Magic of my Red Taffeta Frock…Growing up in Simla of Sixties

The Magic of My Red Taffeta Frock

Amma had stitched for me a red taffeta frock which was my magical apparel to transform me from a very ordinary child, no one wanted to play with, to a girl bubbling with confidence.

This frock was my magical apron…the moment I would put it on..I would feel like a fairy with magical feet, trodding the steep stairs of Lower Bazaar, crisscrossing laterally and horizontally through entire Lower Bazaar area.

It so happened that I got my pelvic girdle fractured when I must have been 4 years old. The plastering, hospitalizing and further immobalization added more problems to the already burdened sickly, weak and dark girl, who was not much welcome in a group of kids. They would jeer at me calling me lame, as my legs were still weak, or the girl with a running nose, no one would like to hold hands with during ” “komlachi pakee jinhe raat aai hai” I would feel dejected as the peer pressure, on non-inclusion in the games kids play, is too heavy to be handled. Who would know it better than me who was thus treated. At this time, Amma, to placate me, bought from Hakam Mull Tani Mal, the red Taffeta silk material for my frock, rather for both of us, my sister as well. It was a shining stiff material, but very soft to touch. Amma added white lace to it and it turned out to be a beautiful frock. The day I put it on, I could not be restrained at home. I felt like the white babies and ladies, whose black and white pictures I admired so much at the show window of Bindra Studio. I thought that my frock and the gowns of English ladies were made of the same material, not just thought, I was convinced of! I would even put on a white cheap peals’ mala in my neck to complement the entire getup.

When I would put on that frock nothing in the world would matter to me, ।not even the rude behaviour of my “friends”. I would not even notice them. And like a fairy gliding through the clouds, I would go up and down the stairs from Nathu Halwai to the Mall…all the while my frock would make swish swash sound against my sickly thin legs but who cared. I felt like being on cloud nine and it reflected in my very being…I looked happy as I felt happy!I looked confident as I felt confident…and once my persona reflected..damn-I-care attitude, my so called “friends” started feeling uncomfortable!!! Now, the tables had turned…my attitude had changed, though these terms like self worth, self-esteem, attitude etc. were not in our vocabulary during those days but the meaning and I tent remained quite close. Now they came back to me, cringing, I would say..coaxing me .to play with them.

My Amma had not gone to a B-school neither did she know about any motivational theories nor she had read Dr.. Spock’s book on how to raise kids, but she had a real mother’s heart to feel what her daughter was going through. She did what she could do…to buy a cloth I loved, in the colour she knew to be my favourite, and stitched it in a design she knew I would love. Once my self- confidence reached the point it needed to be at….the rest was history.

Nothing had changed except the way I looked at my ownself…I didn’t need a mirror to tell me that, I perceived myself to be looking beautiful and that made the difference. In the hind sight I am glad that we didn’t have a full size mirror to look at otherwise my perception might have been different as they say that mirrors don’t lie!!!

And this, till date, remains secret to my confidence…I fake it till I make it or become it, in the words of Amy Cuddy!!!!

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