When I was a small girl I used to wait for that sun drenched day when mom would open her black trucks and lay out the treasures. The fragrance of cloves which were normally tucked away wrapped in small bundles of voil. The carved wooden boxes with tiny velvet compartments. The heirlooms , the tiny silver spoons and bowls from our childhood , locks of hair and the umbilical cords ( yes she still has them ) all had a special place in my heart.
Ma would sit on the dari or chatai and I would sneak in from behind the door and wait for the cue. ( she has eyes at the back of her head too )
Then her sweet voice will drift through like the morning winter breeze filling me with joy and I would rush to sit by her side.
The scene is still so vivid that every time I think about it my eyes fill with tears of joy. There was something magical about all that.
I did a post about it long ago The Black Trunk Do read it.
When my first child was born ma gave me some thing very special.
A silver power box with a geese feather puff for the little darling. It was special because it was my granny’s. My grandfather ( nana) had bought it when mom was born. The eldest of all the siblings. Now 80 years later it lies with me neatly wrapped in the same voil piece from my granny’s old sari as I had seen it as a baby.
I never got it cleaned though it has beautiful engravings all over just for the simple reason that I wanted to preserve the antique look. The soft powder puff still smells of a fragrant lavender body talc which was used for me. I did not use it for my sons for some reasons so it remained inside the cupboard all along.
I noticed that all children have this habit of exploring . One day I found my sons going through the contents ad blissfully enjoying the touch of soft feather against their skin. I think if I had a daughter the things may have been different. Girls love such things. I do.
Mom also gave me something priceless. I never saw my paternal grandmother but knew her to a very strong-willed woman. In those times women of upper caste ( zamindars) were not allowed to step out without escorts and especially in Allahabad where she stayed there were many restrictions. My granny made her own rules and went alone for her early morning bath at the Ganges . This created a buzz in the household and the men did not like it at all but no one had the courage to speak against her. She was a religious woman like many others of her time but a very learned one. She stood for her rights and that of women in her household and made sure the new rules were accepted.
Ma never met her unfortunately . Theirs was an inter-caste love marriage and granny died before dad actually got married.
In her last days she took sanyas and went alone to live in Ayodhya where she stayed on her own till her last breath. A life of dignity and self-respect.
She was a very talented woman ma tells us. An excellent cook, a woman with a generous heart and an open mind. She gave me one of the very few things that were handed down to her from dad’s close relatives. ( His parents died before his wedding)
A long hand embroidered strip of black velvet. These strips were made with hand , a very laborious task , to be used as borders for saris .
I love the vibrant use of colors and the fact that it is one of the three-four things left of my grand mom. A priceless piece of hand work. Sometimes I sit with these things and build stories around them. Imagining what kind of life she must have had. This sure must be made in early 40s if I am correct.
These heirlooms are precious treasurer for me. I will be doing two more posts on such priceless things. Priceless not because they are valuable money wise but because they hold a very special place in our hearts.
When ma fell seriously ill sometime back she called my children and handed them two silver bowls and a sindoor dani ( a silver box meant to keep vermilion powder} . These bowls are from my childhood and she wanted my kids to keep them as remembrance .The sindoor dani is mom’s . Dad had got it for her when they got married. Some day I will tell you about this inter caste love story
I am still looking out for more such treasures. Old books now not in print, baby clothes from our childhood, old B&W pix from mom’s childhood , old music records now a thing of the past and much more.
Keep looking out for the new posts.
Each of these things has a fragrance of the person who is associated with it, love that drifts in air around you and envelopes you in warm embrace. Each has a story behind it , a memory of that time period . The people are long gone or old like my mom. Some day these very things will stay for generations to see and connect with their past. I don’t know what will happen to them when I am gone but for now they remain with me encased in a cocoon of love.
A fragrant memory.