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Dads and Dresses

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09 Dec '23
4 min read


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Anna , my late dad , picked up beautiful sarees for my mom , his choice a tad better than mom's herself.  She preferred subdued pastel colours where he chose spritely ones .

Shopping in those days was not on a whim but on occasions , perhaps when he got his bonus at work . We even found a diary where he has accounted for each rupee spent from the bonus received . The spends being more towards his wife , my mother , my brother and me . The rare spend he has done for himself has been towards some spares of his lambretta scooter .

He went shopping for Amma mostly by himself and brought her beautiful sarees , small floral prints , bright colours , colours that looked good on her .

On my 11 th birthday , a few days after his youngest sister got married , we were in Mumbai for the wedding , he  took my mother and me for my birthday shopping . 
I had grown up wearing frocks stitched at home by my aunt , the material for which was bought by Anna . Walking into a shop to buy readymade was probably a first for me .  He had set his mind to buy a trouser and a shirt to go with it  for me .

Having grown up for a decade in frocks , the rare long skirts for weddings or the rarest of rare maxi for an uncle's wedding before this day , the trouser and shirt didn't quite appeal to me . I don't quite remember whether I settled for the trouser and shirt in the bargain I also got a frock .

Anyway , the trouser and shirt it was then ,  for my 11th birthday ,  I don't think we had a party since we were away from home and perhaps I wore it that day and went around .

The new dress didn't quite get the honour of being worn often , it quite wasn't my comfort zone , sadly . As an eleven year old I didn't realise the sentiment behind , dad having spent his hard earned money to see his daughter dressed in something new , away from her usual .

It went below the other frocks and somewhere got lost in the crowd of clothes in the wardrobe  , unseen and ignored . Probably even went to the steel vendors who came door to door and sold steel in exchange for clothes.

Thinking about it now a good four decades and more later I wish I had treasured it , worn it often ,  gone to play , worn it to friends parties , seen the twinkle of pride in my dad's eyes , seen his proud smile !

So often we don't realise what treasures we are blessed with , a man shopping for his wife and children !

Mom , unlike me , loved the sarees he shopped for her . She repeated the saree time and again , most of her pictures have her seen in the one of the sarees that her husband had hand picked for her . Bright and floral with colours and hues that sprung from the garden .

Perhaps my not wearing the trouser and shirt he had picked up for my eleventh , often  had saddened him , for , for my golden , thirty nine years later , he handed over money and asked me to go buy a saree for myself .

Age had caught up with him , he couldn't go shopping this time , age had caught up with me too , wasn't going to repeat my mistake and let this gift go back to the steel vendors ( they don't come these days anyway ) , have treasured the saree , a white cotton silk with a black border with a hint of green on it .

Life teaches you along the way ,  I learnt to treasure gifts that Anna gave , maybe a little late but learn I did ! 

Category : Personal Experience


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Written by Poornima Nalkoor