Satyabrata Bhattacharya is working from home over the last couple of months. Employed with an IT start-up, his employers anticipated the consequences well in advance and approved a WFH (work from home) for most employees. He used to offer tuition to many prior to the lock-down. It was tedious for him to strike a balance between both jobs, but he managed it as he loved his work. Now due to the restrictions imposed, he is only providing online classes.
A pandemic has created a furore across the globe and India is no exception, being one of the densely populated nations in the world. A contagious bug has taken the world by storm. Economies are shaken and dreams shattered. Nabamita got the news of her husband’s schedule over the phone. Satyabrata, an emotional fool hardly realized that he is communicating about his plight to his spouse.
The moment he broke the news, Nabamita started chalking out shopping strategies over the phone itself. He calmed her down saying that it will be work as usual. Only the venue will change. Work from home doesn’t mean work at home that too during business hours.
But their conjugal relationship started getting bitter and not better. All hell broke loose for Nabamita once the nationwide lock-down was announced. Her bone of contention was primarily based on the following reasons-
- No frequent shopping as per whims: It was her idiosyncrasy to shop anything whenever she wanted to. But her spouse had controlled her extravagance citing budget constraints. This lock-down has deterred her from availing her branded beauty products which were otherwise within her reach and now restricted shop timings and lack of supply have impeded her aspiration to stay attractive 24/7. Initially, Satyabrata started pacifying her that the real beauty lies within you. But for his spouse who endorses objectifying other women, firmly believes that a woman should look beautiful not for herself but to garner more attention from the opposite sex. Nabamita is of the opinion that a woman’s life is worthless if she cannot allure men. At times, Satya thanks God that their being childless is actually a boon and not a curse. What lessons would their child have got? A son would have never been sensitive and a daughter could have ended as a victim at a tender age.
- Social Media Posts by Peers: Someone like Nabamita who was an epitome of digital illiteracy prior to her marriage, managing a Facebook account with the help of her husband changed the world for her. She was glued to her social media accounts checking out with her friends and relatives and periodically assessing whether they look better than her or not or whether they have gained more weight than her or not. Now with some of these friends posting about their culinary skills and uploading mouth-watering images, she also wants digital fame. Little does she realize that every ingredient is not within the reach at every point of time. From the confinement of her comfort zone, she hardly realizes that the supply chain has been adversely impacted.
- Absenteeism of maid: The most frustrating aspect of this pandemic has been the restrictions imposed on domestic servants due to which they can’t venture out of their shanties. Undoubtedly, Nabamita has tried her best all these days to keep things going like cleaning, wiping and dusting. Her husband helped her too. But it is unreasonable to blame the unavailability of domestic help on the earning member of the house. Under no circumstances, anyone deserves a brutal treatment for not fulfilling the household chores as efficiently as a professional maid.
- Work at home: Oblivious to the concept of work from home, it is work at home for Satya. During a Google Meeting, Skype Call or a Zoom cloud meeting, Nabamita would make it a point to peep at least once and barge. Suspicious of her husband’s morality, she questions him about the clients and colleagues she could catch a glimpse of. Despite repeated pleas by Mr Bhattcharya, she wasn’t ready to mend her ways even if it meant an impact of her husband’s professional goodwill. “You are supposed to help me out with the household works and whenever I tell you to do something, you find an excuse in your office work!” This is enough to piss off someone as professional as Satyabrata.
He was quick to understand that thing are going overboard. He knew that he has to survive for his aged father. He has to live as he is considered an idol by many aspiring professionals. But his options are limited.
Now if you feel that Nabamita is a victim too as she was not allowed to work, you are awfully wrong. Her husband and her deceased mother in law encouraged her to work and remain occupied. But she had other plans in mind. At the very outset, she declared that after being married to a well-off and affluent family if I need to work, then people will raise questions about the moral ethics and dignity of the Bhattacharyas.
Apart from all these Satya was seen battered and bruised occasionally even before the pandemic. The most frequent question he faced all these years was – “What happened to you?” He had to lie that he boozed and tripped on the floor. Even his students understood that Sir was trying to hide something and it must be shameful enough to be spoken about. He was slapped, punched and whipped quite frequently as his spouse was confident of no retaliation. A law abiding middle-class citizen, Satya knew the consequences of the draconian laws to marginalize him socially and professionally.
Satya always believed that a problem comes with a solution. Even after all these experiences, he still hopes for a better tomorrow. He contemplated escalating this issue to the Human Rights Commission. Instead, he made a pact with his boss Mr Justin Coelho so that he can resume work from the office. Justin owns a private car. After forty days of the lock-down, his employers started functioning with one-third workforce and he was allowed to come to the office by Justin’s vehicle. All sanitization works and social distancing protocols will be the organization’s headache.
Always try to figure out the silver lining among the clouds.