As the storm clouds marched from beyond the horizon, my aunt threw us off the sofa and commanded us to bring back the clothes. My cousin and I were annoyed. Rose had just found out that Jack had frozen dead thanks to her need for leg space on the floating door and we could feel our hearts sink with him. But aunt didn’t care about that.
“Clothes. Now.” She ordered.
But landing on the cold floor hadn’t been the least motivating. We pulled the carpet towards us, hugged each other and continued to bawl our eyes out. But fate seemed to play on aunt’s side (coercion? undue influence? where are all my law students?) The TV hesitated between “Please wait for the weather to clear up” and “I promise. I’ll never let go.” and the Atlantic was finally replaced with the grey grains of static.
“There. No choice now. Get your peaches off the carpet and bring back the clothes before it starts to rain.” My aunt had her toothy triumphant glimpse pasted over her face.
We got up grudgingly and made our way up.
As we entered the terrace, a heavy gust of wind hit us.
“Careful C! Don’t get blown away!” I mocked at her.
In the distance, we could see the ocean – dark and angry, reflecting the grey of the cyclone treading above it.
“Good Heavens! That’s one terrible storm! Hurry up! It won’t be long before it crashes here!”
Thanks to the rough winds, some of the undies flew away to Uncle ‘Grumpy Grouch’s balcony and landed bang on his prized plants.
“Rest in Peace my precious undies. You have been there for me when I needed you.” My cousin paid a homely salute to it.
“Umm… If you’re so sentimental about it, we can just get it back tomorrow.”
“The rescue mission is far too dangerous.” She declared. “His cane is mightier than our words.”
By now, the winds were blowing hard and the heavier clothes were falling off the clothesline as well. We hurriedly plucked away the clothespins and thrust the weather-vaning garments into the buckets we had brought upstairs.
Fat drops of water pounded us from above as we scavenged for any more fabric survivors. Soon, the pounding turned to very heavy pounding and much to my dismay, my favourite towel could not be rescued in time. I bid a tearful adieu to the fluoro-green as it waved out of sight.
“That’s my towel! You go brighten the skies! Make mama proud!”
The torrential rain had caused us to retire into the house in a rather hasty manner and we both fell flat on our face. As we sat there nursing our bruises, my eyes suddenly wandered off to the scene outside. From the safety of the glass windows, I could not help but marvel at the lessons that even inanimate things can teach us. Like the clothesline.
The clothesline was a hard-worker. When the sun was up and shining, it bore without a complaint, all the clothes to be dried, including the even-soap-can’t-mask-its-smell underwear of my brother. It stood outside, day and night, rain or shine.
Now, during the rain, it tried its best not to snap off its hooks, so that it may be able to push through and help us out tomorrow. The wind was not a lenient examiner. The clothesline oscillated violently like the strings of a Veena when played by a five-year-old. And yet, it held on. It did not give up.
After a few hours, the cyclone had finally passed. We all went to the terrace to assess the situation. Trees had been flattened. Electric wires lay limply on the ground. There was murky water everywhere. Some roofs had collapsed. It was chaotic.
And yet, the clothesline stood strong but humble. I touched the steel thread gently and felt its resilient energy course through me. It had braved the storm when even the most powerful and ancient trees could not. It was simply ready for another day.
“Hey, you in love with the clothesline?” My cousin enquired with a wink.
“Yeah. I guess I am.”