80/100. “Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing”, says Scout, in To Kill a Mockingbird. These lines have always expressed perfectly what I feel about books and reading. And today, when I celebrate reaching a significant number on the pact, it seems strangely apt for what I have come to feel about the pact as well.

I have been lagging behind on my posts – I am writing about my 80th saree while on my 86th. And a lot of my fellow pacters are also in their eighties and many in their nineties. As I read their posts, I read about feelings of sadness, of the joy of working towards a crescendo yet fearing the following fall. I quote from Antara’s 92nd post, “it’s like reaching the last few pages of a gripping and engrossing book whose characters are now part of your life which you wish would never end”. And I think to myself, does it have to? End, that is?

Just like these well-loved fictional characters remain a part of our lives long after we read the last page (‘fess up, ladies! Isn’t Darcy still ‘the’ man you dream of?), the pact and all it has taught us to treasure is not going anywhere. Ally and Anju have always stressed it’s not about the number. Yes, it was a goal and we celebrated and will celebrate the milestones we have reached. But what we always knew was that the pact was about the journey. So, it’s okay to not reach a 100, and it will be lovely if we go on beyond as well. Just like the ever-vivacious Viji ma’am. (Aside: *Complete fangirl moment* I want to be like her when I grow up).

I want to wear my sarees more often, I want to think and then write about what they mean. More than that, I want to see Sunanda with that trademark grin shining out of a rainbow-coloured saree and I want to read Ally’s posts – full of poise and passion. I want to admire Sohini’s sarees and squint lustfully at the book-crammed bookshelves in the background and I want to see Lakshmi ma’am with a happy smile in a happy saree taking a minute for herself in her happy place. I want to see the innovative way in which Dipti styles her next saree and I want to revel in the crispness of Anju’s photos and prose.

Ladies, I am not letting go. Taking out a saree, draping it around and stepping out of the house or staying cocooned at home in a Sunday saree is going to stay a regular part of my life. Just like the books we reread and re-re read.

. Subir da caught me just as I walked into a patch of afternoon sun, still dreamy-eyed in wonder at the exquisite installation you see in the background.

Antiquarium, the installation by artist and friend Eina Ahluwalia, is an ode to books and has found a permanent home at one of the loveliest restaurants in the city, The Corner Courtyard. Old, hard bound books are the medium for this installation. Some are in good condition, while the pages of others are crumbling with age. These books have been rescued from the bottom of piles at second hand book sellers, and given a new
lease of life through this installation. Says the artist, “The Old Books may be
old, but they still have so much magic to share.”

Sounds familiar, right?
Our sarees, old or new, still have so much to give. Our stories still have so much to tell. And we, we of the pact, have so much magic to share. And magic cannot be bound by numbers.

So, here’s to going on. Happy sareeing, everyone!

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