Holiday season has always been special for me. And being in India means the last quarter of the year is full of festivities and celebrations. For me, this has been the time when my regular job becomes less hectic and I find some time to take the next step towards my dream, of becoming a published author.
However, this year was different. With most of the year being spent in lockdown, work and personal life, both have suffered. Work from home has ensured there’s just not any time left for personal projects and with in-laws moving in, the personal space has been encroached upon as well. The shift to a bigger home has also meant moving to a remote place, away from the main city and away from all the action. And while things were okay during the pandemic, with life gradually coming to the normal, it’s hitting me harder.
And here’s the final nail in the coffin that ruined my holidays completely. The family’s holiday plans! What? Aren’t holidays fun? It’s so amazing having people come over. It’s all about basking in the warmth of a family. Come on, don’t be a spoilsport. Think about your work life balance. Yeah, yeah I hear you. But consider this bitter truth about the Indian society:
- In most cases, after wedding, the couple has to move in with the man’s family and the woman is expected to forget her home just like that.
- The holiday plans just involve the man’s family, his extended family and the daughter-in-law is hardly consulted. She’s just handed over the list of tasks whether she likes it or not.
- While everyone else is chilling on couch, enjoying Netflix and sharing childhood stories, the daughter-in-law is either arranging plates in the kitchen or sitting in a corner alone missing her own family and friends.
Now, you would say you feel sorry for me and tell me next time, you should definitely visit your home. Yes, I would, most probably and what would I do there? I would make my own holiday plans and transfer this burden of holidays on the daughter-in-laws of my household- my aunt, my sister-in-laws. And hence, the vicious circle continues.
It’s a funny observation I have had in the last few years of my married life- in every family, how there are a few designated coolies who bear the burden of the family’s existence. It’s like an unpaid labour that is even less acknowledged than the efforts put in home chores. It’s like the shoe-racks of every home- part of the household furniture, yet placed outside. You know it’s meant to hold shoes only but every one entering home would just dump all the stuff on it. In most cases I have observed, these shoe-racks are the daughter-in-laws of the house.
I remember the visits to my village- our annual holidays. My uncle and aunt would give up their room. All the items in the menu would be as per our taste. They would spend a lot of money to give us the same comfort as our city home. Whenever I would visit my maternal uncle’s home, my sister in laws would make every possible effort to engage me in talks, would take my feedback on the food they cook and would gift me cosmetics and accessories from their own collection. However, I don’t remember me or even my parents ever being grateful for these gestures. We always assumed it was our birth-right- taking up all the space in someone else’s home even if we are family. But now I understand the pain they take. And I make sure when I visit now, I do everything to help them cope up with inconvenience of hosting extra people.
We, as Indian women go through a number of challenges in our life. The biggest one perhaps is the battle of maintaining one’s own existence in someone else’s home, especially when taken for granted. I am not sure how much time it would take me to put across this simple thought of “asking before making plans” amicably without giving an impression of being selfish and self-centered but I would definitely want to appeal to those reading the blog, consider this- There is no holidays from adulting. It’s just the shift of responsibilities to someone else. If it’s paid and well compensated, it’s alright. But if you’re dependent on someone else for your comfort and relaxation in the pretext of being family, do ask genuinely if it’s a good time.
One response to “Whose holiday is it? The entire family or a few privileged members?”
Thank you for this thought-provoking and honest sharing of feelings. Definitely inspires one to be a better human being and a better member of a family. More strength and courage to you.