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Laundry murder

Manjula Padmanabhan | Updated on March 10, 2018 Published on August 05, 2016

laundrymurder

We both wander into the HBO drama The Night Of by mistake. “What’s this?” squawks Bins, from his corner of the big room we use for socialising and movie watching. “There’s something wrong with my screen.” We watch different movies on our separate computers. However at this moment, I’m not watching anything but instead working on a short story, a murder mystery. Still, as a courtesy, I look over my shoulder.

“It looks okay to me,” I say, recognising the title graphic for the series that HBO has been promoting for the past several weeks. It’s a close-up of the stunned and vulnerable face of a young South Asian guy, sitting behind bars. “No, it’s NOT,” insists Bins. “I’m sorry to say, you must be blind. It’s obvious the title of this film is not displaying properly.” I heave the sigh of A Writer Torn Away From Her Desk as I get up, shuffle across the room and bend down to squint at Bins’s screen. “What’s wrong with it? It’s a TV series. That’s its name.”

Bins screws his face up into a spiral of pale blue eyes and grey moustache centred on his beak-like nose to indicate that I’ve definitely lost my mind. “Pooh! A title cannot end on a little word like ‘OF’! There must be something more to it — ‘The Night of the Dying Dodo’, for instance! Or even a date!” Of course, he’s wrong and I’m right. But in order to prove it, there’s no option but to click through till we see the opening scenes of the series. Needless to say, in about three seconds, we are both trapped in front of the little screen, as a nice young man called Naz, the son of a Pakistani cab-driver living in New York, destroys his life in the course of a single night.

The first episode is 70 minutes long and my Wi-Fi service, which is famously temperamental, breaks down every 15 minutes. The second time around I decide to use the break to put in a load of laundry in my tiny, non-automatic, portable washing machine in the bathroom. It doesn’t turn itself off or drain or spin-dry. All it does is agitate the clothes in soapy water. I’ve got a separate centrifuge spinner for separating water from the damp clothes. It’s a clunky system but it’s cheap and it gets the job done. I set washer going and return to the series.

Poor innocent Naz! One-two-three and he’s locked into a nightmare. “No, no,” Bins advises him, “do NOT go with that girl! Do NOT take those pills! And now, STOP! Don’t touch that knife —” The episode ends. We’re just wondering whether to start the next one when Bins says, “What’s that smell?” Aaargh! The washing machine! The motor overheated. The bathroom is full of white smoke. Fortunately, the fire alarm does not go off. The clothes survive.

“We’ll have to buy a new one!” I wail. “All right, all right,” says Bins, “but you can’t go now.” Why? “Because we’ve got to watch the next episode, of course,” he says, as he settles in with beer and chips.

Manjula Padmanabhan, author and artist, writes of her life in the fictional town of Elsewhere in this weekly column

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Published on August 05, 2016
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