A World Wrapped in Violet
A World Wrapped in Violet3 mins 181 3 mins 181
As I carefully unfolded the deep violet kanjeervaram with golden Zari and the intricately woven bhutta, she unraveled the story behind the elegant six-yard wonder.
It was a humid summer of the late 1940s when Jalajakshi was shocked to see her Almirah in a pathetically distorted condition. She knew the notorious ones behind it. It was Radha and her little partner in crime, Gopal. The brother-sister duo was pretending to be the king and queen of the town. The neatly folded silk sarees were now sweeping the red-bricked verandah as the king's hood and the queen's attire.
"This is the first time in the history of the world, a girl believes that she can become Maharaja ", laughed Jalajakshi, forgiving the children's mischief.
"If a girl has the power to become a goddess then undoubtedly she can rule the world can't she?", asked the nine-year-old with confidence. "Ok Maharani, now please get inside before the scorching sun turns you both into coal", said Jalajakshi.
It was sometime in the 1950s when Radha attained her puberty and she refused to wear the new saree that Jalajakshi had bought for her. "I don't want the new one. Give me the purple saree in the almirah, insisted Radha. "I have to listen to you, otherwise you won't step out for the rituals. You have decided to be adamant. Fine, I will take it out for you.", agreed Jalajakshi.
Almost after 25 years, Radha decked herself beautifully in the same purple saree once again. "Amma, it's my wedding and Appa has bought you a brand new Mysore silk and you are adamant in wearing this old, shoddy stuff again.", cried Radha's daughter. "If you want me to appear on the mantap, then this is the one I am wearing", said Radha as firm as a rock.
"You see I had been very obsessive about this saree from my childhood", said my grandmother Radha.
"But Ajji please discard it for God's sake. See it has reduced to shreds of tatters."
"There are hardly a few people in this world who have never seen their mother and there are very few of them like me who couldn't even get to see an image of her. I have never seen my mother dear. Jalajakshi Amma was my stepmother. Even though she had been a good mother to us, I had always missed my Amma. They say she died soon after delivering me. There were no photographs those days for keepsakes and all I had was this saree to feel my Amma. I used to wrap this as a blanket, cuddle this and sometimes even talk to it. This is my Amma's wedding saree. For you, it might seem like a rag. But for me, this is my Amma."
With wet eyes, I kept my granny's treasure back inside her most coveted wardrobe which welcomed people with the scent of Cinthol soap that she had placed in every rack of the wardrobe.
I had come to my Granny's room to pick a saree for my college Ethnic Day celebration and left the place with a whole new connotation of a mother that my Grandmother had chiseled in her lifetime.