How long does it take to peg out a load of clothes, having washed them by hand, in the early morning with a wondering promise of sun but with visible dark clouds in the horizon, onto a hang line?
How many hours of a woman’s day are swallowed up in washing, cooking, cleaning, getting children ready for school, collecting them, scrubbing and scouring grease off pans, digging and harvesting?
Maybe as many as she can spare, but most time every day. And she has night duties to keep in mind. She must not forget those or fights break out. For if he might appreciate her sacrifice of time and dreams to keep the home clean and welcoming plus giving him same, there was harmony; but mostly scorns and quarrels about her lack of beauty and being lazy were the stories that sent her to sleep.
Does he even know that the money left on the table for home supplies is not enough, doesn’t he wonder how she manages to get all the many items in those few shillings? Why he is so blind to the queen – she was one before, in the early years of courtship, so beautiful and determined, focused and inspired – once of his heart that she is wasting away in his house of low inspiration?
Home management. House maintenance. House sitting. Home warming. House, home, house, home!
Milly did all the above before she set up her banana vending business. There was need for supplementary funds in the house, as the youngest of the 5 was sickly. She was blamed for the child’s sickness. The burden for medication was on her. Oh and the money left on the table had remained the same for 7 years.
It was hard for her to determine time. She forgot to pick up those who were in school. She stumbled through the day like a deep-sea driver on an ocean floor. But still needed more time. Up at dawn, or what passed for dawn; and the routine would start.
But there was, even in the hardest day, the promise of reward. The thought that one day he will remember his promise to her, like a diver groping through the murk sustains himself with images of pirate’s gold shining through the dark bones of shipwreck, Milly clung to the prospect of the time her life will change.