The Pink Princess Gown


Many many years ago, when I was in primary school – in grade four – I was selected to play the role of the princess in the play, ‘The Frog Prince’, for our school Annual Day.

Rehearsals were on in full swing, as I memorized my lines and performed multiple times before the mirror, before my grandma and aunt, and in the kitchen, as my mom heard me and corrected my intonation and expressions, while still busy cooking with her back turned to me.

I had to carry a small golden ball for the play, the ball that would fall into the well. My dearest Uncle, my dad’s brother gave me one of his orange table tennis balls, which I then wrapped in gold craft paper.

There was only one item left, and that was my costume. I needed to wear a princess gown, with multiple layers of frills. Even before I got the costume, I imagined myself in it. But then, we ran into a problem. The rental shop did not have one that fit my size, none of the clothes’ shops in town had a suitable gown.

When my mom came from the market after doing the rounds of various shops and told me that she could not find one, I was upset and wondered what would happen.

But my mom, with a twinkle in her eye said, “I have bought the material and I will stitch you a gown for your play.”

At the time, I was happy and went back to my world, content that the gown was sorted. After all her daily chores, my mom took my measurements and proceeded to start cutting and sewing.

I remember clearly that it was late at night when she started. However, because of the heavy monsoon rain and winds, there was a power cut. I remember that my Dad lit a huge candle and sat with my mom, as I dozed off to dreamland.

The next morning, when I jumped out of bed and ran to the room with the sewing machine, the room was littered with bits of cut cloth and thread and lace. But on the handle of the cupboard, on a hanger, was the most beautiful pink princess gown ever. My mother made me try it on and made a few adjustments. I had to take it to school that day for a costume rehearsal.

Image courtesy – http://www.shutterstock.com

The rehearsal and the final Annual Day play went off very well. I wore that gown on and off when the desire to become a princess overtook me, which was quite often. And as with everything else, the gown slowly faded away into oblivion.

Today, when I think back to that night, I can imagine how much effort my mother would have put in, sewing without power and just by candlelight. I am sure she sewed into the wee hours of the morning. And what to say about my Dad, who was with my Mom supporting her through the night!

My Mom probably does not even remember this, but I still do. At that time, I was just thrilled that I had got the costume, but now I can only see my mother’s deep and selfless love for her child. Love you Amma and Dad. Thank you for that night and for the many millions of things you have done for me.

A metal trunk and a table cloth


After my siblings and I left home to pursue our dreams, my mom put away the things that each of us treasured, in three huge metal trunks, one for each of us.

They clanged and made loud noises each time they were opened, allowing us a peek into our past and the things that meant a lot to each of us.

Just before I got married, my mom asked me if I wanted to take the trunk with me. I was attached to the trunk and decided to take it to my new home. I still have it,  a big blue one.

But before my wedding, I cleared the trunk. What fun it was, it had yellowed books by Enid Blyton, a tennis ball that I got free with a chocolate drink, hundreds of stickers, my slam books from high school and university, a book where I copied my favourite quotes, pressed dry flowers from our garden, a few beads and pebbles, and a table cloth from our craft class in school.

We had a compulsory craft class from Grades 6 through 8. Each year, we were expected to complete two projects. We learnt how to make plastic wire bags, a green parrot lampshade, embroidered handkerchiefs, a table cloth and many others.

The tablecloth was white in colour;  we had to draw floral patterns at the four corners and in the middle. Then using all the stitches we had learnt, we had to embroider the cloth.

My mom was very happy with the final product and displayed it proudly at home, for everyone to see.

As with everything else, newer, better things took precedence and the table cloth faded from memory, till it resurfaced when I cleared the trunk. I still have it with me. Here are the pictures.

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A tablecloth with memories of our childhood trapped in its stitches, of pretty flowers and picnic baskets, of butterflies on a meadow, of carefree school days gossiping with friends as we sewed on….

Change – A Short Story


Vish sat on the wall that separated land from the ocean. It was a wide wall, and he sat dangling his feet towards the water.

He had a job in the docks, a small job that paid for his food and rent, but little else.

He sat munching on his sandwich, weighed down by a feeling of hopelessness. This week would be his last one on this job. He was a temporary hire for the busy season.

Seagulls swayed and danced above, around the water; the water itself, blue and timeless, a mute spectator to his melancholic mood.

He felt bitter as he looked at the busy port, and the hundreds of people who worked there. Was there no job in this big place for him?

He had stopped with high school and had joined his uncle’s business as a tailor. He had learnt on the job and come to love the satisfaction of sewing a beautiful frock or suit or trouser to perfection. He was in his early twenties when his uncle passed away and the tailoring shop had to be closed.

From then on it had been this way, one temporary job after another, where one just followed instructions.

The loud blare, as a ship left the docks brought him out of his reverie; the pain intense, as he contemplated the next week.

He had to start all over again. His money would soon run out and he had to find something quickly.

He finished his lunch and walked back, to the mundane task of dragging cartons up and down, only stopping for tea and coffee breaks.

That weekend he was set free, nobody expected him to report for duty, nobody believed he could be of any use, nobody knew or cared if he had had a decent meal. His mom lived in her village, content with the few dollars she made as a domestic help.

As he walked back and forth on the high street, checking if anybody was hiring shop assistants or anything else, he heard three women talking animatedly as they waited to cross the traffic signal. They were quite loud, and he heard one of them talking about their children’s costumes for a play that had to be altered by the evening, and their desperation that no tailor was willing to take on this rush job.

He decided that he had allowed life to slip by thus far, without focus.

Before he could stop himself, he had gone up and told the ladies that he could do it for them but for the fact that he had nothing, no support, no infrastructure, no money, absolutely nothing, except the skill to alter the costumes.

The ladies looked at each other incredulously. One of them saw his face; and couldn’t quite place the expression on it – hope, resolve, grit? She couldn’t really say. On a whim, she said, “I have a sewing machine at home, will you do it?”

Three hours later, he had managed to complete the job to perfection, leaving three very happy moms behind. They had compensated him well and had given him a warm meal.

As he walked home, for the first time in years, he felt that maybe things would work out for him. He just had to wait for the right opportunities and seize them.

A couple of days later as he poured through the newspaper, circling the Jobs Vacant section, his phone rang.

The voice said, “Mr.Vish?”

He said, “Yes.”

“We are calling from the Little Flower Nursery School, we were given your contact by Mrs.Samuel, who spoke highly of your skills in tailoring. We have our annual school concert coming up and would like you to sew the costumes. Could you please come and meet us?” the voice said.