

“I’m pledging to #KhulKeKheloHoli this year by sharing my Holi memories at BlogAdda in association with Parachute Advansed.”

 

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Towards an equilibrium

“We've begun to raise daughters more like sons...
 but few have the courage
 to raise our sons more like our daughters.”
 ― Gloria Steinem

 

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The problem is that we think we want equality in places where we actually want equilibrium. The great debate about the division of household chores stands in stark synchronicity with a baseless gender strife. There are multiple variables to consider when we discuss that but people always end up narrowing it down to a trifle example of what happens in an individualistic family. That, although may be a way to look at things in general but it is not the right thing to do. But right or wrong, there is one thing absolutely certain here- That we cannot afford to let this plethora of complex problems pass on the future generations with as many complications to consider as we do now.

People tend to write either from experience or from frustrations when they talk about sharing the load in houses. Let myself be no exception here. But the difference is that I look into this issue with a more optimistic lens than what the statistics have to say. Which statistics you ask? Well these statistics which hint towards an idea of how children look at the notion of division of labour and whether or not they are motivated enough to take up more supportive roles in their own responsibilities in future households.

Before starting to unravel the repercussions that these notions may have on the way the future generations turn up, let me tell you how I perceive this in an immediate context of my own family. Surely like many Indian families of my times, my mother has been the one who has had to bear with all the household chores. She is the one who has taken  up the responsibility for the food on the table, the clothes in our almirahs and keeping our house more homelike. She is a home-maker and we love her for that. Not only this, we respect her for that. Just as we respect how my father has been the breadwinner in his own work domain. It is not to say that these so called ‘work-domains’ are where they should belong but that they have chosen to take them up so as to strike that balance, that equilibrium in the household.

 

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But never have they ever made it a point that we children have to necessarily take up the exact similar roles in our lives. They have taught us that we are required to support out better halves in every way possible in order to strike the equilibrium in the new world that is coming up out there. And this knowledge they have passed on from their own parents. My grandmother and grandfather had always seen to it that their boys also learn the set of skills that they wanted their daughters to possess. Whether or not they may need them is another thing but they should always be prepared for it. And this is how the teaching has evolved when it has been passed on to us by our parents. My parents have separate work domains but they never shy away from helping each other out when they need to.

Along similar lines, I look forward to supporting my spouse in future and to getting a similar support from her in working out things for each other. Maybe it is easier to talk like this than to actually do them but this is where the optimistic lens really comes in. I believe that we will work it out, somehow; that we will strike that perfect balance in spite of the criss-crossed work-domains that we may have in our lives. And this belief is not founded merely on positive thinking but on multiple examples of families that I see in my life.

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I have observed that whenever people are citing these imbalances through a dramatic portrayal of sorts, the background of it is mostly the Indian metros that have recently been flooded with myriads of young couples. But amidst the chaos, I see resolution. I see how those young people, those upcoming generations have taken up these challenges and made small work of them. Yes, they may have been subjected to some of the stereotypical gender identities in their own childhoods but they have learnt some good lessons out of them. If these cities are a true mirror of our future, then  I don’t feel things are as grim as people tend to make them. Only thing is that couples should start coming up more and more with their true feelings in regard to these things. Nothing would come out of wives writing complains over blogs and husbands mocking their wives in bars. There has to be that good, honest conversation between the duo. After all, the load isn’t just the chores. The husband needs to make her understand his deepest troubles and ask her to help him out of them. The wife needs to make him understand the little things she wants from him instead of expecting him to figure them out himself.

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And when the duo has settled upon those things, they need to pass them on to their children. They need to prepare their children, whether they may be living in a metro or in a small town, for the next step in this evolutionary ladder. It is imperative to keep the future generations away from the prejudices of the age old traditions not because they are harmful in any way but because they misplace a rung in this evolutionary ladder and stagnate the process. And this process should not stop if we really want a better world for our future generations.

There are small ways in which we can contribute towards sharing the load and setting examples for the #GenNext. For couples with predefined and separate work domains, the one earning financially can at times take up the task of helping out the home-maker in small chores. These are not big things really and we need to understand here that it takes small gestures of simply showing that ‘you care’ for your spouse and respect what they do. The home-maker can in turn help the breadwinner by carefully managing the finances of the family and saving up those tiny bits for a rainy-day. When the children see this harmony and are taught likewise to bring the same up in future, their minds are filled with hope rather than cheap pessimistic debates over the issue. Similarly, in familes where the work domains are juxtaposed, it is imperative that men, despite the orthodox world-view help out their spouses by sharing the work hours with them. Be it attending to the baby, doing laundry or cooking food, if the wife is doing that in spite of her office work, they should do it too so as to set the right standards for the children. I use ‘if’ here because it holds a great significance here.

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In the mad race of household ‘equality’ rather than ‘equilibrium’, it is sometimes seen that a different problem has been cropping up. Not only are boys not being made to learn the household chores, the girls of the Gen-Y are themselves uninterested and unattended in being taught the secrets of the trade. This is an even more dangerous issue and one that needs to be addressed with an even more immediate effect. We cannot go on to teach our children to completely neglect the duties of the house in order to excel upon the duties of the office. The beam balance should come to scale; not the weights taken away to do that. It would be a hollow world if we were to teach our future generations this hollowness. We want them to reach perfection in life and not negligence.

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At the end of the day, life is really about those small things that make a big difference. It may consist of chores and pressures and tensions and exertions, but it is not all about it. Life is about nurturing the present and taking care of the future. And that is precisely what we must do here.

 

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.