My understanding family

When it comes to housework, it’s all about compassion and teamwork!

By P. G. Bhaskar (Life)

Published: Fri 16 May 2014, 11:31 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 9:40 PM

Mine is a very understanding family. Every time the door-bell rings, it is understood by the entire family that I will open the door.

When, in a fit of pique, I posted the above remark on facebook a few days back, it got so many likes that I assumed that it must have touched a chord somewhere. Perhaps every family has a confirmed ‘door-opener’.

I checked with the family about the reason this responsibility has been vested on me. Is it because of my relatively senior and hence exalted status in the house? Is it some traditionally respectful practice? Possibly a tribute to a beloved leader?

Well, the responses I got were many and varied, but they weren’t any of the above. Between my wife and my son, the reasons were that they were asleep, in the shower, slogging in the kitchen, busy reading or writing, on the phone, half-way through watching a an interesting TV programme or mid-way through listening to their favourite music. It made me wonder what it is that they think I do at home, if not any of these. Perhaps they imagine that I spend my time in a crouched position, on my mark, getting set, waiting for the door-bell to ring?

‘Understanding’ is the key to a happy, cohesive family. My house abounds in this vital ingredient. As some of you may know, I happen to work in a bank. Consequently, if my wife has any issue directly or indirectly linked to a bank (any bank), it is understood that I am to blame. There is no ambiguity. If my wife forgets her PIN of some bank for example and is therefore unable to use her card, an accusing finger will be immediately pointed in my direction. She will then launch into a tirade about how banking has gone to the dogs, how simple it used to be before technology came in, how the world is on the brink and how bankers are solely responsible for its imminent collapse.

‘Understanding’ is the glue that binds together my family members seamlessly and lovingly. Certain members of my family are known for some rather nifty and inspiring speeches on how to save the world. That notwithstanding, when it comes to saving the world from future darkness by switching off lights now when not required, it is understood that it will be done only by me. Sometimes, I wish I could rollerskate, the way I have to move from room to room switching off lights or the geyser or the television when they are not in use.

This task is fraught with risk, because as you know, hell hath no fury like a woman whose long awaited hot water bath has turned into a lukewarm one because her husband has unintentionally switched off the geyser. Sometimes, I get the feeling that I spend entire weekends switching things off. Now clearly that can’t really be true because then who would answer the door-bell? Maybe I’m missing the bigger picture here. For all his frequent, small lapses today, perhaps one day, my son will invent a light bulb that will never go off.

It is also understood (and frequently voiced) that I am the sleepy-head of the house. That is because I sleep between 11 and 5.30 while the youthful (defined as those who are younger to me) family members sleep between 1 and 6.30 and then again for an hour or two during the day. On weekends, I am up at dawn while the youth brigade raises its groggy head sometime between 10 and noon. Now, how that makes me any sleepier than the others, I don’t know. But legend has it as such.

Many years ago, I made coffee at home. Rather unexpectedly, this resulted in a tacit understanding that all coffee will be made by me. One good thing, they say, begets another. Similarly for ‘understanding’. Soon, I was given charge of all beverages. By implication, this involves making sure there is always enough milk, sugar and coffee in the house. This progressed to bread, spreads and other basic things. So now, it is generally understood that I am responsible for most day to day grocery.

It is understood that my son will wriggle out of his uniform shirt without unbuttoning it and that it will get washed as it is. It is also understood that I, as part of our daily morning mayhem, will frantically unbutton it before ironing it and delivering it to my son on time. Have you understood?

P.G. Bhaskar is the author of Corporate Carnival and Jack Patel’s Dubai Dreams

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