Monsoon of Memories: The Tale of the T-shirt
The “riches to rags” lifecycle of this humble garment speaks of its immense service.
In Indian homes, we believe in second, third, and even fourth chances. And I’m not talking about the grand acts of forgiving unruly acts and untoward behaviors. My observation doesn’t come from a place of benevolence. Instead, it comes from my first-hand experience of a life well-lived and fully committed to the service of an Indian home, each member and space included.
I am a humble cotton T-shirt but my lifecycle deserves some accolades, if I may say so myself. I was bought many moons ago. Kunvar, the eldest son in the family, selected me for the colorful graphics embossed on my front side. It reminded him of some music band that he was fond of, and, of course, since I was in the “sale” section, it made it easier for him to convince his parents to take me home.
Chiranjeev Kunvar wore me on every possible occasion—from birthday parties of friends to picnics with the family. He flaunted me until he got bored of me and began to follow another music band.
That’s when I got a second lease of life. Kunvar passed me on to his younger brother and since I still looked pretty dapper, I was now worn to gatherings attended by him. As his friends crowded around me, I drew extreme pride in my appearance. A few months later, however, I began to lose my charm due to constant laundry runs. I was a shade lighter and the graphics, which were once my best feature, had begun to fade off.
I began to fear that my life was at an end. That’s when I heard the mother of the boys tell them to now wear me at home. And that gave me my third lease of life—as night wear. For many nights, I stayed tucked under quilts and slept peaceful nights. “Could I have asked for a better happy ending?,” I often thought to myself.
Often, I recalled my glorious life—hanging in the aisles of a renowned shopping mall, enjoying cinema in posh theatres, and sleeping in air-conditioned environs.
Little did I know that the family had other plans for me. What came next was unexpected and, if I may say, rather harsh. One evening, the mother of the boys decided that my time in their wardrobe was up and I could now be handy for household chores.
I looked at her in despair. After all, I was just a garment, and my role was to enhance the look of the wearer. But she handed me over to the house help and instructed her to make use of me to wipe the shelves clean. I was old and didn’t have much courage left in me to fight back. Soon enough, the help began
to use me, now tattered, to mop the floors of the home. By then, I knew I was in the last leg of my life.
The boys had moved on to other items of clothing that were more fashionable than I ever was. Yet, often, as I lay in the bucket of water or was squeezed of extra water by the help, I heard them talk of me. They looked at me with fondness, and I looked back at the family that had never given up on me—and had given me a chance to live many lives under their roof.
Yes, at times, I felt tired of the expectations they had of me and even hurt by the roles I had had to play but those moments were temporary—for mostly, I was happy to have been around the family until I breathed my last.
Purva Grover is an author, journalist, poet, playwright, and stage director. A postgraduate in mass communication and literature, she is the founder editor of The Indian Trumpet, a digital magazine for Indian expats in the UAE. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. To comment on this article, please write to email@example.com.
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