Day 83. She was born in a village in Netrakona in present-day Bangladesh and lost her father when she was just a baby. She was brought up in a lavish tea garden bungalow by her brother, a manager at the garden. Legend goes that the bungalow even had a bathtub! She studied only till primary school and then had to quit because there was no middle school nearby. She was married to the eldest son of a large joint family, who worked in the army. Marriage first brought her to Calcutta, where some members of the family shared a three-room house and where every penny had to be counted while the rest of the family members still lived in Mymensingh. Around a year later, she volunteered to go and look after her father-in-law and mother-in-law, who lived there with their youngest son, still in school, and his grandmother. Those were the days just before Partition. By the time she reached there, tension was rife. As the riots spread, the family had no choice but to leave their house, land and most of their belongings and head back for Calcutta. But even that was easier said than done. Her husband reached, along with a brother, and managed to sneak them out in the dead of the night. Tensed train rides, a steamer journey and several checks later, they managed to reach the safety of their home with little else but themselves. Young, naive, a first-time mother-to-be, she showed remarkable strength in adverse situations. That was only the first of many occasions that life tested her but each time she showed unimaginable resilience to carry on. From the luxury of having servants at her every beck and call to living in a house with 21 more members (Partition finally brought them all together in that three-room house), she went through many an upheaval with that same quiet determination.
This sari belonged to her, my aunt-in-law, and I would be grateful if I could inherit even a tiny bit of her courage and grit along with it.
(Story courtesy Bangalbarir Kissa by Ranjan Roy. Please do forgive and correct me if I have made any factual errors.)
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It was a plain off-white south sari, I got the maroon and black appliqué work done from Keyamami Chaitali Dasgupta’s boutique. It is one of those times where everything fell into place. The blouse had been lying in my wardrobe, without any sari to be paired with when this arrived. And when the sari came back with its makeover complete, I just knew I had to wear it with this neckpiece, a gift from my friend Sreoshi.

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