In the preceding article Kurada Shantipriya writes eloquently and evocatively about sarees. Since I am the original kibitzer, I can’t but write on a topic that I very much like.
What are my qualifications to write about a saree, you may ask. Alas, none, my dear reader! I am a male and not into cross-dressing. Even for a school play, I never wore a saree. So, if you want to ask me any technical questions about a saree, please, don’t! But, did such lack of knowledge ever prevent me? [“No” is the expected answer, you dummy!]
To quote Santhipriya [my southern spelling took over, please forgive me!] “A saree has such a special place in every girl’s life”. What about us, the boys and men? Granted, we don’t wear it as often as you do, [some never at all], but there were times, when we cried if certain saree is worn, and laughed if some other saree is worn. We used as a barometer of hope and acceptance. Am I being too abstract here? Let me cut to the chase, then.
I remember very well, I do, clinging to my mother’s saree, shyly, whenever we had new visitors. Saree looked very amazing to me in those days. My mother used it as an apron, as a holding cloth, as a hand kerchief, and whatever else. I, of course, used it to hide behind, and to sleep on.
I remember very well, when a cousin of mine, whom I liked very much visited us. When she wore her new white saree, it meant that she was going to leave, and being an astute observer, I prevented her leaving by crying and creating a ruckus.
I remember when jaalaadi china subbaaraavu from my village was getting married. In their family, the wedding customs demand that the couple go around the temple wearing the clothes of the opposite sex. Being a sport, subbarao went for it and wore a saree! That was the man, who was comfortable with his sexuality, I thought.
Later days, in the youthful days, in those salad days, I, as any young man would, was attracted to sarees. [Needless to say, when worn by somebody!] The details, I am sorry, I don’t remember. All I can remember was the rainbow colors of the sarees, covering the soft and glowing skin, with smooth and undulating curves.
Now? Yes, I still like sarees. When we attended a wedding recently, when my wife wore a saree [it was the second time she was wearing it, the first time being at her wedding], I whispered to her “you should wear it more often”. In between all the running-around, she stopped for a moment, and her eyes softened. “May be” she said with a gentle smile.
— Ramarao Kanneganti.
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June 3rd, 1994