I have been at it all week — frantically washing and drying clothes. I usually finish all my washing load in just two days after a vacation. But, this time, I have taken unusually longer to finish the laundry — thanks to the weather and the partial dysfunction of the machine.
And, those coloured heaps of clothes piled in the corners for various washes is driving me insane. As I look around, I realise I have two more loads left and the normally empty laundry basket is still brimming with clothes.
Laundry and I have a relationship that has resulted in many family jokes like, “she even washes jeans regularly”, or “thank God, she doesn’t stove us into the washer”. In my defence, I don’t really enjoy it but I obsess over it till the last piece of cloth for the day is washed, and sun-dried.
During our Kazakhstan days, when I discovered that my clothes couldn’t be sun-dried, I began to dry my clothes close to the room heaters
I then bask in the smell of freshness and enjoy the crisp rustle of the garment between my fingers as I fold them up. But, this vacation resulted in more laundry than normal and the wet weather only meant, I had to play the waiting game — quite literally. “You should get yourself a dryer”, someone told me. “Really? In Dubai?”, I was confused.
During our Kazakhstan days, when I discovered that my clothes couldn’t be sun-dried, I began to dry my clothes close to the room heaters — if the heaters anyway had to be used to keep ourselves warm, why not dry the clothes as well, I joked to my friends who never really got it. But, I did end up using the tumble dry, not in those cold countries, but in Bahrain.
“But, you have so much sun,” I had then asked the burly man with a paunch that was on the verge of bursting the buttons off his shirt, who called himself the “building manager”. The man, surely amused, laughed while his belly did a jig. “Ma’am,” he said, “this is convenient,” and he went on to explain why it was a better option.
I nodded politely while my brain did a cross table analysis about why people in a sun-rich country would choose a machine. Finally, I succumbed to pressure. Two hours later, I stashed the clothes into a hole. I did get super dry fabric ready to be folded away. But, I still hated it.
As I recounted all those laundry adventures, I saw my teenage son, walk up to me. He probably read my mind. “Ma, I will help you get to it”, he said giving me a hug. I thought over what he said. “It’s not just about clean clothes you know,” I said, “It’s about chemistry too,” and I rattled off laundry science — about chemicals to consider for every garment type, all the complicated equations I use to consider — which garment should be put off for gentle spins or cold washes — and all the various aspects to washing that came quite naturally for every load.
“Remember,” I said, “it is paramount to sort,” I laughed, as I regaled in those episodes of white socks coming out in flying colours. The accidents mostly seemed to have happened during the laundry festivals that come after vacations. My son who now stood with his hands in the trouser pockets smiled with a shrug. I don’t know what it meant, I just sorted more clothes.
In the next few minutes, more clouds gathered in the skies, the inevitable exercise had to be put off for another day. I imagine myself crisp drying the clothes — spreading them in a line while securing them with a fine clip and then watch them dance in the wind.
There is a certain magic in the sleeves of the garments jigging to the whistle in the breeze as the wind chimes jingle melodiously. But for now, the clean clothes lie in the closet of my imagination because, after all, rain has its own reasons to bring joy.
— Sudha Subramanian is an author and freelance writer based in Dubai. Twitter: @sudhasubraman