The earliest man did not stand erect and walk as he does now. He went through stages of angular elevation before reaching upright stature. It is so in case of the posture adopted in cleaning. How? The process of cleaning a home has been the prerogative of women. The man, the bread winner, will go out with his spear to hunt for food. However, much later, he sat sedentarily with a leonine lethargy in front of the TV, with crisps and a mug of coffee.
His woman took the broom in hand, treating sweeping as an excuse to command her ‘lord and master’ to shift, step aside, stand away and finally get back to Ground Zero moving him like a chess piece. Even an MCP would not argue with her grudgingly because she was standing empowered with a broom. A mere wave of that implement would injure his dignity and pride The cleaning process having been outsourced to the maid servant, rather the House Keeping Technician ( HKT ), she used to go about her task with a bucket and cloth, moving about every which way in a crouching position remindful of an active and agile wicket keeper. Alas! Such a squatting position progressively became difficult to assume and hold due to the non cooperation of bones and muscles that suffered from disuse atrophy.
And so it came to pass that the HKT threw the bucket and cloth away and switched over to a long-handled broom/mop the two ‘cleaning cousins’ that permitted carrying on with the task standing. The ‘cousins’, though considered most essential, would be secreted away. But now cleaning, having been elevated to Swachh Bharat Abiyan, that upon a telephonic/SMS order, the Mall attendant would deliver the mop or broom hermetically sealed.
Among the don’ts stipulated by the HKT, the suspension of the draconian diktat of ‘No work No pay’ would be in the top. The monthly remuneration fixed is for her assent to the bilateral covenant and so should be paid to her, without demur, in full in cash or bank transfer irrespective of her AWOL. Further, HKT, like her ilk the world over will not sweep or mop the area under any furniture.
One interesting facet is the Lady of the House, though crestfallen if the HKT is away for days together, will welcome her excitedly, when she eventually shows up since HKT will converse with no timeout. Such invigorating two way chats are not possible with her husband, who almost always would remain tongue-tied or at best grunt, sneer, nod, moan or mumble or pointedly hide his face with the newspaper, a shield of printed words from a fusillade of spoken words.