wahèb khaled khodja
I don’t know about other areas of the world, but growing up in
You wake up to a scene from a plane crash, windows flung open, wind blowing through, curtains flying, you stick out your nose from under your blanket and you catch instant frost bite, your bedroom is upside down, the washing machine going, taps running, all doors open, It’s a horror movie, and your mother is playing the role of the villain, quite torture, not a word is uttered but she somehow guilts you into getting up, probably by pacing the corridors back and forth, making all the beds in the house, making as much noise as she can to make sure you’re awake and aware of the efforts she’s perpetrating, so against your will and desire, you get up, skip breakfast and help her finish the housework and by help I mean take over and finish everything alone, whilst she gets on preparing lunch.
Years and years later, I sit and observe my sisters go at cleaning their houses in the same methodical and obsessive manner my mum did, they clean everyday, they wipe their granite tops several times a day and wash their walls? Who washes walls for crying out loud! Although they pay someone else to do it for them, it remains an obsessive behaviour that needs looking into, I sit there rolling my eyes and congratulating myself on my no-cleaning policy.
Memories of house chores give me knots in my shoulders and shivers down my back, you are made to clean an already clean and humongous house, indulging therefore in serious cardiovascular activity so you skip your Friday activities as you already had a hard workout, your hands chafe and you develop calluses on your palms, strong gluteus maximus, a foul mood for the rest of the weekend and a strong hatred for the piece of hard material used for cleaning the floors they call it Nechaf or cerpiere as I twist it to dry it over the bucket of water filled with bleach, I smile at the vision of my twisting it around the neck of its creator. My mother always brings me back from my murderous day dreams by pointing out a corner I missed or laugh at my weak efforts, which are consistently poor every week until I am no longer asked to do them. There's hope still...
Of course I rebelled against the system (my mother), 9 times out of 10, I would refuse to clean and seek refuge in my dads room who hated the Friday cleaning routine my mother hoarded us into, he would ridicule the whole thing and treat my mother of worshiping the Nechaf, she of course would ignore him and would not allow him to enter the house if the floor was still wet as it would leave marks on her precious marble. I never minded doing the dishes as I found it therapeutic and relaxing even though the radioactive-like washing-up powder “LOMO” is slowly eating at my hands and it seems there's always someone continuousely piling on dishes onto the sink just as I'm nearly finished.
My mother is always claiming that Housework won’t kill me, I beg to differ and, well, why take the risk, I prefer to sit down with a good book or go out with my friends, “not before you finish hanging up the washing” she would say from her evil throne. This is where pocket money comes in handy, my little sister would do it for 50 dinars and she will throw in a bonus too…she will bring me my café and lait in the afternoon.
(2) Algerian National Anthem
Art by wahèbkhaledkhodja