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‘Corona Teachings’: Made Us Respect ‘Women At Home’ & ‘Work At Home’


05 April 2020

Sangita Agarwal


Bhubaneswar:  The whole nation went into a 21-days lockdown from midnight of 24th March 2020 in a bid to contain the deadly Corona virus. The schools were shut; the offices and market places were closed. People found themselves enclosed in their houses having very limited access to public life. Barring a handful (who were to work from home) most had absolutely nothing to do. It seemed as a vacation for many with a difference. They could not step out of the house, or could hang out with friends or even order something to eat from outside. Many Indian men found it very difficult to be stuck at home 24X7 as they were never taught to be at home for an entire day or do the household chores since childhood. 

 

Lockdown Changed The Dynamics Of Every Household

With the home dynamics changing, albeit for a 21-day period, several things changed. It hit women the most. For the majority of housewives, the “work” burden increased manifold. With the husband and children at home, it meant incessant ‘demand’ for cooked food round the clock and more household chores, that too without the usual household help.

Though most women took the unprecedented lockdown in their stride, it took away the ‘me’ time they used to enjoy in the absence of husbands and kids. Now they had become busier than ever, juggling between cooking and cleaning, filling the plates and palates of each member of the house, and taking care of the elderly and the children.

Most men, who were compelled to ‘work from home’ as per the current norms, expected their wives to serve ready meals, washed clothes and proper surrounding so that they could do their work. The kids expected new and different dishes, as no outside food was available. There are many bored men who do not know what to do other than flipping channels, scrolling through the news feed, watching Netflix, or making Tiktok videos rather than lend a helping hand in the household chores.

A Big Change In Indian Households

Apart from everything else, this lockdown saw a drastic change in some households. In the absence of maids, the man of the house stepped forward ( even the grown up kids) to help the ladies in their own little ways, assisting with household chores like washing and cleaning, even cooking depending entirely on individual temperament. 

The men who entered the domestic arena for the first time during the lockdown were flabbergasted to see the amount of work at home. “Before washing utensils during this lockdown, I never knew that we had so many of them. If I postpone the cleaning till evening, then there is a huge lot in the kitchen sink to be washed. It is so tiring to wash the utensils,” quipped 35-yr-old Amol who lived with his wife and parents in Bhubaneswar. 

The men got amazed them as to how the ladies managed to do the multitasking. “I tried to make my 3-yr-old daughter eat, and it took a whole hour to finish the job. I just wonder how my wife does it everyday without missing out any of her chores. It is so difficult to raise children. They are so demanding,” said Bobby, a 32-yr-old tech who missed to submit his assignment timely due to his ‘home’work. 

“I always thought cooking was easy and used to order my wife to prepare different items for me. Now, when the responsibility is on me on weekends, it is so so difficult. I try to do the least time-consuming dish, but the kitchen gets into a mess. It is very difficult to clean it then,” divulged 45-yr-old Manoj, a chartered accountant by profession. 

With the women at the helm of affairs at home, men found themselves erring at many places while doing their respective tasks. When 30-yr-old Baibhav was asked to mop the floor of the house, he finished a whole bottle of phenyl. “I thought I was doing a wonderful job by disinfecting the whole house until my mom shouted at me,” he said.

Sweeping the floors became tedious, doing the laundry seemed a herculean task, and juggling work at home and work from home became the most difficult work indeed for many. 

To top up the woes, the kids are also stuck in the house. They also need to be engaged. The smaller ones find it difficult to play in the house and call for attention of the parents whereas the older ones do not seem to be ready for online classes.

The grown up kids have their share of fallouts. “I tried to make momos at home. But it was so very difficult without the help of my mother. I did not want to increase her burden by involving her, but just could not manage single-handedly,” said Ayushi, a 17-yr-old girl. 

“I seem to miss my morning classes everyday. Late night PUBG matches have disrupted my timetable. It is so difficult to wake up early in the morning. Moreover, I have been allotted to sweep the floor. Suddenly the 3bhk seems so big,” cried out Ashutosh, a 16-yr-old schoolboy. 

Recently, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik asked people to not enjoy the lockdown like holidays. He also said that people should not overwhelm women with more work. The Odisha government sent out an announcement asking the people in the state to be sensitive to the needs of women who are overburdened with work. Though many have adhered to this policy, they seem to be more overburdened (with no prior experience). 

But this lockdown has taught many to salute the homemakers. When the entire world has come to a standstill amidst lockdown, these ladies seem to run the show. They have shown the world how important their work is, which was earlier ignored by many.

 

They are doing a commendable job indeed. Many would agree to it. What say?