Nani and the Washing Machine                                                                         

 

A regal woman with shy glints of gold,

she kindles fires within her chest.

The glimpse of her silvery red hair from beneath her chadar

defy her eighty-three years.

Life has inscribed stories amongst her wrinkled skin

softened with scented oils, her touch is smooth.

But the mind still sharp wrestles with signs,

wrestling with the dials and symbols

of a machine with no instruction.

Cycles of thoughts spinning with the drum

for three hours now.

 

No one to explain, she calls out for the imaginary children

who have left only their shadows behind.

She tugs at the clip trying to open the door

but the door remains locked;

days of dhobis with stones and water have gone.

Voiceless boxes with wires in their place, confusing her

defying her intellect once enriched with pistachios and almonds,

nurtured with love, ghee, fresh saag, kish mish and makhan.

 

She can still work out your monthly costs,

recall every incident of pain you told her,

recite ayahs of the Quran from memory,

make a roaster salan like no other,

but today, the cycle of the washing machine

reminds her of inadequacies;

a body that cannot stride continents to be with loved ones,

fingers that don’t Facetime without help,

an old lady who cannot guard her handbag while shopping,

a woman who fails to stop a cycle from spoiling her clothes,

for three hours now.

 

Reminds herself she is nothing but days.

The drum of the machine still spins

while she imagines the dust of the earth as blanket.

She wants to see her great grandchildren marry

before she’s lowered into her place of rest

but she can’t even stop her clothes from spoiling.

Three long hours now and counting.

 

by Hafsah Aneela Bashir

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