I am not much of a homemaker. It’s not news. However, it feels like a new version of my reality because it cannot be ignored anymore. I think on some level deep down, my family and I had hoped that some day perhaps I might be able to make and maintain a beautiful home… perhaps some day I would be able to walk down the path acceptable for women, especially Indian women. It wasn’t meant to be.
I prefer outdoors over indoors. I like open spaces. I am closer to villages than cities. I like gardens more than high-rise towers. I don’t like to accumulate things. I don’t like elaborate furniture and furnishings. I like minimalism because it’s convenient. It suits my mind for the peace it provides and my heart for the beauty of open spaces.
Most of my friends are at a place in their lives where they are busy setting up their homes. The conversations often revolve around buying houses, furniture or planning interior décor. I contribute excitedly for the first couple of times and after that it’s just a fake smile. I find the whole process boring.
It’s a task for me to set up a home… a task that I enjoy only for a day. Next day I like to get on with my life. I am not very fond of housework. I like to keep things clean… at times obsessed with cleanliness. If the home is not cleaned and organized within a day, it bothers me. My usual window of setting up a new house is one day… mostly one night given that I would need to go back to my job next day. This is one of the special advantages of living on rent with minimal belongings.
I don’t own a house. Every new item I buy feels like a burden I will have to carry with me. I would rather spend this money on experiences during my travels around the world. I like to reuse waste to craft interesting items for my home; and change it every time I move to a new house, which is an average of ten months. It also brings a variety to my life. I don’t like the monotony of similar things around me day after day.
After years of nomadic living in a zillion rented apartments, I have lost all interest I ever had in setting up a home. Every minute I take away from my work, painting or writing to set up a house feels like a waste of my life. I moved in a new ‘demanding’ apartment last month. It’s taking me forever to clean and set it up. And I dislike every part of the process. That amount of wasted time feels criminal. I can’t help but imagine all other fruitful things I could have done with this time. As I grow old, I value time more. The time spent in futile avoidable activities feels wrong.
Every year, I search for a house, do the paperwork, clean it, buy sundry new articles for every day use and set up a new ecosystem of maids and other utilities. Especially in the last four years, my life has been filled with temporary unstable housing. I do the work sincerely every time instead of seeking help or hoping that someone would just take care of the work for me. There was never a someone to help… family or friends. Not that they don’t exist in my life but none who would encourage me to be lazy about my life’s responsibilities and take care of me with no questions asked or no favours unaccounted for.
Now I am exhausted. I understand the responsibility of an adult and the absence of a personal genie in the non-magical world. However, I also see the futility of it much more clearly now. Life is temporary. Every subsequent home is temporary. Then why bother! I am happy with the basics. I feel uncomfortable with avoidable luxuries and stability.
I refuse to stay obsessed with home. The absence of obsessive time, money and effort to ‘set-up’ and ‘take care’ of my home is found ‘odd’. Especially because of my gender, there is an unrealistic irrational expectation from me to dedicate sufficient time to my house. The same behavior exhibited by my brother or male friends is discounted by everyone.
So perhaps, it’s wrong of me to say, ‘I am not a homemaker’. ‘Wrong’ is for a woman to spend a day thinking about ‘being a homemaker’, pondering on the disapproval of family and writing almost 1000 words about it to make sense of things. ‘Wrong’ is for most men to go on with their lives expecting some genie (or a woman) to make their living space comfortable and beautiful assuming it to be their birthright.
I understand it’s just a matter of personal choice in life but I find it quite uncomfortable to be questioned on some behavior pattern because it’s ‘unacceptable’ for women.
As an afterthought I realized perhaps problem is with the popular concept of a well-set home and a homemaker. Everyone likes a clean and comfortable living space. But unlike most other people I know, 1) I do not absorb myself in homecare; 2) My preferred style of interior décor is different from the popular one; 3) I choose to spend lesser time on home decoration than others.
So I guess I can be a homemaker but not the more commonly accepted popular version.