My Mom Story: On Love

As part of our ongoing contest asking for special Mom stories, we received an overwhelming response from our readers. Now we’re sharing all these wonderful and heart-warming stories with the world!

Here is a beautiful story written by a Jaypore lover.

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A woman only needs five lines of makeup, my grandma would say, lining her lower lids with kohl, smoothing two lines of lipstick onto her lips and drawing a slim bindi line with a kumkum stick. I learnt elegance at her knee along with the alphabet.

Guipure lace detail on her blouses, crisp cotton sarees in summer and the susurration of heavy silks in winter are just a few of the memories I hold dear. A string of pearls for occasions, two slim plain gold kadas for everyday wear other than her wedding ring. Delicate kitten heels that you never saw under her sarees, because ‘a lady never exhibits her footwear’ she’d say, and polished champagne leather court shoes when she wanted a more formal look. Her long silky hair coiled into a heavy bun at the nape of her slender neck, only let loose when I wanted to play stylist and brush it out, because ‘it’s in poor taste to put all you own on show.’

For a highly educated, very forward thinking lady she was surprisingly sartorially circumspect, or so I thought, when I tried to persuade her to wear trousers for travel or a salwar kameez for a picnic. She insisted that she was comfortable in her sarees and desired no greater degree of freedom. And she proved it when she trained my brother to be a runner, racing across the football field with him, his little legs pumping to keep up with her sprinting in a saree.

While her rules on what makes or breaks a lady may not be applicable anymore, her classic elegance, her love for the saree was passed down through the generations.

My mother was as elegant a dresser as her own. Cigarette pants, chiffon blouses, lawn and mulmul kurtas with slim trousers and of course, if it were an occasion, her enviable collection of sarees from every state of the country. A simple Kerala set mundu, the khasi two piece that she taught me to pin as soon as I could, intricate phulkari that one could admire for hours, she owned every kind and when I say she owned them, I mean it in every sense of the word.

I began wearing sarees the year I turned 14. My mother believed that if it were left too late I’d end up like those shameful specimens who needed help wearing their sarees. At 15 I was still climbing trees, the only difference being that I was doing it in one of her simple cotton homewear sarees. And when we had our usual angst ridden teen versus mother fights I’d viciously tell her that I couldn’t wait for her to die so that I could have her sarees.

She’d stop mid sentence to stare at me in shock and then sit down and laugh so hard that I’d wonder what she found funny. She couldn’t really be angry with me once she knew I’d acquired her love for the whole six yards. I thought it was pretty funny too, never realising how much I hurt her when I fought back viciously. Never knowing a mother’s heart.

I have a seven year old daughter now and she wore her first saree at the tender age of 20 months. A Bengali baby saree, the perfect size for her. She continues to wear them for school functions, on days they have Indian wear as a theme, for dance programmes and every chance she gets. I always send a spare outfit in her backpack, imagining that she’ll tire of it or trip herself up, but she comes home as tidy as a child can, with food on her face and paint on her arms, but her saree still tied and neatly in place.

A few days ago I was tidying up my saree wardrobes and she sat surrounded by a pile of brightly coloured fabric, touching a chiffon, rubbing her cheek on a satin, crushing the cottons in wonder… and then she said, “Mama, when you die, I’ll get all your sarees, won’t I?”   Apparently history repeats itself ad nauseum!

I laughed till the tears ran while she looked on in bewilderment. Was she going to get the sarees or not? Yes, yes, I reassured her, she would. She’d get the 100 year old Parsi gara my great grandmother had in her trousseau, she’d get the gota patti that is 70 years old and untarnished, she’d get it all, and more as three generations of us have added to our collection and our love for the six yard.

Love can be expressed in many ways. Some show it through property they painstakingly save up to buy and leave behind, others through countless meals.  And the French knot rosebuds on organdie that were made by my grandma’s own neat hand, 60 years ago, speak of a love for fine craftsmanship, timeless elegance and a desire to leave something for her own little chubby cheeked toddler. The deep back of a sleeveless cotton blouse is hand embroidered with wooden beads – my mother worked through the night for me to have something unique for a college event.

Some years later I saved for months to buy a Raw Mango chanderi to leave behind for my daughter; with an artist’s eye for colour, she fell in love with the parrot green and bright orange combination. And then I saved again and bought one for my mother. Love doesn’t always have to flow down. Sometimes its nice to change the course and have it flow back upwards. And then to see the appreciative smiles it brings.

I love your saree collection, Mama, but I’m in no hurry to own it because I love you just a tiny bit more!

– by Smriti Lamech

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Stay tuned for more wonderful mom stories from our readers.

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