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Whether they work outside the home or not, many women find that the routine of looking after a home and family leaves them without a holiday.
There was a house nearby that had a family of seven living there. Yes, in a nice three bedroom apartment, the seven members coexisted, living and working through their lives.
The father went to his office as did the two daughters.
The younger son and his wife worked together in their own shop. They had a little boy who went to school and his practice and tuitions and play; his days full and busy.
Left behind to look after and cater to all the needs was the mother. A caring, kind, homely and typically motherly figure, pretty common in households across India. The matriarch who is the glue that holds the house and its inhabitants together.
She is the doer and organiser of the house; very affectionate and helpful, she often goes out of her way to lend a hand.
She also does the cooking, washing and general upkeep of the house; insisting that she is free. “What else have I got to do?” she says, and her family lets her.
Well, yesterday, she died; quietly and suddenly in the evening after finishing her chores for the day.
As if without disturbing the routine of the house. The doctors said that it was stress that brought on an early death with a heart attack.
Her friends said she died due to over-work.
I always saw her doing something. Peeling vegetables, cutting them, washing clothes by the buckets full – why could five earning members not get her a fully automatic washing machine? They offered her some basic help and helped her themselves when they had time. Maybe it was her preference but at close to 60, even if she didn’t think about it, maybe they should have?
It was as if she was their time keeper and she herself ran out of time!
Now the son and daughter-in-law have moved to be closer to her parents. One daughter has married and moved away. The older son, newly married then, has now moved in with his homely wife to live with the father and one sister. I see his new wife (also a newer mother) handling the responsibilities of the house with élan.
Does she even know what she has got herself into?
I was thinking about her when I cringed as I heard my kid shout, “I need a break! I am tired and I am bored! Today is my holiday!”
How often do we hear this and yet, is it ever a holiday for a woman?
When was the last time you took a true, ‘cross your heart and hope to die’ kind of holiday? Even on a holiday you have something to do. I wondered when I would get mine. Even I was tired and bored as hell; more than him, I need a timeout!
Yes, home and hearth can be boring. Do you remember watching the same cartoon/ movie at least a 100 times? Cooking the same vegetables thrice a week in the exact same way? Scrubbing the same stubborn stains from the same place from the same shirt with the same detergent thrice a week? Making the house spic and span in a few hours so it can be messed up in a few minutes?
Why is always a woman’s job to look after everyone else?
Something to fix, mend, sort, fold, open or just clean and control things getting out of hand. The weekend looms over like a large bottomless pit where I need to jump in, forgetting my fatigue from the past week and hoping it goes off smoothly and swiftly.
So I ask, when will I get my holiday? Or will I be like the lady who just vanished suddenly, still waiting for her holiday?
I always hated Mondays but now I love them. That is the day I take things slow. It is the day I have a partial holiday. Three hours in seven days.
I might just make it!
Image of tired woman via Shutterstock
Inderpreet Kaur Uppal is a freelance author, editor and writer for fiction and nonfiction based in New Delhi, India. A post-graduate lecturer in Human Resources Management, Corporate Communications, Training and Development and Organizational Behaviour read more...
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Mostly Normal is a book of innocence, longing, filial love, angst and acceptance, encapsulating a gamut of human emotions within its lightweight edifice. The book touches the human heart and will stay with you.
Some books enthral you till the last page, and then there are those that you stop reading after turning a few pages. Some books are a one-time read, while you carry some books with you long after you have read them. Then, once in a while, a book hits you so close to home that you find it difficult to slot into any category.
I will put Priyadeep Kaur’s Mostly Normal (BookSoul Reads, 2022) in this last bracket.
At a little less than hundred pages, Mostly Normal is a testimony of the power of words to inspire, irrespective of their length.
Most women do not get to live their lives the way they want, on their own terms. So why should they be tied down in their old age?
Every morning, while dropping the kids at the bus stop, I find a grandfather waiting with his granddaughter. I see him again when I fetch the kids. This has been the pattern for the last few years.
He is seen actively participating in his granddaughter’s activities, from morning and evening walks to attending her parent-teachers meeting, sending her for extracurricular activities to even planning her birthday party. He is admired by all. He is appreciated for making himself useful in his old age. People rave that the doting grandfather is doing his duty towards his children and grandchildren. The much-admired grandfather is also a widower, having lost his wife years ago to chronic disease. It’s also to be noted that both his son and daughter-in-law are working parents.
Every day, the onlookers appreciate his sense of duty and dedication. They say that this is how the elderly should keep themselves occupied. They should bring up their grandchildren while their children go off to work.
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