I borrowed this title from “The Red Handed blog” who had written on her face book page about how her dad ironed her skirts!! And the strange thing is that my father is also an “Iron man”!!!
As far back as I can remember, it was Appa who used to iron our school uniforms and polish our shoes. He used to fold the entire set of 2 regular uniforms and PT uniforms neatly into piles and put them into our shelves. It was from him that I inherited the skill of ironing. He taught me how to fold the pleats on a skirt when it is ironed so that when it is folded and put back into the cupboard it would not crumple. And thanks to his skills, I was always the smartly dressed student who never had to be pulled up after assembly time by the House Captains
He has a sense of order that borders almost on obsession. He folds the newspaper into an exact rectangle even as he reads it .. and needless to say, it always looks like that when it is placed in the centre table at home. So is it surprising that he should love ironing?
His ironing abilities (among his other quirks) have obviously expressed themselves strongly in his older daughter. I cannot bear to have clothes heaped on clotheshorses or lying about!!! So when we are both together you can imagine what it is like!!! My daughter and husband complain that he “attacks” their underwear , ironing it during his free time while he is here. The first time I heard that, I wondered if I should try doing that too? But I desisted because I was worried that the husband might think it is rather kinky behavior on my part. The daughter ofcourse is very amused. She speaks about how her grand father had once offered to wash her Kashmiri kurta in mineral water during one of her visits to his place. This seemingly strange offer is on account of my instruction to her not to have it washed at their place because the water is very hard. My father the “ iron man” was probably itching to run his iron over the lovely royal blue embroidery and even he, the obsessive “istri wala” drew the line at ironing a dirty kurta!!
So what is so special about ironing that it becomes an obsession? While for my father it might be his sense of order that makes him rush for the iron, in my case, the ironing helps me ease my worries away. I always feel relaxed after an ironing session.
.But I do not deny that this sense of “perceived order” has also crept into my genes. I remember Appa’s saying “ A place for an item, an item in its place”. While I try to strive towards that goal in my life, I realize what people think of as order might also be the disorder that surrounds them. I am horrified sometimes when I see the books strewn across my daughter’s bed. She does not like me tidying up. I sincerely hope it is a teenage trait because I remember throwing a fit during my teens if my father ever sought to attack my books cupboard during one of his cleaning sprees. He used to refer to it sarcastically as my “treasure island” and telling me to tidy it up because “there might a snake or scorpion inside”. But obviously I didn’t because tidying it up would mean finding a place to hide the Mills and Boon novels with their steamy looking covers and those post cards pictures of a now obscure actor called Kumar Gaurav who was my then heart throb !!!
But my Iron man is also a very brave man because he regularly attempts to clean up Amma’s hand bag muttering under his breath that it is a “Pandora’s box”!!! He manages to complete the task sometimes braving the after math of the exercise. He has offered to tidy up my hand bag but I have drawn the line there. I don’t think he has the courage to make that offer to his younger daughter!!!
Appa’s sense of order moves beyond clothes, shelves, hand bags and even into wallets. He regularly smoothens the currency notes in my wallet telling me that I keep them folded like a vegetable vendor!!! I have seen him try to iron a particularly crushed five rupee note once.
His tidying sprees generally involve throwing away what he thinks is “useless stuff”. I remember him throwing away spring onions from the kitchen counter one morning annoying my sister who had planned to cook something exotic with them. He complained to me quietly saying “ Deepa is shouting at me for throwing away some peels she forgot to put into the dustbin last night”
My father’s youngest brother had once complained to me that he feels very uncomfortable in his brother’s house because “ Your father keeps it like a museum. Nothing can be moved from its place”!! I had to keep myself from commenting because what my uncle was complaining about was something that to me and my father seemed rather outrageous. In his family, he and his son move the furniture around to have it just under the fan to catch the breeze. They think they can do it when they visit any one else’s place too but the point is , they forget to move it back.. !!! So you can imagine what it must be doing to the blood pressure of a man whose motto in life is “ A place for an item and an item in its place”!!
Among some of the quirks that the Iron man has not passed on to me is the need to secure plastic packets with rubber bands!! His place in Hyderabad has a huge jar filled with multi colored rubber bands. He is always at a loss when he visits me because I do not entertain rubber bands!!! He has tried stapling but I think it was a rather challenging exercise to staple plastic covers!! I have had some bad experiences with pins unexpectedly poking my fingers in the kitchen and had innumerable arguments with him.
My mother stays out of these father –daughter fights . My sister has developed a new line these days “ You are behaving just like Appa” . And when I try to complain to her about him, her advice to me is “ Remember you have to deal with him the way you would deal with yourself” Really? Doesn’t sound like a compliment to me….!