Zen and the art of domestication

You know how every girl grows up wanting to be nothing like her mother? I was no different.

Back when we were growing up, Amma’s typical weekend began with rummaging into various nooks and corners of the house. She would meticulously take things down, sort them into piles to keep, give away and throw away, dust out and clean the area, and then meticulously replace things. At least one weekend a month was spent with her taunting us to pitch in and learn to keep our things well. Grudgingly, we did our part. And we made fun of her and her meticulous ways. Mocking her Saturday routine quickly became habit. And yet, she continued to do her thing, never shying away from asserting these habits on us, trying ever so hard to inculcate in us at least some parts of it.

I have memories of weekends spent endlessly clearing up. We seemed to accumulate a lot of junk. Between my dads quirky ways of collecting odds and ends, my sisters strange penchant for the most absurd knick-knacks, and my inability to give anything away for sentiment-sake, we collected a lot of junk. “Hoarders”, Amma would call us. And hoarders we were. I only realised how much of this was true when I got married and had to pack my life into boxes and move homes. At that point I resolved to downsize life, learn to detach and not hang on to every little object that came into my life, so as to have a simpler easy to pick-up-and-move-life. But as I discovered 1.5 years later, I had failed miserably.

So yes, all through we’d joke around and poke fun at her anal ways, and swear to learn to enjoy our weekends chilling, wake up late and doing nothing but laze about. Basically do everything we couldnt do when she would expect us to rise bright and chirpy, participate in the weekly clean-up routine and learn how its done. I would dream of Saturday mornings spent in bed, reading, chilling, and only getting out for meals. And I grew up determined that I would do all that and more when I live alone. I told myself I would never ever ever be domesticated, and spend my days worrying about my home.

Today, I have a home of my own. A home to look after. A home that gets dusty. A home filled with random odds and ends that seem to just accumulate from nowhere. A home that looks like a neglected unkempt child if not tended to on a daily basis. Just like Amma does.

In addition, I have developed a strange obsession with doing it all right. Keeping things tidy. Sorting out the junk. Arranging our possessions. Dusting, wiping, mopping, brushing. Just like Amma does.

You know how every girl grows up not wanting to be anything like her own mother? I was no different.

But today, on the wrong side of 25, I realise, I’m just like her. Every bit as domesticated. Every bit as anal about the way I keep my home. Obsessive, compulsive, bordering on a disorder, I’m super finicky about spending my Saturday mornings tidying up everything I itch to do through the week, but don’t.

This morning I was on mission. The maid and I cleaned out the high ceiling corners, dusted the fans and I took down every thing in my kitchen, cleaned out all the nooks and crannies, sent all the spiders and their communities packing, wiped everything neat and stacked it all back.

I’m lucky Niyu is around because while the husband usually pretends and tries to pitch in, his inherent nonchalant-ness clashes with my super-obsessiveness, and I tend to re-do and over-do everything he so sweetly tries to assist me with. The mission began at about 10 and only ended at about 2.

I realised I’ve probably inculcated more than my fair share of clean genes. And as Niyu and the husband dont hesitate to tell me, I’m almost annoying. So yes, we try hard and be anything but our mothers are. But that’s like trying to defy gravity. It simply will not work.

And while I am quick to thwart down anyone who tries to tell me I’m juuuussstt like my mother, I often find myself thinking: Oh, who am I kidding. I so am. And I’m so glad.

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