My latest love is folding. The act of arranging a piece of paper or cloth in a way that it occupies less space and looks neat. Layering one part of it on top of another to make it compact. Apparently, molecules, tents, parachutes, rocks and beds fold too. But I am more inclined towards an un-stitched piece of material. Bed sheets and towels are my favourites but I don’t mind table-covers, handkerchiefs and face-towels.
Firstly, it’s the subtle fragrance of moist lavender fabric conditioner, still fresh from the wash. When I open my arms out wide to hold the margins, the top edge rises right up to my nose and the aroma gets right inside my head. Exhilarated by that, my fingertips follow the margins to find the corners. Sometimes the rim curls up on itself and needs to be straightened, patted back repeatedly on a flat surface. The corner often falls to the floor and it takes a deep forward bend to lift it up. These are the in-built stretching advantages for the upper and lower body.
The corresponding corners are brought together and the first large fold created which gets progressively smaller with every corner alignment, until I have a beautiful stack-able rectangle in my hands, ready to land on its shelf in the airing cup-board along with and on top of its contemporaries in white, blue, orange and green. If dried on a clothes-line, it doesn’t need ironing. That’s the energy saving advantage.
Folding a sari is an art-form. I learnt it from my mother. Here, the mouth and teeth assume an active role. The sari is an un-tailored stretch, at least six yards long and about forty-two inches wide. Before anything I need to ensure that I have a bed nearby so that I can lay the length of the material there while I work on the edges and corners. After figuring out which horizontal edge is up and which surface goes on the outside, I start from the top left corner. The rest of the routine has to be witnessed to be believed but it’s the middle point on the top edge of the sari that has been folded twice over that is held between the incisors for a short time. The silk ones have a habit of going all askew if not held and laid perfectly and lovingly flat. A real treat for the hands and arms.
Oh. The satisfaction. I wish all the ruffles and crinkles of the world could be folded neatly away and patted out with warm hands.
Yesterday I found myself putting away a pashmina that I had used once since it was dry-cleaned. In default mode, I was making the folds along the same lines, in the same direction as the dry-cleaner had done. It was strangely pleasurable and worrying.
Wonder where this new love of mine will take me.