TEXT BY PARUL GHOSH
PHOTOGRAPHS BY PARUL GHOSH
As a kid it was always fascinating to go through my mother’s things, some of which she had inherited from her own mother. Old school treasure – I’d call it. My father was in the Army so every few years that we’d move cities I looked forward to unpacking and going through all her stuff, imagining setting up my own home someday. When I first came across her wedding saree, I told her if I ever get married that is what I would wear. She would laugh this off telling me when the time came (and she really hoped it did!) I’d go running to my friends or a fancy boutique and leave her out of this big decision.
My mom got married in 1980 and during those times traditionally almost every bride wore red. She wasn’t keen on anything bright so decided to go with maroon instead. She lived in Chandigarh at the time so off she went with my Grandma to a very well-known store in the city – Gulati Stores. When I asked her about how she knew this was the one, she said – The salesman brought out this saree and opened it delicately, showed it to them like it was made of gold. As he slowly unfolded it, she couldn’t believe how beautiful it looked and knew then and there – this was it! A simple but beautiful maroon tanchoi silk saree with golden embroidery on it’s borders.
I’m so glad she made that choice because that’s exactly how I felt when I first saw it. Each time she’d open her box of sarees, she would say it was time to get rid of it because she was never going to wear it again. She felt it was too heavy to wear it anywhere and I’d tell her the same thing – I’ll wear it on my own wedding someday. She’d laugh once again, we’d argue and I’d make her keep it back.
And then many years later, it finally happened. I decided to get married. Mine was to be a small affair, a court wedding with a few ceremonies at home with just family and close friends. I literally had no time to plan anything because of the paucity of time. My to-be husband wasn’t in the country and neither were my parents. It was a living nightmare!
When my mom finally reached Delhi closer to the date of the wedding, I asked her about the saree. And she couldn’t believe I was serious. The saree was lying in a box in Chandigarh and there was just no time. I was disappointed but it wasn’t anybody’s fault. There was no time to think or waste. I wasn’t too big on spending a lot of money on the “perfect outfit” or the “perfect wedding” so I decided to pick any of the other silk sarees I had for the main wedding ceremony.
By now, I think my mother figured I was serious about the saree. Three days before D-day, my mother who is the biggest rock in my life took a cab early morning and went off to Chandigarh, picked up the saree and came back the same evening. She got it dry cleaned and handed it to me and I don’t think we even had the mind space to just stop for a minute and embrace that beautiful moment.
So it is now that I want to thank her and tell her how amazing she is and that I still find it hard to believe she went through all that trouble to make it all happen. 37 years later after her own wedding, I got to wear my mother’s saree and it looked as beautiful as it did on her own big day. Now that it’s done, I still can’t let it go and it now lies in my very own box of sarees.