The curious case of role reversals

For years women have been told to behave like men when they lead. Yet, the countries that are coping well with the Covid crisis, are all led by women. Is it time for a role reversal?

 |  PARIS DIARY  |  5-minute read |   15-04-2020
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We can’t know what will be the ‘After’ if we don’t fully understand the ‘Now’ and, let’s admit it, we don’t have a clue and neither do the people who are leading us. “Fear and denial” is what doctors use when treating patients with Covid-19, explains Dr Shiba Malik, Neurosurgeon, Vivevakanand Hospital in Haldwani. “If we didn’t fear getting sick we would be sitting ducks and wouldn’t protect ourselves, or our loved ones. But without denial, we wouldn’t come to the hospital at all.” Doctors are trained to feel infallible in the riskiest of situations — denying and defying the odds of catching contagious diseases even when they are operating on patients with HIV, Hepatitis B, or Tuberculosis. The difference is, with the aforementioned cases, the odds of contagion are, perhaps, 1 in 10, while in the case of Covid-19, the odds are closer to 1 in 1. Especially in the absence of proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Imagine the dread a soldier would feel if he had to fight in a radioactive, exploding warzone with little more than a bow and arrow. He would, however, surmount his fear because he has taken an oath to lay down his life for the greater good. From the moment he joins the armed forces, his family readies themselves to receive that dreaded call of his demise. As the arena has altered, all the rules of war have changed and roles have been swapped between those who are trained to sacrifice their lives and those who are trained to save lives.

main_koel_1_041520091240.jpgDoctors are trained to feel infallible in the riskiest of situations. (Photo: Koel Purie Rinchet)

Life, as it is unravelling in 2020, would be too farfetched even for a season finale of Grey’s Anatomy. In the off-screen world, doctors are not meant to risk their own lives while saving others. Their families are not prepped to comfort them from a distance or lose them in the line of duty. They are scared and, rightly so. Yet, onwards they choose to march!

Next time you clap, bang thaalis and light diyas, remember it’s not the vibrations of sound or the purification by fire that will save us – it is those wearing the white coats, bravely taking on the role they didn’t sign up for. 

For years women have been told to behave like men when they lead. Yet, the countries that are coping well (from Germany, Taiwan to New Zealand) are all led by women. Male premiers could let go of their hubris and learn from these ladies, who are calm yet urgent, loving yet stern and who tell the truth when it matters most. Time for a role reversal?

main_koel_2_041520093252.jpgOnce on the other side, will we reminisce of the time when our partners had fulfilled all the roles in our lives? (Photo: Koel Purie Rinchet)

Meanwhile, teachers have transformed into technocrats, taking e-schooling into a whole new dimension. Some kids will flourish (but will they ever want to leave the comfort of their silo-like existence?). Others will lag behind (not all households have screens, phones, or printers enough for the multiple demands that come from WFH and everything else online from home). Parents of children under 10 have distorted into teachers (the worst kind, the ones who scream at the kids because we ourselves can’t remember what an improper fraction is, nor the difference between an independent and dependent clause). After our meltdowns, we pray to every God and thing we believe in for the schools to reopen. With our lack of knowledge on full display, we fret our kids will never respect us again, but more horrifyingly, these same unreliably-schooled kids will lead the world one day. All mothers, desperate to morph back to their primary roles, make penitent promises to support the school and the teachers’ pay hike; in fact, they genuinely agree it would only be fair to pay teachers the double what they ask for — as long as they take these dependent clauses back ASAP. When schools do reopen, will these relieved parents (in the rush to get back to normal) remember those silent pledges?

Once on the other side, will we reminisce of the time when our partners had fulfilled all the roles in our lives – occasional lover, let’s-talk-nonsense friend, be-silent-and-distract-the-kid work buddy, yoga bully, emergency hairdresser, sous-chef and anxiety-buster? The pressure and opportunity (in equal measure) that confinement presents for any relationship is enormous. Some couples will fare better than others. Some dynamics will make us thankful that we have friends, colleagues, cleaners, gym buddies and strangers, distinctly separate from our partner, albeit stuck in a parallel universe that we have no physical access to without breaking the law. 

main_koel_3_041520093127.jpgMother Nature enchants us with a sublime Supermoon — as luck would have it the largest for 2020. (Photo: Koel Purie Rinchet)

And then there is the raging reversal of Mother Nature. Have you looked out and seen her?  How beautiful is she, as she’s reclaiming and regenerating? Not because we clever humans (who’ve been fuming about climate change now for decades) did something, au contraire because we did nothing. In a matter of days (not weeks, not years) she started smiling on us again. Despite what we’ve done to her, the abuse we have knowingly hurled at her, she smiles at us. She blesses us with pink skies and air that tastes newly delicious. She teases us with snow-capped sights of the Himalayas. Enchants us with a sublime Supermoon — as luck would have it, the largest for 2020. She does it with elegance and efficiency, wasting no time; wise enough to know that these days of her renewal are numbered and, like caged animals finally set free, we will wreak havoc with a vengeance, forgetting how this pause made us rethink what life means and what it should mean.

We may not yet know how this story ends, but we already know for sure that this pandemic has brought the greatest reversal of our times, turning the world along with its wisdom on its head. Not-so-wise after all. This is our freak chance to unlearn and learn. Let’s not blow it.

(Courtesy of Mail Today)

Also read: The Great Escape @Home


Koel Purie Rinchet Koel Purie Rinchet @koelscouch

Professional Attention Seeker. Currently loves and writes in Paris.

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