This happened almost 15 years ago, I was in my fifth or sixth grade. My mother has to go for her refreshing course every three years and that year she came back with a lot of toys and dress for me. I was so excited but hardly got a chance to wear them as it was summer holidays and we were not planning any trip because of the festival in our temple. I decide to utilize the time to the fullest by playing with the toys she bought and those which I got from my brother by hooking up stories of haunted dolls and cars.
But I went to the temple daily just to wear those clothes and each time I open the closet to take my new dress, my grandmother asked me to keep it back because small girls were supposed to wear a frock or a skirt and blouse to the temple. I was eagerly waiting with my churidar to wear it for the first time in my life. It was a coral coloured churidar with beadwork on the front and a thread work on the rear piece with a loose bottom which more or less satisfied the condition of a palazzo pant. The most exciting piece was the dupatta which I never used before. Yes Joey, the same dupatta which I hate now. Back then I had all my aunties and cousins and even my mother wearing a dupatta when they step out of the house and I saw that to be a symbol of the ‘grown-up’, I always envied them.
That was when my father came home and told about a procession and parade on the night of the 7th-day festival at the temple. The god was coming to our place to visit us. I was so happy, not because of the festival. The god is coming here and so I don’t have to wear anything traditional to welcome him. I have my churidar. My mother and grandmother arranged everything and they tried convincing me to wear something ‘simple’. My mother even told the churidar was not safe because it was not stitched properly and the tailor would stitch it for me properly so that I could wear it on my school reopening day. I was smart enough to understand that they are trying to fit me into a frock which I hated. I held tightly to the idea of churidar and they did not have any other option.
Finally, it was the day or the night and it was time for me to wear my new outfit. I wore it and accessorized it with a pearl chain and matching earrings not because people would see me like that but to trigger the jealousy of my friend-cum-classmate- cum- neighbour girl. All of us were ready at 8 pm and went to see the God who was there near our house. I couldn’t concentrate on the god or the programmes which were going on there; I was busy searching for my friend.
I finally found her, clasping to her mother’s finger, wearing a skirt and blouse. I grinned and ran to her. We started playing there and my brother also joined us. Later children from neighbouring families also joined and we couldn’t just run around. So we decided to play a much-organized game. One person was to be the catcher and others were to run; the first person the catcher touch is the next catcher. We took a lot and my brother was the catcher. All of us ran and he spotted the slowest among us, a frail kid from the neighbourhood. He managed to touch him and the puny thing started to chase us, in vain. That was when my friend’s father came to the place and she stopped for a moment to look at him. The boy came and touched her and she became the catcher. That was the first time me seeing someone cursing their own father for a fault nowhere related to him. She started chasing us and I soon understood that she was chasing me.
My stupid dupatta was flying she could easily get hold of that and finally reach me. I am a genius, Joey. I caught the dupatta and tied into the front so that it won’t take wing. I reached a wall I had to climb over it to keep her away. I kept my hands on the wall and jumped up with a force to help my right leg reach over it. It happened as planned but I heard something growling softly.. ‘rrrrr’… I did not give much attention to that and continued playing. Suddenly I realized that my friend was not chasing me. She was there near the wall, shocked. I could see her eyes moistened and her hand closing her mouth. Flashes of colours from the cracker which set thee mood of the celebration was there on her face, setting the mood of the game for us. I first did not understand what happened. Later I caught her looking to my almost-palazzo pant. Joey, I just wanted to bury myself at that moment. My pant had torn from the thighs to the calf. The pant was so loose that the piece of cloth was hanging loose. I did not know what to do. I ran to my mother and tried to cover my legs with my dupatta, which I later tried like a dhoti around my waist.
I could see the scene my mother telling me the churidar was not stitched properly and I could feel the tears flowing down my cheek silently. I had to spend the rest 2-3 hours silently near my mother with the dhoti- dupatta around my waste and other children playing in the background.
I am still conscious about my dress while I am outdoors just because of that one incident.
More letters and stories on the way.