Monday 22 August 2016

Legacy of Passion

On a fine monsoon morning, when the clouds still darkened the sky with its blanket of sparkly, silvery lines and we were surrounded by heavy rains, there was a knock on the door. I was still sipping my favourite tea made out of freshly ground basil leaves from my mother’s well maintained kitchen garden. This man came out of nowhere with an attractive package addressed to me. Well, receiving something after a long time made me look like a dog with two tails, wagging away in glory.
The package, as I said, was irresistibly tempting, strangely heavy and the little golden butterfly on the top just piled on my puzzlement. It was more or less like a brooch which could be easily reused. So, very intricately I removed it, trying not to tamper the pin attached behind. The box again had a red satin covering. I unwrapped the delicate casing and laid my eyes on the trinket box. The stimulation of thrill to find out the contents was getting on my nerves. It was unbelievably antique and unembellished. After putting in a fortune of efforts, I somehow managed to discover the trick to open. It was no rocket science and I just had to slide the cover. But, some vintage stuff can be extremely mystifying. Especially, when you are desperately curious to know what’s stored inside. 

It happens even with the latest gadgets or while I am trying to use new found applications. Initially I keep struggling like a crazy woman and on discovery, I call myself a dummy because it was just a child’s play. 

I finally saw how the land lied, aahhh….there I was grinning from ear to ear like a little girl who’d discovered a treasure of candies and lollies! It was full of coins from different parts of the world – in silver, copper, bronze, nickel and one in gold. I loved collecting coins just like my great grandmother and this gift was undoubtedly from her.  

She had left the world long ago and this, indeed, came like a sweepstake. I held the trinket box which took me to the world of narrations I had endlessly listened to, for hours together.  My great grandmother sat on her favourite wooden chair, with a thin cushion layering on the top which neither had any pomp nor any show. I sat in the veranda beside her feet with inquisitive eyes fixed on her face. She told me her childhood stories where she stayed in a family with 15 siblings in and around her. Their house was on a hill top in the heart of mines and her father worked in one of the minefields. They always had enough to eat and wear because of fewer demands. When she turned 13, there came a marriage proposal from one of the families their relatives knew since a long time. She couldn’t be expressive at that young age but in her heart of hearts, she had always pined to be with him as long as she lived. 

Her wedding was a simple Malalayali Catholic wedding. I could make out from the tattered, black & white, picture that she had worn a cream coloured saree, a little tiara like something with a long, flowing veil and had held a bouquet of flowers. My great-grand father was barely visible and the only thing I saw was curly hair, parted forcefully on the forehead. Everything seemed funny to me because both of them looked barely enough to be married. She used to always giggle and tell me, “Had I poured out my feelings for your great – grandfather then, I would’ve never got married to him. He will always be my prince charming.” Those days they never even looked into each other’s eyes in public or held hands. No wonder, in olden movies it was stereo-typed showing two flowers happily, coming closer to each other at the end of almost every love song.  

From the time I saw her, she had very thin, straight white hair which was tied into a loose bun at the nape of her neck. She had a frail figure, her face was smooth with saggy skin, she had twinkling black eyes, her affectionate toothless smile always made my day and her melodious singing was like a little girl reciting poetries. Though she couldn’t walk erect, she wasn’t hunchbacked but easily moved around with baby steps. Chicken roast, mutton fry, duck meat curry were some of her most amazing preparations which never easily succumbed to what you are catered elsewhere. They were always my comfort food. Facts hit us hard, yes it does! 

Her favourite attire was Chattayum Mundum. It is the traditional attire of Christian women in Kerala. Chatta is a half or a full sleeved white blouse which reaches upto the waist, worn with a white mundu. In more fashionable terms a sarong like wrap around, frilled at the back forming a fan.  

When she went out, she covered herself with another piece of white cloth over her shoulders and bosom. She had masterpieces of such white cloth with signature embroideries on it from all over the world. She used to pin on the left front using a brooch. She loved butterfly brooches and collected a variety of them. I was highly drawn towards these pieces of timeless, classic beauty. She also collected coins and loved the jingle it made in her trinket. The more, the merrier. I was still holding the box reminiscing over the glorious past and had goosebumps at the thought of having her collections, it clearly meant the saga needs to continue. It didn’t mean to end with her. Like traditions, some passions continue for generations together, like heirlooms which are believed precious.      

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