Have you often wondered how the Indian parents unfailingly and unflinchingly, never miss a chance to embellish and adorn your wardrobe in front of others ? It is a known fact that larger the audience to listen to their tribulations, taller are the claims. And the more you deny those claims, the more ridiculous those exaggerations get. So beware and tread carefully and watch out for these weapons in their armoury.
Clothes, clothes everywhere, not a single one to wear
This is the time when you have just dropped a hint of an inclination to buy a nice outfit, for an upcoming wedding or a party, and pat comes the whacking wail , “ Har baar kehte ho ki kuch pehnne ko nahi hai. Phir almaariyon mein kya pada hai ? Har das din mein kuch naya kapda to khareedte rehte ho. Wo sab kab kaam aayega ?”
Try leaving your clothes carelessly in the house. Go for it, give it a shot. Before the seconds hand strikes 12, you will hear a voice booming and echoing across the walls…“ Har kamre mein isi ke kapde hain. Sari almariyaan bhar rakhi hain. Hamare kapde to do khano mein aa jaate hain. Dukaan lagake rakhi hai, dukaan…Ek board laga dete hain ghar ke bahaar – ‘ Kapde hi Kapde : Verma ji and son’.”
The Bhramastra in the armamentarium. A design to make you realize your sins. “ Jitne paison mein tere saal bhar ke kapde aaye hain na, utne mein to hamaari chhoti car aa jaati.”
The exponential factor
No matter how many clothes or shoes you have – few or many, this number is aggrandized by a variable factor ranging from 10 to infinity, by the Indian parents in front of your relatives or family friends. For instance, “ 200 T shirts hain iss ke paas.. 200. Kali T shirts hi 30-40 hongi. Ek hi rang (blue!) ki kam-se-kam 20-25 jeans..” While you are left mouth agape with incredulity, overwhelmed by this calculation, trying to wonder where those 200 T shirts are tucked away, your parents have already moved on to how many shades of purple they counted in your wardrobe yesterday.
The space constraint and the alternatives
If you have dared to buy new clothes from the mall, make sure you quietly sneak them into the house. Lest you want to hear this – “ Phir kapde khareed layi. Kahan hai jagah iss ghar mein, bataa. Kahan rakhegi inko… mere sur pe ?”
Comparative and Superlative
Whether in school or college or work, be it marks or awards or salary, comparing their kids to others is inherent to Indian parenthood. So your wardrobe too, is unlikely to escape the sharp, mindful eye. “ Behenji, itne jute hain hamare ghar mein, main kya bataun. Utne jute to Jayalalithaa ke paas bhi nahi the.”
Do Jodi Jute
“ Hamare zamaane mein…” is the song of every parent. And it is sung at home at least once a day. So if you have too much footwear ‘for your own good,’ you would know these lyrics by heart…“ Chhatisson prakaar ke jute. Har colour ki sandal. Inhe to jute bhi matching chaiyyein. Hamne to poore college do jodi juton mein hi kaam chalaa liya tha.”
The Queen’s obsession
The British left our shores many years ago but this doesn’t stop us from obsessing over their monarchy every now and then. So if your cupboard abounds with apparel, you have a fair chance of being equated to a king or a queen. “ Ek Queen of England hai. Ek hamaari Queen hai. Kapde bhi baraabar ki takkar ke hone chaiyyein.”
This is borne out of gigantic amplifications matched by an astute knowledge of days and weeks and months. “ Itne kapde hai hamare suputra ke paas, ki har roz agar alag-alag kapde pehnega, to bhi 6 mahine mein koi repeat nahi hoga.”
No one can escape their parents’ elaborate renditions of their foreign travels and the trips abroad. Those accounts can be applied everywhere in their lives, and used to tackle every situation by merely substituting a few words and phrases here and there. They only have to start off by interrupting any conversation saying, “ Jab main vilaayat gaya tha…” So in the notorious case of ‘your wardrobe situation,’ the blanks will be filled thus – “Jab main vilaayat gaya tha, to ek attaichee thi mere paas. Jitne kapde-jute leke gaya tha, unhi ko teen saal chalaya. Aaj ki generation ko dekho.”
Murphy’s law states that no matter what the size of your wardrobe, it will always be the subject of speculation, judgment, exclamation and comment amongst your parents and bagal waali auntyjis. Addition of any item before the stipulated ‘appropriate time’ would land you in the way of stormy questioning and saucy critique. And any attempt to convince the world of your dire need to buy a shirt for your office, or replace your shredded underwear, or purchase a pair of sneakers for the gym, will be pointless and unavailing. There is, lamentably, no escape button, mes amis.