Edifice to prejudice

I am taking part in the #ShareTheLoad Challenge with Ariel and Akshara at BlogAdda.

 

Ritwik jumped out of the shower and went straight to his elder sister, sitting at the table. Reya was reading an article about some new course in the town when she saw him leaping towards her. She realized quickly what he intended to do right then but couldn’t act so fast. Ritwik got around her, brushing away the water from his hair on the newspaper in her hand. She shouted at his mischief and got up for a payback but Ritwik ran away to this room, locking himself up.

Inside, he thought about what all he wanted to do that day. His mother would soon be home and he had something nice in his mind to ask her to cook. And then his father would come too, it being a half-day at work. He thought about asking some money from both of them to buy himself some small nothings and to add some of it to his savings. The festival was right around the corner of the coming week and he had bragged to his friends about a million things that he would be buying.  Surely, all of that took a lot of thought and diligence to manage on his part.

Getting dressed in his soccer uniform, he got out of the room. His parents had just bought him that one, on his 9th birthday that is, and he couldn’t wait to show it off among his peers. He moved out into the lobby to see his sister still trying to read about that course in the paper, although it was quite wet. He teased her into a ‘You couldn’t get me’ motion but she just ignored him. Soon the bell rang and it was their mother. She stepped in, keeping her bag on the table beside Reya’s wet newspaper, careful not to damage it further. She announced that her school authorities had finally declared a holiday for the next 5 days and that now, she would be dishing away all requests which she might have denied due to work those past days. She also noticed how Reya had underlined the course contents she wanted to pursue. She had hardly begun to read the piece when Ritwik cut her in between. “You had promised you will make my favourite first, I want Kadhi-Rice now”, he kept going. His mother calmed him down, telling him to wait for her to finish. But he was inexorable as he began to push his mother into the kitchen. She finally gave up and asked Reya to come with her to help.

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Seeing them go, Ritwik settled himself on the bean bag and switched on the television. He kept browsing through the channels, finding nothing really of interest because inside, he was just waiting for his father to come. Soon the bell rang again but he did not get up to attend the door. Reya came out of the kitchen, running her hands into his hair, teasing him as she got out to welcome her father. Once he entered, Ritwik rushed to him, hugging him and asking if he too had his holidays now. His father nodded but added that he still would have to go in between to take care of some pending work as it was a tight month. Ritwik didn’t understand a ‘tight month’ but he didn’t ask any further.

As his father got fresh and Ritwik got bored with the television, Reya got in as she placed the bowl of Kadhi on the dining table. Her mother followed with the bowl of rice and the dishes as they began settling in for the food. Ritwik loved it and so did his father, mother and Reya. He couldn’t help but notice how in between their slurps, his mother would look at them and smile, with a peculiar glow turning up on her face. Ritwik loved that glow in his mother.

When they were done, Ritwik again rushed to his room, bringing out the shoes and placing them where everyone could see them, just to give an indication that he was going out to play soon. His mother asked Reya to join her in the kitchen to do the dishes as his father watched him go about slowly tying his shoelaces. But something else caught his father’s attention just then. The newspaper article and the course that Reya had underlined. He read it through in a jiffy and went into the kitchen. There, taking the bowl out of Reya’s hands, he asked her if she was interested in the course. She told him she was to which he said, “Very well then. But you do see that the last date to apply is tomorrow right? Run away and let me help your mother with this. You go fill the application form and post it online”. Reya hugged him thanks, running out and kissing her brother while she was at it as she rushed to her computer.

Ritwik didn’t know what had happened. Just a second earlier, she was working in the kitchen and now she was more happier than he was. What had she won? A new soccer ball? Thinking that, he rushed into the kitchen to find his parents doing the dishes and smiling to each other. They were talking about Reya and suddenly, Ritwik found himself out of the picture. He heard his father tell his mother how Reya had been so hard-working and how he believed she would manage the course despite her board exams the next year. Ritwik heard all this and he felt something inside him.

When they came out, his mother told his father that they needed to get the laundry done by the next day so they could be ironed and in order before the festival holidays truly began for everyone. She asked him if he could help her out with that too. His father agreed the very second and even suggested her to take some rest and join in later. “But the pipe is broken so I would need to hold on to that till the tub gets full while you do the clothes”, she went suggesting how their good old washing machine had begun to come apart. All this while, Ritwik was listening to them and just when he heard that last one from his mother, he jumped in “I will help Dad in the laundry. I would hold on to the pipe just like mother. And mother, you can rest till then”.

“But are you sure Ritwik that you want to help? Don’t you want to go out to play soccer?”, quipped his mother.

“Arre…we will only play after the festival now”.

“Very well then, follow me lad”, said his father as the duo got about doing the laundry.

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His mother sat close, sort of reclining against the cushion as she saw the two most wonderful men in her life go about helping her in the chores. She was still wondering how lucky she was when she felt a hand on her shoulder. It was Reya. She brought her lips to her ears and asked “That pipe doesn’t really need to be held right? It can be done with a stopper?” Her mother chuckled and the glow came back upon her as she replied to her daughter “Of course it doesn’t. It was your father’s idea”.

Mowgli and the frisbee

If I am really talking about my favourite memory from the entire wonder that Mowgli’s world brought about for me, it has to be the ‘jungle jungle pata chala hai, chaddi pehan ke phool khila hai’ song. Things and thoughts started to play upon so vividly into my head every time I heard any line of it that I sort of got transported to an alternate dimension where I would be playing Mowgli, the ‘ek parinda hai sharminda’. Only a Mowgli fan can imagine the joy that I go through as I write this post as the Mowgli memories keep flooding into my mind.

I wasn’t so lucky as to watch it the first time it aired on National Television. But few know the level of excitement the whole thing created when it aired again, on Sahara TV maybe, for the generation next as all of us kids got to witness the one defining cartoon series of the times. I distinctly remember that it was a holiday season when the very first episode of it aired and I was travelling with my family. We had to leave my uncle’s home for another as the anticipation of the thing starting grew in my head. We were a bit caught up in the traffic and I really thought I would miss the start of it. The evening was setting in as our auto-rickshaw drove through multitudes of other vehicles through the busy roads and reached my uncle’s home well within time for me to settle myself down near my cousin’s bed and wait for the show to begin. And then it started, the song ,the show and the memories.

The whole thing lasted for days and months and I don’t think I ever missed a single episode. Even though there were serious problems of power-cuts in my town, the supply being pretty erratic at times, somehow things used to work out for the best for me to watch the episode or at least the repeat telecast.

I pretty much loved the entirety of it, the way Mowgli competed with his brothers to prove himself a part of the pack, the sheer thrill that Shere Khan created, the sacrifice of Mowgli’s father, the silliness of Ballu and the friendly advice of Bagheera. But the fondest part has to be one that I tried to imitate and that would be the wooden frisbee sort of thing that Mowgli would throw to hunt and then it would come back to him. My heart used to miss a beat whenever he did that as I sat in awe of it. I myself tried to pick wooden sticks and sharpen them up to act like the frisbee but obviously it never worked. Then I made paper planes and pretended that they were Mowgli’s hunting equipment as I found that they sort of came back to me when I flew them in the air.

Just like the frisbee that flies in the air and rebounds to you, Mowgli memories have always flown in the warmest corners of my heart and as The Jungle Book approaches again, those memories have rebounded. Guess life is somewhat like a frisbee.  🙂

I’m blogging about #MyMowgliMemory at BlogAdda.

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.”

 

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.

Epilogue to a fantastico month

I do not know whether I would be on the leader-board anymore by the time I finish writing this post. This first line may not sound right to you because it is part of a long drawn out journey, a navigation through a hectic month.

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I should probably be worried as I type these words ever so slowly on my word editor. Maybe I am. Maybe I am trying to fool me into thinking the opposite whereas deep down, I am as restless as those above and below me on the leader-board. But this post is not about all that, and the fact that I have mentioned these things before coming to what I really want to say is something I should be sinned for.

It began on January the 19th, a marathon like no other and a month that would go down as one of the most memorable in the life of everyone who participated in it. There is a whole spectrum of emotions that this fantastico month has offered me. It gave me moments where I was angry, disappointed, sad. It showed me times which brought those rare smiles of pure happiness on my face. But it will all be over tomorrow. And tomorrow, another new chapter will begin.

I have no doubt that this would be my last post for the marathon. As such, I feel like making it as creative as I can. But I am not able to. Sometimes, when you write fiction, you come with such beautiful ideas that you marvel if you yourself have written them. But that seldom happens when you are stating facts. I say ‘facts’ and not ‘truth’ because even I do not know what the truth is.

There are posts that I am proud of to have written in this month. There are few of them that are born out of the most intimate desires of my heart and as such, they will sound good to me even when a few years down the line I revisit them and find how downright ordinary my writing is. There are other posts that I feel I have sacrificed the quality of, just so I could boast high on quantity. I would apologize to them when they come haunting me in my dreams someday. I guess they will forgive me and understand my predicament.

If I say that I do not care about winning or losing anymore, I would be telling the whitest lie to you. If I say that, you can personally come to my room someday to give me two slaps left and right and I would be alright. But something tells me I wouldn’t be saying that. I am writing my heart out here and sometimes when you do that, it doesn’t make much sense. But there is one thing that my heart tells me right now and at the moment, it’s making sense to me. It’s telling me that I would not be looking back at this past month with disappointment.

There are many takeaways that I have. I have earned some followers to my blog, they sometimes comment on a piece they like and my happiness knows no bounds. I got into habit of using wordpress on a daily basis. I have been working on it for a year or so but the ‘getting in drift of things’ part has happened this month only. I also learned about a glorious yet joyful mistake of mine. I have been using my primary email-id for this blog. And so, every time someone hits that like button, I get an email notification there. I always open the mail and check it out. It tells me that so and so person liked my post and that “they thought it was pretty awesome”. Everytime I read this line, for a second there I always believe it literally. Then my mind tells me some BS about networking and that’s what bloggers have to do in order to widen their blog’s reach blah blah blah and some other nonsense. I never pay heed to it and bask in the glory of being awesome.

I received 20 genuine comments for the ninety odd posts I wrote on this blog in the past month. It may not look like a good number but I have treasured each and everyone of them, reopening my posts multiple times just to have a look at them. I have replied to them all, mostly with a longer text asking those lovely people to keep visiting and guiding the blog towards better writing in future. I have at times, edited the comments that I had replied to them, just to come up with something better to thank them with.

I also created a facebook page for this blog which had been lying a bit neglected under a premier blog of mine. I call that other blog ‘a premier blog’ just because it gets some hits now and then 😛 It isn’t really all that premier, so to speak. I have a feeling this post has gotten too long for anyone to care for it. But I am not going to edit any line of it. I would just finish it with a good quote and publish it and then submit it back on the Marathon with the hope that I eventually win something.

"when you work
you fulfil a part of earth’s furthest dream,
assigned to you when that dream was born,
And in keeping yourself with labour
you are in truth loving life"
- Khalil Gibran, The Prophet



This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.