So the D day was fixed…the final farewell party for the outgoing class. We were all so excited, each one of us. So the first thing that women, of any age from seven to seventy, would think of when they have to attend some gala event would be, what to wear? And we the young girls in the last year of our teenage were no less excited, but more than excited, I was worried. Amma had no decent saree. All her sarees, the countable number on fingers, were outdated and outlandish. How could I ever wear one of these. The second option was to buy a new one…which was strictly out of question as I had in my mind another item to buy, equally expensive for me. The high heeled black Chinese sandals which I had been secretly admiring since last so many days in the show window of Ta Tung’s. And my rational self advised me— dates can be borrowed. What’s the big deal about it. Sarees fit anyone of any shape and size…what a cosmopolitan outfit it is!!so it was decided that I would borrow a saree. We would go to our friend’s moms, buas, aunties and ask for a saree. Smart as they were, they would offer a few to us that we would not like. Who would risk giving their exquisite silk sarees to careless girls who would bring those sarees back in a bad shape. I don’t blame them, today. At that time, surely I did. Finally I got a saree which was just passable, but I had always believed that you should know how to carry a dress, and there you go, to the top. Next problem was to find a matching blouse to fit me, which was a herculean task. My friend Minoo”s Bua was magnanimous enough to give me her blouse, white in colour and the freedom not even to return it as she had outgrown it’s fitting. The only problem was that it was a sleeveless one! But I thought, “come on. be a sport, ” so it was fine for me.
As the saree was of a blue shade, the blouse had to be of similar shade. Getting a new one was out of the question. Next option was to dye it in a similar, or almost similar, shade of blue!! The Jain’s shop, near the tunnel in the Lower Bazaar, could rescue me from this situation. I purchased blue cotton dye for one rupee and tried dying the blouse at home. I had seen women in my neighbourhood dying pagris, maulis and dupattas so I, too, applied the same technique. I dipped the white blouse in boiling hot water having the dye mixed to it. It worked. I had almost the right colour on the blouse. But in my excitement I had forgotten to take care of my hands. Those were not the days of rubber gloves to save your hands, even while dusting. My hands had turned deep blue. Now how could I attend a farewell party with these blue hands…I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed with pumice stone my hands till the skin was almost to detach itself from my hands.
I had ordered those blackcolored, high heeled, 4 inches, sandals, well in time and got them before the D day. They fitted my big feet perfectly, rather the curve made my big feet look a little small. Such a relief it was to me. I felt on top of the world.
We had decided to assemble at Minoo’s home near Shere Punjab and get decked up as I could not walk in a saree, with high heeled sandals, all the way from Chhota Shimla where we were staying at that time.
We all assembled there and scrutinized all the makeup booty that everyone had contributed to. I had got my hair trimmed to give them a proper shape. Had shampooed and conditioned them to give proper volume. Straightening hair was not a problem, one of the girls did it with hot iron, putting a folded towel underneath my hair. What ingenuity!
Lipstick, maskara, eyeliner, eyeshadow, and what not…made us gleam and shine. I thought I looked beautiful. Whether I looked beautiful or not is not important the point is that I THOUGHT that I looked beautiful and it reflected in my persona. I was in a blue saree with sleeveless matching blouse, fully made up face, glossy, shining and flowing silky straight shoulder length hair!! Ah! We all were ready and stepped outside. Felt so awkward to come out to the Lower Bazaar but once on the Mall, we felt to be in a safe heaven. I fllt on the top of the world…four inches had added to my already tall fram..I was now 5;9”. Balancing precariously my big frame on those heels, I swayed past people with glossy and silky hair following me. It was very airy and my hair flying in the air added the extra charm, so I thought! The air had become cool but who cared!
Suddenly.it started drizzling slightly. I was in high heeled sandals, for the first time ever. And I didn’t want the leather to become wet. I was worried more about the sandals than anything else. Wanted to get them off and take them in my hands. But how could I? We had to walk to the Grands Hotel. We wanted to walk fast but my sandals were a big deterrent. By the time we reached Gainda Mull Hemraj shop, it was a hailstorm lashing against my glossy shining hair. More than my hair I was now even more scared about my new black leather high heeled sandals. I could not run, and was very precariously balancing myself to walk. With mascara and eyeliner flowing down my cheeks, I was shivering in sleeveless blouses. It must have been a sight to behold, as I remember people laughing at us. There was not a soul on the Mall who was not in a sweater and here I was in sleeveless blouse. I don’t remember how I dragged myself to the destination and how was I looking…my hair dripping water, the picture was miles away from ” a ladki bheegi bhaagi si” but I looked like a cat with wet fur…shrunken and shivering. I don’t have any photograph of my final farewell party as I was, perhaps, not photographed by any photographer. He must have known she would not purchase this horrible print. I had heard of three Was of Simla…weather, women and ways…I cannot say anything about the last two but for the first one I am sure. The unpredictable turn of weather with rain and hailstorm nullified all my efforts to look pretty down the drain, drains of Simla!