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On not tossing old outdated appliances

One of my favorite things about being here in Pakistan: nobody throws away things that are old, grubby, and ugly. This heater, for instance, is as old as I am. My sister-in-law’s family used it in Iran (her father was an aeronautical engineer who worked in Iran for some years, so they retain some Farsi in their exchanges with each other). The heater has traveled widely. It’s got an ugly bar that hangs down uselessly now, but it works, so here it is, keeping me warm at night.

This sewing machine is also my age. My mother bought it in England where she helped support our family while my father was doing his PhD in Pharmacology. She was a simple young woman who hadn’t learned English as a girl, but who quickly mastered life in Britain to raise children. She’d answer ads for companies and they’d drop off materials and plans, and she’d stitch blouses by the dozen for 8 shillings each. At 80, she is still hemming and mending my clothes on this old Singer.

There are limits to my love; I have prevailed upon them after years of pleading to toss damaged rusty old kettles and grimy old bath rugs. There is a crappy old telephone set I’m eyeing as my next victim, because you have to slam your finger onto each key to make phone calls. I’ll be thinking of it when she calls me from here, when I am in Chicago (inshaallah) Thursday.

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