The Washing Day

The Washing Day

A Story by Ehra Khan

Just a childhood memory.

It was a hot sunny day. The winds had decided to rest and clouds had decided to lighten. There was no sign of rain. The sun guaranteed its presence and vomited heat.

"I think we should wash clothes today Zaheda", my Grandmother suggested.
"Yes behna", pyaarikhaala agreed. "I don't think it will rain today".

Washing clothes was a coordinated task at my grandmother's house. It was always decided a day or two prior, and the date for the event was set after considering various factors- the availability of sunlight and water, any expected guests, presence of all ladies of the household, adequate number of dirty clothes and most importantly an off day for the factory. Yes,  we had a small-scale silk factory within the house. Labourers toiled all day separating the silk from the coccoons, into several strands of silk thread.

It was an off day for them, labourers. Water was adequate.The sun was cruel. My grandfather sat in the verandah smoking a bidi and popping channas into his mouth, his favourite pastime. Badiammi and Pyaarikhaala filled the buckets with water and detergent and started soaking the clothes. Pyaarikhaala's daughters Aaliya Aapi, Nazu Didi, and Bushra Didi filled the kadhais with water for washing. The kadhais were  huge metal vessels that were essentially used to boil the silk coccoons. Now, they held water for washing. I was instructed to get the two metal chairs from inside, on which the smaller clothes would be dried. Bushra Didi then got up onto the meskat or deck to tie the clothline.

The washing ritual began. The ladies spoke about everyone in the village.
"Did you know Wazir is selling his farm cheap. He is under a heavy debt".
"Really. Poor man. He was always so religious".
"Mallika's daughter-in-law is taller than her son. I don't know who even made the match".
"I wonder how Aasiya burnt herself. Do you think it was suicide?"
"It seems Rauf's younger daughter has gone crazy".
"Maybe because she lost her son. That was such a scary accident. Why would they leave the tank open?".
It  went on and on. While the older ladies gossiped about every person in the village,their businesses, their harvests, their rich son-in-laws and arrogant daughter-in-laws, the younger three  just went about cursing and muttering as they thrashed the fabrics on the concrete in the  grueling heat. I kept playing in the milky foam in the buckets or skipping in the puddles that formed.
"Stop it. All that dirty water is splashing on me", Pyaarikhaala rebuked."Go get me some water from the drum now. I'm running out".
"You get it!", I said and walked away disheartened.
"Come here",my grandfather called. "Why are you creating a fuss?".
"I didn't do anything. She's not Pyaari. Shes moti. She should be called motikhaala". And everyone burst out laughing.
"What did you say",she called out.
"Moti!", I called back bravely, as my grandfather held me securely on his lap.
"You come to me next time, asking for two rupees and I'll show you".
"I don't want.Badeabba will give me".
"I'll also give you. Don't worry", Chacha shouted from the kitchen.
"See you're husband also will give me", I declared proudly.
The conversation flowed and so did the foamy water, now brown and dirty. The clothes were hung one by one. And the day was starting to  cool off.
"Huff I'm done! Nazu keep the Kadhais inside no? I'll go dry this off".
"Okay Badiammi", she said obediently.

My grandfather got ready to go out and Badiammi went in to prepare his timely cha. Pyaarikhaala too went in to make a cup for herself, Chacha and her daughters.
"Are all done?", chacha asked Pyaarikhaala in their matchbox of a kitchen.
"Yeah.I'm not going to wash clothes for another week now. You also stop dirtying so many shirts!".
Chacha just sipped his tea calmly. He'd better leave to the shop. He had a meeting.

"Soghra, I'm leaving. Do you want anything?", Badeabba asked before he left.
"Just a kilo of tomatoes", Badiammi said.
He nodded.
The men left. The older ladies resorted to the kitchen to make preparations for dinner. The younger ones went into the bedroom to catch their dose of evening sleep.
I sat on the meskat gazing at the sky.The sun was slowly resorting back behind the clouds. The washing day had exhausted it too. The evening haze almost proclaimed that the sun wouldn't make it the following day. It didn't.

© 2017 Ehra Khan

My Review

Would you like to review this Story?
Login | Register

Request Read Request
Add to Library My Library
Subscribe Subscribe


Added on April 2, 2017
Last Updated on April 2, 2017
Tags: #childhood, #memories, #shortstories, #family, #talesofindia, #rustic


Ehra Khan
Ehra Khan

Bangalore, Karnataka, India

Writing, for me is when I'm in the state of extremes of any emotion- depression, happiness, anger, joy. It just strikes. Next thing I want is a pen and paper and I'm good to go. Life gives me a lot.. more..


Advertise Here
Want to advertise here? Get started for as little as $5