Obsessed | Flash Post 419
Button, the story I am going to tell you today is true.
Ritu was all of 5. Besides studying, she also helped out her mother by doing small household chores like washing and ironing clothes, polishing shoes and running errands.
Apart from teaching her some basic life lessons like honesty, truth, fairplay, obedience and respect to get her by in life, her parents also taught her to perform her duties flawlessly.
She ironed clothes that were creaseless, polished shoes till they sparkled and washed clothes that couldn’t get cleaner. Her parents were pleased because they realised they were playing the role of ideal parents well.
Ritu was good in studies too but tried harder each time to better her grades. She took help from her father who was always there for her. He wanted Ritu to also excel in studies and do her best as much as her mother wanted her to excel in household work.
Ritu was the perfect child and her parents couldn’t thank God enough for blessing them so bountifully.
Ritu got married at a young age and went to her new home. She got up early and prepared breakfast so Soumen, her husband, could eat before leaving for work. She also packed a small lunch box for him. Evening after evening he’d come back to a home spotlessly clean and with everything the way he wanted. Soumen was very happy and Ritu was happier that she was playing her role as a dutiful wife. As time passed, things started getting mechanical without Ritu realising this. She made sure the floors were scrubbed clean, that clothes were washed and ironed creaselessly, personally supervised all utensils were spotlessly clean and even got down to washing them if they weren’t. The window panes sparkled because Ritu had lent a hand.
Soumen, being a workaholic himself, was very happy with Ritu and the utmost care with which she looked after him and their home.
Around 5 years into their marriage, Soumen felt concerned about the cleanliness bug in Ritu. He noticed that she was fussing too much about cleanliness and being overly finicky. Besides the spiffingly clean house, she was also particular about picture frames on the walls that had to be perfectly aligned, windows in the house stayed open at a certain angle, placemats at the dining table had to be properly laid out as also the dining plates and cutlery. She straightened carpets to align them with the furniture in the room and ran her gaze over everything to satisfy herself that they were all in order. Something was amiss and Soumen, on many occasions, showed concern but Ritu did not pay heed. The cleanliness, the obsession for precision and order made her happy.
The turning point came one morning when Ritu was frying an egg. She suddenly went blank and collapsed. She couldn’t do any of the stuff she had done earlier. She’d sit for hours staring at nothing in particular. The zeal with which she had performed chores around the house didn’t interest her and she felt drained of all energy. Soumen took her to see a doctor who saw definite signs of depression. It took her 3 years to emerge from it. She met with psychiatrists and psychologists who weaned her out of that mode gradually.
Back on her feet, Ritu began to be more mindful of everything she did and tried her best to not obsess about cleanliness and order. It took a huge effort not to straighten crooked picture frames or lay the dining table in a manner she had earlier done. She let the crockery be when they were wrongly placed, leave the carpets unstraightened and not scrub vessels a second time even if she found them not cleaned to her standard. The dust coating the furniture stayed.
Where did this lead to?
Button, there came a time when she flipped over entirely. She didn’t comb her hair for days, served Soumen cold meals in crockery and cutlery that weren’t cleaned properly, served meals well after normal meal times, repeated clothes, let Soumen wear badly ironed clothes to work, use towels that hadn’t been washed for weeks and not bother if the house remained unclean.
Was this not another kind of obsession or was she doing it intentionally to prevent herself from re-visiting the three terrible years of depression she had gone through?
Could be either. But Soumen was stuck midway because he didn’t know how to approach her this time and tell her that there was a middle path where she needn’t obsess about one or the other.