“I don’t like the colour, Ma. I don’t want it!”
That was my emphatic outburst as an outspoken young adult to a loving mother who had painstakingly and thoughtfully ‘collected’ sarees for my trousseau for as long as I could remember. This saree was bought in Chennai, erstwhile Madras, at Ma’s behest, by her best friend on a visit there. Of course, I had little idea then, of what traditional weaves were all about (despite growing up among a mother and aunts who had impeccable taste in handloom) and held very strong opinions regarding the colours I looked good in! How utterly mistaken I was.
Many years passed. My brother got married. I told Ma to give it to my sister-in-law if she would have it. (How callous of me!) And Ma never brought it up again.
And so it lay, silently and unobtrusively, in the cupboard in my brother’s home, waiting perhaps for its moment in the sun, for over thirty long years.
Till one day recently, when I was gazing at the sarees that now adorn my cupboard, the ones I have myself acquired in these intervening years, during which I have grown interested in and schooled myself about Indian heritage textiles and fabrics that we have such an abundant, mind blowing variety of. While ruminating over some of the ‘heavy’ ones acquired then, (which are among my favourites now but have barely been worn since my wedding), I was quietly reminded of this one.
Also, in recent times, my reservations regarding colour have begun to melt away, as it were. I now find myself more willing to experiment with bolder, brighter shades. I would literally not have caught myself dead in them even until a few years ago. I would like to think of this as a rebirth, a renaissance of sorts. I don’t want to be the little country mouse any more. Draped in safe beiges and taupes, mushroom and ivory and pale shades alone, always hoping to merge in with the furniture. Call it mid life awakening (don’t want to think of it as a crisis!) or heightened wisdom and acceptance of oneself and life as it is, or simply attribute it to menopause!
So one phone call to my ever-obliging brother who voila! produced it in a jiffy as soon as I’d described it. “You know that bright parrot green one? With minimal zari work?” “Yes, of course I do. The one you refused to take from Ma at the time of your wedding.” (Oh dear, I thought, even he remembers). Promptly, it was sent across to my home.
As a result of my eternal curiosity about our traditional weaves and dyes, I called my friend Vipra Muddaya of Vimor, described the saree’s colour and sent her a picture. She instantly told me it was a delightful killi pacche or parrot green. I was still coming to terms with my own readiness to wear it. Without much ado, I decided to wear it to a Diwali function last week.
I was quite surprised how comfortable I felt being seen in it. And not very taken aback by the numerous compliments I received. The highlight was when a couple of elderly, tastefully dressed ladies came up to me to admire it, then proclaimed “they don’t make these anymore.” My heart sang with joy and gratitude.
A mother’s unconditional love, tenacity and patience are things to be understood and fathomed only when the role falls upon one’s own shoulders. Many a times and oft I’d heard that while growing up and never understood its full import. But that night, I was glad on so many counts and I have Ma to thank for all of them. Thank you, Ma!