The conversation is usually the same.
I would be in the salon braiding my hair, when the manicurist would approach me. ‘Aunty, will you do your nails today?’ I would then think about the plates and pots which I would have to wash after cooking later that day, and reply with a sigh, ‘No thanks, maybe another time’.
Spending money to get a manicure done and watching it chip off after scrubbing the life out of a pot is too painful for me to contemplate.
Have you ever stood in the middle of your kitchen, and stared at the pile of dirty dishes and pots in the sink, the splashes of oil on the surface of your cooker and the water on the floor, and ask yourself ‘who created this mess?’ knowing fully well that it was you who caused it, in a bid to become the ‘Bruce Lee’ of cooking skills?
I do not hate household chores per se; things get dirty in the house, and they have to be cleaned. It is a simple fact of life. However, like anything that is done repeatedly, it becomes a real pain after a while; an eye-roll inducing, silent-grumbling set of sweaty activities which must be completed so that one does not wallow in filth.
Growing up, my mother shared the household chores between myself and my older and younger brothers-we swept the house before we went to school, and did the dishes in the evenings. If any of us slacked, all three of us would have to complete the chore in question. Saturdays were spent scrubbing the bathrooms and the kitchen. It was just what was done. Neighbours who came to the house would remark on how ‘well brought-up’ we were’; I just wanted to sleep through the whole process.
I went to boarding house for my secondary school education, and with this came the daily dormitory duties and the smell of Izal. It is because of the 6 years I spent maniacally mopping floors and laying out white bedsheets for ‘Saturday Inspection’ that I have developed a serious aversion to the idea of dedicating most of Saturday to housecleaning alone. Why should I spend most of that day sweeping, scrubbing, mopping, washing, and sweating? That would just be cutting into my special doing-nothing time (anyone with a 9-5 job would understand this).
No, my rule of thumb is often to ‘clean a place once it needs to be cleaned’ to avoid the Saturday cleaning festivities. If I notice that a floor needs to be mopped on Friday, I will mop it that same day, to increase my sleeping time on Saturday.
Nigerian Woman, Homely Woman.
A relative of mine once told one of my brothers that he should hurry up and get married so that his wife would be cleaning up after him.
So if I am to understand this correctly, filth is entirely a woman’s concern.
I have had conversations with guys who have said things like ‘I hope you know how to cook and clean o! My woman must be homely. I will not be eating at restaurants once we start dating’. If that is your only requirement for a partner, I thought, what you really need is a Housekeeper, not a girlfriend. A former boyfriend once quarreled with me because I had not washed his clothes when I visited him. I laughed, thinking about how I didn’t even wash my own clothes (we had a washer-guy who came to the house on weekends). The relationship was obviously doomed.
There are those who frown on the thought of a woman-single or married-having a Housekeeper. For me, it is only good sense. If you can afford it, by all means, pay someone to do your cooking and cleaning for you. I am yet to see anyone who has won awards for cleaning, or a gold medal for cooking. Life is exhausting enough-why not make things easier for yourself?
I remember that there was a period of time not too long ago when I really enjoyed cooking and cleaning. I would spend hours mopping the house and arranging things which did not need to be arranged. Later on, I would go to the market, buy random vegetables, and take them back home to cook exotic meals.
I thought about this recently and suddenly realized a fact which I have often overlooked-I was unemployed at the time. Aside from sending out job applications online and thrusting copies of my CV on family members and friends, there was not much else to do but clean the house.
Everyone should be able to maintain their living environment. You could try to make the cleaning process more interesting: play some music while sweeping, or watch a movie while sorting out your laundry. However, some chores like ironing and cooking need something close to undivided attention; burnt clothes and food are not fun to deal with.
What would be a cleanliness deal-breaker for some might not be for others; I can deal with general untidiness, but not filth (e.g. a toilet which was once white that is now as black as the night). Some women might enjoy scrubbing the dirt out of their boyfriends’ nails-to them I say more grease to their elbows (or nails).
Everyone’s dirt or housecleaning thresholds are different, but I think that we can all agree that we need to make an effort to keep germs away by keeping our homes clean (or at least, pay people to keep them clean).