Monday, 16 December 2013

Of housework, happiness and home truths

Make your bed, every day. It'll keep you happier, healthier.

That's what self-help books and articles tell me. Actually that is true--making my bed, leaves my mind clutter-free. Something about straightening out crinkles, smoothing out rumpled sheets and seeing the final product, is extremely soothing. And doing housework, occasionally, makes me healthier (all that bending, squatting, dusting, sweeping, swabbing!). Something to do with proactive action and it's positive after-effects, I suspect.

On an everyday basis, I hate housework. It's boring, repetitive and takes up so much of my time and energy. I'd rather pay someone else to do it. Though for a long time, I felt like a lazy person because I had a cook and a maid. Because I know of many women, including my own sister, who do both. Then author Alexander McCall Smith, creator of one of my favourite heroines, Precious Ramotswe, came to my rescue. In one of his Botswana-based books (featuring Ramotswe), his heroine muses that it is cruel to NOT hire a maid if you can afford one. That made sense to me. And to be honest, it made me feel much better.

Now my cook does the housework. When she is on leave, I do both chores. She has three children (she got her daughter married recently), and is also looking after her dead sister's two children. If I reduced her pay, it would affect so many other people, dependent on her. This way, she gets to look after her family better.

Anyway, one day, around 5.30 pm, I realised I'd completely forgotten to put out the washed clothes. So when I opened my balcony door (where we have an ancient, foldable, steel-clothes drying thingie) to put out the clothes, I found my neighbour's teenage son bringing in their washed and dry clothes. My neighbour is, obviously enough, not scatter brained like me. And I was pleasantly surprised to see a pukka Malayalee boy helping out his mother in this way. Believe me, not many boys, back in Kerala, would do stuff like this for their moms. Some even think it beneath their dignity to fetch themselves a glass of water. Which is why, I think my young neighbour is well on his way to becoming an empathetic male, a very rare species. And that gives me much happiness.

Actually, come to think of it, my little fellow thinks housework is totally thrilling. Give him a broom or a mop and he has so much fun! Okay, things don't get very clean, but that is a small price to pay. My job is done if he grows up to think housework is something anyone can do--and not just the female sex.

Am sure his girlfriend will thank me for that, one day.