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Whirly is annoyed and justifiably so! My sympathies lie with her of course. Our association dates to a long ten years. She and I have been friends for that long. She has been of immense help to me, always there to lighten my burden! Can I say the same about myself? Sadly, I cannot! I have been unable to lighten her burden. I am ashamed to admit this. But the truth it is. I can only say that I have taken proper care of her and given her timely help when she needed it. Not that I haven’t tried, to lighten her burden I mean. But I have always needed her help and she has obligingly taken on my load so that I could be free to pursue other, higher things.

I still remember walking into the CSD canteen and seeing her for the first time. I had been fed up with the old green semi-automatic Washing Machine. Miss Green and I could not hit it off the way Whirly and I did from the word go. I would switch her on and open the tap to fill her up with water. Not having the time or patience to waste precious minutes waiting for the water to fill up, I would wander off to do something else. There I would find a book that should be back in the bookshelf or here a wet towel to be hung out in the sun. On the way I would remember that I had left the milk on the stove! Once in the kitchen I would start off with cooking and forget all about the water filling up in the WM. After finishing my kitchen work, I would be happily walking back to my bedroom, when I hear the sound of running water…Omigosh! I had left the water running!! The result? An empty tank! Then I had to wait till noon for the MES to release their afternoon quota of water!

After years of this sort of thing, I put up an application to my husband for a replacement of the said green WM with a fully automatic one. I got immediate sanction. He had experienced this emptying of tank by his forgetful wife once too often! Away we drove gaily to the CSD Canteen and looked around. I spotted Whirly (model AG-55 from Whirlpool, hence Whirly). I wanted to make her mine and I did.

In the meantime clothes had been piling up. We had just moved back to Trivandrum from Danapur in Bihar. Opening up trunks and getting the house in order was occupying most of our time. With Whirly home, my burden lightened considerably. I could hear her humming away in her corner. It was music to my ears, that hum! I had been breaking my back for some days. All that was over now. I smiled indulgently at my new ally. Remorse filled me when I thought I could do nothing for her in return!

I could make life a little easier for her…but would my children allow that? The number of clothes they seemed to have! And the way they threw them about and dirtied them! Every morning saw an even huger pile to wash!! I was apologetic to Whirly, but she took it sportingly, the poor dear! Children will be children, was her attitude.

Even a patient WM like Whirly can be pushed to the wall. And my children did just that. The angels that they were when they were younger, they seemed to turn to demons when they grew up. They would hide dangerous things in their pockets to trip Whirly! Pens, plastic scales, pins, coins, paper money, movie tickets, question papers, keys, toffees…..!! I took to emptying the pockets of their trousers and shirts before putting the clothes in. I gave them stern lectures about wasting my valuable time. They were grown up and had to take care of their things! Mostly it fell on deaf ears. Sigh, it was easier when they were littler. One just had to roll ones eyes! Trying to be a Hitler with grown up children is a no-go affair!

One day I found Son Senior’s purse, pen and other assorted items in his trouser pockets yet again. I told him, I was sorry, but I couldn’t wash his pen, purse, question paper etc. I washed only clothes in my WM! A wide grin was his reply. Son Junior thinks, he should follow his brother’s example in everything! It is his turn now to put all sundry things for wash! I returned his purse to him and repeated the same thing I did to his brother. I don’t wash purses, coins or toffees either. If he was particular that they be washed, here was the soap powder, there was the bucket, and he could do the washing himself. Another grin was what I got in reply.

Today Whirly is justifiably annoyed. Yet again, a coin has slipped through my aged fingers and found its way inside her. There she was going ‘katak – katak, katak – katak’. I rushed to her when I heard the sound, emptied the water and took out the offending coin. She pretended that nothing was wrong and it was alright. But I know she is hurt and upset (justifiably so). She wouldn’t tell me so. She knows how much I depend on her. I am only the ‘taker’ in this relationship. She has been the ever-generous ‘giver’, always. My dependence and need for her is what makes her feel wanted and the only thing that keeps her ticking! After all, isn’t that what we all want, to be needed by someone, somewhere??

I can hear her now. She is back to her gentle hum.