The red silk skirt


The deep red silk skirt glows in the afternoon sun, as I gently remove it from the white cotton cloth it is wrapped in. I lay it out gently on the easy chair in the living room and move the chair over to the balcony. The silk skirt needs some fresh air and sunlight before it is wrapped-up in the soft white cloth again.

And as I move around the house, bringing out old boxes and cartons from various cupboards in yet another attempt to declutter and reorganize, my mind keeps going back to the beautiful red silk skirt with its beautiful green border.

The beautiful silk skirt

This skirt is nearly fourteen years old. It was a hot, humid afternoon, when my friends and I went shopping for our daughters for their very first classical dance performance.

The teacher had given us a long list that included the costume, make-up, hair accessories, jewellery and many other items.

All three of us were brimming with excitement, as we walked in and out of many shops – looking for, purchasing and ticking items off the list. It was late in the afternoon when we finally wrapped-up. We quickly decided to grab a cup of coffee before we went home, all the while talking about how we would get the girls ready for their dance programme.

The days soon flew past, and it was time to get our girls ready for their first-ever dance performance. We decided to meet up at one of our homes and get the girls ready together.

We knew the sequence in which the make-up had to be applied, but with no prior experience in classical dance make-up, we applied foundation that was a little patchy, eye make-up that looked thick, and blush that was overpowering.

The hair was yet another challenge! The girls had short hair – and to this we had to attach false hair, braid it and make it stay on their tiny heads. Add to this the confusion of the girls suddenly wanting to move or eat or drink water; and we were reduced to a bunch of anxiously giggling moms, desperate to cover our ineptitude.

The girls were finally ready, and we drove them to the venue. The teacher took the girls aside, and gently corrected their make-up and ensured that everything else was in place.

Out of sheer fear that the false hair we had attached would come crashing down on the stage, we had stuck so many hairpins and u-pins into their hair, while double-protecting the whole arrangement with black thread. Little did we know that our girls were in pain, carrying all those extra “mom-anxiety-reduction” pins.

The girls performed beautifully, and the three of us stood watching them with pride and misty eyes. After the performance, we high-fived each other in sheer relief that nothing had fallen or gone wrong on stage.

The girls came down. Their initial euphoria gave way to tiredness and irritation. They demanded that their make-up and hair be brought back to normal immediately. We went to the green room, and as our daughters winced and made faces we removed the huge army of hairpins we had loaded in their heads for protection.

The make-up came off with coconut oil and cotton. Our girls ran out like butterflies, feeling lighter now, and chased each other down the corridors. We packed up the various bits and pieces, and carefully put them away for the future.

I come back to the now. How can I ever part with this little skirt? It has in its folds the choreographed memories of laughter, friendship, music and dance and precious moments with my little princess and her darling friends!

Gained in translation


It was late in the afternoon last weekend, and I was on a video call with my sister. The call was a busy one, with my niece and nephew frequently popping their heads into the video frame to talk to me. Likewise, my kids also walked in and out of the call, catching up with their cousins and watching my baby niece gurgle in delight.

My sister suddenly exclaimed, “Hey, do you know what Amma is busy with these days?” She continued excitedly, “…She is translating your blogs into our mother tongue.”

I felt an inexplicable joy. Later in the day, I called my mom. Her enthusiasm was contagious as she read out the articles in our beautiful mother tongue, Tamil. She had chosen her words and sentences so carefully and had chiseled them to perfection.

Over the last five years of my blogging, my mom had always felt unhappy that she had not been able to access my blogs and read them as often as she would have liked.

When the lockdown began, she decided to catch up and started reading the blogs. The idea to translate the blogs into Tamil struck her one morning, and there was no looking back after that.

Now, she writes the final draft for one blog and a rough draft for another each day. And whenever we talk on the phone, she reads them out to me, and I can sense her excitement.

Courtesy – pixabay from http://www.pexels.com

A writer’s work derives meaning only when his or her work connects with her readers. Whenever my blogging friends or social media friends post comments or likes on my blog, I feel happy and thrilled.

But when my mom reads out her translations, I feel a different kind of joy, a kind of contentment. I cherish these afternoon calls, when we exchange ideas on writing and how the different words and sentences in each blog sound in both languages.

I feel deeply grateful to my parents for encouraging me to read and write, for encouraging me to appreciate life’s simple moments. Thank you Amma and Dad for this precious gift.