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It is that day of the week again. I gathered the fresh sheets and stepped into the bedroom. Sheet changing, like in most household, is the weekly affair I follow from the time I learnt that sheets need a bit of cleaning too. The ritual, which has previously been a lonely affair has suddenly garnered audience during these quarantine times.

“Let me give you a hand”, he said, as he took the fresh sheets and unfolded them. My husband makes the bed every single day, yet, the art of yanking, tucking was something, he was struggling with.

“You got to pull it a harder and then tuck it well”, I said as I lifted one end of the bed and got into action.

I have been married for nearly 25 years. Yet, I cannot finish his sentences. But, I can pretty much predict the next discussion we may probably have or the questions he will ask as he followed my instructions.

Weekly ritual

After nearly 15 minutes of tucking, pulling and easing out the creases from the centre of the bed, when I didn’t hear those words, I was almost disappointed. For one, my husband would have surely asked, “why do we have to ease out the creases from the centre of the bed when it will eventually crumple?” I waited for a few seconds longer in anticipation. But, that was not to be.

I didn’t have to wait for long. When I stood with a pair of new sheets the following week, he lifted his nose from the digital device. I knew that look. But, I wanted that to transform into words. He got up from the couch and held out his hand. “Again?”, he asked. “Yup”, I said. “But, didn’t we just do this exercise?”, he narrowed his brows. “It has already been a week”, I sighed.

“We do this every week?”, he asked with his eyes widened.

I don’t know about everyone but I could feel my blood pressure shooting up.

I decided to resort to monosyllables.

“But why?”, he asked in disbelief.

I didn’t know how to respond to that. I stood for a split second thinking of every single reasoning. But I also knew all the responses that would follow. “We all stay indoors. Nobody comes home. Nobody goes out. So, why should we do this?”, he asked again.

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For a person who wonders why bath towels need to be washed this was going to be a path fraught with difficulty. I took in a deep breath. “Well, the sheets are in use. So….” But, even before I could finish the sentence, there were more words from him. I indulged in the exercise of matching what he said with what I thought he would say in my head. As we both held the ends of the sheets and spread them evenly, I asked, “how often did you think, they got changed?”

“Never thought about that”, he asked, “but I think you should think about it. You don’t have to change this every week. It will help the environment”, he said, in his last desperate attempt to hit my conscience at its weakest spot.

“Or maybe we can just follow some protocol that has been there for two and a half decades”, I was miffed.

“Or, why not live a wild life this quarantine period?”, he was pushing it.

I didn’t bother answering. That was surely going to be a big NO.

I walked out carrying the dirty sheets.

But, I am glad we had that conversation. This pandemic may have taught different things to different people. But, in my household, my husband has finally learnt that, sheets have to be changed, just like how bath towels need to be washed — for the simple reason that we use them!

— Sudha Subramanian is an author and freelance writer based in Dubai. Twitter: @sudhasubraman