That Old Black Sari.
In mid November , a sudden bout of sneezing was followed by cough and cold. Flu has challenged my immune system and overpowered it.
The Result : I was down with fever, sore throat , cough and cold. 🙁
The very next day, I had my kitty party in a local restaurant, in Ahmedabad. Since I was the host and this was the last of the kitty parties of this round, I do not want to postpone it. I swallowed a “Calpol” and went. Being an extrovert, I feel better when I am outside. 😛
Black was the dressing theme of the day. I took out a south silk temple border saree in black and golden colour. It is an old saree of my mom, which I bought for her from my first ever salary as a lecturer. It was my first job after passing my M.Sc in Physics, from Kurukshetra University in mid eighties.
I had my first ever job offer letter even before my results were out. That was the power of an M.Sc -Physics in those days. Physics was one of the most sought after subject. It was a lecturer’s job in one of the well established PG colleges of Hisar. An adhoc appointment, as it used to save some bucks to the employer.The Adhoc appointees were not paid for summer vacations. This was a super example of exploitation of highly educated professionals and we promote that education helps in fighting exploitation. I was staying with my parents, so for me it was not a big issue. But for people, who had to run their families, it must have been very tough.
As soon as , my first salary was credited into my bank account, I went to the market to buy gifts for my parents and sister. Those were not the days of insta money where cheque payments come into account in a day or two. We were paid through cheques and it used to take at least 5-8 days for the money to be credited if the cheque is local. For an outstation cheque the waiting period could be a fortnight.
Till early eighties, Hisar was a small town, albeit a fast growing one, people used to know each other. Since my father also studied in Hisar veterinary college, he had many friends from other colleges, who have later set in businesses in the town. One of papa’s friend had a saree shop. On my routine visits to market with papa, papa often took me to his shop for some gupshup and catching up with his friends. Since, I have no knowledge about sarees in those days and I needed a reliable seller, I went to Jain uncle’s shop in the upcoming garment market of the city, “Rajguru market”. In those days, it never occured to me that this market is christened after the Indian revolutionary from Maharashtra, Shivram Hari Rajguru, who was hanged with Bhagat Singh. Thankfully, there was no known regionalism. Freedom fighters belong to the country, not to states.
Jain uncle’s shop was in a the bylanes of the market. I wanted to buy South Indian silk sarees for mummy. I bought two sarees for her. One is black and golden temple border saree and another pista green saree in self coloured jacquard design with thin silver zari border. I now wonder, when transporting was not easy for goods and people, how a small town like Hisar can have such beautiful and evergreen sarees. Mom wore the same pista green saree for my wedding. The importance she gave to my gift shows that she must have felt very happy to have these gifts from me. A woman of few words, I could see the pride and happiness in her eyes.
I bought a pant-shirt from Raymonds for papa. The same Raymond group, whose owner has thrown away his own father out of his house. Irony of fate 🙁 . The Raymonds must have been part of such happy memories for so many people while at its own helm, there is a sad story of callousness and unhappiness.
After my mom’s demise, I got both the sarees back. It was summer vacations of 1994-95. Mom left us in November 1993 at an age of 55. Papa was alone in our majestic and beautiful home in Hisar. That year, we sisters planned to be with papa for whole of vacations. On a hot morning ( what else can one expect in Hisar in the month of May and June :)), papa summoned me and my sister and divided mom’s jewelry. He asked us to divide his sarees and other personal belongings. It was very painful. At that moment, I realised, it’s easier to handle the physical absence of a loved one but very difficult to handle memories and shared moments . Anyway, though difficult but its a task, which we both had to do and we did.
The sarees remained with mummy for almost 14 years. It still has mom’s scent. Whenever I wear it, I had a feel of mummy’s embrace over myself. I can feel her touch, her breath and her presence whenever I wear this black sari or any of her sarees for that matter.
I have converted the other sari in a beautiful salwar suit, though I regret it now. But in those days, children were small, it was easier to manage salwar suits than a saree. The grace of a saree should never be underestimated.
The beauty of Indian handloom sarees is that they surpass the expected time and easily become part of family heirloom. I do not have a daughter but I hope my daughter in law(s) will keep these family heirlooms with love and pride.