This saree is 70 years old. When something is that old, it’s bound to have an interesting story behind it. It was my grand mother-in-law’s saree which was part of her trousseau. She was all of 18 when she got married. Way back on the 5th day of a cold December 1944. Her husband was was a young sub-editor at The Tribune in Lahore. They were nine or ten years apart. This saree was a wedding gift from her father’s friend, Dewan Anand Kumar. It’s such an elegant thing with the off-white and gold zari border which shines even today. The design in the border is quite baffling with its space age motif that looks a bit like Captain America’s insignia! Or could it be a take on the Islamic crescent and star considering it was bought in Lahore? I wonder what inspired the weaver to create this starry outburst! Such a modern design in the 1940s.

I’m told Nanima wore this saree several times with a black velvet puffed sleeve blouse and was always considered well-dressed. Apparently her mother-in-law couldn’t tolerate daughters and daughters-in-law who wouldn’t be anything but ‘tip-top’!

In 1947, when the Partition took place, Nanima was a mother to two children: my mother-in-law, who was around two and another baby boy, a few months old. The family had to flee in the last air force flight from Lahore, which they managed only because of her husband’s connections. They were among the lucky few who were able to bring many of their belongings along. They landed in Ambala to set-up a new life in independent India and Nanima remembered to bring this saree–her favorite–along with her.

When she passed it on to my mother-in-law in the 80s, she suggested that the border be used in another saree but that didn’t happen. MIL planned to wear it for her daughter’s wedding, but that didn’t happen. She planned to wear it to her second son’s wedding, but that didn’t happen either. She planned to wear it to our wedding, but that didn’t happen too!

Today, despite its frayed edges, the freshness remains. Today the grand-daughter-in-law is in a sareepact to tell the tale. Yesterday, was her 5th wedding anniversary and she wore it to go shopping! 😉

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