A HOUSEWIFE FORGED IN THE CORONA VIRUS FIRE

With shaking hands, quivering lips and eyes gleaming with unshed tears I picked up the broom one last time. It was 8th of June. The date the whole of India had been awaiting with bated breath. I was excited but a bag of nerves at the same time.

Prime Minister Modi has been unlocking the country, slowly, in phases. I can now call my househelp/cook/nanny of 20 years back to work if I find it prudent.

I think of what a tumultuous 3 and a half months it has been. To be truthful and more so to myself I have both hated it and enjoyed it.

For the first time in my life, I was looking after the home, the cleaning, the cooking, the washing, without any outside help — a full-time houseworker that’s how I want to see it. And it has been satisfying for most parts of it.

The broom in my hands gathers along dust as I sweep, lost to the outside world. With the dust that collects, hundreds of thoughts pool up in my head too. Should I — shouldn’t I; will it be ok — or won’t it; it’s not that bad — or is it; will things get back to the “normal” we were used to — or won’t they?

My mind has a mind of it’s own — that’s how it has been all my life. As the feelings, fears, hopes, good and bad memories and ideas collide with each other leaving me dizzy and gasping for breath, I ask myself for the hundredth time — should I call my househelp/cook/nanny back? Do I really need to? I am managing well enough, the kids are happy, and so is the hubby who provides a helping hand to ease the daily grind. The feelings of guilt and worry wrack up.

That’s how it has been every morning. A routine I have begun “not to hate”. My eyes didn’t scan the clock as it neared 10 am every morning awaiting the househelp to arrive. Instead I had no time to even glance at it as I breezed through my daily routine every single day.

It has been a rewarding experience and I have learnt I can do so much and more on my own, without being dependent on my househelp, balancing the house work, the kids, my writing, the shopping, the extra work because of the virus and not to forget the added stress and fear the pandemic has caused — I have done a fairly good job if not perfect. Of course the whole family has come together as one cohesive unit, each doing their bit to make it all easier on each other.

And as I write this for my blog which I titled ‘the diary of a housewife’ years ago, I begin to comprehend that I was never really a housewife in the truest sense.

It is only now that the true meaning of being a housewife has sunk in. According to various sources on the internet :

“A Housewife is a woman who has chosen to not work outside the home for money, but rather devotes all time, energy and love into creating a safe, warm, clean home for her family to grow and thrive. She cooks, cleans, does dishes, laundry, childcare, shopping, countless errands and careful money management all the while supporting her family and community through community service work, volunteering and general parenting. Commonly referred to as a stay at home mom or homemaker.”

I was not and I reiterate I was not doing the dishes, laundry, money management (I admit I should do more), cleaning or community service work full time. It was my househelp who were responsible for half of my daily jobs. I was thus only a housekeeping manager and supervisor — a part time housewife.

The corona virus has been brutal, snatching from us many things we took for granted but it has also taught us to be self-sufficient and self-reliant. It has also helped me become more patient, less irritable and most of all grateful for all the little things I missed out on being thankful for — having the luxury of staying at home safe surrounded by my family, the luxury of being connected to the world from the comfort of my home and being able to afford food, medicines and other services many see as a luxury.

I can also now proudly fill up another page in my diary — the diary of a housewife — as a housewife forged in the corona virus fire. A housewife who doesn’t depend upon outside help to make her day more productive and efficient. A housewife who is ready to shout from the top of her house that she is one and proud of it.

An individual full of contradictions can only hope that life in words will pave a way for a harmonious yet challenging life.