The story ahead:
Wearily I left the saree on the chair and went to sleep. The entire next day was spent in some or the other ritual for the bridegroom with the saree nicely forgotten somewhere in the room. I was relatively free the next day as most of the guests had left the previous evening itself. I ventured out on my mission to get that stain removed. I gave the saree at a dry cleaning store and went out with my cousins to a nearby food joint for dinner. Next day I went to collect the saree and what do I see!! To my utter dismay the stain is very much there – staring back at me in its full glory. When I asked the shop keeper he calmly replied, ‘Sorry we tried a lot but the stain just refused to go.’ After a lot of argument I finally relented thinking I will get it done in my city where there will be better dry cleaners. I walked away in a huff from there with my nose high up in the air. Little did I know that very soon it was going to search a place to hide my face out of embarrassment?
I reached my home after 2 days.
Having spent some quality time with my huge family I was feeling lazy and mood less to do anything. It took me an entire day to gather the energy to start out on my mission once again. The same story repeated here too. The stain just refused to go. Now I started panicking. What will Ashima Boudi think? I ruined her mother-in-law’s saree. She will be furious with me. Maybe she will even cut off all her ties with me……..!!. I spent sleepless nights thinking about all this. My husband was unable to understand the reason for such a drastic change in my nature. I was too ashamed to even tell him all this for the fear of evoking his wrath.
As days passed I kept on trying new dry cleaners with no success. My life’ sole aim was to get rid of the stain. I was obsessed with it and could not think about anything else. I was too embarrassed to go and meet Boudi lest she would ask her ‘stained’ saree back. Boudi sent so many messages through my husband asking about my well being and requesting me to go and see her. Every time I would think of going to meet her I would develop cold feet and the plan would be cancelled.
Days turned into week and weeks into months. It was two months I was back from my brother’s marriage and the saree with its stain was still with me. I was cursing the moment when I had accepted that saree from Boudi. My near perfect life was disturbed because of this one thing. Thinking about various ways and means to get rid of it I had literally turned into a zombie. There was not a single remedy or a dry cleaner which I would not have tried for this. I must have spent a fortune on that stain.
One day some neighbour of mine recommended a new dry cleaner somewhere in the old city who according to her was a magician. Not the one to lose hope so easily I decided to try him out. The same day I set off to accomplish this target. The shopkeeper was an affable old man. With a very keen eye he observed the stain for a long time. Scratching it one moment and smelling it the other he looked at me with a dejected look in his eyes and shook his head,’ Uhummmm….it is not possible to remove this stain. It is very old.’ I immediately pounded on him, ‘It is old so what. What good are you if you cannot remove this? God knows what are you famous for?’ The shopkeeper did not know how to react to this. He kept on staring at me in bewilderment. I literally stomped out of the shop and almost bumped into……..none other than Ashima Boudi.
‘Arre….Aparna. Kemmon? Where have you been since such a long time?’ She stopped abruptly on seeing the saree in my hands. ‘Oh...I had almost forgotten about this. Did you wear it?’ Before she could continue I broke down into tears. Boudi did not understand what happened suddenly. ‘Aparna…what happened? Are you ok?’ I just could not control my tears in front of her anymore. Amidst sobs I narrated the entire story to her. As soon as I completed it Boudi burst into laughter. Now it was my turn to be shocked. She continued laughing for sometime as I kept staring at her in a daze. She was almost out of breath as she wiped the tears which were flowing out of her eyes. She regained her composure and smiled at me.
I was perplexed with her reaction. She ruffled by hair playfully and said, ‘Etto paagol...You are so naïve. The day when she had come to see me for the first time she was wearing this saree. She had liked me very much. Just when she was about to dab attar on her fingers I bent down to touch her feet spilling few drops of attar on her saree. I got terrified but she smiled lovingly and said until now I used to shower my love on people; but today you have showered your love on me. Saying this she kissed my forehead. This is the reason why this saree is so special to me. Neither of us ever tried to remove this stain as for us it was the stain of love; a beautiful memory which both of us cherished throughout our lives. Instead of getting so much worried you should come to me. I would have told you all this long back. You bothered unnecessarily so much for this stain. I am feeling bad for it; I should have told you all this earlier ….’ Saying this she took my hands in hers and continued, ‘And today it has become the stain of our love. You took so much pain to remove this as you feared you might lose me because of this. This shows how much you love me.’ And she kissed my forehead. That day I understood the beauty of stains, the meaning of love and the magic of relationships. They are truly magical as they make even a stain seem like a trophy. This incident taught me that nothing was important that the relationships we shared.
Today even 15 years after that incident I and Boudi have a hearty laugh sometimes on my foolishness, but it still remains a well guarded secret between the two of us. Needless to say Boudi did not want to be the butt of jokes. We both had got ourselves clicked once when she was wearing that saree just for keepsakes which is adorning my living room now. We both still share a lovely bond which has only got stronger with time and yes we have our own shares of stains as memories to pass on to others who we might come across sometime in our lives to spread our love.