With the return of rains to Pune, my weekly walks within the four walls of my society have also been put on the back burner. I honestly cannot remember whether it has been two weeks or three since I stepped out of my house. Does it even matter? The days are merging into weeks, and weeks are merging into months. We have already flipped through ten months of 2020 calendar and yet we don’t know how long it will take for the outdoors to return to our lives. So when you have nowhere out to go, you turn your attention indoors. Behold, my sanctuary, my only private corner in the household – my bathroom.
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During SheThePeople’s Bombaywaali Summit chef, television presenter and cookbook author Maria Goretti, on being asked what was her me-time routine, said that she loves to spend time in the bathroom, where she listens to music and finds time to check on her mail. “For me, my me-time is this time.”
You can watch the entire conversation here.
And I couldn’t help but nod in agreement. I thought it was motherhood that had redefined my love for my bathroom, the only room where a closed-door succeeded in keeping my then little daughter out. But with the pandemic, I think each one of us, every now and then, breathes a sigh of relief when we close that bathroom door behind us.
The sudden quiet, the stillness that finally calms that never-ending buzz of thoughts in one’s head. I have caught myself just standing idle for a few seconds in my bathroom on more than one occasion in these past few months. I cannot be alone, am I?
Look, I do understand my privilege. To have a clean bathroom at your disposal, to have a roof above your head, and to be in good health are all things not everyone is blessed with. But staying indoors all the time is not easy, especially when you live with your family. Women are not only tackling the increased burden of household chores due to the pandemic, but they are also pulling in longer hours at work to meet deadlines, and thus struggling to catch their breath.
The concept of personal space begins to erode, as soon as you have kids. But eventually when they grow up and head to school, women, especially stay at home moms, find that window of time, where they can sneak in a couple of minutes for themselves, do what they like, without anyone finding out about their theft. Watch a daily soap, read a newspaper, have a cup of tea or just lie down for a few minutes.
But what now? Everyone is always home, and your time and energy are always in demand. Even for the fortunate ones like me, who live with a family that equally shoulders the burden of household duties, it is not easy for women to reclaim time for themselves. We are not used to doing that – claiming something for just ourselves. You feel as if you are always being watched and judged for how you spend your time. Would you rather read a couple of pages from that book that has been sitting on your bed stand for weeks, rather than play pretend restaurant with your kid? Or declutter the kitchen cabinet, as you have been promising everyone to do, for months now? But just because you have a list of chores to take care of doesn’t mean that you do not deserve some time for yourself?
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Which is why women shouldn’t feel guilty if they are enjoying their bathroom breaks more than they used to. There is nothing wrong in listening to a couple of songs while you are in the bathroom, even if you are scrubbing the shower curtain or simply sitting on the bathroom stool with your back against the door. Take those few seconds. Hell, take a few minutes for yourselves just to breathe in and breathe out. If this is the safest and the most accessible alternative to an outdoor walk that you can have right now, then why not?
Picture Credit: Healthline
The views expressed are the author’s own.