Moving day started slowly, with granola and hot tea and frequent checks of the clock. Jacob went to check upstairs and had a peak into the rooms — half of the stuff was already moved. So we could begin to pack. Amena and I tackled the kitchen first, wiping off the spices on the shelf and stacking plates into buckets. We cleaned the show case and piled the table with stuff. But that was where the ‘organized’ packing ended. Jacob’s idea of moving is you empty something like the drawer or desk into a bag. Then you carry the desk or drawer to it’s new home and then you empty the contents into it again. I like to sort, throw away the junk, give away what I don’t want, clean, and un-pack in a way better than it was before. We have done MANY moves in our short six- year marriage, so this difference doesn’t make us mad any more. It just lends itself to interesting discussions. Long discussions.

Jacob’s friends arrived. They were eager to get the big-uns like the frig moved. I wanted to let our building-mates move upstairs, then Amena and I would clean the whole place, and THEN we would move our stuff. Isn’t that what normally happens? But, we needed to have our place cleaned for the renter coming that evening, and the guys were here to help . . . So Amena and I went upstairs several times to check and when our neighbors had an empty room, we swept it out. Usually there is just a mother, father, two small kids, and a servant-child in the apartment above. But today they were joined by a sister inlaw, brother-in-law, elderly grandparents, an older lady, and two day-laborers. In this culture, upper-class people don’t like to get their hands dirty. They won’t do manual laborer. The crowd of them just stood and shouted at the servants. They looked at me, sweeping and carrying boxes and dusting, like I was crazy. I wanted to lecture them about diabetes. I did manage to say loudly that I’d sleep well that night!

So we moved room by room. They emptied a room, we cleaned it, we moved in. It was a zoo. And to make it worse, the elderly grandfather was walking around both the apartments, tapping furniture and directing the day laborers. The more we watched him, the more we realized that this grandfather was not mentally sound, poor man. He must have been very unnerved, with his family moving and our furniture coming in, . . . but the last thing I wanted was a grandfather walking into my bedroom and telling me where to place my box.

When we lifted our frig, I was sure that a mouse would run out from underneath. For several minutes, no mouse. But just as the frig was going out the front door, out popped a mouse and shot . . right through our neighbor’s door and into their house . The girls were home and they tried to stop it and there was alot of yelling and laughing. I was profuse in my apologies until they told me that they had mice too. .

We thought we finally had the new apartment to ourselves. Every room was empty. But then the grandfather interrupted a task that the day laborers were doing and told them to empty the storage area above the bathroom. They moved some chairs and climbed up and pulled out a HUGE amount of rotten, moldy boxes, filled with yester-year’s ropes, shoes, containers, all in the late stages of deterioration. The dust cloud rose gray and Amena scurried to shut the doors of the bedrooms. The pile of dirt was about two three feet high. And then the day-laborers left, the grandfather left (for a minute), and we cleaned the mess.

So much disorganization — the whole desk had been dumped into a suitcase! And the bathroom and kitchen hadn’t seen a decent clean for a year, I promise. Then came a phone call. An man we call Uncle was unexpectedly dying in the hospital, they could not find a pulse. Suddenly the dirt piles and fans, screens, suitcases, clothes, mattresses all in odd heaps .. it did not matter.

Two days later, Uncle is now dead. I did get to sit on his hospital bed the following day. He called me “mother” and I promised him that I am praying. The piles in our disorganized home are small now. The kitchens and bathrooms have gotten their second mad scrub. The clothes line is up, the electrician is coming tomorrow, and I guess the sorting and prefect organizing will have to wait for next month or next move.