It happened on Saturday, 2nd January 2016.
Mom and dad had gone out of town with their friends to Dharampur, Gujarat – for a long due reunion; on their way to sunset point, mom twisted her left leg while walking down the second last step on the way and her entire body weight fell on it. She realised it was something bigger than a sprain. Unable to move her numb ankle, she sat on a chair and dad’s friends took turns to carry the chair up the steps where the cars were parked. After enquiring around, they drove back to Dharampur and got an X Ray done – it was a huge crack.
After talking to our family orthopedist and sharing the X Ray images, he advised dad to leave for Mumbai immediately or get a temporary plaster to support the ankle. It was 9.00 PM and Mumbai was 230 kilometres (roughly six hours) away. Luckily, there was a small hospital in the surrounding area where plaster was done. Friends acted as a huge support throughout the entire day. I got a call from dad informing what had happened; I cleaned the home before they arrived next morning.
They left Dharampur next morning and directly drove towards the orthopedist’s clinic where I was waiting for them. After a quick round of examination and applying proper plaster, the doctor mentioned how bad it was – mom had to be operated within ten days and an iron rod was to be attached to support the ankle on one side and two screws on the other. We had to wait for ten days for the swelling to reduce.
We got her home, lifting her through the stairs. It took time for mom to understand the repercussions. She was in a state of shock! As she rested on the bed, suddenly, it dawned upon me – mom had taken her first vacation since the time I was born! (24 long years!!) And it was going to be a three-four month sabbatical.
First fortnight was the most difficult – we had to deal with the fact that mom was on a holiday. She found herself quite helpless and bored to the core – she was on bedrest and the pain was too much, painkillers subdued it, until it kicked back in. As we arranged for various maids to take care of her, cook and clean the house, managing them became my responsibility. And, it was a task!!
Dad and I had a hard time figuring things out. It was the first time we had taken on household responsibilities. We didn’t have to do much, only things which were not allocated to maids – like warming milk, making yogurt, preparing tea in the morning and serving food during breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks to guests. Dad used to help with morning chores, I did the rest.
In the first week, things didn’t go quite well – milk would be spilled, curd wouldn’t set properly, tea didn’t taste that right, running behind the maids drove me mad. A phase came when I would pray every morning that all maids showed up on time and completed their work without any arguments. As days advanced, this became routine and we learnt how to manage things better. Mom was pleasantly surprised with our improved skills.
After the successful operation, we got her back home; she wasn’t yet given permission to walk; but she could now use the washroom with the help of a walker. She was delighted with the little freedom the doctor had bestowed upon her.
Finally, on a lazy Friday, all three maids decided to mass bunk and I had to step into various shoes. Right from helping mom to cooking food and washing clothes in the washing machine to cleaning home. This was the first time I realised the amount of work that has to be done at home. I was astonished how did mom manage all of this on her own for so many years!
I learnt how to make pasta and under her guidance made spinach pasta and sandwiches for the first time. They were delicious – I felt pride when I tasted the pasta. It was perfect – it’s another story that mom helped me with spices and salt content.
As I sat there eating pasta along with mom, the spin-cycle sound of the washing machine played in the background. That’s when I wondered – this was the first time I had used the washing machine, it was not that difficult a task as compared to other household chores. If I had a sister, she would have been expected to do all these chores without any appreciation. Since I was doing them, I got praises from mom and guests who came to meet her.
That’s when I realised – where we have failed as a society! A woman is expected to do all household chores in addition to her job without expecting any support from the male members. This mentality has been put into our mindset since childhood. Why is it so?
I learnt all these activities out of compulsion – otherwise I wouldn’t have got present to the amount of time household chores take. Will this type of attitude help the society progress? Especially when women today are equally aspirational and also work like men.
Doing household work made me really appreciate my mom and I feel utmost gratitude for the kind of unconditional love she has kept giving me throughout these years without expecting anything in return! I’m missing food cooked by her like anything, the cook doesn’t add love in her recipes!
Also, I’ve decided to support her henceforth in every small way possible – be it washing utensils, serving food, washing the clothes etc. It’s not what work you do that counts, but your attitude of helping that matters the most. And with time, I’ll keep learning more.
I conclude this post with the following image. Do you feel anything wrong about it? Then it’s time to work on it.