Sunday, 10 May 2020

Harshita Nanda, Prose 500 2020, Longlist

The Wedding Saree

It was an old steel trunk, which had traveled half across the country and back, but still in pristine condition as it was always covered with a cloth to protect it from dust.
Whenever she opened it, once in a few months, the daughters would gather around,
as if drawn by a magnet and aware that something precious was to be revealed.

And treasure’s there were a plenty in that old steel trunk. On top a lovely blue organza saree.
“This saree was given to me by your grandmother as part of my trousseau, she bought it for me
from all the way from Sahranpur,” she would narrate. Below it the chocolate and gold Benarasi silk, it’s gold shimmering in the sunlight filtering through the curtains. The silver kaliras that she wore for the wedding; the red velvet handbag she had taken for the vidai, now too impractical to be used; the silver surmedaani, a family heirloom, passed on from mother to daughter. All things part of her wedding, all with their stories, all with their memories.

Nestled at the bottom, wrapped in tissue paper and covered with department store plastic
was the real treasure for which the daughters used to gather around. A gossamer-thin red saree,
embroidered in gold. “Real gold thread was used for this”, she would say with pride, for in this age
of adulteration, reality was hard to come by. She would then narrate how she designed the saree
herself, how grandfather, in spite of all the other expenses, paid for the gold thread.


Of how that saree, became her bridal saree. The young daughters gathered around, listening to her, mesmerized, inwardly longing for the day when they would also be dressed as a bride in the same saree. It was almost as if the saree had the magic of dreams of a young bride and the blessings of parents sewn in the lotuses embroidered on the border.

As the daughters grew of marriageable age, however, practicalities overtook the magic.
The saree was too thin or the gold embroidery was not in fashion anymore.
Worst of all, none of the daughters inherited her petite frame,
so the length of saree would fall short; re-designing it would be a sacrilege.
The saree continued to languish in its steel trunk.

And thus in an old and now battered steel trunk lies wrapped in the tissue,
a red wedding saree embroidered in gold, a saree worn only once. Once in few months she still opens
the trunk, there are no young girls with dreams surrounding her, while she looks at the saree.
Underneath the mustiness of moth balls, she can still catch a whiff of the dreams
she dreamt forty years ago.

2 comments:

  1. You made me remember my mother's Odhni....of her wedding...she is no more, and none of us sisters used it but I have it...a congregation of memories, hopes and love which came with the odhni of my mother's wedding....well written...very realistic.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The story has efficiently pictured-the two characteristic properties of time, with her simple words in a lucid manner:
    1.Time is an etching tool that leaves permanent impressions on human mind.
    2.It has everlasting bonds of association.
    The psychological scenario pictured in the present text deserves earnest appreciation.
    Hope to read similar stories.

    ReplyDelete