Slice of life series#5
Yesterday, while sitting in the living room in the morning and listening to our kids (Baby Zi & Zo) chatter nineteen to the dozen, the elder one, Baby Zo, now 7, suddenly recalled a poem that she was taught at play school when she was 3 years old. I recall not being particularly enthusiastic when my daughter would come home and recite the poem back then.
I have a feeling that many of the Indian households would have heard it, but i will recite it yet again for context and of course, it is essential to understand my perennial angst with it.
Mummy ki roti gol gol (Mom’s chapati’s are round)
Papa ke paisa gol gol (Papa’s money is round)
dada ka chasma gol gol (Grandpa’s spectacles are round)
dadi ki bindiya gol gol (Grandma’s bindi is round)
upar pankha gol gol (fan above is round)
niche dharti gol gol (the earth below us is round)
chanda gol suraj gol (the sun and moon are round)
hum bhi gol tum bhi gol (you and I are round)
sari duniya gol matol (the entire earth is round)
I am really hoping against hope that most of the women would have taken issue to this poem already but for the sake of my astonishment, i will delve into it deeper.
Out of the blue, when she recalled that absurd poem yesterday. I finally decided to sit her down and explain the insinuation writhing through this poem.
Mama: Zo, this is an inaccurate description of mama and papa. Because surely you know that mama’s money is round too. She too earns. And its not like papa can’t make roti’s (chapati’s).
Zo: Mama, i know i know, in our house your money is also round
Mama: Zo, papa can also enter the kitchen. We both can do both of these tasks and there are no imposed or preconceived tasks.
Zo: Ok fine, Papa ki roti gol gol (Papa’s chapati is round), Mama ke laddoo gol gol (Mama’s laddoo is round) aur dono ka paisa gol gol (and both their monies are round)
Mama: Well that definitely sounds more equal, Zo.
Zo: Mama, but this is only in our house, other houses mama’s only make roti’s (chapati) and papa’s go to work.
Mama: Nooooooo ! Zo. Your observation maybe accurate but there is no imposition. You are free to choose whether you want to enter the kitchen and cook or you want to go out and work or you want to do both. There are no predefined roles for men and women. We decide them of our own free will.
Zo: Hmmm.. ok
Phew ! You cannot imagine how glad i was to set the record straight on that one. And i wonder why a school would teach a poem like that. I mean the teachers were women. Did they not hear the words while saying them out aloud whilst working in school.
It is breeding sexism so emphatically in our faces. And unless these limiting beliefs are nipped in the bud, these young minds that we are nurturing may develop the proclivity to be what they see around in the outside world as the norm, even though they may see otherwise in their own home.
I guess i feel more vehemently about it because whilst growing up there was never a distinction between genders for me and my sister. Topics such as these were never discussed as equality was the way of life. We didn’t know another way to be. I vividly remember usually requesting my dad to get me a glass of water from the kitchen, not necessarily my mom. Because that was normal to us. Kitchen was never considered a typecasted zone for women. My mom cooked when she felt like it. And damn ! She is a fabulous cook. But it was never a expectation to have my mom in the kitchen. In fact, we never learned how to cook till we wanted to. Even now, i call myself an internet cook. Can’t cook pulses without rechecking how much water needs to go in to boil it. And I am ok with that. It is not my area of interest.
So ya, chapati’s in my house are not necessarily to be made by me or my husband for that matter and neither are chapati’s expressly required to be the perfect shape. But yes, we both contribute to making this house, a home each day – mentally, financially and emotionally. Nothing else matters or counts.
A home needs to breathe love and respect for each and everyone in the family. The ways of contribution are many and you are free to choose yours. Don’t get drawn into this web of societal allocation of roles.
Be the change you want to see around you.