Dresses and the Science of Transformation

Dresses and the Science of Transformation

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.

Dresses and the Science of Transformation

Dresses and the Science of Transformation


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.

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Adreyo Sen, based in Kolkata, hopes to become a full-time writer. He did his undergraduate work in English and his postgraduate work in English and Sociology. He has been published in Danse Macabre and Kritya.

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