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A silly fear on a complex wear !

“What an Amazing  amalgamation  of artistic skill and engineering extravaganza is the human body!”
I wondered, agape at the splendor of scarcely clothed women, black, fair and wheat skinned , lean or lavishly built, relaxing all around me, while I lifted my head above the water level, in our  Community swimming pool. Despite Ammalu’s delaying tactics and discouraging discourses, when I insisted that I would go for swimming, she allowed me with much reluctance but not before issuing a warning,” you  should open your eyes only inside the water and close them tight, the moment you are out”. But thanks to my ‘anthratma’, my inner divinity who rekindled my deteriorating visual capacity and said, “don’t miss the opportunity; it is foolishness to hope for a tomorrow at your age”, I innocently opened my eyes and  saw His creations in the nearest natural forms. ” kudos to you, the Master Creator”
But believe me, later while lounging in the Sun, suddenly I thought about Ammalu and her mesmerizing ‘madisar’, the nine yards, traditional saree, and realised that she looked much more attractive and appealing than the hardly clothed women I saw around or the scarcely, partially,inadequately clothed many more, I used to see everywhere in the  western countries and of late in our metropolitans too.  A poem, painting, music or any artistic production should leave scope for imagination and there  lies the success of our traditional wears.
Ammalu always looks marvelous in her madisar. Flowers, one after the other, bloomed in her naval and one fine morning, she declared firmly,”Enough is enough” and stopped wearing it.
‘What would have happened had I continued that wear?” She asks often now, enjoying secretly the attraction provided by ‘that wear’ once upon a time.
I lift my eyes and hands up and say, “He alone knows”
Her face flashes her usual smile, to say that I was lying and I smile back to say that she was right!
What an amazing art pieces are the madisars and their younger sisters, sarees ! Women of different sects and states,with a few twists here and a few turns there, convert the simple six or nine yards cloth  into a marvelous decoration cum protection  product, each type slightly  different from the other, but all serving the purpose of giving full coverage  and leaving scope for imagination.
However it is a fact that madisar, with its abnormal size resulting in complexity in usage, is not a convenient wear more so, for the aged. When she realised that her limbs were becoming stiffer and failed to cooperate in performing  the semi dancing act required for wearing the complicated apparel, my mother  abandoned it reluctantly and switched over to gown and then to simple Malyalee lungi towards her end, which gave her better comfort .  Her more orthodox elder sister, who lived long, with a tonsured head near the Kanchi mutt, struggled with it till her last days, not even handing it over to others for washing, due to ‘madi'( maintaining aloofness to keep the mind and body pure). “What is madisar without ‘madi,” she used to ask.
“Panjacatcham and madisar being our traditional attire, we should wear it with pride”. Suggest our friends in the forum. Those commuting by the crowded buses or electric trains or riding two wheelers, are you hearing? With the school bus or riksha horning in the house-front, the children refusing to get up from the bed, the mother-in-law shouting from the kitchen and father-in-law murmuring from the pooja room, will you have enough time to wrap your body with those complicated customary apparel?  I doubt. ‘”Are we so old fashioned to keep the old couple with us? Don’t you know that they are living happily in the old age home, next to yours?” You may ask. I am sorry, I didn’t know that. I shall visit them soon and help them in searching your wedding clothes in their worn out suitcases.
Panchacatcham, vibhoothy, cool wind of the dawn or dusk, river or sea shore, a temple corner with oil lamps shining around, all these provide ideal ambiance for me for meditation  while I am in south India,  but I cannot stand before a temple in the Himalayan valley , bare chested or inadequately covered by the shorter clothe piece which goes along with the Panchacatcham. Like many other accessories, apparels also have to be modified suitably depending on the climate, life style and several other factors.
Ammalu could go back to Madisar. But she says “Woo, I am scared”.
A silly fear on a complex wear.
June 18, 2008

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