I was spring summer cleaning my house today and my mind automatically travelled many summers ago, when I had come down to Bombay and had briefly put up in one of my old college friend's house. I couldn't adjust in my hometown after living nearly a decade in this vibrant city, but as my father had vacated his office place, I was bit homeless then. I was flat-hunting, so stayed at their place as I was close to them during my college days.

Their house is friendly and you do feel nice in there; though, they had their share of problems too, like anyone else. With the lady's ( whom I call Aunty ) husband's early demise, a sad lady she was, but still had a smile for others and was quite helpful too. Her elder niece who lived with her was going through marital problems ( later divorced ) had another tragedy of her little son's death. But like her Aunty, she was helpful too. At times they did burst out emotionally, but that was understandable.

Living at their place taught me lot of things. The two nieces were pro at cooking or fine arts & craft making, and one would fall in love with their creations. Their house was sparkling clean all the time. Both Aunty and elder niece would clean meticulously everyday, even the tiniest spectre of dust or any fallen crumbs. The smaller niece ( i.e my friend ) was more laid back, though she had these qualities ingrained in her as well.

The elder niece's office, that time, was in main town; so, by the time she reached home which was at the opposite end of the city ( in the suburbs ) it would be late in the evening. But instead of eating or relaxing once back, she'd start climbing up the stool and start cleaning the ceiling fans or other furniture ( in each room ). All the bath-room and kitchen tiles would be scrubbed vigorously with soap. This was a daily routine, followed religiously without fail.

At times I'd wonder, the house is so clean as it was cleaned in the morning by Aunty and the maid, so what was the need to clean again at night too. It seemed more like an obsession. Once another cousin of their's had come to stay with them. They pushed her into the cleaning routine as well, so much so that to my surprise for the first time I saw Aunty nagging at anyone ( that too quite nastily ).

Slowly, my idea of their perfect little clean home crumbled bit by bit, as I started seeing a different picture. I was a guest there, so they had never forced me to do any of the chores ( though I think they secretly wanted ), still I occasionally offered to cut+chop+wash vegetables or did bit shopping. ( I paid for my food/stay ). However, their treatment of this cousin shocked me no end. They'd blame the cousin's family for not having any manners or importance of cleanliness etc. The cousin did her bit, but to expect her to clean 24x7 proved too much for her, and she naturally rebelled. Later, she left and went back to her house never to come again.

This obsession also led me to analyse the troubled marriage the elder niece had. Her husband was a pretty laid back bloke, and whenever he came, he'd keep his things here and there. Aunty nagged at him for that. And, more than staying at her own house, the niece spent much of her time at her Aunt's. This pissed her husband no-end and he hated coming there. Staying months apart had a bad effect on their marriage. But it seems as Aunty had kept that house in the elder niece's name, she wanted to stay close to her Aunt. Whatever be the case, their lives did get affected.

Now the funniest and most strangest part. For all their obsession for cleanliness and 'mission cleaning 24x7', I was quite appalled to see the cloth they used for the 'task'. Old panties! Can you imagine that? Be it table, showcase, fan, wardrobe, tiles ---- everything! I don't know if anyone is comfortable using old used panties as a cleaning cloth. I certainly am not. Though I'm grateful they gave me a roof over my head for those 2-3 months, I was glad to be finally out of their 'weird' cleanliness obsessed world :o

While we all need to keep ourselves, our homes and surroundings clean, I feel, nothing should be done in extreme that you keep cleaning your furniture more than you actually sit and relax in them ~ living life as they say :-)

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