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I stand changed; I do adore it

Posted by sunanda agarwal on


Back in school, it was the uniform, and I cannot say that I loved it.
 
I draped a saree for the farewell. My usual slouched posture was now magically erect, my head was high and my shoulders formed a straight line; they weren’t droopy for once. A faint smile was always on my lips, my eyes giggled as they darted from corner to corner. You could say that it was the black and white saree that I wore that day which made this happen. I was proud that I was wearing maa’s old saree as my first one.

 
Maa knows all. Of course, she does. But she knows all the more when she wraps around herself the dark green cotton saree as she prepares for school. She is suddenly a temporal presence who could shush and hush a class of thirty, or make them all speak up, not with force but with endearment. The green cotton saree taken from grandma's cupboard works like a charm. 
Grandma knows all. Of course, she does. But it looks like she could take on the world when she drapes one of her lighter sarees which has colorful flowers on a sky blue. From being drowsy and slow in her nightgown, she bumbles and glides as she perfectly drapes today's saree, her fingers deft with expertise and experience like I've always known her.
 
I would always adore the absolutely beautiful lines from Shyam Selvadurai’s Funny Boy, as he talks about “the sari being wrapped around my body, the veil being pinned to my head, the rouge put on my cheeks, lipstick on my lips, kohl around my eyes – I was able to leave the constraints of myself and ascend into another, more brilliant, more beautiful self. It was a self-magnified, like the goddesses of the Sinhalese and Tamil cinema, larger than life; and like them, like the Malini Fonseka's and the Geetha Kumarasinghes, I was an icon, a graceful, benevolent, perfect being upon whom the adoring eyes of the world rested.”
 
I do not know all. Of course, I don't. But as I wrap the six yards around myself again, I feel like I could read the whole of the original Geetanjali without needing a translation, that I could flock about with my dandiya sticks in perfect rhythm even though I couldn't dance to save my life otherwise.
I take on culture. I take on a story. I take on a language and a history; all of it blends and stirs within me.
 
I am married to all that is elegant.
 
Written by Pakhi Pande

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