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The Early Morning Wake-Up Call (standard:non fiction, 854 words)
Author: JuggernautAdded: Jul 22 2013Views/Reads: 1328/777Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
The noise from beating wet dirty clothes on a hard surface while washing was early morning wake-up call to Juggernaut growing up.
 



The Early Morning Wakeup Call 

Subba Rao 

Yellamma was a washerwoman, she visited homes on a weekly basis 

to collect dirty laundry to wash and iron and bring it back within a 

week or so.  In Hindu culture people in the trade of washing dirty 

laundry belongs to a special caste at lower end of the hierarchy.  The 

members of the caste live close to a river, stream or some water source 

where they wash the clothes the old fashioned way by soaking in soap 

water and beat with wooden paddles or striking the wet cloth on a hard 

surface like a rock or concrete slab. Some of the boulders naturally 

occurring on the river banks were turned into accessories in washing 

dirty clothes. The boulders subjected to daily harsh contact with wet 

clothes turned smooth all around from weathering. From regular shoulder 

movements in washing heavy loads, the upper body muscles of washermen 

and women look more of gymnasts working on parallel bars. 

Washed clothes were dried in the hot tropical south Indian 

sun.  In the years past, donkeys were used to carry the loads to and 

from the river after cleaning and drying or sometimes the washermen ad 

women carried on their own back. The people in the traditional laundry 

trade developed hunch-back from chronic bending of their backs while 

carrying the loads.	Yellamma owned a large piece of land in the 

urban area.  On the periphery of her property were wooden shacks with 

thatched roofs that housed her men and women worked for her. A shallow 

water well at the center of the property served as water source for 

washing. A cluster of slant concrete slabs grounded deep into the 

ground were spread out on the property each like a work station to wash 

the clothes. The intense manual force that brings wet clothes in 

contact with the concrete slab generates sound that resembles 

firecrackers going off simultaneously. The sound from the synchronized 

washing was daily wakeup call for the school children and workers early 

in the morning to get ready for a commute. 

Before the sun rise, the men finish washing the clothes to hang 

them to dry on steel wires stretched between bamboo poles erected 

crisscrossing the property. Colorful saris and other garments hanging 

from the network of cloth lines appear more like an international flag 

festival. By mid afternoon, the clothes were dry and ready for ironing. 

The ground at the washing area was turned into swamp from 

washwater discharged onto the ground over the years. The workers walk 


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