This is an early memory of childhood.
Every Tuesday my mother would sit in the front room, an area we called the verandah because of its latticed ‘windows’. She would sit with a pad and pen and tick off a list. Sheets, pillowslips, shirts, pants, school uniforms with the pleats neatly pressed. The edges sharp enough to slash silk. The linen was whiter than white, crisp and lightly starched. We always had way too much linen. My mother would insist the sheets were changed twice a day. The afternoon siesta was mandatory for all. And, sheets had to be white, the coolest she thought for hot Indian summers. The clothing was discreetly marked in a corner with indelible ink. The ironing was done in an iron iron! It had a top that flipped back, filled with coal and then used on the clothes. No electricity! There were no sprays or softeners. Clothes were hammered over rocks and yet never ruined.
The elderly woman would arrive with her grandson. He rode alongside her with the laundry box strapped to his bike. She would sit silently as my mother would go through the clothes that were returned, ticking off her list. When my mother finished, the elderly woman would sniff her disdain at the need for inventory.
We never lost a piece of clothing. Ever.
As I write this, the memory of laundry day is vivid. The child in me also remembers the dirty laundry.
My relationship with my mother was fraught with struggle. Those who knew and loved her and enjoyed her largesse would tut tut at my indiscretion airing this piece of dirty laundry.
The sadness for me is that my father died when I was young. He never got to see me as an adult. My mother did. And, through the lens of disappointment.
If we had to do it all over again, it would be a rewind of the past. She would still be who she was. I would still be me. And, I’m okay with that. I know my father would be okay with that too.
Until next time
a dawn bird