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Why is some rest for women so hard to come by, especially in joint families? Do you think women are machines?
It’s Sunday again. And it’s the day I wait a whole week for. My husband and I both work in the private sector and have hectic work schedules for the whole week. As we live in a joint family, there are lots of home responsibilities too. I have to get up early in the morning every day. And on Sundays, I always look forward to getting up late but somehow that is not possible.
Today, early in the morning, I woke up to the sound of temple bells as my mother-in-law was doing her daily morning puja. She has the habit of getting up early in the morning, around 4.30am, and by 6.00 am she is ready to do her daily chores. I tried to get out of bed but could not find myself capable of doing so, as my stomach was aching. I thought of sleeping for some more time and repeated to myself, “Sunday hai yaar, thoda late ho gaya toh chalega, thoda rest aur kar leti hun kya pata theekh lage fir” (It’s a Sunday after all; perhaps I’ll feel better if I sleep a little more), so I dug my head into my quilt again.
Soon after I could hear loud knocks on my bedroom door. My hubby was outside the bedroom and was asking me to open the door. I got up half-heartedly. I checked the time on the clock and it was just 9.00 am. I felt agitated. As soon as I opened the door I saw my mother-in-law standing there. She had a neutral expression but she gave me a perplexed look. She asked me if everything was okay. And as usual, I said yes. Actually, no, it was not okay. But then, why did I say, yes?!
I came out after getting ready and went directly to the kitchen. My mother-in-law was preparing breakfast. I joined her but she started ignoring me, and then finally asked what took me so long, and why I was sleeping in late. She complained to me, “We are half an hour late for our breakfast. I waited for you to come but then I had to tell the maid everything instead.” Half an hour! Does half an hour really matter? Soon my sister-in-law too joined us.
She was also a latecomer. And that gave my mother-in-law enough reason to get angry. She started scolding her and indirectly scolding me simultaneously .”Look at the time. Is this how you are going to manage your work at your in-laws’ place after marriage? A woman should wake up early and before everyone in the family, and only sleep after setting all the things at night. She is the sole person responsible for the well being of a family. How many times do I have to tell you this?”
And then my sister-in-law asked what I had been wanting to point out since a long time. She asked her mother, “Mom, why is brother still sleeping? It’s 10.30am. And he is still in bed. Don’t the rules have to be the same for each and every member of a family?” To this, my mother-in-law replied, “He works the whole week and Sunday is the only day he gets for resting.” My sister-in-law continued, “So what, mom. Bhabhi and I work too. We work the whole week as well. We too have the pressure of working. I get some rest after I come home but bhabhi works hard even at home . Doesn’t she need rest? How does it matter if on Sundays we sleep for one hour more? What if we have our breakfast at 10.00 am instead of 9.30am on Sundays?”
My mother-in-law got irritated with this…”Don’t you argue with me! A woman is a homemaker and there are certain things she must take on herself,” she said. I saw that my mother-in-law was getting exasperated. I signaled my sister in law to let it go. I didn’t want the Sunday being ruined. Understanding my concern, my sister-in-law started arranging the dining table. And I involved myself in other chores.
But till now, it has been really disturbing me and raising a question again and again…
Why has a woman no right to sleep as per her choice?
Doesn’t her body need rest?
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