Clean? Who, me?!
Yesterday our ayi (ayi -literally means aunt but when we speak of 'our ayi' it means our housekeeper) came back from her 10-day holiday and thank lord for that. I feared that having an ayi would turn me and my bf into lazy, non-cleaning, couch-potatoes and that it just what has happened. Three days prior to her return we stopped doing the laundry or taking out the trash, simply excusing ourselves with that 'the ayi will be back soon.'
The day before yesterday I watched the mountain of dishes in our sink with guilt in my eyes, feeling like a spoiled brat, not to mention a pig for not doing the dishes for the last 3 days. So, tortured by a my bad conscience I decided to get at least half of all the dirty cups cleaned.
While I was standing there doing the dishes my boyfriend walked into the kitchen, looking completely gobsmacked by finding me with my hands covered in soap.
-What are you DOING?!
-What does it look like I am doing? The dishes!
-But... but... the ayi.. the ayi is coming tomorrow?
-Yeah well... it's not like she won't have enough cleaning to do anyways, right?
That last comment must have made him felt a bit guilty too because I later found him at the washing machine, shoving a load of white laundry into the machine.
Thinking that me and my bf were complete pigs, I curiously asked around amongst my laowai friends to see if they did a lot of cleaning themselves while their ayi was on a holiday.
"Cleaning?! Me?! Ho ho ho!! No way! Now since she is away I have bought myself paper plates, paper cutlery and paper cups so that I don't have to do any dishes!" one male friend told me.
Paper cutlery? Wow, that's lazier than us I thought and felt a bit better.
"I was meant to do some vacuum-cleaning but then I never got around to it... although I felt so ashamed of how dirty our flat was when the ayi came back that I hid half of our load of dirty laundry," said a female friend.
Mmmm, hiding the laundry. Familiar one.
What another woman (a housewife who lives here with her husband and her 2 kids) told me made me seriously thoughtful though:
"I clean myself while the ayi is away but when I asks my family to help out I get strange looks. They are simply too used to having the ayi doing everything for them and I am worried that they will have a big problems adapting to a life 'without an ayi' when we eventually move away from China. I am particularly worried about the children. Once I was in the kitchen making dinner, and my boy was in the living room watching TV. The ayi was on the second floor changing our bed sheets. The door bell rang and I expected my son to get it, since the living room is the closest to the door. But imagine my surprise when I heard him yell: 'Ayi, ayi! There is someone at the door. Ayi, you should come down and open for them!' He is six years old!! SIX?!"
Yup. That is kind of scary. Guess who's going straight to the sink to do some dishes right now? Not so much for the sake of the ayi, but for the sake of myself.