As Indians, we grow up with a certain set of fixed ideologies that become so deep-rooted into our brains that it becomes hard to think outside that box. Our country has been under lockdown for three weeks now, meaning we’ve all had to do our own mopping, dusting, cleaning, organizing, and even doing the dishes. The concept of having people to do it for you – by people I mean the house help or the maid, to put it simply – has been prevalent in the country for years. And only with the imposition of a total lockdown, did people realize how important the house help was.
Did that bring a change in the average Indian mentality? No. We’re the generation that takes photos of ourselves in visibly blah clothes, clutching at a broom in one hand, phone in the other, in front of the full-length mirror and posting pictures on our Instagram stories, and captioning it – “My jhaadoo pocha outfit.” That’s the word for dusting and mopping. Collective. You miss Mira Didi, not because she gave you company, but because she’d come do the cooking. You miss Jyoti Ben because she’d come and do the mopping. And the sweeping. And the dusting. And the bathrooms and even the toilet bowl. And you still negotiated with them over their paltry salaries. And never said thank you, but blamed them for messing up your fancy fruit bowl or sometimes, breaking your favorite wine glass. You conveniently overlooked the fact that Jyoti might have cut her finger picking up the broken pieces. And you made her work with a cut finger which you only put a Band-Aid on. You overlooked the fact that the help came to your house to keep it clean despite being on her period, or even despite running a fever. You refused to give her a day off because you couldn’t manage the house – the big sprawling house when compared to her tiny shack – by yourself.
And I’ve got a problem with that.
Do you need someone else’s help cleaning up after you’ve taken a massive doody? No, right? Then why would you make it a big deal, and go posting about it as well, after you’ve cleaned your house by yourself? My, my. What a major achievement. What an accomplishment that you’ve managed to wipe the kitchen counter clean after burning the lentil soup you were attempting to cook. What a good thing to have finally learned how to boil an egg or make whipped coffee all by yourself. Like, seriously? Everyone in the rest of the world does their own chores. Only in this country do we lack the understanding and acceptance needed to grasp the importance of dignity of labor.
I just wish that it wasn’t such a big deal, you know? Cleaning and organizing. Things like that? All of this? All of this doesn’t need validation from the Internet if you think it’s such a pain being a “maid” for a while. Also, doing daily household chores actually helps to burn calories. You won’t realize how fit you’re going to be if you’re the one that’s cleaning on a daily basis. Imagine how much active movement you’re getting. Also, cooking is very therapeutic. And baking. NOT being dependent on someone else to do YOUR chores lets you plan your day around your routine and not on when Jyoti comes to clean.
Plus, with the center probably extending the lockdown by two more weeks, it’s about time you forget Mira and Jyoti and get comfortable with staying indoors. It’s hardly a big deal, honestly. Although many influencers will tell you that it is, consider how lucky we all are to have a roof over our heads and a few meals a day. It doesn’t matter if other people don’t understand dignity of labor. It starts with you, and one small change makes a big difference. On that note, I’m going to wipe the kitchen down while I listen to some Doja Cat. Good day, y’all.