Laden has recently completed her Masters degree in literature. In her free time, she likes to indulge in photography and studying images, most of which are very personal in nature. Lately she has been conducting an independent research on the urban dynamics in her neighbourhood in Jorethang, South Sikkim.
Every day, or at least more closely, for the last 60 days, I’ve been observing the same sequence of events from morning to afternoon and night inside my house and around my neighbourhood. The images here represent my observation of the complexity of women’s labour performed within a monotonous web. Through the intimate nuances, some times made visible only by images, I’ve tried to photograph my mother and the quality of ‘everydayness’ in her habitual space during the COVID-19 lockdown.
The patriarchal patterns laced in the ‘everydayness’ of a woman’s routine often go unnoticed. Observing the details in her ‘gestures’, in her ’motions’, allowed me to understand the underlying social dimensions that define my mother’s role in the kitchen--unpaid. As I watch her washing the dishes in the morning; as I watch her cooking the same meal repeatedly for her husband--all unpaid, all unappreciated. Yet no complaints from her. Before we forget, my mother is also a teacher. Something that we immediately overlook once she's inside the house. These images are representations of her status as a teacher, as a mother and as a wife--fragmented identities merging into the complex notion of a ‘woman’. Does my mother only exercise one identity within the household? Do we only identify her as a ‘cook’ or as a ‘cleaner’? Do we forget her occupation as a teacher? For me, the dissipation of her social status within the domestic space is worth recognising.
Some images here are also of my next-door neighbour who is also constrained under the same ‘everydayness’ that confines many women. It became a necessity for me to draw a connection between my home and the neighbour’s. The images in this series are, therefore, a collection shaped by incoherent pieces, creating a personal and interpersonal juxtaposition and governed by pre-defined ‘gender roles’ in private and public spaces.
This lockdown has allowed me to pause, pay attention and peel the layers of social and cultural habits of a woman inside the house, regardless of her function outside of it. Can she have and represent both worlds equally?