Is the ‘last-in’, ‘lock-up’ dictum left to women or should the men do it?
Is securing the house at night a man’s job? You would think that it is — since men have from time immemorial been stereotyped as the stronger, braver and tougher of the two genders.
If you were one of those who thought women could scream from the roof-tops about a level playing field but certain jobs will still be reserved for or done by the men — think again. Researching this story, I discovered that women have taken over the security of the home too in their stride and this area no longer remains a man’s department. On the contrary, it is now a shared responsibility — dictated by lifestyles — who is watching telly, who comes home late, who is travelling, or who lets the dog out.
Ashita Gupta, event organiser says “Most of the time my husband takes care because he is watching telly or I tell my sons. But the security of the house is always at the back of my mind.”
Seema Agarwal a former aerobics instructor recalls “In my parental home, my mom was the ‘hunterwali’ and my dad was the quiet one. In my family, either one of us — whoever sleeps later — locks up. I can’t entrust my daughters with this job because we have huge windows and no grill. I leave instructions when I go out and my children will impatiently say ‘Ok ma I heard it’. But when I message them to check or come back and take a look it is not done. The only difference being that if sometimes I leave a door or two open I will get a huge lecture from my husband. If he slips up I don’t even bring it up.”
Amit Agarwal, her businessman husband says it is mostly him who shuts the doors because he is up late.
Ambika, a writer whose executive husband travels frequently thinks doing the last job for the day is no big deal. “Since he is not at home a few days in a month the onus is on me to lock up at night. There was a time when I used to be really scared but now I have got used to it. I just make sure everything is secured and go to bed.”
By virtue of who they are, security is a concern for a woman and they need to make sure things are under control before they call it a day.
Vinita Gupta a home-maker states “I lock up because if I tell the family to do so and go to bed when I wake up in the morning, more often than not I will find that it remained undone. Whenever I get up or even in the afternoon or before retiring for the day I always check the balcony door and the other two doors. I wouldn’t say the others at home never fasten the doors, it is just that they don’t take responsibility for doing so.”
With the ‘9-5’ job fast disappearing, people are more likely to return at unearthly hours. Sonal, a bank executive who is single and lives with her mother says it is usually her mother who used to be in charge but because she comes back late from work she has taken on the task.
There could be other factors like people reading into the night outside the bedroom or having to let the dogs out at home which determine who does what.
Rajeev, a consultant points out “My wife, a teacher first locks up because she has work in the kitchen. I have a habit of reading late. Besides, because the dog is there, I also make sure that the windows are open and it is slightly ventilated. It has always been like this. Normally when I travel I get my brother–in-law to stay over because of the dog and because the house was burgled once.”
Sumathi Vincent, a service provider had handed over the job to her husband Babu Vincent “simply because she feels lethargic and sleepy after dinner. In the morning he opens the door and lets the dog out.”
There is also the situation where the wife who locks up and goes to bed having to open and close again after the husband arrives. Murali, a stock broking and portfolio management consultant says, “Most of the days, I knock at the window pane and my wife lets me in lest I wake up my mother who will greet me with a ‘late today too’. And finally, I lock up after her.”
Like the ‘first-in, first-out’ rule, the last-in, lock-up dictum also holds good. A. Shankar, an industrialist who lives in a joint family says, “People keep coming in and going out. With four young people in the house and two busy husbands, it could be anybody’s job. Sometimes the kids (read young adults) will lock up. There is no fixed rule.”SUDHA UMASHANKER