So, my college has this ridiculous tradition where once you’ve reached the third year, you’re forced to wear ‘formal clothing’ once a month. And obviously, because this is India, our only ‘formal clothing’ is a saree.
Now for those who don’t know what a saree is, it is basically this long cloth wrapped around a woman as elegantly as possible.
Beautiful right? Only, its really annoying to wear one, particularly for girls like me who aren’t used to it.
There are a wide variety of reasons to why sarees are not my cup of tea. Firstly, they look best on voluptuous nymphs and me having the body of a twelve year old boy, wearing one makes me look like I’m playing dress up. Secondly, for those inexperienced noobs, it is hell to adorn properly. I’d have to wake up at least an hour early just to drape myself in a six metre long cloth. My movements are also very much restricted.
But I am no exception to rules. Hence I had to accept the inevitable and go get measured for a blouse.
This is what we wear under the saree. As far as blouses are concerned, the tighter the better. So most of us prefer to go to the tailor and have one custom stitched.
Now tailors can either be the most disinterested people or the biggest busybodies you get to meet. Regretfully, the delightful lady I met turned out to be of the second kind.
“Ayyah…Look at you, all skin and bones- do your parents not feed you anything? Twenty years old my God! You have no breasts! Like a boy! Who will marry you when you look nothing like a woman? And look at your hair! A woman’s beauty lies in the hair- and you have so little of it! Why girls these days want to be like boys, I have no clue. Are you wearing boys’ shoes? Why don’t you have any pretty sandals hmm?”
All the while I had to hold back my spiteful responses because judgmental or not, she was a damn good tailor.
I was held captive in the shop even after she had finished taking my measurements because somehow she’d decided that we had formed a deep emotional connection warranting the sharing of her personal sob-stories.
“My elder daughter you see, such a nice girl. She did not have a boyfriend like the naughty city girls. No she was a virtuous girl… but her husband- bad fellow- he is always fighting with her. He’d promised me he’d take care of her…Maybe it is because we did not get them a car as they had asked for before the marriage.. such bloody money hungry people.. My poor girl.. she didn’t do anything to deserve this.. didn’t even have one boy friend..”
And me, being the token awkward girl, couldn’t find a chance to slip away until it had started to get dark outside.
Here in India, even strangers are sometimes seen as part of the family. Sometimes its good. Most times, its annoying. When I choose a shirt, it has to please not only my family but also my neighbours, the milk vendor and that one guy who is always at the bus stop when I’m walking to class.
This is one thing that has remained a constant from the times of Rajas to the modern era. And it might not change any time soon either.
Until then, I suppose I’ll just learn to live off this one blouse I’ve had stitched.