The clean up

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 31 Oct 2018 11:43:33


By biraj dixit,

“Dust thou art, to dust thou returnest”




So why should we make such a fuss about the dust in between? In birth and death, you are dust, but in between all you do is try to free yourself from dust. What a paradox! What an irony! What tiresome business this!

The explanation might be that while you are alive, you ought to feel like living and hence you must take recourse to the comfort of hygiene. But the comfort of hygiene comes at a price. It demands hard labour. It demands that you wipe, mop, dust and clean everything, everyday. It demands that you never forget humility of being a speck of dust, of waiting with bated breath for the maid, of feeling utterly helpless in her absence, of setting your tone to correct decibels and sweetness while pleading for a speck more than usual, of bearing with half-hearted, nay quarter-hearted, effort of appreciating the unappreciable. Dust thou art.

Now is all the more worrisome time of the year. With Diwali round the corner, and homes going on cleanliness spree, the dust is supposed to be completely grounded. And here I am all set, up in arms and in the pre-Diwali combat mode. Of course, the battle cannot be won by a general alone. I have my warrior too. But the gentleman’s lack of training is threatening to inflict more harm than good. The maid of course is a blessing, how-so-ever unreliable.

It is this time of the year when all corners clamour to claim your attention. The hitherto hidden spots manifest themselves in full measure. The skeletons in the cupboards tumble out and every stacked box seems to have Pandora written all over it. Then there are these delicate homes of spiders vying for more floor surface area. Even as you squirm at their sight, those assigned with encroachment removal duties respond just as our municipality babus – “It was not there yesterday!” You marvel at spider’s skills, encroaching even the built-up area after devouring all of the carpet space and all in a day’s work!

The corners that are greeted only annually strike with vengeance for months of neglect. How-so-ever dusty, they are not dust. How-so-ever out of your reach, they have an existence. On Diwali, they insist that they be taken care of it if the lights of the great festival are to brighten all corners. So as you climb up to renew your acquaintance, they greet you with a stoic indifference the way long unattended relatives do. It takes a lot of cleaning and cajoling to make them feel at home.

These corners are also home to those long unattended boxes which store things that might be useful. They have not come to any use for years and yet who knows? There are those suitcases carrying hope. Hope that one day the wonderful clothes in them might see their slimmer owner again. There are things bought at spur-of-the-moment attraction and now, lying in closed confines, feel cheated. There are those goodies that have long undone their utilities but are still enjoying post-retirement benefits. They are all looking at me. They have also perhaps understood that the long-pending decision on their fate is still pending.

The one thing that I always marveled at while watching those films and TV serials is the swiftness with which the actresses, after fighting with their better or worse halves, in fit of rage barge into their rooms, pick up a suitcase, put their clothes and leave the house. All that in matter of minutes! If I put myself in that position, barging in my room in a fit of rage, picking up a…?!? That’s unthinkable. All my suitcases are stuffed with stuff and are heavy as hell. I might face the ignominy of barging back into the hall seeking help from the same man I am threatening to leave! Awful!

The maid, too, is looking expectantly. “One of these days all these stuff would be mine,” she seems to be thinking. With a heavy heart, I have decided to bid some stuff goodbye. It’s time we part.

As I am trying to retrieve every nook and corner of my house, the task at hand is enormous. The kitchen, the home within my home, looks eager. Here too, there have been more promises than action. The masoor dal looks sad. Biryani masala has just waved a ‘hello’. “Remember me,” it asks. The schezwan sauce proclaims that it’s been dead for a month while the instant coffee claims it has been ‘stoned’ to death.

I have rediscovered so many things – the papads; that lovely lemon pickle that had hidden itself; that table spoon whose sudden disappearance had disturbed me to core; the marvelous set of tea spoons that I forgot existed. Oh! This is a reunion of sort. My beautiful crockery unit – the pride of my kitchen – is all up and about for its biannual cleaning. “We must use those sometime,” the master of the house has again tried to touch upon the brittle subject. Delicately elegant as my crockery is, it usually gets fresh air only in presence of guests. For, elegance, pricey as it is, cannot be made a routine affair.

Though I have made plenty of discoveries and have had my fill of reunions, this cleaning busy is very taxing. Not that it involves lot of work but it sparks a wave of guilt. The home-maker should make more than excuses. With a heavy heart, I have emptied my suitcases and have promised myself to take the masoor dal and biryani masalas to their logical conclusions. After Diwali of course! For, right now there are piles and piles and loads and loads of work to be finished before the festival of light embraces us. For, now the reigning chaos of cleaning-up the annual mess is to be calmed. For now, the custody of the house is to be completely taken.

There will be plenty of time for promises to be fulfilled and resolutions to be kept. The work at hand is enormous and too little time is left. My hands are already full and I can take no more. There will be time for another revisit for sure. For now, let the dust settle…! (Eh!!! Figuratively,
of course!) l