When I received the blogadda post on twitter about the campaign #ShareTheLoad with Ariel and Akshara about the sharing the load of household chores, it interested me no end. I am sort of a champion in my family who has broken the mould of stereotypes of working husband and sulking wife. Even before marriage I had discussed with my husband about my inclination to work, not just work but take up career in the demanding field of media. This way I had eroded that first hurdle hence it did not come as a shock to him after marriage. I am sure he wouldn’t have figured out what it was like having a working wife coming from conventional Gujarati household. Even I came from stereotypical Kayastha (UP) background where girls pursued higher education, but were seldom allowed to go for work that too for unconventional fields like media. I started working at an early age on responsible positions, not bothering much about household work. (Big disadvantage of having efficient mother). Mother being an excellent home maker and father being a breadwinner, everything was well set in Varma household as everybody was in their well-defined roles.
However this was not the case when I got married. Life became stressful with family, household, kid, office…what not. The carefree life of bachelorhood took 180 degree spin. The life looked like a big trapeze act, balancing so many roles at a time and one slip, you are gone. Time was passing…child was growing up.
It was then, one fine morning, me and my husband decided to walk into each other’s territory, emulating the concept of #ShareTheLoad in toto. This was some twenty years ago. I would like to share here that sharing laundry was the biggest decision as it was always a woman’s domain to provide family members with washed and ironed clothes, every single day, so much so…four times a day. The conventional mould was broken when my husband Mukund started helping me with Laundry every Saturday; yes we did laundry only once a week on Saturdays. Not only it was like #ShareTheLoad but we started enjoying it together with chit chats on various topics under the sun right from family matters to religion, politics, education, entertainment, banking, finance …what not? Washing clothes was no longer a mundane course for us now. And yes, Ariel has been our constant companion since then, which is very friendly on hands, clothes, washing machine and on pocket too!
There have been many such times when I have had pressing schedules, urgent presentations, Blogadda deadlines or outstation travel, Mukund completely steps out of stereotypical mould of husband and takes complete charge of not only laundry but of entire household. This way in my generation, the mould was re-engineered which enabled me to excel in my work and my house also ran smoothly.
My mother was quite surprised at our decision as she could not imagine in her weirdest dreams that Papa would step in to help her with the laundry.
Nobody taught me or worked towards it at that time. Also I did not know about #Akshara as we went by the dictum: Necessity is the mother of invention!
Indeed Akshara has been at the forefront of the effort to making our society a gender equal and violence free one.
Today I can proudly say, #ShareTheLoad worked and worked quite well. Was it a dream for me? Oh yes! But not that far-fetched!! I took the inputs from my mother’s generation and started working on gender equality since then.
Today I have imbibed these values in my young daughter Tanya who is studying to be Digital Designer and is near adept at household work too! Oh yes making her think on these lines was quite a challenge. How? Read it in my next blogpost.