“Rohit wash your handkerchief and socks.” My aunt told her seven years old son who had returned home after a game of cricket. His handkerchief was soaked in sweat. My aunt was very keen that he should be independent. So she had issued a dictat that Rohit should wash his socks and handkerchief on his own.
“I am not a girl to do the washing.” Rohit replied. My aunt knew that Rohit would resist until washing his own clothes became his habit. But this sort of reply was unexpected. Never ever in her house my aunt had divided the work on the basis of gender. Never had she said that this work was his and that task was her. Then where from had Rohit learnt that washing was a woman’s job.
That whole night my aunt was unable to sleep. She was worried about her son and the prejudices which he was carrying. She wasn’t sure how she was going to handle the situation. But she had to do something. She did not wish that Rohit should grow up thinking that some jobs are best left to women.
The next she woke up Rohit early. Usually Rohit slept till eight in the morning as his school was in the afternoon. She took him to the bathroom. There Ravi uncle, Rohit’s father was washing his clothes. Rohit could not believe that his father was doing the laundry.
Then my aunt brought Rohit to the drawing room. She gave him his mug of milk and spoke. “ Rohit I want to speak to you about something.”
“Yes, Mom. Please tell.” He said.
“Yesterday you said that you were not a girl to wash your own handkerchief and socks. Beta, I am deeply hurt by this reply of yours.”
“Why Mom? Did I say anything wrong.”
“Honestly speaking yes Beta. Washing is not a job which should be done only by women.” My aunt said.
“Mom they show in all the television commercials and even in movies, it is always the bai – the woman who does the laundry.” Rohit replied innocently.
“Beta we have to change this thinking. Both men and women are equal. Women can fly the airplanes and men can wash clothes too.”
“Yes, I saw Daddy wash the clothes today.” Rohit said. My aunt was happy that Rohit had learnt something through an example.
“I am not saying that it is only the men who should do all the washing. All that I am saying is that the job of laundry should not be considered as the job of the woman. When I have time, I do the laundry. When I am busy or bored your father washes the clothes. It is about living together, loving each other and sharing the load.”
“Yes Mom.” Rohit said as he left the room.
“Where are you going?” My aunt asked.