Men and children in Pandemic times

Avanti Sopory

We are living in difficult times.Catastrophic Corona has caused mayhem beyond words. Nothing can describe the havoc. Thousands of pictures and videos of infected heroes are doing multiple rounds on social media; across platforms sharing their victorious but tormented journey. And no sooner, disappointing news of countless deaths in the various power cities of the world is flashed. Everyday adds to uncertainties and anguish.
But these times are also leaving behind many new and unseen moments. My loud applaud goes to all those men who never knew that Vim is for washing dirty vessels and not a liquid detergent for dirty laundry. That, chole have to be soaked overnight before getting frustrated over their stubbornness the next day. That, there is a lot of pre and post work (segregation based on fabric, colour, utility, functionality, etc) before pressing the washing machine button. That, switching on the fan is paramount while mopping the floor. Watering the plants and dusting jobs have a timeline, they are pretty high-headed.
They should be catered to before the mopping job. Vessels have to be well air dried before stacking them in our Anglized and Haldi stained modular kitchen.That, while drying clothes on the stand, the aluminium rod needs to wiped clear off any dust. Spreading the bed cover is a fine art and not all bedrooms can be like the suite of a seven-star hotel. That, one needs to clear up the mess, after making a vegetable sandwich. That, in the washing sink smaller dishes are LIFO (last in first out) and bigger vessels are FILO (first in last out).
Regular looking households are busy with conversations and eureka moments over mundane jobs. Chores which the moms or maids would have accomplished without any ahhh!! or ohhh!! are the agendas for discussion now. Rooster roll calls and chore charts are created. Spread sheets are printed and posted on the refrigerator behind the magnet, purchased from the last vacay…Awwww!!
Next time when you see men contributing in the household chores during the lockdown,checkout for their expressions – when you leave behind your footprints over the ‘just mopped floor’; when post dinner, you don’t clear your plate and glass; when the men are cooking and you critique their cooking skills; when you ask them to wipe the bathroom after a shower; when paneer was not sliced in the right size for ‘butter paneer’.
Well, all this on the lighter side;manyempathetic and discerning men are extending all possible help to the women in the house. They may not have done these odd-jobs earlier, but it is extremely heart-warming to see how they are initiating and contributing to an endearing lockdown time at home. Each moment of their labour in the kitchen is adding to the family moment of strength and unity. And believe me, it is not easy for the menfolk too!! In single income households, they have to be relevant at work as well. This means that even they may have to attend to virtual office meetings inbetween the household chores.
My applaud also goes to the young children, who are braving the hardships along with their parents. Children are the most undermined and impacted lot. India is in the third week of lockdown and we still don’t know how long this trench will be. But our children are the silent champions of ‘StayHome, Stay Safe’ crusade against Covid-19.
In the BC (as my friend likes to call it Before Corona) period, how many of us can recall a day when our children missed stepping out to the park? I guess none of us. As parents we strongly feel that children need to be outdoors for a few hours in the evening. Science explains that this exposure is necessary for their mental and physical growth. Playing in the park, or in the school, meeting friends, cycling, building tent houses, playing sports, doing role-play, stepping out for ice-cream or dinners was a default privilege. We did not snatch it and we let them be in their happy zones.
Now, every child on this earth is home bound. Sitting safe behind the closed doors of the house.Attending to virtual school and having a little more than requisite screen time, yet patient with the turmoil outside.Obeying each instruction of the parent and furthermore reminding them about the hygiene habits. Throwing no illegitimate tantrum and yet not pushing them to step out of the house. Schools, parks, swings, malls, ice cream parlours, gaming arenas wear a deserted look.
As an educator, when I see these small children everyday on my screen, I find them oblivion to the ravages outside. They live in the moment.Their eyes widen up and elephant ears open up to listen to each and every instruction. They are like soft lumps of clay waiting to be put in a shape. Occasionally restless but broadly calm; children are taking in a lot of passive anguish. Whether it is their physical need to be outbound or the near jobless scenario of their parents, they have risen to the occasion. A hug and smile from the parent kills away their worriment.
We lit candles and lights, clapped, sang, rang bells, clanked all kitchen vessels; onlyto express our gratitude to all the medical practitioners, police officers, security guards, workers in Essential Commodity Services Sector, NGO’s, media personnel’s and many more. It’s time we also express our gratitude towards all those innocent and harmless children and the men who are pitching in on the home front.
Because in AD (as my friend likes to call it After Death of Covid19) period, we would like to cherish the goofy pictures of fathers kneading the dough and the children rolling a heart shaped chapatti.