I am currently at home with my two sons, minus the mother who is in Langkawi attending a course for 10 days. I was looking forward to being at home with the two boys. I thought it would be great to be together, just the three guys at home, that male bonding thing, you know.
I always enjoy being with them when their mother is not around. I guess I enjoy the challenge of being able to manage the household without my wife being around. I also love to confound the mistaken belief that husbands and fathers are helpless creatures who cannot manage themselves, let alone the children
This time though ,things are not like what I expected. I can’t go anywhere with the boys since we are in the midst of renovating the house, so can’t leave the house. We are thus, stuck in the house, amidst the noise and the dirt and the dust.
Can’t even eat downstairs because that’s where the renovation work is being done. I have to carry food and plates and stuff upstairs and set them for the kids to eat. When Umar wants Milo for breakfast, I have to boil water using the water heater I put on standby upstairs and then go down to the kitchen to get the condensed milk from the fridge for him. I wish he could be like his big brother Amir who drinks plain water for breakfast, lunch , tea and dinner!
After breakfast and lunch I still can’t wash the plates in the kitchen since the workers are still busy doing their work and the whole place is very dusty. Got to stack everything and wait till 6.00 pm when they finish their work for the day.
When they finish I have to sweep and vacuum the floor and then mop it . I can’t stand feeling the dust under my feet. I also have to constantly wipe the dining table clean as it is always covered by a layer of dust.
All the while the boys would be cooped up in their room playing their PS2 or in our room surfing the internet. And when they are doing both activities they would either ignore me or chase me away for disturbing them. Hardly the kind of male bonding I had in mind at all.
I always wonder why I become more efficient when my wife is not around. I do the laundry every morning and I hang them to dry as soon as they are done and I fold them every evening. When my wife is around I expect her to do all these. And when she is busy or tired the laundry will pile up as well clothes that needs folding before I decide I should pitch in and help.
And I hate doing the dishes! I don’t mind doing other things but I always hate cleaning the dishes. But this week the kitchen sink is always empty. I clean the dishes promptly after every meal. I don’t just dump them into the sink like usual.
I am very proud of myself this whole week. I manage to keep the house clean and tidy. Maybe even tidier than when my wife was around. Tidier because I took the opportunity to get rid of old stuff around the house now that she is not at home! I could probably get into trouble when she comes back and can’t find some of her stuff.
My sons are also well fed and healthy with no sign of any rebellion in sight. The fish in the fish tank are still alive, although they did go through continuous fasting for a couple of days. The potted plants also have not withered , well not entirely. I did forget to water them but I still have 3 more days before my wife comes home. Still enough time for the plants to come back to life, I hope!
I guess we need to be left alone some time to make us appreciate what we have and not take things for granted. I plan to be as efficient as I am now when my wife returns later this week because I can. It’s just that I chose not to do it.
Last night I lay down next to little Umar before he went to sleep and had a thought provoking conversation with him.
“When is Mak coming home?,” he asked.
“In five more days. Why?,” I replied.
“I miss her.”
“But I’m around.”
“It’s not the same.”
“I know it’s not. I am more fun to have around.”
“No you’re not.”
“Why? Don’t you like having me around?”
“I do but you can never have that special place in my heart that I have for Mak.”
“What is so special about Mak?”
“Mak is hardworking.”
“I am hardworking too”
“No you’re not. All you do is eat , sleep and watch tv.”
“But I am fun to have around, not like Mak.”
“No you’re not. You’re annoying.”
by Azlan Rahman