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‘Where Are My Clothes?’

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Where Are My Clothes?A recent instance from my hostel-dwelling son’s life made me swell with pride and happiness. No, he did not win any academic medals. A pair of pigeons had nested in his room and left a foul-smelling nest with two chicks. My son waited for both these baby birds to take their first flight out of the room – then promptly got a hostel employee to take a ladder, climb up to the loft in his room and clear away the nest!

“You really had the sense to do this!” I said wonderingly to my son, when he told me. “Of course, Ma! What do you think I am? Did you want me to get bird flu?” he asked with a hint of anger at my assumption of his helplessness.

The thing is, this evidence of housekeeping initiative on the part of my son was a fresh experience for me, having seen enough of his books, clothes, drumsticks, shoes and socks strewn around the house for many years. I always felt secretly guilty whenever I saw how untidy he was. “His wife will really be mad at the way I have let him grow wild!” I used to think.

One of the ways a woman knows she is married is by having a man in her house who regularly comes up to her and asks, ‘Where are my clothes/underwear/handkerchief/socks etc.?’ At such times she sighs and wonders, ‘Why couldn’t his mother at least teach him to keep his things properly?’ I am definitely guilty of not forcing my son to keep his things. When his cupboard got too untidy to look at, a couple of us would set it right once again. When it was time for his Scouts class, we went wild searching for his ‘woggle’, the little plastic ring that holds the scarf in place around the neck…

Generations of women perpetuate the ‘Where are my clothes?’ story, and all blame only the previous one!

However, taking this out of the realm of housekeeping and moving into the area of relationships, the ‘Where are my clothes?’ line is actually a very reassuring one. It suggests an intimacy between two people that is the foundation of being married and living together. It shows the wife’s status in the home as being a truly empowered one. She knows to the last detail where each item of her husband’s clothing is, and she also knows everything else that is worth knowing in their home. By asking her, the husband is only bowing to this fount of knowledge.

So while ‘Where are my clothes?’ may make some women grind their teeth in irritation, it is truly a very enduring feature of married life.

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