Thursday, May 29, 2008
Somebody arrival day
Tomorrow being Indian Arrival Day, our offices are filled with people in traditional ethnic wear. For a brief moment this morning, I contemplated my collection of silk saris. Peacock blue, jade green, emerald green, pink, more pink, yellow and gold spilled wantonly across sober dark blue sheets. Vibrant garments which make it impossible to hide. Holding the silky fabric up, wrapping, pleating, draping.
The sari is a truly beautiful garment, designed to flatter the female form, no matter shape and size, it is enticing, sensual and practical. For decades, Indian movie directors, constrained by censors used the sari as the ultimate tease. Wet, clinging it revealed more than it hid with nothing actually showing. It is an elegant garment that can go from being a practical piece of cotton with little embellishment for daywear to glamorous evening wear complete with gold thread, intricately woven patterns or sequins. Every woman looks beautiful in a sari.
Marge, my former mother in law taught me how to wrap a sari. She, who had lived in India and worn them every day, shared the secrets. We did not always see eye to eye Marge and I, but time has dimmed the memory of things we argued over, any hard feelings gone in a haze of live and let live.
An extremely remarkable woman, youthful pictures of her show, not a conventional beauty but a striking woman, impeccably made up, coiffed with glossy hair, oozing style and character; her dreams of becoming a doctor were sacrificed on the altar of duty. Though attending university, her parents could not afford two sets of fees, thus her brother became a dentist, she settled for a teaching certificate while also feeding her passion for design by taking clothing design classes in her free time. Later, in between following my father-in-law around the world as he chased his dreams, raising four children without family to help, she molded minds, teaching language and literature to scores of students, helping many achieve through her assistance.
Throughout my life, she knew me way before I married her son, her bookshelves where plundered to feed my hunger for words. From early on she'd realised that I was different, artsy, creative and offered encouragement. Marge lessons also included how to set a formal dining table, about china and silverware, how to dress with style not follow trends, that is was okay to be creative. She is the first person I knew who bought art, not as accessories for her house but because she loved her paintings. Mom alone has always supported my quest to write. Though we are not blood, we share a love of books, art, food and clothes. When she allows herself, she can be very adventurous; in a way, Mom is responsible for causing me to reach and stretch myself and become more than might have been expected. Though I have not been her daughter in law now for longer than I was married, she still treats me like family on the odd occasions we communicate.
While I rarely wear them now, my first experience at fifteen stands out, Mom coming over with a red silk, handloomed, an heirloom from her India days, dressing me as a doll, slowly wrapping me in it. Pulling out the pleats again and again until they hung just so and the pulloo was draped at the right angle over my shoulder. Beautiful.
Want to learn to wrap your own: http://www.utsavsarees.com/pages/wearsari.htm