Post-lockdown Dispatches: Week Five

My washing machine is broken. It has been for quite a while. In the beginning of the year, the municipality was fixing the ancient water pipe system in our area and the repairs caused prolonged disruptions to our water supply. We hardly ever received warning when the water would be cut off. It was difficult to plan anything. One day, the washing machine was on, the water went off, no one noticed, and, running on empty, the pump broke. (I think.) Everything came to a standstill and no matter what buttons I pressed and dials I turned, the machine seemed dead.

The washing machine is ancient. It was in this house before I arrived in South Africa. It might be even more than twenty years old. But: it had served me well, and I love it. I really do. Sadly, I have been busy and broke and just as broken, so making a plan to fix or replace it has not featured highly on my agenda. The facts that my mother gave me a suitcase full of new clothes recently, and that I’d had enough clothes and linen to last forever anyway have encouraged the decision non-making about the poor, old thing. Anyway, there is a nice laundromat nearby, and my friends have functioning washing machines, and I have no problem with washing a few items by hand. Time is on my side, too.

After the breakdown, the machine did not respond to any attempts at revival. It needed to lick its wounds. A few weeks, I tried a settings or two and discovered that even though the pump was broken, the machine could perform other functions. It just needed a bit of help, and understanding, and time. I studied it, assisted a bit, fiddled some more with the settings, showed patience and did not expect miracles. I could do a pre-wash by hand, transfer the laundry to the machine, help with the pumping of water, and the machine would wash and spin like it used to. Gradually, we found a way. Together. I am not saying it’s easy. Nothing really changed: we are still both broken and need to be fixed, but with a bit of kindness and care, we manage – the ancient washing machine and I – and piles of freshly washed laundry are waiting for ironing.

Big family news: I am going to be a step-great-grandmother.

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