“Remember this: When you cross my doorstep, you have already been raised. With what you have learned…you know the difference between right and wrong. Do right. Don’t anybody raise you from the way you have been raised. Know you will have to make adaptations, in love, in relationships, in friends, in society, in work, but don’t let anybody change your mind.”
― Maya Angelou,
I wanted to start by dedicating this post to my fashion roots: my ma. She’s such a star. She taught English, for about 35 years of her life, to high school students, in colorful sarees. She’s very spiritual and loves astrology. And she has one the kindest hearts.
Here is a story and a glimpse into my mum’s kind heart. In grade 5, I failed my english exam. I scored 9/40, which is really not even a score. I came home, scared and really ashamed. I remember feeling inadequate and worthless, especially because my mom is an English teacher. She said nothing to me; She didnt shout, no ” I am going to send you for tuitions,” no “How can your teacher even fail you in 5th?” or “We will complain to the principal.” Instead, she got me enrolled at this small library, close to my house. I used to cycle there everyday and loan Tinkle Digest and only read about Supandi. She got me a pocket book edition of the play “Merchant of Venice” and asked me to narrate the story to her in my own way. Two years passed and I found myself writing about books, and poems, and inspirational figures. Sometimes I was reading two books at the same time. I even participated in a fictional story writing competition. Through all this I never realized that my mother was slowly keeping a watch, filling the gaps, for me. She made sure that I never depended on her. And without me realizing, I had become an independent and strong girl, just like my ma. Coming back after my graduation, I wanted to run away from home, from her and India. But she patiently wiped my tears and held me as I cried from my first heartbreak, held me close every night as if it was the last time she was holding me, held me protectively when I just wanted to give up on my dreams. Basically she was my prince charming.
During these two years my style truly transformed. Having put on a bit (tonnes tonnes) of weight, I myself didn’t feel comfortable wearing anything but T-shirts and jeans. But slowly I started exploring. I was always drawn to sarees, and eventually I started spending a lot of time falling in love with all of my mother’s. All the cotton pastel colored ones. The vibrant ones which she wanted me to get re-stitched into kurtas, because she no longer wore them. But in all those sarees, I suddenly saw her. The charismatic, upright, unquestionably graceful, principled, and the most giving and accepting person. I fell in love with my mother; I fell in love with her incontestable memory that somehow remembers every detail of every saree she’s ever owned or worn. Whether it be the Saree she got as a gift from her father, or the one she bought herself from her first paycheck, or the one that is now a kurta in my cousin’s wardrobe. She can trace back every inch of of the fabric, as if it was she who supervised the process, in a noisy factory, while it was being woven. My mother, I discovered, had an elephant’s memory.
During this transformative time, it was not me alone who changed her styles; my mother started flaunting jeans and gorgeous silk tops, when I began flaunting her sarees. My mother always shied away from wearing jeans and tops, and shirts. But no longer. I called this a new-age clothes swapping relationship. She was wearing my old tops and I was wearing her sarees.
I am still not someone who can wear a saree anywhere, anytime, because damn there are so many barriers, cotton needs to be starched, silk needs to stay away from water, nails and fire, and chiffon is too light. And so, sometimes when I get caught in the midst of finding the perfect colored saree, or whether I can wear it right, or whether I should wear it at all, I try and think about my mom when she was 23; a woman who was feisty, strong headed, and staying true to her ideals. And I remind myself: ‘you’re just like her, you can get through this too, just got to work on that grace a bit more Amogha.’
Thank you Ma.
I am wearing my mother’s 31 years old Tanchoi Banarasi Silk Saree, that she wore on her wedding day.
Photos were taken by my brilliant photographer, my Ma.