I opened the plates shelf in the kitchen to pull out a clean plate to serve breakfast. I was surprised and happy to see the plates so nicely stacked in the shelf. Only a day before I had told my son how to stack the plates in the shelf. Until then, he would take the plates out from dishwasher and keep them on the slab seeking excuse that he wasn’t tall enough to reach the shelf. So I made him realize that he could become taller with the help of a stool or a chair. His eyes shone up and the thought of some mischief that he could do climbing on the chair, and as a side-effect he stacked up the plates very nicely.
I was naturally happy to see that he had remembered the trick even next day and announced to my family members, “Look, how properly, our champ has arranged the plates”. Just then my mother in law claimed, “it wasn’t him but Papa. Papa couldn’t get the clothes from the terrace as it was very hot so he took the dishes out from dishwasher”.
I was basking in the glory of my son’s effort but was soon dragged out of it. However, I realized that how empowered my entire family had become in last few days. They didn’t need to be reminded that their contribution was important and they had authority and freedom to chose what they wanted to do, just keeping in mind that the entire ecosystem worked in harmony. I am not ashamed to say that my father in law also contributes to the house hold chores, in-fact I am proud of him. He doesn’t let the usual male ego or age old believes or “Log kya kahenge” stereotypes to stop him from doing tasks for his family.
Now, you must be wondering that how does empowerment come into picture here? And don’t we always talk about women empowerment or employee empowerment, so how is contributing to household chores fall into the category of empowerment?
It surely does. Let me explain. if you search synonyms of “Empowerment”, this is what you will find: autonomous, paddle your own canoe, at will and so on. Basically all them lead to a simple philosophy ,”sustaining on your own”. How many of us are truly capable of that? We are always dependent on others for our sustenance and dependencies cannot be completely eliminated, for example, not all of us can do farming and grow our own food. But, given a well established ecosystem, like a house and family, still we are dependent on few in the family to do our tasks. We have created our own set of rules like cleaning, mopping, washing dishes, putting clothes on drying lines, cooking and everything that makes your house livable are duties of female members. Soon, these rules got associated to beliefs and “log kya kahenge” biases. As a result, female members outsourced some of these tasks to maids and cooks because there was no use of asking the males to help. And one find day, “Corona” happened!
Now what? Some cribbed about the increased work load, some sent jokes and memes on social media, some did nothing because it was a much needed break for them while females in their house slogged and few decided to take this opportunity to empower themselves. I do not mind if those few gave “Corona” as the reason for their empowerment because reason does not matter, only the intention does. Because empowerment happens only if one wants to gain the power, because with power comes responsibility. That’s another reason that most of the times, we do not show the willingness to learn a task, because we are afraid that if we learn, then it will be stuck with us forever.
We have been watching “Ramayan” lately and though until now, I couldn’t agree to some beliefs shown in the epic, this time, I am watching it with more maturity and acceptance. In early life of Ram, the Gurukul phase is shown where all students are bound to learn and do all the tasks, irrespective of their family background. Ram and his brothers, are seen doing all worldly tasks. Sadly we conveniently ignored this part of the great epic, but remembered how women are supposed to pray their husbands as GOD. Anyways, lets not get into this debate.
Coming back to the story of my household. Much before the lock-down started, my mother in law and I contemplated to give paid leave to our maid and cook as both looked genuinely scared to come for work. It was our duty to keep them safe as they used public transport and had a family of their own. I was in dilemma, with work from home keeping me on calls all the time, I was not sure how much I would be able to contribute towards other chores. So we agreed on distribution of work among-st five family members. Its been 3 weeks of work from home now and our boat has been sailing smoothly. Everyone is well aware of what they have to do, we have chosen our own timing of completion our tasks, all of us are playing our part diligently, if for some reason one person is not able to do his part, other one pitches in. Their is a smile on everyone’s face, a feeling of pride that we are self sufficient, generous, grateful for our blessings and most importantly, we feel Empowered.
I am well aware of the fact that we will relapse to our usual dependent living on maids and cooks, after Corona. Still we decided to utilize this time to break biases, forget about the jokes people will crack on us, find our own capabilities and stand by each other. I proudly send pics of “us” doing household chores to my family groups, some laugh, some praise, and some probably feel bad about it. It does not affect me, because even if one person gets inspired and gets up to help, seeing those pics, my job is done. And if nobody gets inspired, then also, MY job is done 😉
This week, my son taught me a very important lesson using his fidget spinner (check out the video on my LinkedIn page), that empowerment does not need forming a strategy or brainstorming, all you need is a touch and energy itself takes care of flowing to the touched person.
Ironically, Corona does the same, just that its power brings in negativity in life.
Now its on us to decide that how do we want Corona to empower us and our dear ones.
Image Courtesy: https://www.proactiveinvestors.com/companies/news/179261/fidget-spinner…