Being Women

A Box Full Of Warmth And Memories

I realise each garment is a storyteller. The ritual is a personal journey of listening and feeling the stories. The warmth permeates through, preparing me for the cold and numbing winter.

Come November, I sense a spring in my steps. An unexplained vigour as the sweat beads give way to a taut nip in the air. Excitement and nostalgia emerge as the annual ritual of unboxing woollens begins. The opening of the box storage is like a magician waiting to unleash an exciting trick.

The pungent smell of naphthalene balls is a reminder to care for the memories of each garment.

The box of carefully packed Pashminas

I first dig into the carefully packed heirloom pashminas straight from my mother’s decadent collection. Each colour is opulent and charismatic, like every year. My hands caress the fabric as if rediscovering the youth of my parents, each shawl a chapter of their lives, ripe with memories.

“Mom! Where is my furry jacket?” My daughter’s excited voice breaks the trance.

“I can’t wait to wear it. It’s so fuzzy and warm.” She has a love of all things beary. I smile and dig into the box.

The baby blanket

She spots it before me and excitedly pulls out the sleeve from the neatly stacked pile. Along with it emerges a thick, mink baby blanket. Now it’s my turn to be excited. A host of Awws and Aaahs follow as I bury my nose into the warmth of the blanket.

“It still has your smell,” I tell her affectionately. She wraps it around her shoulder (that’s the only place it fits now).

“Can I have it, Maa? It’s warmth around my feet will keep away the chill while studying at night.” She pleads, knowing well my connection with everything that is motherhood and lineage.

“Hmm….Ok”. Be mindful of staining though!” After the curt instructions, she trots off in the soft embrace of the blankie whispering childhood anecdotes.

The ritual of sorting

I get back to sorting through the piles.

“What is needed, and what can take a break this year?” I mumble. These are important decisions for space optimization. Equal focus remains on creating a pile of garments that can find new homes, as they have served the children fondly until they fit. I fondly arrange the stack with sweaters and jackets, eager to embrace new friends. Sifting and sorting carry on oblivious to the clock; this ritual also manifests the goodness of times gone by, the truth that time travels, and the hope that the future is bright.

The sweater that belonged to Granny

The joy of unearthing a favourite forgotten scarf is unmatched; memories are secured in the weave. I continue digging till my hands touch the wearied weave of a tea-stained sweater. The uncanny lump in the throat nudges the tears down the slopes of the cheeks. A memory too, dear. Caressing the sweater feels like touching the wrinkled, patchy, yet soft arms of Granny. Her radiant smile was resplendent through the sunset years. The grey crown was an archive of moments lived, cried, and laughed.

Hmmm…… I lean back, deciding that it’s time for a tea break. There is a lot yet to be processed. It is more than preparing for the cold winter. It is a meditative journey, a walk-through of transient moments where snapshots of the past flash through the vast canvas of the present.

Hot ginger tea warms the body and mind, hustling me back to the journey of the box. The final step is here. Spreading out fresh newspaper pages and topping them with dried neem leaves. The film of dust binding to the old newspaper sheets brings the realisation that time travel impacts the farthest inch of the core. The trick is to hang on! To keep hope alive that this too shall pass and a change will dawn.

Most of the woollens make their way to the wardrobes, while a few make their way back to the box. These are precious keys to the closets of the blissful past that strengthen the foundation of the present with their undaunting presence. Reminders of the wins and losses.

As I prepare to wrap up the pilgrimage, I realise each garment is a storyteller. The ritual is a personal journey of listening and feeling the stories. The warmth permeates through, preparing me for the cold and numbing winter.


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