Since morning I was scavenging the net for an image of a green frock to match the description of the one that has been lying locked up in my memory since my childhood. Not that I coveted one as a kid or for that matter I owned one, but this one was an image created in my mind’s eye from what mumma had described as hers from the time when she was a little girl.
Before I proceed I do want to say that after checking out the numerous images that popped up, I felt a pang of not having a daughter which is not the first time. This happens every time I see these beautiful dresses lined up in malls with all the accessories that go with them. Also I had a tough time zeroing in on the image that could be a close match cause all I got were designer clothes. Since the green frock in question, worn generations back just pales by comparison I picked up the one which I thought would do some justice at least.
This is a memory of my mom’s childhood as told by her, so here goes…
This was the time when the “purdah” system was still prevalent and the ladies would go out in horse driven “tongas” which would be fully covered. My mumma was still a young girl so whenever a movie would release she was allowed to go for a movie with her brothers and cousins during the day. The movies that would play during the noon were movies of Fearless Nadia, famous as the stuntwoman, a masked cloaked adventurer in “Hunterwali”.
Post the movie Mumma would become the Hunterwali, wrapped a scarve around her face and her brothers and cousins would become the other characters and a proper sword fight and rescue would ensue. The swords of course were made of the wooden stalks pulled out from the traditional “Modhas”.
The senior ladies of the house would also plan a movie but that could happen in the night when all the kids and male members of the joint family that stayed in the Jodhpur haveli were done with their dinner and all the kitchen work was over for the day. The kids were put to bed early lest they too would insist on accompanying their mothers. The ladies would get ready to go and the all covered Tonga would then be summoned.
Mumma could almost every time sense that a movie plan was brewing. She would quickly finish her dinner and go to bed like the other kids but before getting into bed she would comb her hair and would be basically ready to go. As soon as the ladies including her mother, her elder sister and others would get into the Tonga, mumma would run to the ledge of the terrace and start crying and would cry harder as the tonga would turn around the periphery of the haveli, all the while moving alongside on the terrace above. For the fear of waking up the other kids invariably my grandma would call out to her to come down fast as they waited.
This was the time the green frock would come in play. It would hang neatly on a peg ready to be picked up on specifically such an occasion. Mumma would quickly run, change and soon enough would be on the way to a movie, safely ensconced in the warmth of her mom’s love and care.
This was the extent of my mumma’s naughtiness way back in a time when just to ensure girls learn to sit in one place and develop patience they were given a mixture of rice and grains to separate. We would hear this again and again and enjoy it every time, and that is part of the reason that as I write this I have a visual almost as if I was right there as it happened.
It is difficult to imagine our parents as kids and such anecdotes from their childhood is all that we have to believe otherwise. Don’t know what prompted me to write this but I just relived it as I did and found myself chuckling at my mumma’s cheekiness.
(My mumma in the center flanked by her brothers and my grand parents on the extreme left)