Ask any mother why she wants a daughter and buried somewhere among all the other chaff is the truth – we’re just little girls at heart and we want to play dress up.
The Bean and I were at Nana home and I was playing in Ma’s costume jewellery drawers, pulling out beads, holding up earrings, separating the silver that needed to be polished. The Brat took a bunch of beautiful old heavy silver bracelets with coins hanging from them and tied up a dragon and began a complicated story about a fire breathing dragon tied up in chains.
The Bean sat with us and sorted out amethysts from tiger’s eyes from jade to be re-strung for her mother. And then we found an old pair of payals. I’ve never liked payals on little kids for some strange reason – maybe because I associate the tinkling with a blushing bride and seeing them on kids bothers me. Kids should just come pattering down the corridor; the slap of barefeet on stone floors is all I need to make me smile.
But this is one set I fell in love with. It was bought for me by my mother on a trip to Hyderabad. It was too big when it arrived but I insisted on wearing it because the design was so pretty. The toe ring kept sliding off and I had to finally admit defeat and give it back to ma. Of course we forgot all about it and by the time we rediscovered it, I had outgrown it and was forcing my long feet and hobbling around painfully. Yes, I can be stubborn like that. Anyhow, I eventually gave up the idea and put it away, telling myself I’d have a daughter someday who’d wear is.
It says something for how time flies that I can remember all of this like yesterday and yet, I already have a daughter (whoulda thunk it!) who eagerly slipped her toes into it. Time has a nasty habit of shuffling along through a bad Monday morning, dragging it’s feet over Tuesday and then taking a flying leap twenty years ahead.
I’d just been painting her toenails after mine and I carefully slipped the silver payals onto her feet. It hit me like a blow to the gut. Suddenly her ugly, stubby, miniature OA toes (I sent him a pic and he had the gall to respond with – ugly bloody toes!) looked almost bridal. The contrast was brutal. Bridal payals on baby feet. And I began to think of balika badhus. Child brides. What must it be like to send your precious little daughter off to a stranger’s home at the age of ten when I’m not willing to let my son go down in the lift at the age of 6. It is all a matter of the times you live in I suppose and I’m sure I’d have been one of those bride’s mothers who cried and collapsed in a heap as the palanquin turned the corner and disappeared from sight. I still will be. Be sure you’re here to hold my hands if I’m still blogging.
Anyway, the payals were too big for the Bean too and within minutes with the childish amnesia that kids are famous for, she slipped them off and scampered off to play with the dogs and the fish in the pond. Leaving me sitting there holding a tiny pair of payals in my hand and wondering what Ma feels like to have her daughter and her grand daughter back in her arms even if it is just for a few days.
It also reminds me of when we dressed her up in a little Bengali saree sent to her by Sue (thanks again, Sue!) for some school event. The kids were asked to come in ethnic wear and I didn’t want her to go in a salwar suit or lehenga because they aren’t really what we wear. She ended up being the only 2.5 year old in a saree! She came back from school with the saree still in fairly good condition and I was impressed. I’m hoping someday she’ll value the extensive saree collection I will leave behind for her.