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Why Women Need A Silence Zone

Posted: May 30, 2013

Women’s lives are a series of interruptions, and Indian women are no exception. Why women need a silence zone.

A writer once declared that she had become an expert on ten minute writing. The longest stretch of time she got in one go was ten minutes, and that’s how she wrote, every so often whenever she found the time. Did it disrupt her thought or creative process to be dragged away from her writing every few minutes? Of course, it did. But, like all writers, since she truly cared for what she did, she just tolerated the unstructured nature of her existence while she wrote her heart out. Women, she declared, are mostly ten minute writers.

If observed closely, this syndrome holds true for every other field as well. In fact, the one minute manager could learn a thing or two from women in the corporate world, or the business world, or the academic world, or the artistic world. A very senior corporate executive in a multinational used to carry recipe books in her car so that she could dictate them to her cook at home. Another woman in the advertising world was constantly being interrupted at work because her servant quit without notice. There are legions of women out there who sneak time out from their work to give phone help to their kids for homework.

There is no silence in a woman’s life. No matter what she does, or how accomplished she is, she is always besieged by the demands of her domestic life, even if her professional life is exceedingly busy. She is perpetually worried about the next meal, the next load of laundry, the next scheduled visit to the vet for the dog, the next project for her daughter’s eighth grade science exhibition. Her life is a spray can, flinging thin particles of ‘stuff’ in her face perpetually, seemingly small stuff that is nonetheless distracting and annoying. It is mostly unimportant stuff (the maid stuck in the balcony for half a day will survive, but it’s a disturbing nodule of information) and you tell yourself that nothing much can be done about it.

A friend once declared that she’d like to send all delivery boys to a collective hell. They ring doorbells, she said indignantly, just when she is sitting down to two hours of singing practice. A ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign would be laughed at. Or ignored.

Is there an end to this relentless parade of petty tasks? Of course not. The garbage collector, the delivery boy, the absent cook and the ever-present child will be there all through one’s productive life, and there will come a point when we’ll actually enjoy the sight of an alive face at our doorstep. But that day isn’t now. Now women need a moment of solitude, of introspection, when they can look upon life, and quietly celebrate its joys or mourn its vicissitudes.

Till such time that ‘silence zones’ where we can go and sit in an absolute vacuum for an hour or so every day are built for us, we must learn to find this time ourselves, to look for that one hour in a day when nothing and nobody, except a death, can intrude. A friend used to gift herself a late morning every Sunday when her family knew not to wake her up or open her bedroom door. She knew a thing or two about happiness!

Pic credit: AmslerPIX (Used under a Creative Commons license)

Beyond Pink writes on women's stories in urban India. They could be real or

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