Are you busy spring-cleaning?

The objective of cleaning is not just to clean, but to feel happiness living within that environment.

– Marie Kondo, Japanese author and TV host

The rush is on for the Chinese to finish their Chinese New Year spring-cleaning before the start of the Lunar New Year on Feb 12, 2021.

For the past one week, I have been busy clearing and cleaning my house with my favourite niece, Ah Hong.

In your opinion, how often should you clean your house? Ideally, once a day if you have the time.

However, if you don’t have the time and you are scared of hard labour like me, you’d probably spring-clean once a year and most probably just before the Chinese New Year.

Spring-cleaning is a Lunar New Year tradition to welcome good fortune. Thorough spring-cleaning represents a wish to put away old things, bid farewell to the previous year and welcome a brand-new year.

For many Chinese, cleaning the house before the start of the Lunar New Year also means getting rid of the misfortune of the past and opening up spaces for all the new, good luck to enter.

Inspired by the thought that Lady Luck is waiting to enter, I have been hard at work spring cleaning my humble abode.

But oh dear, progress has been so slow. I started decluttering my tiny bedroom and four days later, I am still clearing it.

I have thrown away a few bags of rubbish like old pens, notebooks, bits and pieces of scrap paper and packets of expired sweets and biscuits.

“Why are you hiding your sweets and biscuits in your bedroom?” I can hear you ask.

Well, I just hung them on a wall and somehow, forgot about them.

I am surprised by the huge number of family albums that I keep discovering in the bedroom. The pictures of my younger siblings, nephews and nieces span a period of at least four decades.

There are at least two nephews who were captured in their birthday suits and who are now married and have children of their own.

My niece, Ah Hong, has captured pictures of these snapshots with her latest iPhone and sent them to the relevant fathers and wives.

I tell the recipients they should thank her for her initiative by treating her to lunch or dinner one of these days.

One of the wives replied, “Finally, get to see photos of him when he was little. Thanks.”

I guess every woman is naturally curious about her husband or boyfriend’s look when he was little.

Another wife replied, “Good morning. These are memories that should be treasured. We’ll keep them, print them and put them in albums.”

“Good old days,” commented one of my nephews when we sent him pictures of him as a young boy with his Ah Kong (grandpa) and Ah Ma (grandma).

Now, Ah Kong, my father, has passed on while Ah Ma, my mother, is very old.

In every family, old memories can only be shared if there is someone who cares about family traditions and reunions and makes it a point to keep track of them and record them.

In my family, I was that person. Taking pictures of family reunions was easy for me because of my job as a reporter and photographer in the Sarawak Tribune long ago.

In those days, reporters must have their own manual cameras and take their own pictures when they went for assignments.

Though spring-cleaning is a hard job, I have been laughing a lot with my youngest sister, Ah Hong’s mum, as we recalled memories sparked by the pictures I dug up.

“I was always wearing boy’s clothes. Was it because we could not afford girl’s clothes?” she asked me.

“No, you were a tomboy. Everyone thought you were a boy,” I replied.

“Sister, you were so pretty when young.’

“Of course, everyone is pretty or handsome when young.”

My sister lives in Johore and the video calls are one of the reasons why I am making slow progress in my spring-cleaning campaign.

Anyway, I console myself I am having some fun as I spring-clean this year and that I have begun preparing for the Lunar New Year. My friends, what about you? Are you — like me — busy spring-cleaning right now?