I am a 29 year old professional who has been staying away from home from the last 11 years. Being very much conscious about academics, studies, grades and future, I had always focused on my education and knowledge gaining. Even now, when we are all in the lockdown phase, I keep myself more engrossed in publication works, blog/article writing, reading books etc. This is something that I had always enjoyed doing since my childhood – I like gaining knowledge, learning new facts, helping people in some way! There may be many girls and women like me out there, whose pleasure lies in the smell of new books, in lying in bed for hours altogether and reading. However, there is one simple thing that I feel our families, relatives and the society in general doesn’t understand.

I am also a girl like everyone else – and I also know HOW TO COOK and do all household chores! And most importantly, I don’t know cooking just because I am a girl and it is my duty to do it – ni to sasural jaogi to kya karogi, isn’t i? I know cooking, cleaning, washing etc. because this re feats for survival – we have to learnt to all this, irrespective of our genders, because at some point of time all young people move out of their parents’ homes – either for studies, jobs or other things.

I am tired of watching stunned faces of relatives and guests every time I serve tea to them or lay down the table and prepare refreshments. “Piyao eibur koribo jaane?” – this is what I have been hearing from the very first time I served tea. And most disappointing thing that I have experiences is that it is not only the relatives who comment on me and even my own mother; when 2 days back, I offered to roll out the rotis for breakfast, my mother was hesitant initially but when I insisted and started with the work, I heard her gasp, “Piya, even you can make round rotis??!!”YES!! I can make round rotis, I can make tea, I can make chicken, I can wash utensils and clothes (No! not in washing machine but by hand), I can touch and tell the difference between atta and maida – I can do all this! I agree that I maynot be perfect in all these chores like my elder sister, who is also a working mother; she had learnt cooking since her 10th boards out of sheer interest, while I started proper cooking (other than maggi, tea an omlette) only after my B.Sc. I may not know how to make Ilish Machher paatoori or Maasor Tenga but I can make very tasty grilled fish or some fish curry, at a very fast pace. I am not be very good in taking household responsibilities like lifting water, replacing the old towel with a new one for guests, as much good I am in finishing my publication tasks or paying my internet bill on time, but I CAN DO THEM!

What I fail to understand and comprehend is why the element of surprise is associated with me, every time I do some household work, particularly cooking. Being an academician or researcher does not negate the fact that I am a nearly-30 year old single, working lady, who has lived alone and taken care of herself for 11 years! Yes, when I come home, I am in a vacation mode and don’t really feel like working too much but this has nothing to do with the fact that I have been into academics all my life. Like any other human being, I know I have responsibilities both in my home and at my workplace and try to fulfill and balance both in a proper fashion – I may falter but I will complete my task/responsibility.

Through this piece, I just want to urge to all the parents, relatives and the society in general that please stop viewing cooking and other household work as the job of women alone – both men and women will learn and do these tasks sooner or later – they know to survive as well as enjoy. Please stop taunting and abusing young women if they are not good in these tasks; if they are carrying them out, appreciate them, praise them, instead of getting surprised and shocked every single time!!!

Dr. Ishani Chakrabartty
Department of Science
PAFGC, Mangalore University



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One Comment

  1. This is a very interesting article, and I can identify a lot with it. I am close in age to you, a woman, an academician, and like you I love to gain new knowledge and information every day. I have experienced similar reactions from my parents and their friends whenever I execute some household duty, especially ‘women’s chores’. I am of the opinion that it is a result of the near-universal internalised misogyny in our society. Higher studies, especially in science, are predominantly male domains. There are societal reasons for this, but many people believe that it is because women are not good in science (the result has become the cause) or women do not work hard. Hence, if a woman holds degrees in science and conducts teaching and research in these domains, people tend to think she is more ‘like a man’, that she would not be able to do household works like cooking and cleaning because like those ‘very intellectual’ men, these women must spend all their time studying. Also, household works are considered ‘women’s work’ and not life skills that every person, irrespective of their sex and/or gender, would need in life some day. A possible reason behind this, it seems to me, is that marriage being almost universal in India, most men never have to do household chores – they do not have to feed themselves or wash their clothes or sweep their homes, because they would have their wives to do these things, or could employ some household help.

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