#18 Life in Afghanistan :: LaundryPosted: October 18, 2013
It’s Friday, the day where I link-up over at Lisa-Jo’s place with hundreds of other to write for 5 mins flat, unedited, on a prompt. This month I’m merging it with my 31 Day series.
All skin and bone she crouched by the riverside, not more than 10 years of age, her skirt hem getting wet as it dangled in the snow. Sleeves rolled up to mid-forearm, just enough to keep them out of the water without making herself immodest. The end of her headscarf rippled behind her in the wind that was blowing and snowdrop melted on the top of her head soaking it through. She held her hands clasped in front of her, and as I neared she smiled. I crouched next to her as I greeted her.”Are you our new teacher?” she inquired. “Yes! I said enthusiastically, “I’m sad you weren’t in the lesson today, will you come tomorrow?” She tilts her head to the side, “Inshallah”, God willing. She continues “I have to do my house work first,” she nods in the direction of the metal bowl sat in the freezing river in front of her. I frown, “What is it?” “The clothes for washing”. I look at her hands that she has clasped tightly in front of her. They are red raw from the cold. I’ve seen the ritual in this tiny village before. Taking the clothes one by one, plunging them into the water, no matter how cold, scrubbing away at them using stones and soap – if they have any of the precious commodity- once each item is thoroughly scrubbed the place them in a metal bowl and let the river flow over them for a while before the wash each item out individually before wringing each one by hand so it has some hope of drying in the freezing cold temperatures. The snow falls more heavily and I pull my headscarf around my face more tightly. I long for the warmth of my small room in the middle of this village. But I look again as her sore hands and her wind chapped face, “Can I help you? Two people will make it quicker” She looks unsure whether to accept or not, so I leave her little option and plunge my hands into the freezing water, a smile cracks through on her face.
We crouch side by side doing laundry, hands aching and stinging from the cold, and we talk about all kinds of things, learning about one another, trying to show her she is beautiful, and loved, and valuable. That her laundry matters to me, that she matters to me.
I later found out she is the daughter of one of the semi-shunned families in the village.
This is part of the 31 Day series