A World of Equals

Saturdays With Shivani

Recently I read a Facebook post that loosely read- A tightly scheduled day. Meetings till 8:30 pm but I got a call at 4 pm from my son. He wanted home baked pizza for dinner. Late dinner at 9:45 pm. Too short a time to bake from scratch, but I already had the base and toppings ready in my freezer and as he relished his margarita, he said “Dad, I prefer your pizzas any day to Dominos”. Bringing a smile on my face, and some tears of joy as I sat there, munching on my freshly harvested teardrop and cocktail tomatoes from the terrace.

This is my friend’s Vinod Chakravarti’s post and the reason I’m sharing here is not to glorify a father cooking for his son but to normalise the concept. When we read the post, most of us assume it’s a hassled mom trying to accomplish it all. When we discover it’s a dad, how many of us are pleasantly surprised? Or deeply appreciative?

Surprise and appreciation are expected but the amount that a father gets in comparison to a mom, for the same job, is quite different. This discrimination is what I have been challenging for a while. For our generation ‘ma ke haath ka khana’ (food cooked by mom) is what kicks in nostalgia. There were a few Dads who may have chipped in but for majority of us it was our mom slogging in the kitchen. So, it’s understandable for us to equate cooking with one particular parent and to stretch it a little further pardonable as well.

Should we be passing this notion on to the next generation? As parents that is the question we need to be asking ourselves. Our children are watching us and imbibing things we may not be actively teaching them. At the dining table, who gets up to fetch that chapati from the kitchen or at a friend’s place is it only the women who are heading to the kitchen to lay out the table? Also how do the onlookers react? Does your mother feel grateful for a ‘co-operative’ son-in-law? Does the father-in-law raise an eyebrow every time his son brings in a glass of water for his wife? How do your friends see you?

Every adult has to audit his/ her actions and reactions. We may have been brought up in a different world but the responsibility of creating the world our children will inherit, lies squarely on our shoulders. A world of equals is what I envisage for them where jobs are no longer associated with genders.

I know for sure that when my daughter grows up, the aalu paranthas may remind her of her mom but it’s her Baba she’ll think of when she enjoys her chicken curry and if it’s fish, then hands down it’s her Mesho (my sister’s husband). I may be quoting food here but I hope we are clear that it doesn’t end at food. When husbands sit with kids at home they are not ‘babysitting’ them, they are helping bring them up which is their job.

Let me reiterate here, I am not expecting men to ‘help out’. I expect them to share responsibilities minus the appreciation that they are used to. When I read Vinod’s posts or look at my daughter’s Mesho and Baba, I feel reassured that we are doing our bit. I hope all of you are too.

Dr. Shivani Salil

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