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Cooking, Cleaning, Caring: The Men In My Life Who Taught Me What Equality Is

Posted: April 18, 2020

Men who are quietly beginning to take on household shares without demanding praise for it, are the beginnings of equality at home. Be one of them!

A month ago, the world was celebrating Women’s Day and the theme which it was propagating was ‘Equality’. In every sense of the word!
Well, it got me thinking. Have I ever being treated ‘Unequally’? Did I face gender discrimination, say at school, college or work?

Honestly, it didn’t matter what other people thought. I was rather intent on finding out what role the term ‘Equality’ actually played in my life.

Beep! Beep!

The light vibration of my mobile broke into my thoughts and I clicked it open.

‘A new friend request!’ announced the notification bar.

To my pleasant surprise it was none other than my long lost school friend, Diksha. Her mere name brought back memories.

“What a waste of a talent!” One of our teachers had remarked about her. And why wouldn’t she? After all, Diksha was one of the brightest students of our school.

Unfortunately her parents didn’t think so. They believed in spending money on their son’s education rather than their daughter’s. She was married off at quite an early age. Her brother on the contrary was an average student and didn’t do much justice to his parents’ expectations.

As these thoughts ran through my mind, I thought about my own father, a strict disciplinarian but an impartial parent to both his son and daughter. He never discriminated between my brother and me, and gave us equal opportunities.

Ding! Ding!

The tick tock of the grandfather clock brought me out of my reverie. It was time for lunch! I shut down my laptop and quickly got up to feed the kids.
After much cajoling and threatening, the kids finally finished their food and I dashed to the kitchen in order to dispose off the dirty dishes.

And who do I find there?
My father-in-law! Hunched over the sink, he was quietly engrossed in washing his plate and glass with the soap.

Before I could open my mouth, my mother-in-law rushed in. “This man, I tell you! What do you think you are doing?!”

My father-in-law looked up at his wife and murmured meekly, “Well, the maid hasn’t come today and there is a heap of dirty dishes lying here. Lots of work for both of you. Let me at least clean mine.”

By the time my mother-in-law stopped her bickering, her husband was already done with the washing. He then placed them neatly at their designated places and exited the kitchen. My mother-in-law followed suit.

“We need to buy a new toilet cleaner. I have used up the existing one.”
“What?!” I turned around to see my husband standing at the entrance.
“I have just now cleaned the bathroom. See that the kids don’t use it right now. The floor is still wet.
Saying this, he vanished as quickly as he had appeared!

Finally, when I sat down for my lunch, my phone started ringing. One glance at the number and my face broke out into a smile.

“Hello, bhai.”
“Hey didi, what’s up?”
“Nothing. Just eating lunch. Have you had yours?”
“Nah, not yet. I have just cut the veggies. Now waiting for the pan to heat up.”
“Oho! So today you are cooking?”
“Ha ha..You know how it is on Saturdays and Sundays. We got up late. So wifey decided to wash clothes and I opted for cooking.”
“Then it must be your famous mixed vegetable fried rice, huh?”
“Of course, my saviour since the hostel days. And your dear sister-in-law has declared it to be edible too. So…”

Amidst all the laughter and fun, I suddenly realised that this is what I have been looking for.

I needn’t go out in search of equality. I am right now living amongst men who are teaching me equality in their own unique way.

My father, who was the sole breadwinner for a family of six never thought twice about spending money on his daughter’s education.

My father-in-law, on the other hand was the eldest among his three brothers. In those olden days, when males enjoyed unquestioned dominance, my father-in-law learnt cooking as well as sewing from his mother so that he could give her a helping hand. And he still does so whenever the occasion arises.

As a father, my husband has fed, brushed, bathed, sang lullabies and changed our kid’s diapers. As a husband he has and still does help me in all the household chores.

My brother who never entered the kitchen in his life except to demand food of his choice learnt to cook, clean and wash when he was in hostel. It fills me with immense pride when I see him helping my mother as well as his wife at home.

But do they think that they are doing something extraordinary or something worth mentioning? Absolutely not!

In fact they would be embarrassed if they find out that I wrote about them.

These are the men in my life who inspire me and make me feel equal. They are the torch bearers who are showing the way to the next generation, my children.

I now sit back smiling with satisfaction for I have finally found out the meaning of ‘Equality’!

Image via Pexels

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