Dresses. Today, enjoy this marvelous poem, full of distant memories and colorful legends by the author Adreyo Sen. Have a nice Friday, Yareah magazine readers: every day a new poem.
My childhood was much concerned
with the science of transformation.
I read many fairy tales. And if perfumed
pages could feel, my tears would have nudged
golden-haired princesses with the kind of
sweet faces you just want to mutilate,
towards a happier ending.
I learnt early that some dresses can
transform. A Chinese fairy tale spoke of a
yellow gown that transformed a wicked queen
into a statue forever condemned to relive
all the pain she had caused. Another
dress, a Scandinavian one, whispered to its
wearer the soundless tragedies mischievous
love causes in narrow villages where a
frozen breath is a pillar of smoke. She
went mad shortly thereafter. In India, a jealous
seving maid stabbed her mistress to death and
straightaway shrugged on the red blouse she had long
coveted. The silk turned steel and crushed the rebellion in
her body. Also, alas, her life.
What fairy tales, being creatures less inclined to enlighten
than blind, did not teach me, was this. All dresses
transform us. But only because we transform them.
They lie in shops limp with meaning, until we stuff them
with our nonsense. They take on our shape and
then confuse us with the washed away scents of all
the people they’ve sensed us be. Soon, we are their
slaves. They make us propose to strangers on 3 AM
subway platforms, fall on our faces outside the
pharmacy and go hopping after birds on one leg.
They bridle when we bridle, but check us
when we are too full of ourselves.
They usurp our identity. They become us. No longer are we
ourselves to friends and lovers who should know
to have better manners, when we are not in that
familiar shade of green-meets-blue, or that red
muslin number that makes us look like an updated
Red Riding Hood out to seduce the wolf. In the
staid unusual of my one pair of jeans, I’ve been accused
of infectious sadness and an unhelpful attitude and
asked to go go home. Where I’ve gotten into my favourite
shapeless nightgown stained with pizza sauce and olive oil,
snuggled into the far end of the sofa and watched
Tom and Jerry.
And then, some dresses can be dangerous. They taunt you
with their waiting treachery, their too-much knowledge
of you. This one sniggered against my shrinking legs
when that woman I called my friend (and till do)
told me what she thought of me. And of him. This one carries
in Everests around the sleeves mocking testimonies
to my ineptitude at cooking. The same one
dourly inventories the spit accumulated from all the times
my prince fell asleep on my shoulder while watching
the news. This dress knows that each of the times
he’s made me wait outside that office for him, my heart’s
beat too fast and too unhappily.
The dress I wear wear now rebukes me each time my eyes
fall on its stern, disapproving blue. I deserve that
steely glare, that blue reproof. I’ve been pulling at it
and forcing its misguided dignity into hoydenish
motion ever since my hero stopped me from sinking
my teeth into his arm. He’s never good in these situations.
But I think my dress, this grumbling matron of strength,
will forgive me. For, now in my arms and nestling against the
calm, deep ocean of my dress, is you. My niece. Hi, baby. I am your
aunt. I talk nonsense when I’m freaking out.