The rain remained illusive for another day. It was sultry and late in the afternoon, the dry cleaner was almost lowering the shutters when I rushed in to pick up my clothes.
I could barely wait to tear through the brown paper wrapping and the thread holding it together. What lay within was a memory from a faded photograph. And when I had removed all the distractions that came between me and the contents, there lay in my arms the soft touch of silk in silvery ivory, embellished with real zardozi and meenakari that merged into a gold and crimson border.
The picture was from a long time ago, in a distant land, a snapshot of happier times, of times when laughter was carefree, when days were careless. It had a smiling father, young and confident of his brood, two ruddy brats in their boyhood and the mother, resplendent in her ivory silk saree with the gold and crimson border.
This was how he remembered his mother, in her Durga Pujo best, her ivory “Gorod” with the intricate needlework in zari and hints of meenakari, her hair freshly washed and fragrant with a touch of crimson sindoor where it parted over the forehead, the flawless crimson sindoor bindi between the arches of her brow, the younger son had shared with me. On our first asthami morning, when he played with my washed, moist hair and chose a cream Dhakai with scarlet and gold leaf motifs for my morning, he told me about her, her youth, her laughter and how he held only that one picture of her to his heart, of that particular morning, from among his many asthami mornings with her.
The last time we met, she was sitting by her window, in a darkening room on an autumn evening. She had promised to give me a surprise and today she already had something wrapped in brown paper waiting for me when we arrived. It was her son’s favourite and she wanted me to take care of it for her, after her.