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Keeping house

It helps that most convenience stores carry a range of microwaveable food that keeps the fridge full for any emergency.

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I have had this fantasy of moving out of our house and setting up my own place. A friend advised me that, apart from the rent, the deposit and advance, I should be prepared to invest in much needed furniture and appliance: A bed, a dining set, a refrigerator and a gas stove. You need a bed to sleep on, a dining set where you can eat and work, a fridge to store food and water, and a range to cook food and heat water. All other needs will follow when your budget allows it.

Of course, that was just a fantasy. When I told my editor about it, she just asked me one thing: Were my parents asking me to move out? If not, why leave? The rent, electricity and water are paid for, and you have a comfortable bed in your room. I must admit that she had a point.

Now, I find myself living this fantasy without having to move out. When my aunt and uncle died of Covid last August and September, I was left behind to run the house and take care of my other aunt and the dogs.

It’s not an easy job, it turns out.

I have my work cut out half the day — cleaning house, cooking lunch and dinner for my aunt and the dogs, and making sure that all the bills are paid in time. And I have to report to work in the afternoon.

There are tons of paperwork that need to be filed, but I realized I cannot do them all in one go. An uncle is helping me sort them out, but with most government offices on online mode, getting feedback on all our submissions takes some time. I don’t think we’ll be done by the end of the year.

For the meantime, I have my job cut out for me at home. I’ve devised my own cleanser to mop the floors with a trusty combo of liquid soap and bleach/disinfectant that I’ve been using all these years. I just invested on so many new mop heads to replace the raggedy ones my uncle never bothered to change, and a brush with a long handle to scrub all the dirty spots on the floors. I found a couple of rusty putty knives stashed somewhere that I now use to scrape the odd stubborn bits on the floor.

After the dogs discovered my uncle’s feather duster hidden somewhere, they immediately made a meal out of it. I woke up one morning to see bits of feather all over the house I thought they just massacred a hen house. After that has been dispatched, my aunt retrieved a piece of rag hidden somewhere and now use that to dust the shelves and displays.

Nowadays, I regularly keep a mental note of when essentials will run out. This week, I have to replenish the stock of toilet paper, cooking oil, laundry detergent, dishwashing liquid and disinfectant. If we bump into each other at the supermarket, chances are you will find me lugging them to the cashier.

The laundry gets done once or twice a week, and my aunt saves everything to be ironed in just one day.

And I haven’t factored in the cooking yet. I do my grocery run for perishables on Thursdays, my day off; the rest of the week I pick up odds and ends to bring home at the end of the day.

If you manage to open my desktop or smartphone, you will see that I’ve been studying recipes for so many simple dishes that I don’t know how to cook. I’m still perfecting my recipe for adobo, and I’ve already mastered ginisang repolyo. Because you can’t live on roast chicken, pork chop and liempo, spaghetti and tinola every day.

It helps that most convenience stores carry a range of microwaveable food that keeps the fridge full for any emergency. I leave the food deliveries for office meals.

At the end of the day when I hit the sack, I make a mental note of what needs to be done the next day. Indeed, keeping house is a full-time job.

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