Day 31

Ode to the sari

Nine yards of elegant
Flowing delicately pleated
Carefully draped
Properly pinned
Grace
Mama effortless in each step
Tucking into the petticoat
Accordion folds slipping across fingers
The whoosh of her pallu
Virtually silent click
Of the ever ubiquitous safety pins
Holding the magic in place

I could hear the dull thuds as she walked down the hall
Telling me when to hide the comic inside the math textbook
The swirl of colorful cloth in the doorway
Signifying she had arrived
I would beg for my right to wear a sari
Lehengas were too itchy
Gopi skirts too restrictive
Salwar kameez – not my thing
“Ma I’ll handle the sari, I’ll tie the petticoat really tight, it won’t fall off!” And so from two till seven
I would hold my tummy in as
Mom would effortlessly
Tuck, fold, straighten the sari;
Her flow
Folding hers in half to fit my frame right.
Her face would be scrunched with the pin between her teeth and I would soak it all in with awe.
Then I started doing it myself,
randomly deciding to wear a sari one day
Until it became a thing
From school to dance to work to the temple,
Radhika wore saris.
Nine yards of cloth
Patterned with motifs that tell stories,
Embroidered connections to ancient designs,
Woven paradoxes of the old and the new,
Artisans creating the perfect combination:
a foot in the past, a foot in the present,
A style statement rooted in tradition, draping me in the folds of generations
of strong women

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