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“Did you know that the laundry basket hasn’t been emptied this week?”

“What? I have been loading the washer every single day! What are you talking about?”

My husband raised an eyebrow and said, ‘I meant the clean-clothes hamper. None of those have been folded and put away for a while now. You’ve let THAT laundry pile up.’

Chucking a cushion at his head did nothing more than strain my weak shoulder, so I sighed loudly and dragged myself to the room where that mountainous hamper sat. I could have sworn I heard a snigger from the clothes, but I put that down to my overactive imagination.

Don’t get me wrong. I actually like to fold clothes, put them away, re-arrange the shelves every month just for kicks and also hum a tune while doing all of the above. But, there are some days (or weeks) when you just can’t find it within you to do the mundane.

This was one such week. You see, a couple of days earlier, I had received a call. A single phone call. It was to inform me that a very dear friend of mine had died. In one of the worst ways possible. She had been crossing the street and an out-of-control truck had careened into her, killing her on the spot. That day, I hung up the phone and was unsure how to react to the news. So, I didn’t. I put on a smile and went out for dinner instead. Does that sound heartless? It probably was. But, the shock was too much for me to digest. In my heart, I figured that if I shut it out of my conscious being, the pain would dissipate slowly.

To be fair, it almost did. Until that morning with the clothes hamper. Cross-legged I sat on the bed and pulled out a tee-shirt. With loving care, I laid it out on the bed, lifted one sleeve, folded it backwards, did the same with the other sleeve, patted the back of the tee down in an ironing motion and lifted the bottom of it to align with the neckline. With quiet pride, I saw the tee-shirt sitting there, folded and ready to be put in its place, inside the wardrobe. Soon, the folded clothes were piling up next to me, in a neat stack.



As I pulled out the tenth item of clothing to be folded, something snapped within me.  Before I knew it, huge tear drops found their way down my cheeks. Out of the blue, I was crying: For the loss of a wonderful human being, for the utter waste of a life, for the unfair and ridiculous way that she had been taken from our lives. Without holding back, I let loose the flood within and at the end of a good fifteen minutes, felt like a load had been raised from my aching heart.

That entire process of folding the tee-shirt or creasing a towel- a simple, routine, almost pedestrian task- had let me feel the emotion that I had been suppressing.

That’s when realisation struck me. If it weren’t for that mundane task of folding some clothes, my mind would have resolutely made every attempt to shut out any form of acceptance. If I hadn’t sat down to confront that looming pile, I would have probably not faced another looming emotion- grief.

As parents, we need to let go of those constant expectations that we face- not from others, but from ourselves. We also should let our kids know that boring tasks and regular deeds have a far better emotional quotient than short-term satisfaction. We must tell them that it is okay to cry and let the grief spill over, because it keeps us in touch with our raw selves.

So, it’s okay to neglect those chores every once in a while. It’s fine to find time to do other things because we can fall back on the laundry pile to get us through a difficult period.¬†

Some days, we just need to let that laundry pile up.

~~~~~


Comments

comments

Categories: Life Lessons

Aparna · October 24, 2014 at 4:53 pm

Didn't know about your friend, so sorry to hear that!

Shailaja V · October 24, 2014 at 4:58 pm

Thank you Aparna. Still coming to terms with it.

Cathy Graham · October 24, 2014 at 5:20 pm

How terribly tragic about your friend's death. *HUGS* You will miss her. So true about those mundane activities quietening our brains so the true feelings bubble to the surface no much how we try to suppress them. Better to let them out. Much healthier and writing about it like you've done here is great therapy, too. Glad to see you back blogging. Hope your shoulder is feeling better.

Shilpa Gupte · October 24, 2014 at 5:48 pm

Dear Shailaja,
As I began reading your post, I felt relieved knowing that I had company. There are some days when I, too, find it difficult lifting a finger, let alone completing mundane tasks. But, as I proceeded further, I was shocked on reading about the sad demise of your friend. Life is so uncertain, and so very mean! And we do take things for granted, don't we? All we can do is spend the time we have with our loved ones, and let the mundane chores be. As you rightly said, you never know when those very tasks will come in handy in helping us deal with the shocks that life gives us from time to time.

vishalbheeroo · October 25, 2014 at 3:09 am

Sad to hear about the friend. It's so sad when we look at the tragedy of life, yeah, small tasks do help us to get out of the moment of grief, even if it's for a while…

Shailaja V · October 25, 2014 at 4:34 am

I definitely felt lighter in my heart after crying and after writing, Cathy. Sometimes, we need to let the mundane tasks help us grieve. Thank you for being here, my friend.

Shailaja V · October 25, 2014 at 4:35 am

Actually this is one post I have been meaning to write for a while, Shilpa. About how we need to let the little tasks pile up once in a while, so that we can appreciate the larger things in life. I never expected this would be the circumstance under which I would be writing it.

Shailaja V · October 25, 2014 at 4:36 am

Definitely true, Vishal. Without the mundane, where would we be? It helps us cope. Thank you for reading and commenting. Much appreciated.

Vanessa D · October 25, 2014 at 5:23 am

So often it's when our bodies are busy with the mundane tasks of life that our brain starts to work through the momentous events of life. My sympathies on the loss of your friend.

Proactive Indian · October 25, 2014 at 6:52 am

Sorry to hear about your friend. I hope her family is coping with her departure.

totschooltotallyawesome · October 25, 2014 at 11:38 am

Loved every bit of your writing.
Esp. the last bit.

I am so sorry, she didn't deserve to die at all.

Marcy · October 25, 2014 at 5:27 pm

I'm sorry for your loss. I am glad you found a way to start to cope with your feelings.

Shailaja V · October 25, 2014 at 6:06 pm

Thank you, Vanessa. As time goes by, I value the mundane more than ever.

Daniel Nest · October 25, 2014 at 6:17 pm

So sorry about your friend. Well-put post—as mundane as some tasks are, they're much needed to shut that bastard brain up sometimes.

Shailaja V · October 25, 2014 at 6:44 pm

I cannot even imagine how they would be. My heart breaks just thinking about her. Thank you for reading, Pro.

Shailaja V · October 25, 2014 at 6:44 pm

Indeed she did not. Thank you so much for your kind words.

Shailaja V · October 25, 2014 at 6:45 pm

Thank you, Marcy. I am glad I did as well.

Shailaja V · October 25, 2014 at 6:46 pm

As much as I hate to admit it, yes, we need those tasks to keep us sane. Thanks for reading, Daniel.

TriGirl · October 26, 2014 at 1:50 am

I was going to write something silly about all the clean laundry piling up in my bedroom but that just doesn't seem right now. I'm so sorry about your friend; I'm glad you let yourself mourn.

Sheethal Susan Jacob · October 26, 2014 at 4:41 am

These days I am waiting for that something to snap in me. For what… no particular reason… just I am so consumed with my day life and I am actually it's taking a great part of happiness. I am so sorry for your loss… I always wonder why God have to take wonderful people all of a sudden in such ways… I lost two of my best-friends in an accident when we were in college. Guess, your friend and mine, all of them are in a better place.

Hugs n loads of Prayers. <3

Aditi · October 26, 2014 at 6:48 am

Terrible news Shailaja. Life can be so tragic and unpredictable and unfair! Can't imagine what the family must be going through. My prayers with them!

And quite a poignant post too, yes sometimes in the most mundane and routine things one can learn larger things of life!

Take care dear!

sulekkha · October 26, 2014 at 7:37 am

Shailaja, So sorry to hear about your friend. It was indeed unfortunate and tragic, may her soul rest in peace. Beautiful write-up, take care.

Suzy · October 26, 2014 at 9:18 am

So sorry for your loss. May she find peace. Crying is very therapeutic and yes somedays it's okay to just blob out. Take care. Hugs.

Rajlakshmi · October 26, 2014 at 12:59 pm

I am so sorry for your loss. I agree that sometimes these mundane tasks bring out the emotion that we never knew were piling up. I hope you would feel better soon.

Inderpreet Kaur Uppal · October 26, 2014 at 9:22 pm

So sorry for the family that lost a loved one and you who lost a friend.
The mundane activities help us calm down and recharge ourselves.
Hope you are better now.

Nabanita · October 27, 2014 at 5:40 am

So sorry to hear about your friend..And yes its okay to let go of the mundane tasks every now and then…Because they'll always be there waiting for us…We need to do our heart's bidding every once in a while
Random Thoughts Naba..Lovely-Uncertainties…

Beloo Mehra · October 27, 2014 at 9:21 am

Sorry to hear about your friend. But I am touched by the way you let your experience of coming to terms with this terrible tragedy help you grow as a human being and as a parent. Thanks for sharing this, Shailaja.

Shailaja V · October 27, 2014 at 9:26 am

I am grateful to the laundry for helping me grieve. Thanks for your presence here.

Shailaja V · October 27, 2014 at 12:05 pm

Very true, Sheethal. God's ways are mysterious and we can only find the best way to cope with this loss. Thank you for your support.

Shailaja V · October 27, 2014 at 12:07 pm

Very terrible, Aditi. Sometimes, I wonder what the point of life is. Why are we even here? What are we doing? Sigh. . .

Shailaja V · October 27, 2014 at 12:08 pm

Thank you for reading and for your warm words, Sulekha.

Shailaja V · October 27, 2014 at 12:08 pm

Yes, Suzy. Knowing the person that she was, I am sure she is resting in peace in the arms of God. Thank you for letting me cry.

Shailaja V · October 27, 2014 at 12:10 pm

I hope so too, Raj. The pain is dissipating, slowly but surely.

Shailaja V · October 27, 2014 at 12:11 pm

Yes, I do feel better, Inderpreet. Life goes on, as it must. I will always remember her with fondness and love and for the beautiful person that she was.

Shailaja V · October 27, 2014 at 12:12 pm

We need to do it more often than we try, Naba. We get sucked into this vortex called life and all for what? Some meaningless goal at the end of life? Always make the most of your moments. Here today, gone tomorrow.

Shailaja V · October 27, 2014 at 12:13 pm

Every experience is an opportunity for growth, Beloo. I am glad that I am able to look at it this way now. In some small way, if I can pass on that knowledge to Gy, then I will feel content.

Mina Menon · October 31, 2014 at 6:35 am

Hugs to u! I am a pro at shutting down grief but i hv relaised it comes back to bite always!

Shilpa Garg · October 31, 2014 at 5:19 pm

So sorry about your friend. May she rest in peace. A simple mundane task gave so much to ponder and reflect on! Thanks for sharing this, Shailaja!

elly stornebrink · November 6, 2014 at 10:27 am

It's so important to grieve and I'm glad you were able to do so Shailaja, though sorry to hear about the loss of your dear friend: how tragic. <3

pixie · November 9, 2014 at 10:51 pm

Hugs Shailaja… Big tight hugs

Shailaja Vishwanath · February 13, 2016 at 6:41 am

It does, doesn't it? We shouldn't shut it out.

Shailaja Vishwanath · February 13, 2016 at 6:43 am

Thanks for reading, Shilpa.

Shailaja Vishwanath · February 13, 2016 at 6:45 am

Thank you so much, Elly!

Shailaja Vishwanath · February 13, 2016 at 6:48 am

Thank you, Pixie!

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