Sunday 17 May 2009

Why can't my home be as tidy as Mas Selamat's hideout?

Did you see the pictures in last Tuesday’s New Paper of the Johor Baru house in Kampung Tawakal where escaped terrorsist Mas Selamat Kastari was arrested?

It was like the tidiest terrorist hideout I had ever seen – not that I have seen that many terrorist hideouts.

I’m used to flipping through interior design magazines and seeing these pictures of other people’s beautiful homes and thinking, “My god, compared to them, I live in a pigsty.”

By the way, living in a pigsty is not so bad anymore since swine flu has been renamed Influenza A (H1N1).

But thanks to Mas Selamat, I now realise that I’m not only living in a pigsty, but I’m living in the undesirable part of the pigsty where the local pigs send foreign workers to live.

How did my home become such a mess? Where did all this clutter come from? How can a fugitive have better housekeeping habits than I do?

I’m assuming Mas Selamat didn’t have a maid. Neither do I because, you know, good help is so hard to find these days.

And here I was, thinking he was hiding in constant fear of capture somewhere in the woods, feeding on insects and sleeping without a mattress, blanket, pillow, bolster or air-conditioning – in this heat!

While all this time, Singapore’s most wanted man was reportedly going fishing, picnicking and growing rambutans as he lived among some remarkably clueless villagers.

(But his kampung house looked like it didn’t have any air-con, which made me feel slightly better.)

Mas Selamat even had a garden. The only garden I have is the mildew growing in my bathroom.

But you know what I’m really jealous about? He had a punching bag hanging from the ceiling in the middle of the living room! How awesome is that? It was like his own private gym. No membership fees required.

You think my wife would let me have a punching bag hanging from the ceiling in the middle of the living room? All she gave me were these two little dumbbells, but I really shouldn’t talk about our kids like that.

You know what? That’s who I blame – the kids. Because of them, my HDB flat has never been – and will never be – featured in Home & Decor.

They spill. They vandalise the walls and furniture. They leave toys accumulated over numerous birthdays and Christmases all over the place. They hide half-eaten sandwiches in the storeroom that you discover months later when you’re wondering, “What the hell is that smell?”

Once you have children, you can kiss any illusions of having a picture-perfect home good-bye.

But for all the messiness, I suppose having a family is still marginally preferable to being a fugitive. Though I wouldn’t mind some free rambutans.

- Published in The New Paper, 17 May 2009