Sheets

A typical middle-class family often shows a certain distinction between the bed sheets at home. The ‘good’ or rather, ‘newer’ ones are kept aside for our esteemed guests, and the ‘not so good’ or ‘older’ ones, for the family.  If this rule isn’t adhered to by the father and children, the wrath of the mother is unleashed, who as the ruler of her little kingdom, can do pretty much anything she wants to, to punish you.

Now, this rule doesn’t apply only to the bed sheets. It could be China from the parents’ wedding, brand new pillows, mugs and even the special ‘holiday’ bars of soap- small bars, that wouldn’t last for more than four days. To me, these bars have always been a measure of one’s stay. Stay for a short span of time, and you have a bar that has been barely used. Stay for too long, you might just run out of soap.  What happens when they run out? Do we slyly replace it as in a hotel? Or do we wait for a request?

One of the things that had left me flabbergasted is my mother’s tyrannical iron hand that rules over the allocation of bed sheets.  Whenever Amazon or Flipkart have a sale, I am forced to go through the details of every item in the bed sheet line. I search for Bombay Dyeing bed sheets- double bed sheets, 90 x 80 inches, made of 100% cotton. If a store was having a sale, I would know where my next Sunday would go.

Somehow, no matter how many sets (a bed sheet and two pillowcases) we picked up, we never seemed to have enough.

“What will we use when our guests come?” She would say. She made it seem like we slept on rags.

My mother’s trips to the store often burned holes in my father’s wallet and were an odd victory that she devoured. Between the quarreling that takes place, about the prices of the sheets, the looks of them, and their very need- where we are at war, my mother somehow manages to bring the family together. We are forced to go, look at everything the store has to offer from that one brand that mother will never stray from. My brother and I watch her as she goes through the various patterns, materials, and colors that the eager salespersons show us. She has a mischievous twinkle in her eyes, joy in her steps, and the sun in her smile when she finally finds a piece that she likes.

These trips, often lasting for two to three hours, usually end with each and every one of us being terribly exhausted. It’s never only the bed sheets that we pickup- its pillows, towels, and groceries for the coming week. It’s on these days, that we make my father buy us dinner, contributing to the size of the hole in his wallet. It’s these days, that brings about a different joy in mother- where she goes about planning when she can use these sheets next, decides which room they’d look best in and what blankets would match the sheets she’d use. It is on these days, that she is the absolute monarch of her home, returning victorious with glorious spoils, or rather treasure, of war.

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