I woke up today with my body protesting. Everything ached. And I thought to myself – I’ve done this shit for years but you still never ever get used to it. I am, of course, talking about housework. Being an only child in the family that has no love for domestics, it is my burden alone. I was antagonistic towards such a task. It ruined my weekends and affected my work. But then, uncannily, I found an almost sadistic pleasure in driving my body to its limits and enjoying the glorious pain that assaulted my senses the day after.
With over 15 years of getting my hands dirty, I can say that it has taught me 9 things in life. Here they are.
I, alone. During the time I was doing my A’Levels and well into my university life and right up to today, I cleaned my own shit. Fact is, no one is going to clean your shit up for you, and as life goes on, you may have to end up cleaning other people’s shit too. Truth is this battle in which we fight that is called “life” is simply ours alone. So as I cleaned my room, toilet, the guest room and the kitchen, I knew it was I alone who had the power and ability to either conquer it all or lay defeated. Same applies to your job, your friends, your business ventures and your life.
Hard work does pay off. There is, of course, a disclaimer here. Cleaning a house and garden is not easy. Cleaning a house and garden with no external factors affecting you is better. You are guaranteed that you will see a good result depending on the effort you put in. This applies to most things in life. Put in the hard work at office, you are bound to get remunerated justly. Unless your boss and the management are dirt bags who just want to see you slave away. My advice? Put in the hard work into things that you know will give you benefits.
Consistency means less work. Laziness is a human condition. Everyone suffers from it. Most of my weekends were cruelly taken away by the specter of housework. So I did not bother. I did not do any housework. The house and garden became something what pigs would call home. This resulted in me slaving away not only on weekends but weekdays after work sorting through shit. Lesson learnt. Now by being consistent, my workload has reduced. Every Saturday or Sunday is spent doing a myriad of tasks that leaves my home as pretty as paradise.
Prioritize, have a plan & make it a habit. So, what exactly do I have to do? Well my entire list of tasks is as follows: Sweep, dust and polish a 2-storey house, clean the kitchen and its utensils, wash and clean 3 toilets, sweep and dust 3 bedrooms and 1 office room, clean 7 fans, sweep the garden and cut grass along with any unruly bougainvillea branches, cook breakfast, lunch and dinner, do the washing and ironing of clothes for 3 people and vacuum and wash a car etc. Add this to the fact that I work the weekends from home, then tearing your hair apart becomes a real possibility. So how do I manage? I plan. Saturday will be dedicated to the garden, laundry, ironing and car. On Sunday the house will be dealt with.
Dirt is never-ending. I live right next to a main road. Dust is an ever present entity. It never ends. It is a constant battle. But dealing with it, helps keep the dust and dirt at bay. Likewise, life throws dirt at you on a daily basis. You get to deal with problems in your marriage, your family, friends and business partners etc. It never ends. However much you try to avoid it, the truth is that dealing with problems, in whatever form, requires persistence, dedication and hardcore work.
You need the right tools. I swear the folks at Hunters, Singer and Abans are like a second family. I have bought a wide spectrum of equipment from them that has made my life so much easier and efficient when it comes to gardening and housework. Life is no different. You do need a good set of tools to deal with it, like a good education, awareness, compassion, kindness, discipline, dedication, faith, assertiveness and confidence.
Patience is key. I think the most important lesson I have learnt thanks to housework is having patience. When I look at the amount of tasks that I have to deal with, it is enough to make me drop the damn broom and call in a domestic and spend thousands of bucks in getting a mediocre job done. Fact is no one does a better job than you, especially when you know what needs to be done. Even in life, when it comes to your career, your relationships, investments and business endeavors, patience really is a virtue (as clichéd as it sounds).
Anger helps. If being lazy is a human condition, then so too is anger. You’ve heard of this before and here it is again. Make the anger you feel work for you. I know sometimes I could thrash anyone near me when there is a mountain of tasks that need to be handled. Yet the best thing that you can do is to suck it up and use that energy to do your tasks more effectively. Anger really is the fuel to help you complete your tasks. You just need to harness is and control it for your own benefit.
Satisfaction is a job well done. At the end of a long hard day’s work, looking at the house floor that is gleaming, a garden that is like paradise and a bedroom that is comfortable and inviting – this is enough to put a grin on my face. Seriously. Any task that you complete with gusto in life is rewarding to say the least. I guess this is why we do what we do. No drug can give you this joy.
I was compelled to write this article. What compelled me? It was how the fairer sex behaves in this day and age. I guess as humans we have a certain proclivity to compare. And this is what I did. I compared the women I meet in this day and age with the women who I personally knew or know that were born during the 40s, 50s & 60s.
The reason I write this article is because I wish to honor those qualities of those incredible women of the 40s, 50s & 60s. Trust me, when I say, these are creatures that are beyond unique and should be used as probable role models for the women of today.
I have identified 9 reasons why they have my utmost respect. Here they are.
They suffered to make ends meet. Remember the time Mrs. B came to power and ended up unethically and remorselessly grabbing land from Sri Lanka’s citizens? Well, my aunt who is now close to the age of 70 happened to be a victim too. She was a rich lady. She had four children. Her husband drank himself to death thanks to losing all his land. She became an instantaneous pauper. While the rest of the family begged her to get married again, she remained stoic and said she never will because of the children. She is a woman who was used to having the attention of ten domestics on a daily basis in addition to a chauffeur and car. After disaster struck, she was forced to be self-sufficient. She used to pluck coconuts daily to make pol sambol (coconut sambol) and milk gravy (kiri hodi) to feed her brood before dropping them at school by bus.
They were excellent mothers and wives. Most of the mothers I know who are in their 20s and 30s will just give into their kids and spoil them rotten. Most kids nowadays have got an iPod, iPad and/or a laptop. While they are all very tech savvy and independent, they are lacking in basic manners, ethics, values and morals. While my parents could afford to give me anything I desired, I got nothing. All I got was tough love. I was taught to respect my elders, to say “Thank You” and “Please”, to give up my seat on a bus for someone who was older than me and to be kind and compassionate to others.
They took their marriage vows seriously. The majority of the people I know today are divorced. The majority of those individuals are aged 25 to 35. Why do they divorce? Irreconcilable differences. Very vague, isn’t it? So much falls into this category, including adultery, lack of money, no intimacy, trouble with in laws or just boredom. Those days, whatever happened, they stuck through their marriages. I admire the women of the 40s, 50s & 60s for this alone. They thought of their vows, their duties, their children and their family. Now? Most women I know just think of themselves.
They were impressed by character and integrity, not appearances. The majority of women you get today are supercilious, superficial and unskilled. What they worship is the latest fashion, the newest car, a big designation and a man with a large bank account. The ladies of the 40s, 50s & 60s cared more about character, integrity and morals than anything else. Appearances, more often than not, took a backseat.
They were skilled. My mother and her mother can cook, sew, find ways to save money, tend the garden, throw family dinners and luncheons single handedly, do the banking, come up with home remedies, home-school the children, bargain, feed the husbands, do the grocery shopping and also the accounts. Most of the women of today need Google and a smartphone to make a cup of tea. However, they do have that inexplicable talent of typing on a smartphone faster than a Ferrari.
They sacrificed so much for their offspring. As many of my aunts have stated, if they wished, they could have wasted the family silver and enjoyed their lives with all the materialistic offerings the world had on offer. But they believed in frugality and bringing up their children the hard way so that they will always know that money never comes easy.
They gave up their health and life for you. What mattered to them were their husband and child. My own grandmother used to get up at 4 a.m. and set to work on her farm. No cutex adorned her fingers. No branded clothes covered her strong figure. All that mattered was her family. She was self-sufficient and more hardworking than 10 women of today put together. Thanks for her unforgiving lifestyle, she ended up with arthritis and spine trouble in her later years. She used to cook well into her 80s. She lived up to the ripe old age of 88 and died knowing that the values and ethics she instilled in her children is what have made them successful today.
They were thrifty. They may have had money but they showed that they didn’t These were women who had seen recessions and wars. They lived through political upheavals and terrible times. They saved. They never spent. Just like an ant they worked hard and just like a bee they hoarded what they earned. Why? Because there really was no assurance of a better tomorrow.
Love for them was different. How do the majority of women of today define love from their boyfriend or husband? For some it is a gift of an expensive set of jewellery, a Dolce and Gabbana gown, a rose or some trinket or the other. For my mother and her mother and the ladies of that age, love meant far more than an inanimate object. Love meant loyalty, kindness, compassion and a bond that was sealed the day they exchanged vows and decided it was only death that could do them apart.
I have lost 10 kgs within 2 months. Fruits that are high in fiber and high in nutritional value are central to my progress. Quitting cigarettes and alcohol to a great degree has helped tremendously too.
What you see is my breakfast and lunch for today. Sticking to such natural offerings helps kill unhealthy cravings too. And the taste…is pure heaven.