[Photo - Nirmala Patil]
He was coming home for the first time, to meet my parents. It was a windy June morning and I remember being drawn to the play of wind between the curtains, as I sat waiting for him in our small living room. And the very first thing I noticed when he arrived was how he’d made no effort to dress up or present himself to impress, just as he’d done when we first met each other. A little more piece of my heart was conquered by his continued honesty; for who he truly, plainly was. Minutes turned into hours as introductions were made, conversations flowed; like rain stream down a hill, and an unannounced relationship started sprouting between my parents and him.
Then we had lunch, which I’d specially prepared earlier that morning. But what we ate for lunch and every other detail about the day have come to be a blur in my mind, except for what unfolded right after lunch. And it makes me wonder if this is so because we tend to guard and devote our inner space, unbeknownst to ourselves, to only those thoughts and memories that are more precious, letting the rest fade away.
So what lingers inside me starkly from that afternoon are moments after lunch, when we sat down by ourselves, talking and touching each other with our thoughts, and he quietly brought out a package from his bag and offered it to me. A gift. Wrapped in khaki paper and secured with cotton string. Simple and unpretentious, like an echo of his own personality. A little more piece of my heart was conquered. And as I unwrapped the package, what lay inside waiting to become mine was something I’d never received from anyone else. A white Khadi sari speckled with gray leaf motifs. Soft to the touch and beautiful in its weave. Making its giver a special first in my life, not because it was unthinkably expensive or rare, but because among all the loving things I was gifted over the years by my family and friends, I’d never received a cotton (the only fabric I ever wear) sari in a colour I loved most before. This little act of knowing, so beautifully unsaid and un-underlined, seemed to have silently sealed us into a union that day.
And ever since, this tangible piece of clothing has carried in its folds such precious intangible memories. That a mere touch, wafts me away into that windy, balmy June afternoon a decade ago.
Now ten years later, well-worn and fraying around the edges, I still continue to cherish this gift like a treasure, drape it around me like our old song of growing love, and offer its memory here, as a souvenir to the warm-hearted campaign #storiesoflove* by Love the World Today.
*A thoughtful initiative against fast fashion and a sweet reminder to buy less and care more; thereby prolonging the value of all-things-we-own whether bought, gifted or inherited.