As I entered the dark dank space of my grandmother’s room, I opened the creaking window meshed and unmeshed with cobwebs shining in the soft supple sun rays. Those cobwebs seemed to smile whenever the light fell on them. It was like such a fine art of weaving by the spiders. That light at times gave the cobwebs such character that they shone with an inherent, incredible resilience that only my curious mind could fathom and unfathom its faithfulness or unfaithfulness towards this gift called life. That unlit room had a dark wood wardrobe. In that space of unheard prayers and heard cries was Dida’s grief and grit. I saw the saris kept unused for years now. I was guilty of not giving it the sun. Just like the greedy cobwebs who had taken it all, with its selfishness to live in the grind with grit calling it life. They were not independent and they grew with the love of the nurturing spider that was trying to create a home in the dark space around that home.
A sari wardrobe meant the world to her. Her unspoken love drama that had separation, unrequited emotions that were wobbling like the sinking boat. Her boat needed to be moored. Her movements were at times shaky and sometimes firm. I saw her dreamboat when she touched the saris. They shook & also became still. Her saris were her refuge. She had matching blouses with her couture collection. Her fashion sensibility was like an ode to her vintage era. Blouses had puffed sleeves and lace. And her saris were worn with elan for her evening soirée with my Dadu, my grandfather and her much older husband. Her couture collection was a mix of Patolas, Jamdani, Benarasi and Tangail, Kantha and there were colours that were tasteful and elegant. When I opened that sari ki almirahs and its heavy wooden door, I could feel her presence around me. I remembered how I saw her change her wardrobe over the years. She wore subtle and bright weaves with the passage of time. Her weaves were a reflection of her mood for the day.
And then overnight, when grandfather passed away. She was just propelled to wear what tradition demanded of her. A frugal, bare white sari with a small border of black, blue or green. It couldn’t even dare to touch a pink, red was a crime. It would mean she was defying the entire identity of wearing her grief on her body. Her hands were shorn of the red & white bangles and all she allowed was thin gold bangles and no earrings or a necklace. My rebellions mind was restless. I told her I missed her red bindi and her beautiful saris draped around her happy hips. She told me her bountiful body was decaying. This is the cycle of nature. Now it was my turn to wear those colours and catch the rainbow on my flight to youth and abundance. She said to strive to be Poornima, Annapurna and Mohua all weaved together in one person. Poornima was the full moonlight teasing your lover, Annapurna was the bountiful paddy fields and Mohua had to grow unhindered and be intoxicated with life. I understood only in my later years.
Her words of wisdom. Her saris won’t be forlorn anymore. I will clean the debris away from the dark dank room and allow light into that wardrobe of life. As I celebrate another day of sun and shade into that space I call freedom. I wear her saris as a reminder of her life, happy, lonely and strikingly beautiful in her appearance. Like the full moon on a dark sky. The light shining and separating me from my past into my present. I hold Dida’s sari against my bosom & I know that a sari is a passing of the guard from one generation to another. My pink Benarasi sari is one of them from her collections. The silk has become softer but it still holds its place in a crowd of branded svelte ladies. I can feel her essence all around me.