When you’re a girl, you automatically become the assisstant chore-doer of the house. When you’re a girl, you cannot imagine going somewhere – a college to study in or a spot to hangout at – without thinking about the safety of the locality, the time of the day, the men that will be there and your parents being okay with it.
When you’re a girl, your knees should be as close to each other when you sit in front of an acquaintance or a stranger because “oh it’s not good manners, ammu”. When you’re a girl, you should be back home by six because “ay we’ll just be worried about you being gone for long”.
When you’re a girl, you’re quietly taught how to do chores (incentivized by words like “good”, “responsible” and “well-mannered” at a young age). And when the need comes and you ask for an equal split in the work between you and the boys, “oh you know how to do the work. They don’t. Go on now”. When you’re a girl, you are automically kept informed of where things are, looped into cleaning them, and putting them to order so that when men look for those very things tomorrow or find these places untidy, “oh you know where the things go, you do it”.
When you’re a girl, you have to learn to cook, clean and be polite because “aiyo they’re survival skills” that boys clearly don’t need because they are bot pigs that do not eat food. When you’re a girl, you cannot ask why the boys don’t need those survival skills because “sonu, they’ll have a wife to do it for them. You won’t. Go on now”.
When you’re a girl, you can talk back, clap back and argue against it all – only until it doesn’t directly affect the men in the house. If it does, oh boy, when it does, you need to learn to agree with them because “ammu, you might have a valid point, but they always know better. Besides, how can your future home be peaceful if you don’t learn to agree?”
And when you’re a girl, no matter how much you protest being the chore-doing, polite, well-sitting, opinion-less tender-bot, it chases you. Every day, every night, every corner, every moment. It might be invisible to the male eye, or worse, it might be invisible to the female eye – because “it’s my family; doing this chore once for them can’t hurt”. But before you know it, you’re the next woman in the family, cooking, cleaning and, from the tiredness of the soul-less monotony, agreeing to whatever horseshit is put in front of you because you know how to do it, and the men don’t.
When you’re a girl that rebels the little things, protests learning the survival skills and is bitter – bitter – about following the pattern, you are a sensitive – if not short-tempered- novice. Or in more convenient terms, a girl. You can scream, be cold, and refuse to help the chore-doer of the house. But when the time comes, even if you find yourself a partner that indeed splits the chores with you, the men in your house go on to be partners that won’t. You will be just one person out of the despicable pattern, desperately trying to live like a man – majestic and brave.
And when you eventually grow tired of trying to match the two worlds as different as night and day for years – even when you’re with someone willing to split it all – when you blink and when you budge, your squabbles, your complaints and your agony become another mere phase that “remember when you did that when you were younger?”
And in the end, you will simply say “I do, but I like doing the chores for my family now”. Because you don’t or, more percisely, can’t face the truth that your conviction did not stand, your opinions did not hold and the world does not care what you think is fair and what isn’t because, remember, you’re their “sensitive sweet girl” that makes them nostalgic of the “Good ol’ times”.
You might want to say “to hell with you”. But you will say “miss you” to your family’s men – slouching on their tidied sofas back at home with food being served to them on command on their big bellies – because brushing it off this one time won’t hurt, right?