Thursday, October 3, 2013

The long and Saree of it!

Disclaimer* - (I tried to keep this short but then talking Saree is a longish affair). 

I am supposed to write about something- anything,  today. No one tells me to do so! Nor do I listen to anyone unless I want to. But as I had mentioned in my last blog, I have taken it upon myself to scribble something every day (or at least once a week), and to try and keep it short. As a novelist, it's difficult but as a poet, I might pull it through, as far as the word count goes.  

Well, here it goes:

I don’t know how to wear a Saree!

I am telling you the truth and nothing but the truth. My mom is ashamed of me and so are all my other women relatives. ‘It’s so simple,’ they tell me. For them, maybe. Not for me.

Not that I don’t like wearing it. I do. I just can’t carry the drape well. I feel restricted; somewhat like a wretched prisoner. In fact, I love looking (ogling) at women who know how to carry it just right. Sarees do make a woman look beautiful. Despite all the above complimentary words in honour of the Indian traditional outfit, I  still prefer my jeans, skirts and trousers or dresses. 

When I got married, they gave me different kinds of expensive Sarees as gifts. My women friends went “ooohhh” and “aahhh” when I showed them my collection. But I, for the life of me, could not make out the exact difference between each type except that they were all different materials. When my son was born, both sides of the family gifted me a few more of them. Perhaps, they thought that with so many of  them in my possession now I would finally come around to wearing them. Instead, I packed most of the bright stuff and put them out of sight and mind. To tell you honestly, I don’t even know where they are lying at this moment. 

But there are a few occasions when I need to drape myself into one just to appear well - Indian. So I kept a handful of them outside, for emergencies. People tell me I look beautiful in them. I agree. There’s certain elegance to it. Besides, it looks dressy and nice especially during festivals. So once in a while, as i mentioned, I don it, er, of course, with loads of help from anyone willing to offer it. Infact, to my great annoyance many have even commented that I look like a “grown - up” woman when I wear it. It does not sound very complimentary to my ears. But that is how things are in our society.

At times, I feel women in India are judged on the basis of the clothes they wear -

A Saree clad woman – pure, capable, wise and having all the qualities of a good mother ( or mother - in law). The kind of woman an Indian man prefers as his wife.

A Woman wearing anything other than a Saree – fast,  incapable, juvenile and non serious. She should learn to wear one. Sooner or later it is expected of her. 

I am not sure about other communities but in a Hindu household, the above statements are no exaggeration. I was once openly (and somewhat sternly), advised by an elderly lady, a neighbour, to wear Sarees for all the pujas  or religious events that I attend.  I remember giving her an innocent and foolish smile until she turned her attention to another newly married woman who was not wearing the right kind of bangles, she,  as a married woman, was supposed to wear during religious functions. I looked at the hapless woman and winked. She smiled back.

We, the younger lots have learnt how to get by in this (old) new world… and say Saree, we don’t agree!

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