In the pandemic world, debates and discussions about care work have (finally!) entered popular consciousness. As care giving and receiving is becoming more and more important and emotionally consuming, I am using this space to talk about it a little. What does it mean to care for somebody? What does unpaid care work look like, feel like? Probing just a little deeper into the abstractions of work life balance, social security, love, care, and responsibility, I try to look at the intimacy, personality, and banality of care work.
This is the first in this series of pieces called "The Care Package".
1. Careful people
There’s the ones who’d never get close enough to red lipstick, despite carrying it in their bags. Some who wouldn’t dare wear ripped jeans. There’s the emerging kind who’ll sanitise their hands after every exchange, and the perpetual category that’ll exist and never be seen in their regular beige shirts and brown pants. I am the kind that would never have her phone on loud, not in my house, not in my office, never in the movie theatre. Any attention to the noise of me is unsavoury. Careful people deter noises and smells from making an appearance- the kind who would never be caught farting in public. Or the ones too well dressed to fart a bad smelling one. The blame of carefreeness shifting to the next worse off candidate.
There’s the kind that won’t stand gurbandi badam* and will only ever have the American almonds- they can’t bear the surprise of the bitter ones. Careful people. The father who would look at the crowd and go from holding hands to pressing them- strength and caution woven with fingers and indexed with the thumb. The mother who wouldn’t grab that drink on her way back. The young men folding their right arm back into the shoulder as a woman walks by- the woman who takes a step to her right as his arm rises. Careful people collide in their carefulness.
The man who wouldn’t get drunk for fear of making a mess of his living room. The child who writes questions in black and answers in blue. The husband who double squishes the bigger pieces of tomatoes in the rasam for her taste, the friend that keeps two toilet paper rolls in the bathroom. The grandparent that gets old letters laminated, the baby that colours within the lines. The neighbour that turns down the music at 10, the partner that opens the curtains only after 8. The daughter that leaves the party as she begins to enjoy it, the son that doesn’t make a point.
Careful people think and overthink. When they’re sometimes carefree and let you know, the anger and effort can shine through. But you of course, needn't worry, careful people take care to continue.
*sometimes bitter, almonds originally from Afghanistan