The Flyaway Saree
by Vimala Ramu
One thing I sincerely appreciate about the modern generation is their credo “Dress for comfort”, be it jeans, capris, salwaars, kurtis or swimsuits.
If something was missing in the attires of our generation, it was a sense of logic in dressing up. Compared to our previous generation who used to swathe themselves in yards and yards of material (oh, those dhotis, pagris,9 yard sarees …), we were a little more sensible in that we at least used lesser material to cover ourselves. But comfort? There was only one way of wearing the saree (in South India) and this attire would have to do for all the occasions including in bed.
The glamour quotient made its advent in a middle class housewife’s life when nylon sarees came into the market__Nylon, so named as the yarn was invented simultaneously in New York (Ny) and London (Lon). We had heard that Dacca muslin sarees could be folded and fitted into match boxes. But that was only a legend for us. So, this diaphanous material in lovely colours and attractive prints which would not fade, shrink or pucker up was indeed sensuously wrapping us in ethereal elegance and making us feel beautiful and glamorous - thinner the material the better it was. Gujarati ladies would embroider their matching coloured petticoats with intricate mirror work of Kutch so that it would show through the transparent material.
With a heavy bias developed towards pure silk and pure cotton in my later years, I shudder to think how we loved those nylon sarees and wore them all the time, in spite of the warnings about going near the fire. I wonder how I used to wear them to bed even during hot summers of Delhi…….
It was during one of those postings to Delhi. We stayed in the quarters at Dhaula Kuan. As we were occupying the first floor, we used to sleep on the terrace above the ground floor garage using light charpoys (5 of them, one for each member of the family) to spread our beds in the nights.
One very hot, windless night, I had discarded my nylon saree and left it heaped loosely near the bed. In the middle of the night, suddenly a strong gust of wind rose and carried away my saree. It deposited it in the compound of our neighbours! As luck would have it, the back of their house faced the rear of our house and so we did not know them well.
But, “Chivalry, thy name is Man”. My husband, without a second’s hesitation strode down in his summer (un) dress to retrieve the saree.
I was shocked! Watching tensely from the balcony, my mind was full of questions. What if the residents of the house, say the master or chaprasi comes out? What explanation would he give them, trespassing in the midnight in their yard barely clad in a jhangia? Would they believe him if he claimed to be their neighbour and that he had come for his wife’s saree?
Fortunately nothing of the sort happened. While the residents of the house slept soundly my husband brought back the saree in great triumph and gave it to me. I folded it well, weighted it with my pillow and went back to sleep, barely able to suppress the laughter bubbling within me.