He likes his shirts starched and well pressed. Pure cotton shirts, creaseless, like a baby’s bottom. She does it for him. She doesn’t mind ironing. There’s almost something hypnotic about watching the creases vanish under the ironing box.
Today morning though, the story is different. She has a horrible cold. She’s had it for two days. Her eyes constantly water. He seems to have noticed the rivers of phlegm. But hasn’t said anything about it. She tears up old cotton sarees and sneezes into them. Tissue paper burns her nose. In the dustbin are balls of cloth with snot inside them.
He wants her to iron his shirt. He sort of flings it on the dining table. He doesn’t request her to iron it. But he tells her that yesterday she hadn’t starched the shirt enough. It had lost its crispness even before his lunch. He tells her to put more of the starch spray. And use more force to iron the shirt.
He’s not in the room now. She looks at the cream coloured shirt. Suddenly the idea of being assaulted by the starch spray annoys her. There’s a sea of phlegm inside her. Ten minutes later the shirt is ironed. He wears it and seems very pleased by how crisp the shirt is. Like a paper dosai. He tells her, ‘See, a bit more of the spray and it comes out so fantastic. Do this everyday.’.
Only she knows that her snot has starch like properties. She had carefully spread the snot over the shirt, and then ironed. The heat sealed the starchy clear snot and the result was an unrivaled crispness. Maybe, she thought, all starch sprays come from third world countries, where people sell their snot. She decides to stop wasting money on the sprays.