The ‘disorder’ called neatness


What’s cleanliness for you, a must-have habit or an obsession hard to get rid of? If you ask me, I would say I fall in to the first category, whereas this  my former roommate of mine, a freakish neat freak  with some very strange characters would come under the second, or in fact I would put her way above the neat freaks that I am familiar with. This is because she is so crazily neat and believed that everyone in the world other than her  are slobs. I met her a few years back, in 2008 to put it precisely, when I was new to the city as well as to the hostel that I live.  A thirty something average looking female, she never spoke much to others, even to me, and was always found clung to her mobile phone, the typical ‘symptom’ of a long distance relationship. Whether she talks or not didn’t matter much to me, as what bothered me like hell was her fixation towards neatness, which I felt was the worst possible case of OCD.  A woman who insanely spends a major share of her day washing her hands and feet and cleaning her body is someone hard to live with, but unfortunately I had no other options to choose.  Thus started the long ordeal, which was nothing less silently and sanely bearing her delirious tantrums, until I was lucky enough to have another option.

Let me tell you a few interesting things from her daily routine, and I can prove what I have said, beyond any doubts. Walking up at 6.45 am is never a crime, but spending one hour in the bathroom that’s meant for four of us  is of course an inexcusable offense, especially when she knows very well that our offices are way too far unlike hers, which is just a few steps away from the hostel. After testing our patience for about an hour or so, she would relaxingly come out to get ready to go for breakfast, when we would be hurrying for our turns to take bath. Before having breakfast she would wash her hands and feet all over again, as if she’s desperately trying to wash away tons of dirt and dust. What would you all say when you see someone who has just taken bath desperately washing her hands and feet within another ten minutes? Mad?

By the time she comes back after her breakfast, let’s say in another forty-five minutes, we all would hurriedly finish bathing, as we know that she would soon jump in to the bathroom to wash her hands and feet again, which is another half an hour’s process. After those three different cleaning sessions, she would languidly stand in front of the mirror in the pretext of getting ready, making us wait until we lose our entire patience and ask her to move a little, when she would soon pick up that reason to start a quarrel. Once she gets ready to go to the office, she would again run towards the bathroom, to wash her hands and feet, as if filth has covered them all over again. So after all these, she would happily walk out of the room, leaving us wondering how on earth it is possible for someone to have such exceptional needs and neurotic craziness for neatness.

Although we could never live up her sparkling standards, we were never ‘dirt carriers’, and never used to spend significant amount of time cleaning and ordering things. Once I was walking towards her and unknowingly touched her finger, and shocking me to core, my “germaphobe”   roommate hurried towards the washbasin and started washing and scrubbing her hands.

We were forced to keep her away because of her extreme need for neatness and her weird and wacky sanitation habits, but never felt she bothered about it much as she was never ready to leave away her compulsiveness about neatness which was never a simple and amusing eccentricity, but a serious disorder that was hard to accept. We were quite sure that she would soon get on other people’s nerves due to her unreasonable germ paranoia, and it happened in a few months, when endless number of complaints started pouring in to the hostel office about her insensitive behavior and neurotic urge for neatness.  Soon we all moved to other rooms and she left the hostel very soon.

They say neatness is next to godliness but I beg to differ.  Too much neatness won’t do any good, and may actually hurt your mental health as well as your relationships with people around.  Neat freaks would never know that there’s a fine yet distinct line between basic neatness and compulsive madness, thus badly hampering the life of everyone around them.

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