It was a peaceful Monday morning. Peaceful because my husband and two kids were at their respective office and schools and I had some few hours to myself before the running around began once again once they returned from school. I decided to do some spring cleaning in the house as Durga Puja was nearing and this was topping my to-do list. I was dusting the shelves in my living room when a photograph on the nearby shelf caught my eye. I took it in my hands and moved my fingers on it trying to feel it. Boudi looked so pretty in this saree, I thought. I laughed as thought again ’this saree’. My mind raced back some 15 years back in time remembering the story behind this saree.
‘My mother-in-law was very beautiful…’ Boudi said as she opened the trunk. She smiled and touched all the things in the trunk. ‘You know I can still feel her in these things…..she used to always be impeccably dressed in lovely sarees. She reflected the grace of Goddess Kali on her divine face. And her eyes…oh my my what expressive eyes. There was always a gleam of naughtiness in them which used to wait for the right moment to come out.’ She continued. Slowly she started taking out the sarees only by one from the trunk admiring each one with her hands. She bent a little bit to scoop out a box from it. It was a beautiful wooden jewellery box with very intricate carving on it. Boudi’s eyes shone as she opened the box. It had a small mirror, some bangles and other pieces of jewellery like earrings, necklaces etc. Amidst all these things one thing which stood out was a small bottle of attar (perfume).
Boudi took it in her hands and showed it to me, ‘She was very fond of attar and always used to carry this bottle with her. If she had to express her fondness or love towards someone she would dab her index fingers in this and touch that persons cheeks with it. She used to call this showering her love.’ She drew the box closer to her nose to inhale the aroma and smiled. She pulled out a beautiful magenta coloured saree and handed over to me. It had beautiful peacock feather motifs all over in golden thread and had a royal sheen to it. As I felt the embroidery with my hands I smiled and said, ‘Boudi….it is sooo…ooo…beautiful….’ She giggled and lovingly stroked my hair,’ Take it Aparna. I would love it if you wear it to your brother’s wedding. You can return it to me later on. ‘I was a bit hesitant first but Boudi forced me a lot after which I could not say no to her.
Aami Aparna. I had got married some 6 months back and moved to this city with my husband, Shashank. Initially I used to feel very homesick as this was the 1st time I had stayed away from my family. At my parents’ house, I used to be a part of a huge joint family which consisted of uncles, aunts, grandparents and cousins. We all stayed together in a big house. You can imagine my plight when I had to live all alone in an alien city. One weekend husband took me to Shekharda’s house. He introduced me to the warm and loving Das family there which consisted of Shekharda, Ashima Boudi and their 6 years old son Anurag. Both of them reminded me of my elder brother and sister-in-law. Their love and affection made me forget my homesickness in a jiffy. For me it a pure joy to spend time there.
Boudi took an instant liking for me and treated me like her younger sister. On our first meeting itself she had told me ‘Come here whenever you want to…just treat this like your parents house…’ Her words had brought tears to my eyes. From that day onwards Boudi was like a one-stop solution for any problems I faced. She would solve all my problems instantly with a smile. But that day I was there for a different reason. My younger brother’s marriage had got fixed and I was leaving for my home town the next day. I had come to meet Boudi for the last time before going. Boudi was doing some spring cleaning at her house when I entered it. She was very happy to know about my brother’s marriage. This is when she had opened the trunk and given me this saree.
Like a small child I was so happy on getting the saree that I literally jumped all the way back to my home. I received so many compliments for the saree on the wedding that it made me giddy for a while. The wedding went on smoothly and we all returned home very tired late in the night. I was chit-chatting with my cousins and folding it when I suddenly noticed a big stain on the saree. I went numb. I pulled the saree in a haste to examine it. There was nothing on it. It was a plain stain as if left by some oil or something. I tried to scratch it with my nails when my cousin said, ‘Arre…Aparnadi…don’t worry. Give it for dry cleaning and it will be fine. Something must have spilled on it in all the running around that you did in the wedding.’
Concluding Part to be continued.......In next Sunday Scribblings