You wake up in the morning and as part of your assumed duty to help your mother, you set the cushions, sofa, dining table, bed sheets and cupboard right, and then go to get ready for your college/office. When you enter the drawing room again, everything is a mess. Your brother just woke up and messed up everything again – littered things here and there, spill his coffee on the table, disturbed the cushions and left the newspaper lying on the carpet. He is busy playing some game on the laptop and you have to redo everything, just because you know your mother will have to do it otherwise, and your brother or father of course will not help her anyway. Isn’t this your story too?Â Why are we such?
Don’t you feel exasperated when your mother reasons that ‘he is your brother, he is back for the holidays, he is elder to you’ etc. and therefore, you should not care about these little things; you are a girl, you must look after the house, cleanliness and so on? You too have a life, you have to go to the office, you have to work, you have other assignments, and you are getting late. You did take care of your chores, you did do your duty. But you have to re-do it, everyday, and not argue, not question, because you won’t be heard, only misunderstood to be a lazy woman, who is disobedient, disrespectful and an “ungroomed to-be bride”.
This is the case with most families in India. The woman has to do the same work over and over, without help or assistance, be it a housewife or a working woman. The unmarried Indian girls, no matter working or studying, are trained to work repetitively without questioning. We are taught the mumbo jumbo of our tradition as if it were the holy duty of a girl. And we gradually get used to it, we learn to suppress our rebellious thoughts and act as we are taught to.
I don’t know what I should really and precisely ask. Should I ask why only a woman can work and at the same time look after the household too? Or should I ask why are the unmarried girls trained to be submissive? Or should I ask why it is culturally wrong for men to be equal contributors at household chores?
This early morning drawing room story is repeated in thousands of households on a daily basis, and when the girl, the daughter, the sister or the bride to beÂ questions or raises a voice, she gets tagged as the “unethical”, “disobedient”, “bad girl”. Why?