I heard my parents talking about her one time. My ears perked up. My parents never had the chance to discuss things in private, I was sort of always there. The one time they managed to do that was close to my 11th birthday. They somehow plotted and bought me my red bike and surprised me with it. They hid it in the room in the back where we usually stored firewood (and parked dad's green scooter. One time, a rat hid its babies in the scooter and I think if not for mum's practical nature, dad and I would have managed to leave the tiny pink rat babies be there for ever).
They were saying something completely weird about this lady. Apparently, she had not changed her clothes for days. Mum claims right now that she spent three months in that period wearing the exact same sari and blouse. What about her undergarments? What about the petticoat? They laughed away my questions. Now, I sit in front of mum and ask her seriously, tell me, what about her petticoat? She doesn't laugh any more. I hope she changed those, she says.
It was all highly interesting and mysterious to me. It is depression of some sorts, dad said. Some guy must be involved, mum said. She was her friend but would not talk to her at all during those three months. She came to work, in that sari and blouse, did whatever was required (teach classes I suppose), and left. Only to come back the next day, in the same. How did her classes go, did the students complain of any funny business? I don't know, she did okay with her work, mum says.
Anyway the rest of the details are hazy now, to me, and to mum. But I have, all these years later, having even forgotten the lady's name, remembered the threemonthsari incident. And I think some days I can feel the weight of her sorrow. She has everything, why should she be depressed? This was what my parents would often ask (each other). I know though. No one ever has everything. Its just human nature to want the one thing you don't have. And if you want it badly enough, you go a bit wonky, and do funny things.
Did she take off that sari and blouse at home and wear it back the next day? Thats what I wanted to know. Mum thought yes. Like mum (and quite unlike me), the lady was very neat, and, as I said, dignified. Her saris were starched. The blouse fit properly, and matched. She wore neat little pieces of jewelry. And that single solitary sari of three months, it held up. It did not turn into rags. She never looked particularly unclean (although, compared with her original avatar, she looked slightly funny).
Me? All I feel like is dressing in black entirely. Today I suspected that I smelled bad. I took a shower just now. I do own a fair number of black things. I might be able to pull off the all black look for a bit without smelling bad. I don't promise to look very nice during this period though! But I am sure my loyal friends will bear with me, till I come out of my black phase. And start counting the positives; and accessing that bottom (filled) part of the glass of water in my mind...