On a particularly chaotic Monday, when my mother was ill, my father had a long day of work, and my brother and I were in the hot mess state most of us seniors usually are; I realised I had no ironed uniform for the following school day. I then had to make the immensely formidable decision of pressing my own clothes; a hardship I had only faced a few times before.

“It’ll get done.” I thought, knowing I had accomplished the arduous feat before. So, at 11 in the night, when the city was asleep and the only sound that could be heard was my brother flipping the pages of his mathematics book, I plugged in the clothing iron.

That, dear reader, was my first grave mistake.

I pressed my trousers with relatively little trouble, as I had done it many times before. After doing the (very mediocre) job, I moved on to my next nemesi-, erm, item of clothing, that happened to be my winter kurta, a part of my senior uniform.

Never having ironed a full-sleeve kurta before, I stared at it for a good ten seconds. A passer-by may question, “Was she thinking of the hundreds of people without clothes? Or perhaps about the woes of underpaid dhobis?”

No, none of those. I did think of such things often, but in my present dilemma, intensely gazing at the white fabric, I was only thinking of how clothes were the devil’s spawn and from where I had to begin on the kurta.

The cloth was newly unpacked and hence very stiff and starchy. I remembered my mother telling me that dampening such cloth made it easier to press. So, I got a tiny water spray, and started off on the left sleeve.

Most unfortunately, the creases refused to budge. I could’ve put the kurta in a river and crushed it under a molten hydraulic press, and it wouldn’t have softened or smoothed out.

Through blood, sweat and tears, I somehow made the left sleeve look reasonable. I then moved it away and began tackling the right sleeve. This, I thought, would be done quicker. I was once again proved wrong.

For at that moment, two crafty mosquitos (I could see it in their tiny beady eyes) decided to show up. The first one went for my foot. I kicked it away. The second one went for my face. I tried to swat it away as well, but I forgot I had a hot iron in my hand. The iron was barely millimetres away from my face when I deduced my hand was not silver, and saved my face just in time from becoming a half-cooked dinner roast. Flicking the mosquito away with my other hand, I finished the sleeve.

I then realised I did not have enough space to put both the sleeves and move to the main part of the fabric. So, I put the sleeves underneath, and moved on. The collar turned out to be a task more Herculean than the one prior to it. I finished half the spray bottle to flatten it, and it was still weird and bumpy. The rest of the cloth had a various creases in square patterns I might have found interesting, had it not been me trying to get rid of them.

By now, three-fourths of the water in the bottle had finished, and the press was making a strange hissing sound every time it touched the fabric. So I decided, after laboriously pressing each non-linear edge of the kurta, to fold it over and try to get some sleep.

I then found out I had put the sleeves on the wrong side, and brought them back to the other. What I saw, has scarred me for life.

The sleeves now had one big crease each, exactly the shape of the collar I had tried so hard to press. With an exasperated sigh, I did my best to re-iron them. I failed multiple times to fold over the kurta, until my brother, now becoming aware of my great debacle, handed me a hanger to put it on. On doing so, I noticed that the collar was pretty much soaked in water. Too late, I thought and decided I did not care if I wore a dripping kurta the following day. I unplugged the iron and put up my bed.

Since I could not put the iron back while it was hot, I waited a few minutes until I got impatient. Then I resoluted that the best way of finding out the temperature was to check it with my own hand. I regretted the decision as soon as I touched the iron, which was kind enough to not burn me too much.

In this grumpy state, after putting back the iron, I washed my hands with cold water (re: freezing water as it was midnight) and got into bed. It was now that the thoughts of underpaid dhobis and cold children hit me, and I stayed awake for a few hours, tossing and turning, contemplating the ways in which I could help, but did nothing anyway.

At what may have been four in the morning, I finally started to fall into a comfortable slumber. Fate, however, was not on my side. As I began slowly drifting into dreams of warm homes and well-paid workers, I heard the sound of a mosquito buzzing close to my ear.

– Yashasvini Verma, Amity International School, Noida

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