Sorting laundry into the machine, hand, dry category in an assembly line style is one of my jobs. So, everyday when I see my daughter's pink and black stripped dry fit t-shirt paired with bright orange shorts and fluorescent pink hair band in the laundry basket, a part of me wants to get rid of it. You see, my 10 year old girl has entered the double digit upgraded defiance zone, her 2.0 version wants to wear the same clothes to basket ball practice everyday. Yes, pink and black stripes T-shirt with bright orange shorts, every single evening. After trying multiple avenues to change her mind, and demonstrating to her more likable color combinations I stooped low and threw in the Indian mom dialogue "What will people think, you want your friends thinking your parents don't have money to buy you more clothes or what? at-least think about us", for which I got a shrugged at. I know, I know 10 year old girls are not really known for displaying empathy towards their mothers. So we argue, negotiate and repeat until one day I gave up and asked her to get dressed in her favorite clothes. It left lighter to not have the shallow breathing that our daily arguments brought about, watching her exuberance as she danced her way to change into the dreaded pink-orange set reminded me of someone else.
On my 10th birthday my parents who were living in the Gulf at the time had sent me a white dress, it was white as snow, a pretty satin bow which sat at the waist held together, cascading layers of hakoba lace. My mother had advised me in the accompanying letter to use the dress very carefully, because it was white, delicate and also so expensive. I was to only wear it on special occasions. The only thing I remember from my 10th birthday party was wearing that dress, I couldn't be bothered about anything else. I remember not sitting down that evening, so as not to spoil the garment. For a 10 year old waiting for what others consider a special occasion can be painfully long. That didn't stop me of-course from asking my Aaji every other day if I could wear the dress, my Aaji and Ajoba with whom we lived were the coolest, so, totally overlooking my mother's instruction, my Aaji let me wear the dress whenever I wanted. To the tuitions? yes, to the park? yes, to the movies? yes, just like that? yes. yes.yes. I don't remember when the fancy of that dress worn out on me, neither do I remember how much my mother must have scoffed at me for ruining an expensive party dress. I just remember the excitement of wearing a favorite dress, not sometime, not on important days, but any day I wished.
The grown-up version of me who has a mild fondness (read obsession) for acquiring fancy handbags and watches (clothes ..etc etc) but limiting their use only for special days, can take a leaf out of a 10 year old’s desire to relish the feeling of excitement of wearing her favorite clothes to make any day special versus waiting for the “special” day. Neatly stowed away in my closet are handbags, watches and clothes, that wait to be used. You see, I have this idea in my head about wearing/using them for a special occasion. The other day, throwing caution to the wind, I gave myself the permission to take my red Kate Spade bag out on a rather ordinary everyday errand. Doing the rounds of going from grocery store to the vegetable vendor to the fruit vendor, I had forgotten about my prized possession. As I was was fetching for change I heard the fruit vendor say, "Madam, tumchi purse khup mast aahe” (Madam, your bag is lovely). I looked towards my the red Kate Spade with tenderness and thanked him. On a scale of 0 to 10, 10 being that best, I can’t say that the fruit vendor’s compliment made my day go from a 2 to a 9, but what I can confess is, that moment helped me readjust my perception of special days. Everyday can be made a special occasion, if you let it.
June 05, 2017
June 05, 2017
Stories by Shilpa Godbole