When I was about four, my father had a habit of leaving his clothes wherever he removed them inside the house instead of neatly folding them. Each evening, he would come home and change into his pajamas, leaving his work clothes scattered all across our tiny half-dilapidated apartment. And each time, my mother would scold him for his poor behaviour.
“You left your clothes scattered all over AGAIN!” she would exclaim. “HOW MANY TIMES have I told you to fold your clothes after removing them?”
Then she would point in my direction and say,
“Even your daughter is doing better than you!”
At the time, I wasn’t also particularly good at folding my clothes. But at least my clothes knew their boundary and stayed in one spot whereas my father’s clothes really conquered the entire room, occupying the floor and the couch among other places.
In our living room, there was a little overhead wooden wrack at one corner of the ceiling. When told to fold his clothes, my father would roll his clothes into a ball and throw it into the wrack – out of sight – but not quite. My mother never failed to notice them.
“I told you to FOLD them not to throw them like that!”
It was funny to see the exact same conversation repeated each night between my parents. I was impressed that they never seemed to get bored with it.
In Japanese, the word “panashi” refers to a situation where a person doesn’t clean up after themselves and leaves the mess behind. My mother introduced me to this word and said that my father was a perfect example of “panashi”.
“I don’t know what to do with it!”
Having witnessed my parents’ daily evening dialogue over the scattered clothes, I figured that “panashi” must be a big deal. So, one night, I came up with an exercise called “panashi” exercise.
“This is a normal person’s clothes,” I said and neatly sat on the floor bending my upper body so that I would look like folded clothes.
“And this,” I continued as I spread out on the floor, “is Daddy’s! They are all over the floor!”
My mother let out a laugh upon seeing this funny performance about the scattered clothes.
“If somebody tells him to fold the clothes properly…” I said and jumped across the room, spreading out again in the corner. “They are thrown to the corner like this!”
This “panashi” exercise became a hit in my family. My mother in particular thought it was very funny and asked me to do it again and again. My father also enjoyed my performance, but alas, it had no impact on his behaviour. His “panashi” habit has remained intact even to this day.