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Memories!

Discussion in 'Snippets of Life (Non-Fiction)' started by Srama, Jan 2, 2021.

  1. Srama

    Srama IL Hall of Fame

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    As I stand in front of my rack you know clothes' rack, I think of that student M from so long ago and that conversation. Thoughts of students always brings a smile I tell you no matter what humongous task especially a mundane humongous one, one is facing, like the stand and the sarees to be sorted. It was still the the first bell. I begin with “M, what’s up? Why are you not excited to start your day?” He answers with a “Oh! I have had a long day already, what with my chores for the morning and all!” To me, he looks like he has come to school straight from bed. Nevertheless, to perk him up, I start with “why don’t you go wash your face for starters” and follow up with a “You know M, how you dress is important to how you feel. It also helps make a better impression”, thinking about the age old “Vastram Purushalakshanam”! I get the needed reaction. Without even getting up from his seat, he has perked up. He sees an opportunity to argue and begins to offer his opinion on how unfair it is to judge people especially by what they wear and not by who they are and what not. Well, at least it got our class started on a good note – perked up students wanting to contribute to an argument.

    As I continue to take each saree off the hanger, I am also reminded of another person, Mrs.P. I had met her right after I landed on this US soil. Being the courteous elderly, the couple had decided to take us under their wings wanting to groom us for life ahead in these United States. To be fair to me, they seemed elderly back then, though they were still in their mid-forties. After all, we were a young newly married couple with a carefree attitude and just two suitcases with hopes and dreams – wanting to explore in the few months we may stay here. Mrs.P became a constant presence in our life and I recall a day when she took me upstairs to her spare bedroom, which she had converted into a prayer room as well as her closet space for her Indian attire! The Indian room to which not many were privy to! She opens the almirah vey proudly and showcases her sarees with stories that I vaguely paid attention to, all the while wondering in my mind as to what she would do with all those sarees and Indian clothes!

    Fast forward, here I am standing in my bedroom, looking at my collection, wondering as to what I would do with all these sarees, just like I had wondered looking at Mrs.P's sarees back then. As I got to know her better, my relationship with her changed and I began to call her my MIL in America! With no MIL of my own in my life, perhaps she had decided I needed help. As I continued to observe her and interact with her, I realized that she had gone through quite a bit in life and that unfortunately had only made her bitter. I had made a vow to myself then that I will do my best to help life shape me into a better person. Life’s journey after all is not just about who we travel with and what experiences we have but what happens to us as well at the end of that journey. When we look back, we should be able to smile and say, it was all worth it.

    I have digressed so much, as always! As I look at my sarees and the new wardrobe I have put together to hold them, all I can do is tear up. To be honest all the sarees were tucked away in some corner so much so that even if I wanted to use them, it was a process. You know how our closets are – western clothes, winter western clothes, summer western clothes, Indian chudidars, and then those sarees – most of them heavy and kanjeevaram or mysore silk. I am fortunate to wear some to work every now and then but then the seasons being what they are, inside is where the sarees stay! Thanks to a friend who recently roped me to join a saree club, they have all come out and I have been wearing them diligently much to that look on DH’s faces that said “When did you buy all this? Where were they?”. The gentleman that he is, he has not asked me those questions out loud though. Like most of you, 80% of that closet space is mine, Nah make it 90% So the questions have remained, and this closet seems like another akshya patre - an uninterrupted supply of clothing! The sarees when seen together like that do seem like a lot. I mean a lot.

    As I speak with my closest friend while arranging them sarees neatly, to her teasing that she needs to fill my almirah for what I have is nothing compared to what she has, to her promise that she will keep aside any new style that comes out, I realize that every saree has a story. This friend of mine bless her heart, she never gifts just a saree - it is the complete package always. Most of my sarees are either gifts or are simply inherited. I do not recall ever stepping into a saree shop by myself wanting to buy for myself, even when I had the fortune of stepping into a saree shop to buy for others. Those saree shops overwhelm me I tell you. You must have a knack to find your way to match your style or a knack for making whatever you find, your style. I realize though that every saree I put away, brings a story, a smile, a tear as I fondly run my hand through the saree, thinking of my mom, MIL, sister, grandma or a friend. Simply put, these sarees envelope me with love and bring a style of their own - literally and figuratively :)

    As is wont with the universe, that evening, celebrating a cousins 30the wedding anniversary, as we go through the pictures from that time, I notice all my elders and their attires. My grandmothers in their simple cotton sarees, other aunts in the same silk saree again – the ones we had come to associate with each one of them. The difference was their commanding presence in these functions, not their sarees or make up. Looking at my inherited collection now, I realize that is what I miss the most – their presence! I realize that is why they have become so important to me. I also realize that the whole walk-in closet with all those seasonal clothes is like those friends – friends for a reason or a season but my sarees, they are for a lifetime! I realize I finally understand the pride and happiness felt by Mrs.P when she showed me her collection. She must have also come as a young bride to the same country especially when Indians were a rare breed, and everything was so different!

    I make another vow – to use most of these lovely sarees when weather permits or even better once the weather gets better! After all, workplace delights in my ethnic wear and as for me, I glow in their compliments. Even after all these years there, I still have admirers when I wear a saree. I make also a another vow - if possible, not to be caught in a pant suit, not that there is anything wrong with pant suits. But why try to fit in when I feel complete and empowered in my lovely sarees!
     
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  2. Swetha52003

    Swetha52003 Silver IL'ite

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    Oh what a beautiful snippet ! Sarees are not just an outfit for an Indian woman,isn’t it? They hold a life time of valuable memories, emotional bondings and pride, isn’t it? My mom could even remember which saree she wore for her first day in the college, her first day in the job, all gifted sarees by the loved ones and who gifted what...

    What is your favorite kind of saree? Mine is Kerala Kasavu saree and Bengal cotton :)

    Thank you so much for this beautiful snippet!
     
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  3. satchitananda

    satchitananda Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Wow! That is phenomenal ..... the collection of sarees, that you use them, that you remember various occasions ..... I have a collection too, which hardly see daylight because I only wear them to weddings or receptions and those are few and far between.

    I have long been thinking of giving them away to whoever would appreciate having them, only I don't know where to start. Then there are some wedding sarees which have sentiments attached them because my parents bought them with so much love and care. My worry is they should not tear along the folds. I do need to get started somewhere.
     
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  4. Srama

    Srama IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear @Swetha52003 ,

    Thank you for your very warm and joyful response. You are right about our sarees, no matter what others say or feel.
    Sarees especially back then were different! I love Bengali cotton and have just one - of course I know how I go it . For a favorite though, it is hands down Mysore silk - the simplicity, the colors and the way the saree simply is!!

    Hope you had a wonderful start to 2021!
     
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  5. Srama

    Srama IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Satchi,

    All you have to do start wearing them atleast in the evenings, you know not the heavy ones. There are certain habits that we should follow as rituals. A person very dear to me that I know, never fails to comb her hair at a particular time every evening - no matter! It was inculcated by her grandma. To get ready in the evening :) Of ocurse, us busy bees want to unwind in the evenings and get busy changing into our night dresses.

    Don't mistake me when I say collection. Like my friends tease me, it pales to insignificance when compared to what they have, but honestly I find this overwhelming. I agree with you, you have to take care of the folds and also who receives them, will matter :) Hope you find the right people, meanwhile hope you find or make occasions to wear them. Thank you Satchi for your feedback! Nice to see you back here. Stay put! Happy 2021!
     
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  6. Rihana

    Rihana IL Hall of Fame

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    : ) Indeed a perked up student (or child) is better than an "I don't care" one. I have semi-mastered the art of listen to the argument, agree it is unfair, invite the young one to do something about it, and while stepping away, say , 'yes that is unfair, till that changes, just deal with it." : ) One time "that" was that women are expected to shave or wax more epidermal real-estate than men are. : )

    Random thought - the 'arrived with two suitcases' thing will turn into one suitcase over the years.. as now most airlines allow only one. : )
    I had one such Mrs. P in my life too. About a year ago, I looked her up and google showed her living at the same address, and age as 70-74. Toyed with the idea of dropping by their place, but too much life has gone by.

    So true. Whenever I do any sorting or collage creation with old photos, I am struck by the simple saree, no make-up look of the women from that time. Mostly, I don't complete the compilation at hand as I get lost in imagining the story behind the photo. Did they finish cooking earlier that day? Was it taken in the late afternoon? What was the conversation like just before the photo was taken? Was the camera covered with that black hood like thing?

    Lovely snippet, Srama. As usual, reading it takes one down many memory by-lanes.
     
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  7. Balajee

    Balajee IL Hall of Fame

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    [ The uprooted always cling to their roots pathetically. That seems to be the case with your friend Mrs.P. "Indian Room" eh? But tell me honestly how many times is she able to wear a Sari there? Or for the matter you? I cannot but laugh at the irony. While You people there cling on and cherish your saris. Here DW has plans to sell off her used Kanjeevarams at half-rate and has sounded many people. She no longer wears sarees. Only jeans and such stuff. She feels they are more convenient and keeps just a couple of sarees in case she had to attend a formal event. Feels sarees are not suitable in this age of fast track. when everyone is rushing about. This is the case even though she never uses public transport. I suspect in your case they are of sentimental and not practical value as is the case with Mrs.P.
     
  8. shyamala1234

    shyamala1234 Platinum IL'ite

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    Dear Sabitha,
    Absolutely yes. Many memories associated with sarees.... especially silk ones. Sentimental value too.
    My mother used to wear Guntur cotton sarees for daily use. I still have them , though I do not wear them often.
    My personal choice...Bengal cottons and handloom thread work sarees. Silk ones only for weddings. I am partial to Uppada silk sarees. I once saw a documentary on the weavers. How hard they work and how little they earn. Middlemen make a lit of money.
    Good one...relevant to all ladies this snippet. My favourite colours are green and white.
    Syamala
     
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  9. iyerviji

    iyerviji IL Hall of Fame

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    Hope I was staying near you'you could have given me as I am very fond of sarees
     
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  10. iyerviji

    iyerviji IL Hall of Fame

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    Awesome post which I first went and nominated. Sarees are my favourite from the time I started wearing sarees. My aunty whenever she used to visit us in our younger days used to bring sarees. I still remember the yellow saree with black dots which was given during my cousin's marriage
    That was the first saree gift. That must be when I was 18 or 20 yrs old. Those days we used to get.sarees only during Diwali.

    I used to think.when I start working I should have many sarees . But it was.not so easy
    My wish was fulfilled only after my children were born and when we were better off. There was a shop near my office and me and another friend were regular customers. When new stock comes we were the first to buy

    I did not know some ladies used to admire my sarees. In 1991 I had hip bone fracture and I started travelling by contract bus. When I used to go to the stop zone ladies used.to go for walking . One day they told me we wait for you to come to.see your saree. So happy I felt.

    After retirement could not buy sarees only for Diwali and when I used to get during relatives marriage. Now since four years or so my close friend from office gifts me a saree for my birthday and Navratri. Sometimes fro wedding anniversary too
    I have a collection of sarees but now during lockdown not able to wear them as do not go for any functions. My husband's 80 th birthday was to be celebrated but due to lockdown got cancelled. My sister two brothers and a friend have given

    Waiting for the normalcy to come back to use my sarees





    .
     
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