Why Is Keeping Your Own House Clean a Big Deal?

Why Is Keeping Your Own House Clean a Big Deal?

As Indians, we grow up with a certain set of fixed ideologies that become so deep-rooted into our brains that it becomes hard to think outside that box. Our country has been under lockdown for three weeks now, meaning we’ve all had to do our own mopping, dusting, cleaning, organizing, and even doing the dishes. The concept of having people to do it for you – by people I mean the house help or the maid, to put it simply – has been prevalent in the country for years. And only with the imposition of a total lockdown, did people realize how important the house help was.

Did that bring a change in the average Indian mentality? No. We’re the generation that takes photos of ourselves in visibly blah clothes, clutching at a broom in one hand, phone in the other, in front of the full-length mirror and posting pictures on our Instagram stories, and captioning it – “My jhaadoo pocha outfit.” That’s the word for dusting and mopping. Collective. You miss Mira Didi, not because she gave you company, but because she’d come do the cooking. You miss Jyoti Ben because she’d come and do the mopping. And the sweeping. And the dusting. And the bathrooms and even the toilet bowl. And you still negotiated with them over their paltry salaries. And never said thank you, but blamed them for messing up your fancy fruit bowl or sometimes, breaking your favorite wine glass. You conveniently overlooked the fact that Jyoti might have cut her finger picking up the broken pieces. And you made her work with a cut finger which you only put a Band-Aid on. You overlooked the fact that the help came to your house to keep it clean despite being on her period, or even despite running a fever. You refused to give her a day off because you couldn’t manage the house – the big sprawling house when compared to her tiny shack – by yourself.

And I’ve got a problem with that.

Do you need someone else’s help cleaning up after you’ve taken a massive doody? No, right? Then why would you make it a big deal, and go posting about it as well, after you’ve cleaned your house by yourself? My, my. What a major achievement. What an accomplishment that you’ve managed to wipe the kitchen counter clean after burning the lentil soup you were attempting to cook. What a good thing to have finally learned how to boil an egg or make whipped coffee all by yourself. Like, seriously? Everyone in the rest of the world does their own chores. Only in this country do we lack the understanding and acceptance needed to grasp the importance of dignity of labor.

I just wish that it wasn’t such a big deal, you know? Cleaning and organizing. Things like that? All of this? All of this doesn’t need validation from the Internet if you think it’s such a pain being a “maidfor a while. Also, doing daily household chores actually helps to burn calories. You won’t realize how fit you’re going to be if you’re the one that’s cleaning on a daily basis. Imagine how much active movement you’re getting. Also, cooking is very therapeutic. And baking. NOT being dependent on someone else to do YOUR chores lets you plan your day around your routine and not on when Jyoti comes to clean.

Plus, with the center probably extending the lockdown by two more weeks, it’s about time you forget Mira and Jyoti and get comfortable with staying indoors. It’s hardly a big deal, honestly. Although many influencers will tell you that it is, consider how lucky we all are to have a roof over our heads and a few meals a day. It doesn’t matter if other people don’t understand dignity of labor. It starts with you, and one small change makes a big difference. On that note, I’m going to wipe the kitchen down while I listen to some Doja Cat. Good day, y’all.

Truth

Truth

Helen was a sucker for rules, a stickler for schedules. She had the same routine, always insisted that her family follow suit. Her sixteen year old teenage daughter was a model student, the kind of kid parents liked to show off sometimes. Her makeup would be perfect, hair brushed to perfection, teeth in perfectly straight lines. But she had a secret, one that wasn’t hers to keep. It was almost like she had an alter ego, the pain this other girl felt was far too deep.

You see, beneath all her perfection and all her perfect scores and all her med school aspirations, she had a different dream. The one she couldn’t talk to Helen about, the one that made her let out s million silent screams. The pressure had gotten too much, and it stared to build and build. She couldn’t do it anymore, her alter ego wasn’t strong-willed. And so one day, when her mother was out, and she was home alone, pretty little girl did what had to be done, and then there was nothing – Demons, begone.

Helen came home with husband in tow, fussing over the state of the kitchen floor. And she saw her baby there, supine, lifeless, stone-cold. What seemed like ages had passed by, when, taped to the the fridge, she saw…

The note:

I didn’t want you to know. I was so ashamed. I’m sorry Mama, I tried. I’ve been living under your shadow for so long, trying to be you for so long, that I’d forgotten what it was like to be myself. Between school and music lessons and debate club and your anatomy lessons, I didn’t have a second to myself. I wanted to write, Mama. I managed to still finish a book and I couldn’t get it published because you’d never let me go out alone. And you never understood what I wanted and what I actually lived for. I’m depressed, Mama, truly. I’ve always been. I can’t keep up the appearances anymore. I’m sorry I was selfish, but Mimi took over and ended it. It’s always been Mimi and I, since you never let me have friends. I met her in play-school, in the mirror, a spitting image of me and we have been inseparable ever since. Mimi told me things – that she knew you had a licensed gun, for example, in your bedside drawer. That you turned into an overachiever because you had your own mommy issues. I don’t want to turn into you, Mama. I can’t be a control freak like you. Mimi is everything to me. She draws and I write and we will be okay. We love you, Mama. No matter what you did to me and how much you put me through, the truth is I still love you. Will always do.