No more dishes left to wash | Inquirer Opinion

No more dishes left to wash

/ 04:15 AM April 22, 2024

I’m not usually the type who finds doing household chores calming or relaxing. As disgusting as it may sound, I can live in my apartment unbothered with weeks’ worth of garbage, a mountain-like load of dirty laundry, and plates and glasses stacked on top of another from dinner three days ago. One might think that I need serious hygiene assistance. But I would argue that I’m clean and organized—just in a way far different from others.

Among us three siblings, I was always considered the laziest. I was the spoiled unico hijo who would stay on the couch all day long, watching the women in our family do their thing. I became so dependent on them that by age 16, I still needed assistance from a random YouTube video about the perfect ratio of rice to water if my ading (younger sister) wasn’t available to do it.

I did have one task—to wash the dishes after every meal. Every day, I would complain about doing the chore. Washing our kitchenware felt like torture. And if our faucet had eyes, I bet all it saw was how grumpy I was while doing such an agonizing job.

I was in Grade 10 when I first started living independently, not by choice but because our complicated family situation forced me to. I was still financially dependent on my mother of course but I had to endure being emotionally alone.


At first, the idea of having all the freedom seemed perfect. It simply meant that I no longer needed to update my mom on my whereabouts. No longer had to call my sisters to open the door because I was out until midnight. And most importantly, I no longer had to endure the guilt of being lazy because I had the apartment all to myself—my place, my rules.

One dilemma I had was food. I never learned how to cook and I was never interested in trying. For convenience, I would always eat in fast-food restaurants or carinderia just to reduce the burden of adding another chore to my list.

For quite some time, I enjoyed not living with my family. All I had to think about was myself. I didn’t even have to wash some nasty dishes anymore. Being alone wasn’t all bad after all.

When I studied in Baguio for senior high school, my classmates who lived in dormitories or apartments for the first time would complain every day about how hard it was to adjust to their so-called “independent lives.” I, on the other hand, never really had that dilemma because I have suffered way earlier than them.


On vacations, those same classmates would ask why I don’t go home to Ilocos often. I would just make up plausible excuses to satisfy their curiosity. But truth be told, I just accepted the fact that I don’t have enough reasons to go home nor a person that will make me want to take the first bus trip after school. Because no matter where I was, I only had myself for company.

My mind was so used to being alone that I couldn’t even recall how it felt to have someone around the house. Perhaps my early exposure to independence helped me maneuver this world with a slightly easier grip than others my age. But it also would be nice to have people who will greet me at the door after a long day in class. People whom I can argue with because I chose to wash the plates before they even finished eating.


For almost five years now, I have never touched the pots and pans in my kitchen to prepare a home-cooked meal. Although this situation allowed me to appreciate the most mundane things in life, it also took away the joy and excitement of eagerly waiting for my favorite adobo to be cooked after requesting it from my mother.

Being alone made me strong and weak at the same time. It forced me to strengthen my emotional capacity because I only have myself to rely on. But I also became more vulnerable whenever I see a complete family eating together.

I never skipped a day without wishing to dine with the same people I used to fight with about the oily Tupperware that I needed to wash. I should’ve been thankful back then that I still had dishes to frown upon. Numerous plates meant I wasn’t alone and that my family was there to cook and eat with me. I should’ve been more grateful that I still had the opportunity to use those plates and utensils. Because now, they are all just stuck in a cabinet inside my apartment eagerly waiting to be used again.

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Ryand Ugade, 21, is a communications student born in Cagayan. He aspires to become a broadcast journalist someday.


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