Tuesday, 8 March 2016

A Message for my Little Princess #MemoriesForLife

She was lying motionless in the ICU with several sophisticated machines connected to various parts of her slender body and flashing and beeping continuously. Several doctors and nurses surrounded her like vultures clustering around a dead carcass. They were discussing something very seriously using medical terms which were like Greek and Latin to me. I had almost lost my consciousness. My brain had become function-less. Several thoughts and counter thoughts about my daughter's well-being cluttered in my mind. One of the doctors came near me and dragged me to a corner of the ICU, "We are sorry Mr Sahoo, but the condition of your child is precarious. Her BP has gone down sharply. We are putting our best efforts to revive her but nothing can be said now." I was dumbfounded and words simply refused to come out of my mouth. A never ending uncontrolled stream of tears rolled down my cheeks only to get lost in my thick beards below. With great difficulty I just asked,"Doctor, Can I do anything to save my Child?" The empathetic doctor took my hands in his and told me with firmness, "Mr Sahoo, Just be patient. Whatever is humanly possible we are doing. Rest assured we will leave no stone unturned to save your child. You just pray. She needs God's blessings more than human effort."

Yes this was the tale of the time when my 14 year old little angel was diagnosed with Leukemia and was being treated with chemotherapy in Christian Medical College Hospital, Vellore. We had to shift our residence to Vellore for about a year till her chemotherapy regime was over. It is during that period that I came to learn about the mental resoluteness of my child who simply refused to accept the cold embrace of death and fought back to life. "Cancer is a mental battle", one of the treating doctors confided in me one day,"We are really surprised to see the positivity in her. We can say with confidence that she is very likely win over the disease."

Her positive attitude was immensely demonstrated from the way she accepted the inevitable pain resulting from the chemotherapy protocol.Whenever the pain reduced a little she was all in smiles. Although she was too week to even stand up without support still she indulged in playing games and doing small activities like reading writing and preparing tea etc. She never gave us an inkling to imagine that she was tired or fed up with the treatment. (I can assure you, the treatment of her disease was much more painful than the disease itself). Her 'never say die' attitude was something special and that helped her in combating the dreaded cancer. Over the period of her treatment she taught me how to look positively towards life and how to be happy in the most apathetic situations. "Live one day at a time" was the mantra she gave all of us.. I feel even today that I spent the most quality time with my daughter in particular and my family in general during that stay in Vellore. And all credit goes to my brave princess who emphatically taught me the value of the present moment.

Four years later my son, a mass-com student by then, prepared a documentary film on her highlighting this positive attitude. Combating cancer is more a mind game than medical treatment. You win if you have the right attitude towards life. Readers of this blog post may have a taste of it here.

I have shared my life's most tragic but best moments with my beloved daughter in this blog post. You may also like to “Share your #MemoriesForLife like I’ve done at BlogAdda for HDFC Life.” 

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Why Should Women do all the Household Chores? #ShareTheLoad

When I was a primary school student my grandparents used to pamper me a lot compared to my younger sister. They used to project me as a hakim (Officer) and never encouraged my sister to go to school. In their opinion there was no point in educating a girl as ultimately she would have to do household chores only after marriage. Girls going out like boys to study and work to earn money was something they could not even think of in their dreams. If by chance I took up the broom to sweep the place of my study my grandparents would scold me and ask my sister to do the sweeping instead. Because of my love for my sister I never liked this but I did not have the guts to oppose. This was the culture of my family in which I grew up.

As time passed my sister, then barely 10 years old, started helping my mother in her work which involved cooking, cleaning, laundry and all other petty jobs. I was never allowed even by my mother to do anything. My only job was to eat my fill and study and play. At times I was feeling pity for my sister but there was no way I could have helped her out. Not only in our house but I had seen the women in our neighbourhood also working from morning to night while men folk in every household relaxed after coming back from the fields. My mother used to work even when she was ill. What would you term this? Was it not exploitation of women in their own family??

I had to do my own work including washing my clothes when I went stay in my college hostel. There was no mother or sister to do the laundry for me. And my financial condition did not allow me the luxury of engaging a dhobi (washer-man). Pressing circumstances compelled me to learn some manageable cooking after I joined my service in a remote rural area. Gradually I loved doing my own work. And I just wondered why my parents and grand parents did not allow me to do any household work at home.

Life took yet another U turn after my marriage. My wife though quite educated was an adept in taking care of the household. She cooked good food and did not allow me to do anything while at home. Perhaps she was trained well at home by her mother and grand mother for this. Initially I did not feel well but gradually I got used to her extreme care. The result was obvious. When my children grew up they saw their mother toiling hard from dawn to dusk while their father relaxed after coming back from office. The legacy had been carried forward.

But my wife never pampered her son more than the daughter and I joined hands with her in this activity. Both my son and daughter were treated equally. Both went to the same school, played at leisure and relaxed at home. Both did small jobs like washing their own utensils and packing their own school bags. My daughter was never asked to learn cooking. And my son was never given a chance to feel that he was superior to his sister. There was no discrimination whatsoever in their upbringing. 

Now they are grown up and stay in their respective hostels. When they come home both of them help their mother in the kitchen and in doing the laundry. They openly criticise me for not extending a helping had to their mother after coming back from office. And the fact is now I have started learning from them and have taken up the charge of the washing machine at home. I have also started developing my culinary skills once again. I think my wife has successfully broken the chain of the myth that women should do all household chores. My children in general and my daughter in particular stands testimony to this fact. Traditional gender roles  have taken a back seat in my family and I am proud of this. The entire credit goes to my better half and I am sure the foundation stone of a new beginning has been laid by her. My children will definitely build a strong edifice on it. Change is in the offing.

PS:“I am joining the Ariel #ShareTheLoad campaign at BlogAdda and blogging about the prejudice related to household chores being passed on to the next generation.