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It was 8 in the morning. Kavya was getting ready to office. Sahil, her husband packed everyone’s tiffin and then called Kavya and Manvi, their 4 year old daughter for breakfast. Everyone sat for breakfast and just then Kavya remembered that she had to take some documents to her office and she had forgotten to search for it before. She got up hurriedly to search for it as Sahil was feeding Manvi. He packed Kavya’s breakfast too and got Manvi ready for school. Just then, Kavya came and thanked Sahil for getting things ready, as she could not do her share of work. All three of them wished good day to each other as they locked their home.
Kavya and Sahil were married for 8 years. Kavya has always been career oriented and outgoing and hence she was afraid of marriage. She had seen and heard how her sisters and female friends had to give up their careers and interests after marriage or even if they pursued their career, they had to balance between household responsibilities, child care and career, which in turn affected their self esteem, career growth and relationships. Kavya used to talk about this with Sahil and Sahil would always say “Household responsibilities and child care are not just women’s responsibility and we both will share it. We will not bind ourselves in any such traditions which discriminates women”.
When Kavya and Sahil decided to get married, one of their main commitments was to be equals in practical, which meant challenging some of the prominent gender norms. So when they got married, no one had to change their names, Kavya did not have to show that she is married by wearing ‘mangalsutra’ or bindi or any other jewellery. She had her space. There was just the legal binding, but otherwise her life was as normal as it used to be before marriage. Although, they stayed in a separate home, they ensured that both their parents stayed near to their home so that both Kavya and Sahil were there to support them and both grandparents would get to spend time with their granddaughter. Kavya and Sahil both had their full time job outside but they decided not to keep any helper at home. They would divide the responsibilities- if one would cook, the other would wash utensils, if one would wash clothes, the other would mop the floor and likewise with other responsibilities. When Kavya had to go for outstation assignments, Sahil would apply for leave so that he can spend time with Manvi and ensure that she gets all that she needs in the absence of her mother. Similarly, if Sahil had outstation assignments, Kavya would take leave and be with Manvi. Due to this, both Kavya and Sahil never felt the burden of any responsibility and most importantly Manvi was able to spend equal amount of time with both- her papa and mumma. Infact, at the age of 4, she already started to take up smaller tasks at home to reduce the workload of both.
Kavya’s friends, relatives, colleagues would say that Kavya is lucky to have a husband like Sahil and she used to smile and say “We both chose each other and had made commitments for each other. We both are equal partners, so honestly there is nothing lucky about it. It is normal- this is how it should be…” and then some of them would make comments like she is a dominating lady, poor Sahil, he does not have his say. Similar comments would come from Sahil’s friends and relatives - they would tell him “he is not masculine enough, he has no power and he gets dominated by his wife”, to which he would say, “I am just doing what I want to and need to- no one has forced me. This is my home and so its my equal responsibility ”.
Its not that everything was rosy in their life- they had differences of opinions, they had arguments, they fought at times, but there was never that feeling of one is inferior to the other. The respect and love they had for each other always overpowered everything. They lived by their principles of equality.
Does that sound like a fairy tale ? No it is not. This is how a normal life is supposed to look like. What we have been living for all these years is not normal- we are living under the dominance of patriarchy which does not treat women as equals.
This is not to blame men or women and make them feel guilty. It is just to help us all realize that it's high time that we start challenging gender norms and we make this story real for all of us.