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Koraly's Complaint: Does your house really need to be that clean?

The Greek 'cleaning tic' passed down from generation to generation

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Old Greek woman in Palaiochora sweeping the street outside her house. Photo: Dreamstime

04 August 2016

Out of all of my cousins and family, my house is the messiest – hands down. I have never been interested in cleaning.

Maybe it was because all of my aunties and my mum were so obsessed with cleaning when I was growing up that I rebelled against it. The boys didn't have to clean. Only the girls did. Stuff that!

I remember thinking at some point that it was like they were re-cleaning the cleaning. That's what they were doing. It was like a tic, a compulsion. Dusting the coffee tables when there was hardly any dust. Who cares if the windows aren't clean? I don't. I never clean my windows.

Now I observe my cousins, and this tic has been passed down. They're exactly the same. 'For hygienic reasons', is the excuse. But is it really? There is no hygiene involved in keeping everything neat and tidy and in its place. Or cleaning the windows. I doubt my mum is the only one that has a minor heart attack if one of her children accidentally spills a glass of orange juice on the floor. Especially if she's just mopped.

It doesn't quite add up for me. Is it about hygiene or appearances? Observe your thoughts next time you visit someone whose place is a little unorganised. Are you judging? I bet you are! And why? Who cares? Is it because there is nowhere for you to sit? I'm sure your host will clear some space for you.

I sometimes think about all the time some of the migrant women have spent cleaning in their lives. Was it just a distraction, a preoccupation that had an end result? Most of them stayed home and looked after us kids. They didn't have careers. They had their house and that was their project. How the family presents to the outside world is paramount. The house can't resemble a sty. What will people think?

Who cares, is what I think. Cleaning is just effort and time that I would rather allocate elsewhere. To my career, my child, going out and having fun. I'll clean when I absolutely need to and my house is messy. But if you come over for a café, don't worry, I'll create some space for you to sit down.

Koraly Dimitriadis is a freelance columnist, poet, writer, actor, performer and filmmaker and the author of Love & F--k Poems/Ποιήματα για Αγάπη και για Γα--σι. Follow
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