Saree Soirée, Singing Butterflies And Flying Squirrels

It’s sacred to watch the morning dew on the flowers, the quivering leaves and the wet-grass under your feet. You sit silently and watch the little birds flitting from one branch to the other. They celebrate the break of dawn and in gratitude, they sing to your deaf ears and blind eyes. For we are so caught in the cacophonous sounds of adulthood, that we forget the flying squirrels and the singing butterflies of our childhood imaginations. We all were striving so hard to grow up quickly and imitate life and art. We forgot the first feel of raindrops on our skin and the first draping of a saree on our baby bodies. Today I wish to make to remember, that saree that you loved and wished to wear from your Ma’s collection.

Ma for all little girls is the first muse and remains so for life. You try to imitate her style and follow her style code. You don’t realise that
you may be unconsciously selecting the colours and weaves she preferred or wore. As you were growing up, she was unaware that you were watching her; how deftly she tucked her pleats onto her loose tummy. That tummy that had scars and soft skin. You could hide under her saree fold and you knew you were safe. You were home.

In this secure space of familiarity lied your nirvana. But nothing is permanent. We are all balancing in this transient thing happening to
us, called life. Like most of us. I recall the farewell party in school. The dress code was sarees. And buying this saree for your farewell became a family affair! Sometimes your stylish cousin or aunt would join to select what she thought was in trend. For my farewell party, I was allowed to choose from Ma’s collection of sarees. You don’t realise that you are choosing one of your most special memories that day! Not knowing that this is the end of school and carefree days.

We barely comprehend this passing of the guard. I recall my mother telling me to not tear or dirty the edges of the saree. I was so careful that I held it above my ankle and didn’t look the lady that I was supposed to look. I was worried that Ma won’t allow me her sarees again.

Today after years of being a mother myself and a mother to my Ma. I see her bony wrinkled fingers… I choose the saree for her and say wear
it for Pujo. She does not protest. For now, the tables have turned. I am the Ma and she the reticent child. And like all we modern Indian women today. We wear more western outfits and save the sarees for that special occasion or the formal soirée. I find bony fingers with discoloured nails and wrinkled skin searching for those special weaves for the occasion. I realise it’s my hands that are propelled like a memory of Ma’s hands.

As I look up I watch with marvel at the butterfly devouring honey from the flower. I know that it’s time for me to thank the universe
for unraveling the beauty and craft of this metamorphosis. I don’t know when I grew up and when I started buying my own sarees. But I
know that sarees are a reminder of our childhood dreams. Most are sepia-tinted and are a passing montage of sorts of memories andmoments. All of those folded, tucked and hemmed into its frayed edges. Sarees are stories of the magnitude and the magnificence ofmemories. And memories are forever.

You can visit The Sari Story on October 25th and 26th at Valecha Hall, Juhu, Mumbai

1 Comment
  1. You write so beautifully Mohua! You transport us into the world you create with your words and we can clearly visualise everything you are speaking about like it’s right in front of us. Not to mention that we’ve all vied to wear our favourite sarees from our mom’s collection at some point of time or the other in our growing up years.

    Today, with my own collection of sarees (that I’ve lovingly collected over the years), I still look forward to wearing my mom’s sarees just because of the memories they hold for me. This is a beautiful nostalgic piece not just on the beauty of the saree but also on the value it holds for us in our memories.

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