Recently, in an attempt to spend more time with Mom, I was helping her sort out her cupboard. Because in Indian households, you don’t bond unless there is cleaning or chai or both involved.
As I sifted through her clothes, I noticed a few gorgeous sarees that she hadn’t worn for years. I promptly started draping them as dupattas, staking a claim on them before my elder sibling could.
However, that simple act of draping her saree as a dupatta (with continuous commentary by my mom on what style would look best on me), instantly took me back to my childhood days, where, according to me, her dupattas had one sole purpose – becoming my saree.
Within minutes, I was glancing through old photo albums, drowning in Kodak-filled memories of a childhood spent transforming into a teacher, a politician, my elderly great-grandmother, and even my mother, by the simple act of wearing a dupatta-turned-saree.
At times, the towel sufficed in the place of a dupatta. Because it was of utmost importance to me, that I finish playing whosoever I was impersonating. Luckily, my mother indulged me.
I am of course not the only kid to have draped my mother’s dupattas as makeshift sarees and dived into a world of imagination, often tearing the dupatta in the process.
Hell, as a teenager, I’ve been guilty of even dressing up my younger cousins in dupattas, and watching them enact entire scenarios from movies or shows or just their imagination.
But, over the years, as I grew up, those dupattas went back into my mother’s cupboard. I went through a phase where jeans were my best friend, and all things traditional accumulated dust in a corner of my cupboard, only to be taken out for festivals.
I was, what the society aunties ‘lovingly’ referred to as, a tomboy.
But, through my grumpy adolescent phase, my experimental college phase (red hair FTW!), and my professionals-only-wear-heels phase, I never stopped coveting my mother’s wardrobe.
Considering she doesn’t wear sarees often, most of her sarees were the ones she preserved from her wedding trousseau. Over the years, many of those sarees have been kept aside as an heirloom for my sister and me.
And even today, one of my favourite ways to pass time is to take them out of the old suitcase where they are kept for safe-keeping. And then, drape them in style, repurpose them as dupattas, and for a small time, become a young kid playing with her mother’s clothes again. Luckily for me, my mom still indulges.