Wednesday, September 10, 2014

undeniably privileged

Albert, the 32 year old Malawian guy who cleans for us, has gone home for a couple of months.

He comes in every Monday to clean the house and do the ironing, and every second Thursday to do the garden, wash a car or some extra cleaning.
He has work for all the other days of the week with different families around here.

At the end of August he went home for the first time in 3 years. To repair the roof on his parents house. To set up an internet cafe in his tiny village to make some income for them. To see his kids. To get his passport renewed, and hopefully his visa.
It remains to be seen whether he gets back in through the border.

He's 32. He has 9 people who rely on his income. He hasn't seen his kids for 3 years.

I am undeniably privileged.

Since then I've been cleaning our house. It seemed to make sense while I've been between contracts, and feeling a little spare.
My Mum's lovely cleaner has been happy to help, but it seems a bit much to ask her to navigate a wild adolescent dog, and I've felt a bit faint at the thought of doing all the explaining of what goes where and how things work.
I've quite enjoyed having my space to myself too, and 'keeping house' for the family.

I've had mixed reactions to this - sage nods from those friends who've been 'doing' for themselves for years, aghast stares from those who couldn't imagine having that much free time, let alone choosing to spend it like that!

How undeniably privileged are we that this is even a talking point?

There's something comforting for me about housework. I don't love it, but I've been appreciating the chance to get to know our space so very well, to appreciate anew what someone else does for us (yes, for money, but still) on a regular basis.

I don't know if I'll be able to keep it up for another 6 weeks though ... especially as I've had more work confirmed today.

More work! A big conference early next year, more civil society activisty stuff. I am grateful for another chance to work on something that matters.

I am grateful that I have the flexibility to chose whether to clean my house myself, or not. I am grateful to have work coming in which stimulates and affirms me.

I am grateful and aware, that I am undeniably privileged.

3 comments:

E. Angelina said...

Privileged indeed. :)

I have been writing about house cleaners for sometime. It is an going project. I write about society's view of cleaners. And our relationship with the people we trust into our most personal spaces.

I feel, I shouldn't be writing about why I feel annoyed that a particular cleaner is not "getting" why it upsets me that they don't clean the toilet the way I want it cleaned. I also find it interesting that most people will not talk to me about their relationship with their cleaners. The relationship is a conundrum, one which we are glad to have, but on the other hand, we feel guilty about it. It seems to me, at least, in this part of the world. :)

molly said...

it's good to read your words again. i'm grateful you've kept it up.

Molly said...

Thank you Molly. So am I!