The Value of Domestic Chores

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One iron. One board. Hundreds of scarves and one available outlet. In the Anchal office hallway.

What’s a sistah to do?

Sit right down in the middle of the hallway, that’s what!

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t doing it out of solidarity with the Anchal artisans, sitting there on the hard floor. The thought didn’t even cross my mind, in fact. There was just a pile of scarves that needed tagging and I was the one to do it.

It wasn’t until I was folding one newly tagged recycled sari and noticed a strand of hair stitched into it that the idea dawned on me. Just weeks before, a woman had been sitting on a hard floor on the other side of the world, stitching away, laughing with her fellow artisans just as I was now laughing with Colleen. Maybe one of them had whispered a joke and the woman whose scarf I now held had leaned forward with laughter, her hair falling in her face. She reached to tuck her hair back under her sari and behind her ear. But a piece of it floated right onto her work and went unnoticed as she continued to sew…

I gingerly tugged it out from under the stitching.

“Look, Colleen,” I said, raising it in the air.

“Oh, sorry!” Colleen smiled. “Sometimes that happens.”

Sometimes things like that do happen. Magical things that for a moment transport you somewhere else. I’ve never been to India, but for a minute I felt so in touch with my didis – my sisters – who sit on the floor and stitch every day so that we can share their story here in the States. So that we can make a difference together.

I think that’s the moment I threw my whole heart into the effort. Touching the scarves, rubbing each woman’s hand-stitched signature as I folded them up, reminded me that this world is small and everything we do has its impact. Every scarf I iron, every dollar I spend, every hour I give, makes a difference somewhere along the line.

Don’t ever think even the smallest effort you make is insignificant. Sometimes it’s as simple as getting down on your knees with an iron in the hallway.

-Emily

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