Aquifers of joy spring from within and are manifested in many things that we do which further escalate the inner joy. Since joy is more intrinsically motivated than extrinsically, it carries with it an unalloyed innocent desire to bring joy to others around.
Being in a high ranking state government job, never was a deterrent to getting involved in family matters for my father during his career years. As his immediate family members, we have seen him as a workaholic as far as his official responsibilities were concerned. At the same time, he has been an involved family man.
On days that my mother took ill, we had my father don the apron, wield the ladle and dish out delicious food for the family. Yes, delicious! I mean it. The perfect sugar, salt and oil in whatever he decides to cook. He isn’t great at non-vegetarian preparations or desserts. But, all items of the daily cuisine have been mastered by him. In fact, there have been a few cooking tips and recipes that I have learnt from him, and not from my mother. Pickles are his forte. Coming to tea – by the fragrance I usually make out that he has made it. But, he only cooks for us – his family. It gives him immense joy. There are days in which my mother returns later than usual from work – only to find a full meal ready in the kitchen (well, this doesn’t happen always, but three out of five times for sure).
Not only cooking, he is great at cleaning too. When I was a child, I learnt many of the stain-removal hacks from him. Now we have so many stain removal chemical agents for our convenience, but I have learnt from my father which stains are removed by rubbing lime, which by petrol, which by kerosene oil, etc.
Once a neighbor uncle saw him cooking and asked him about it, assuming that perhaps my mother is an unwilling cook or a lazy bird for household chores. My father replied that he gets immense joy in doing the household chores for his family no matter how busy his official works may make him. It his family after all, and not someone else’s.
Not many men would be so involved in household chores. No matter whichever part of the world we see, household duties are considered to be a woman’s responsibility, not a man’s. It doesn’t matter how egalitarian the society is, gender role stereotypes prevail almost everywhere. And, not many want to break these stereotypes, no matter what the reason.
A part of this societal stereotyping and its aftereffects are there in my father. He doesn’t like it when we tell anyone about his expertise in handling household chores, for an apprehension of criticisms. At the same time, he joyfully continues to do all things for his family – even now in his retirement years.
I have never seen him grumble about any household chores that he does. One reason of course is because he does them out of his own free will. (And, before you think that my mother must be so blessed to have him help around, I must also mention that there are days she has had to chase him out of the kitchen or other work areas for messing with her plans and schedule or for adding on extra work for her because of his ‘help’.)
Doing things differently indeed gives immense joy!