Swabbing without sweeping . . !



WHEN our maid goes on leave during Ganpati, she usually gets a replacement and it was during one of those times, I found myself sneezing away to glory. The culprit is generally house dust, and I wondered where such dust could be springing from, till I gently nudged my big toe onto the corner twixt wall and floor and kicked out a spray of grime and dirt.

“I thought you sweep and swab every day.” I told the new maid who I could have sworn I’d seen going with a bucket and cloth from room to room. “I don’t sweep, I only swab!” she said defiantly. “Is that so?” I shouted, furious. “Let me tell you I would prefer you sweeping first before you swab this house.” She walked away not convinced my reasoning was right and I sat and wondered how she had worked out that just a douse of water could clean dirt away. I walked over to the piano and found underneath huge patches of dust where a broom could have reached but a mop couldn’t, under the shoe rack where a broom would have done wonders, but…She believed a good swabbing could do the work of a good sweeping.

I remember a man who decided he wanted to become a priest. He had been jilted in love and decided that following God would be better than risking a relationship with another woman. He finished his theology and was posted to his first parish. He did an excellent job ministering to the people and was amazed at the kind of reverence and adulation everybody gave to him as a priest, including young women, divorcees and lovely widows.

It wasn’t too much later that scandals broke out about his numerous flings with pretty parishioners and finally he was hauled up by his superiors and thrown out of his religious order. “What went wrong?” I asked a psychiatrist friend. “He did not sweep away the debris, the hurt and pain from his past before joining his new vocation,” I was told. “Without cleaning away the dirt he had poured on himself the swab water of the new job. The dust of rejection had remained caked in his mind, till every woman he met had him on a rebound. How easy and quick it is to have a shower without a scrub. How easy to swab without sweeping. The dirt remains.

I prayed after that day, that the maid would take out the broom and pry out all the dirt and dust behind, underneath and below. I pray also we take out our brooms and brush and take out all the hidden hurt, anger, resentment that lie hidden below our washed smiling surfaces. One thing I’ve learnt; the best broom is God’s broom, it sweeps with a healing touch..!


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