Hand me downs

Have you seen this advertisement on television where a young mother coos to her infant and promises to buy only ‘new things’ for the babe? Apparently the lady was forced to use her elder sister’s stuff as a kid. Since she did not enjoy the ‘hand me downs’ she wanted to spare her child of the humiliation.

The reason she assigned to her promise always filled me with disdain. I failed to understand her sentiment. Personally, I have never felt belittled when my various aunts, cousins and second cousins passed on their girlie paraphernalia, trinkets and best clothes when outgrew them. In fact, I would rather enjoy the variety that strengthened my wardrobe and my accessory kit at no extra expense. I simply followed tradition by passing on things when I outgrew them, to my younger cousins and nieces.

I was completely convinced about the anomaly of the theme of the ad till very recently. Last week I cleared my wardrobe and sorted out a wide range of my meticulously maintained, diaphanous chiffon, organza and nylon saris to give them away. Even as I picked them out, I realised the young ladies in the family would not be wearing them for they draped yards of the Indian wear only when occasions demanded.

I had to find other youthful takers. I suddenly realised that it was a very onerous task. First, I had to zero in on young women who wear saris. Secondly, girls who would be willing to take them. I could not possibly give the saris to the under-privileged because the nature of the material made it mandatory for the recipient to compliment them with matching in-skirts and blouses to drape them gracefully. Besides it would cost them a pretty penny.

After giving the issue much thought, I zeroed in on a couple of young friends who work on some eco-friendly projects with me. They were visibly impressed by the collection and found them irresistible. All the same their social and economic pride disallowed them from picking them up. They vetoed the idea. I dropped the matter.

Soon they briefed me on the report of the current project on ‘saving water’. It was not very successful because the public who signed up for the project had not walked their talk. The irked girls launched into a tirade on the uncouth public which simply refused to recycle and re-use despite being educated about the same.

I told them it would take a long time to effectively translate theory into practice but we must not be bogged down by teething troubles and started putting the saris away.

They looked at one another for a while silently and all of them at once brought down the pile of saris and started making their choices. I must say the experience was cathartic in more ways than one!

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