Tuesday, September 06, 2011

The Curves of this Gold

The metal still brightly reflected the daylight pouring in through the window. The yellow shone against the word out cloth in which the gold had been knotted away for over a decade.

An old metal box, sealed with celo-tape had been put away into the depths of the locker several years ago. My mother's stridhan. The smell of rusting metal that wafted out as I lifted the seal brought back childhood memories of pre-wedding preparations. Weddings were boring: distant relatives cackling with joy at the sight of you, being passed around from arm to arm, oily puris with sugar-struck shrikhand, aaee coaxing you to play with other toddlers and the smell of sweat soaked bodies setting in, in the afternoon Bombay-heat. Dadar, Bandra, Kandivali... Ajee often dropped the names of these stations in recollection of 'fond' wedding memories.

Bright-eyed and inquisitive I would be allowed to sit in my grandmother's room on the brown sofa, only if I kept very quiet and didn't ask too many questions. The maid servants would be given an off-day, the curtains would be drawn (the room has no doors back then) and my mother, my aunt and my grandmother would open their treasures on the high wooden bed. Bright pink paper would be carefully unfolded to reveal glistening chains, brightly polished bangles and pearl drop earrings; each delicately picked up on the tip of their fingers and admired again and again. Ajee would smile at the thought of her mother who would very often adorn herself with these jewels. The rubies, diamonds and pearls in this box have stories to tell of ages old. After long hours of story telling and laughter, bedecked moments in front of the mirror, selection of ornaments for the next day's wedding, every pink paper, folds intact, would be placed back in the metal box; the lids of little round plastic boxed would be tightly fixed in place and a key would turn the lock in the box that catalyzed magic through many such mornings. For me the excitement would trail into fragments of boredom; unable to whine or ask questions, I would find entertainment in tracing shapes in the dust settled in the corners of the sofa.

Today after so many years, I was once again bright-eyed and inquisitive. It is a pre-wedding preparation. As my fingers trace the intricate designs of earrings and neck pieces, the joy is untold. The laughter and chattering of those dim-lit afternoons echoes as the latch un-turns.