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The Lockdown Show: A Housewife Adjusts To The New Normal

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This post is a part of YKA’s dedicated coverage of the novel coronavirus outbreak and aims to present factual, reliable information. Read more.

Lately, I have felt that life is like a tower of Jenga blocks… one wrong move, and there you are with a big mess to clear!

Long time back, I had a steady routine with the kid going to his school, sharp at 8:30 a.m., husband going to his office by 9 a.m., dhoodhwale bhaiya on the door, dhobi bhaiya, driver and so on.

Believe me, it was just like a witch flying on her magic broom here and there to assemble things, like the lunch box, files, schoolbag, breakfast, and also finding my own self! The only ‘devis’ that gave me any soulful happiness were my cook and my maid. But yes, it was…

Till the cat slept on the mat,
rat was saving his life from the cat,
and the markets didn’t have the bats,
we were happily moving in our lives wearing hats!

But alas! Now the cat stares at me through the window, the rat is almost safe with me in the store, and the bat has spread this pandemic and acted the main lead in the corona attack.

Nowadays, I am blessed with so many hands like a Devi, one hand has a spatula, another handles the mop, next has a duster, and one has a kindergarten book!

A month back, the world was declared to be suffering from the biggest pandemic of our lives and we were in lockdown; borders were sealed. A step out of the house, and the policeman would make a rampage with his stick. No one could step out. No one. You can understand very well. Even before I could understand what Mr Prime Minister’s message for the nation meant, my helper, cook, maid and all others had all taken their steps.

Now, we are locked in the house with a few essentials and a five-year-old. These essentials include few sanitizers, disinfectant sprays, masks, and above all the most important—HANDWASH. In my entire life, I never knew that handwash can be a life-savior when everyone is stocking it up as some gold in the mines.

I asked my driver bhaiya to get me a bottle of handwash; he returned with a ghost-like face after a few hours and said, “Madam, handwash is out of stock.” Though the cute-figured diagram of this not-so-cute virus revolved in my imagination, I calmed myself that was not the END yet.

Handwash miley na miley, but when you have a 5-year-old questioning you day and night, your head goes on squats and planks. Nowadays, I am blessed with so many hands like a Devi, one hand has a spatula, another handles the mop, next has a duster, and one has a kindergarten book!

Lockdown has made our life come to a standstill. It’s unbelievable that the world has stopped for “repairs”. But, when you have a 5-year-old jumping in the house like a kangaroo all over the house, with all the delicate glass showpieces and crockeries, I can bet you don’t care what repairs are being done outside.

Nowadays, I feel empowered and divine with five hands. Positivity is the next thing the lockdown is teaching me and many like me. So, I consider these hands with different types of “house tools” in the form of a “customized gym.” Every day is a fight against this tiny-miny virus that has plunged into our lives unwanted.

 

Mr PM has his own ways to handle the janta, and he is a maestro in that. Modiji keeps the motivation high, be it the demonetisation, the surgical strike, his wining the elections twice or how to fight back with the biggest pandemic of the history. He appears on the TV screens, and we hop in front of it to know what our next task along with staying at home, is.

Modiji requested us to ring bells and beat the thaalis to encourage the heroes (doctors, nurses, police and all the other essential service people) and thank them. But we tend to forget that “Bharat ki janta is not aam janta“—it thinks before you say it and acts accordingly. Let me be clear, “aam” is not the one Modiji talked about a year ago in his interview with the actor Akshay Kumar.

Well, thaalis were beaten, bells were rung, and I believe, social distancing was ‘maintained’ by burning crackers, dancing on dhols, taking out processions. Credits: Scroll

Well, thaalis were beaten, bells were rung, and I believe, social distancing was ‘maintained’ by burning crackers, dancing on dhols, taking out processions. It was a lot more than what might have been done when Lord Shri Ram came back to Ayodhya. Many videos explaining why Mr PM requested us to do this went viral on the internet. Some said the coronavirus can be killed by sound vibrations, so we Indians poured our heart out making efforts to make corona leave the Earth.

Next was lighting up candles and diyas. It was really beautiful to light up the whole country  to thank our heroes. We decorated our house with diyas, candles and torches. Social distancing was again a challenge for some who moved out to ask “Bhai, how was it?” I saw a viral video of an auntyji with diyas in her hand, shouting at the top of her voice “bhag corona bhag.” I know it must have been really difficult for Modi ji and even corona to digest this!

Doordarshan has earned back its 30-years-old TRP with the telecast of Ramayana. People are watching it for soul transformation and learning how to go back to basics.

On the one hand, many are stocking house ration as if they will continue to live even if the world ends, and on the other hand, a few are trying to find coins in their wallet saying “Aaj ka shayad chal jaega”

The house has turned into a holiday spot—a resort rather; we are cooking restaurant-quality food, doing all the salon things at home, even trying out make up and nice dresses we ordered lately for soul satisfaction. The desire for more holidays has tranformed into requests to work. On the one hand, many are stocking house ration as if they will continue to live even if the world ends, and on the other hand, a few are trying to find coins in their wallet saying Aaj ka shayad chal jaega

“Maana apni jeb se fakeer hein
Phir bhi yaaron dil ke ham ameer hein
Mitte jo pyaar ke liye woh zindagi
Chale bahaar ke liye woh zindagi
Kisi ko ho na ho hamein to aitbaar
Jeena isi ka naam hai”

And the lockdown show continues…

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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