”Gande kapde neeche phenk do.” Amma with high of her voice would order me to throw down the clothes that now need to be washed. She was regular, disciplined in her act so much that the days when she wouldn’t ask for my clothes, I would check if the washing machine is working fine. Washing clothes was never so easy for Amma. I still remember the days when our first washing machine came to our house. It was my birthday and papa had given it as a gift to me. “What will I do with it?” I had said to him and he said, “Use it.”
The washing machine was prepared for a war that it had to fight for all the weekdays. Its enemies trained in special bunkers to cause massive destruction to the image of washing machine.
Every Sunday was the D-Day. Amma and papa would wake up early, taking out clothes from every nook and corner of the house. The school shirts, ties, socks, curtains, bedsheets. Nobody was spared. They all laid helplessly in huge piles.
Amma used to wash clothes in batches. White clothes, colored clothes, discolored clothes and even the foot mats.
We had that top loading washing machines in which you had do everything yourself. Filling up the water, putting in the detergent, twisting the neck of shirts. Everything but the wash which sometimes was not even visible. Amma separated those clothes. I will wash them when I will have a bath. She would say and continue her fight with the machine.
Peeeee!, the machine would sound, telling Amma and all our neighbours that the first batch of washed clothes was ready. Amma would gradually take them out, check if they are spotless, wash them under a running tap over a bucket full of water, completely immersed in that water, her clothes begging her to stop. But she wouldn’t. Until all the clothes were done with.
We would quickly bring buckets to carry the done clothes to hang them to dry. Sometimes it happened that the rope broke under the pressure. But Amma wouldn’t. All those clothes she would wash again, without any word, without any complain.
The drier of the washing machine had surrendered long ago, even before we knew what its use was. When we found out that it was to be used after washing the clothes, our wallets had become lighter in weight. “Who needs a drier when we can dry them in the sun. Natural light is the best.” Amma would say and papa would bring two more buckets. “These two are done. How many still remain.” He would ask. “Bas thode aur. Ap jaiye, main dal dungi.” she would say. “Accha” papa would say and go back to his Sunday news, waiting patiently for the sound of machine.
I remember those days when Amma would keep on washing the clothes, every Sunday of the year, no season skipped, no fever skipped. We never realised what Amma and Papa went through while using the machine until the day when we started washing them ourselves.
It is said that great wars are fought over the grounds of a wish, a desire or maybe even an oath. The washing machine served us well. One Sunday it stopped working. We had taken them for granted. But now we could afford that shiny front loading washing they showed in the television. In which Bugs Bunny stuffed the hunter or Mr Bean who had a ride of lifetime.
After careful consideration, we got it for us.
The previous machine we had was very light. I could lift it up by myself. But this one was so heavy. I dared not to. The representative came the next day amidst all my excitement. I was alone at home that day. And I was so excited that I took him straight to the machine. And boy, he took so much time in unwrapping that beauty that stood in front of me. I and him, we two took out the machine and placed it where he directed. I watched him as he prepared the machine. That small pipe for inlet and that huge pipe for outlet. I was amazed seeing that artist perform Infront of me. He called me and explained me all the functions. “The clothes will come out dry.” He said. I was shocked. ” Matlab we don’t have to do anything.” “Yes, you don’t have to do anything, except putting in the clothes and taking them out. ” he said and left.
Amma came back from work and she could see the excitement on my face.” A gya machine vala. Chla di machine? ” she asked and I replied in affirmation.
Papa came in evening.” Zra tika toh lga do ispe.” he said.
And we had finally welcomed the machine in our family.
Today, when I see Amma washing clothes in the machine, I remember all those years of hardwork that she and papa did for us. We used to live in a rented 1 room flat, had nothing but the warmth of our relationship. But now, when I look around, I see their hardwork has grown from a seed to a beautiful tree. “Tum Dono Bhai hi toh hum dono ki mehnat ho”, they say whenever we all sit down together.
Life is tough. Living through it is even tougher. But there is some kind of divine force that helps you guide through it. It doesn’t provide you with a bed of roses, neither a bed of thorns. It keeps on giving you something or the another. It really falls on us to realise the potential of those things, those small little gestures, the fights, the celebrations.
After all, this life is all we got.