‘Jiti ghisegi Bitti naram howegi’ my nani advised when I told her my new kohlapuri leather chappals had bruised the sole of my feet.
Since then, they have walked many miles, soaking in the sweat and grime of the wet Bombay streets, traversing the potholed by lanes of Guodoliya & Vishwanath Gali, stained by the red earth on the narrow walkway to my home. They grow softer with each step, tender with daily expeditions, layering itself with various memories, softening and humbling itself with years of experience.
Banarasi. A word that triggers countless memories – paans, bylanes, Gangaji, Ramleelas but most specially my nani and her collection of Benarasi Silks.
A sari of my nani passed down to my mother, who never wore it saying it was too bright for her taste. While cleaning during Diwali, my mother took it out along with the rest of her stunning trousseau for a daylong ‘hawa dikhana’. The beautiful fabrics spread across her bed were folded and safely tucked in again by the evening. Those were my favorite Diwali cleaning days, back in my childhood, touching the rich textures and letting it slip in my little clammy hands in awe and wonderment, I would promise myself every time, that one day I will wear them - like mother, like daughter. And on my engagement, this particular one, I did.
As a child, my brother and I often dashed to the door to answer doorbells around the festival of Diwali. My brother liked cashews and I liked tin boxes that carried mithais. Once the sweets were finished, these boxes stored my crayons, pieces from my kitchen set and many such treasured belongings. On a recent visit to my mother’s place, I saw my old box now housing a bunch of keys to forgotten locks.
In my house, this image wasn't an unusual sight. The toothpaste from the bathroom met the belan from the kitchen at the fag end of its life. Whatever was left was squeezed out of the tube and somehow it was always magically sufficient for the family of four to brush from. 'Mitvyayi bano' remarked my mother ever so often while I frowned upon this practice in my teens. Years later, I follow the same ritual, attempting to keep the promise of being frugal.
books I never read, books that never made me. the ones that I bought from sleepy stores, the ones I borrowed & never returned back. this pile has a life of its own, it breathes and grows, few inches each month. they promise a read and I promise to read, each time we glance at each other.
A quintessential sight in most of the Indian households where after many jam-bread tiffins, the marmalade bottles end up having the same fate. Storing batches of homemade pickles.
Who would have thought a boring bank planner could withhold such exquisite writings. How wonderful is its fate to not be scribbled with procrastinated to-do lists and anxiously written meeting schedules. Imprinted with love, poetry and fragrance of history, this one houses itself in my husband's grandfather's home.
So my first teddy wasn't the Archie’s kind - fluffy, soft, baby pink with a brown nose. Mine was this technicolour one without a nose. He had always been without a nose, it was my elder brother's hand-me-down toy and I nurtured a love-hate relationship with him.
Then as the brand new pink Barbie made its way in my life, it lay deep inside my toy basket, hidden beneath the new additions. The watch, again a hand-me-down from my mother, was my first watch. It lacked in design to cater to a teenage girl. My classmates wore the bright coloured, big dial watches whereas I wore the Mary Jane, so-not-cool one. My mother in both these cases argued, "It serves the purpose".
Frankly, they both did, they did stand the test of time and are few of my most treasured possessions.
To find traces of your parents in the yesteryear photographs. From monochrome to sepia, I can map their advancing years. I look closely and find hints of myself - the narrow chin, the thin hair and the long fingers.
The back of these prints carry the stories of the images- a long lost friend’s vacation in Sikkim, the news of the arrival of a newborn of a distant cousin and my 19 year old mother’s description of here first solo trip.