Let me explain.
Amma has been a single mother most of her life, We did have a maid when we were little, But after Akkachi got married, we didn’t have a maid. Amma did all the chores.
I have been fortunate to grow up in a very tidy and neat home. There was not even a speck of dust anywhere in our house. No doubt my mother was a lousy cook and the yogurt had worms in it. But the floor was spotless, our clothes were always clean and the house was always tidy. Everything had a place and everything was in its place!
Last time when I went to Kerala I stayed at a friend’s house. I was warned in advance not to eat anything at home because no one knew how long the food had been hibernating in the fridge.
I love to cook, so I decided I might as well cook lunch.
The fridge was the latest model..gulf import..
The door was covered with grime.
I couldn’t even open the vegetable crisper. It was stuck!
The egg tray had eggs..all coated with chook shit.
There was food remnants all over the fridge trays..all dried and it was stinking.
Meat was kept open in a steel bowl in the freezer.
On top of the meat was a plastic packet of milk..part of the plastic packet is stuck..on the exposed meat..and you could see the dirt caked on top of the plastic packet.
Since there was no way I could bring myself to use any food from the fridge, I thought I will make mooru and rice.
I bought yogurt from the corner shop and had to use the blender. ( why such a simple thing as whisk can never be found in a mallu kitchen is still a mystery)
The blender was Braun.. the latest..
The rubber gasket on the lid was a black mass that can’t be described. It was never taken out to wash and was stuck..but it no longer looked like a gasket. Just a mass of something in black lining the top of the jar. ( I think the oil from coconut has reacted with the rubber over months of not washing?)
That evening, the mother of the family decided to slaughter the resident rooster and I thought I would help her to cook. She told the me the meat is all washed and ready and all I had to do was to cook. ( I am a vegetarian and I only buy cleaned skinless chicken breast!! so I don’t have to deal with gore and bone!) I cooked the gravy and was just about to put the meat in to the pot when I noticed the presence of colourful feathers on the meat pieces!! Revolting doesn’t even come closer to what I felt that moment. I turned off the fire and spend the next hour removing feathers.I washed the meat, but I did notice that the were something brown colour..like crushed black pepper stuck on the meat. I assumed the mother must have marinated the meat with black pepper..
Only after I put the meat in to the gravy and upon asking the mother if she had already added salt to the meat along with the black pepper did I learn that it was not black pepper..those specs were actually wood chips..from the cutting board. I was told not to bother..wood is organic and healthy and yes everyone loved the chicken curry!
My aunt even knows how to pile all the dishes in the sink in her kitchen in neat rows, for you see, her part time maid only comes once every 3 days! and yes my aunt has 3 sets of dinner plates.
An Indian colleague of mine told me recently she dreams of going back to India, so she can live like a queen. her idea of living like a queen is to have someone else to cook and clean, while she could just watch TV all day.
I don’t have a maid and I don’t see the need to have maid when I have two hands that are perfectly functional!!
I clean the stove and the exhaust everyday and the exhaust filter once every week. I also wipe all the kitchen cupboard doors every day. It takes me 15 minutes to clean the kitchen before I go to bed. I hate to see dirty dishes in the sink and always wash the dishes the moment I finished using them. The fridge is cleaned every saturday. I sweep the floor while my children are getting ready every morning.
Yes, I do have my days when I don’t feel like doing chores. But there is no way I can live in a dirty house. And I thank my mother for teaching me not to be lazy. And trust me, it really is not too much work to keep your house clean.