The Screaming Closet

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Creak, crack, burst and snap,

Screams my wardrobe, threatening to unwrap,

Numberless clothes stuffed into the bends,

Jeans spurting and tees stuffed into the ends.

“ Is this a garment factory ?” the closet pleads,

“ A shop for your greeds or an auction for proceeds ?

How can one person need so many clothes ?

Even if you wear a dozen, layer and superimpose.”

 

I smile sheepishly and try to reason,

For a woman needs attire for every season,

Western and ethnic, casual and formal,

All necessary, straightforward, and normal,

Work clothes, evening gowns and a night dress,

Scarves and accessories, but nothing excess.

 

“ Hahaha !” the wardrobe cackles in amusement,

“ You are serious and this, is your excusement !

Let me break this down, and make it simple to understand,

How about an impromptu Q and A in this garb(age) wonderland ?”

“ Oh sure, let the war begin,” I retort in reply,

“ I will burn you in this tete-a-tete and silence you into a tongue tie.”

 

“ Let’s start with the tops and tees; how many do you have and how many do you need ?

Coz they never seem to stop and only multiply and breed.”

“ Oh please !

You only tease,

A miscalculated notion,

Always blowing things out of proportion.”

“ True, I have tops of every hue and colour,

But would you rather I dress up pallid and duller,

One needs them in different prints, and fits – slim and loose,

And of course, in every fabric, collar and sleeve length I can choose.”

“ That’s balderdash, and you know it well,

Why do you need twenty-odd purple tops, pray tell ?”

“ As usual, you exaggerate,

They are not twenty, as you narrate,

And not just purple; but mauve, lavender, aubergine and lilac,

So do your homework properly,” I protest in a comeback.

 

“ Well, I may not know the palette a-b-c’s,

But I know you have a hundred tees,

And these you don’t even wear to work,

They lie there, staring, in every corner with a smirk.

And let me not spill the beans,

About your dozens of dresses and blue jeans,

Waiting to be worn on that elusive weekend,

Which you, in bed and torn shorts, most often spend.”

“ Oh my God, you’re funny !” I fake a laugh,

Thinking of an answer and escaping a gaffe.

“ You may joke, my dear, but a day may yet come,

When I can afford a vacation, or a weekend getaway, from my unspent income,

And then I shall wear these clothes proud,

Crop tees and distressed jeans, unbowed.

This, my lovely, is what I recommend,

Stock up on things that are in trend,

For you never know when you’ll find,

Those jeans – tattered, embroidered and boyfriend, ever redesigned.

And how do you know I might not go on a date ?

When that midnight blue dress I bought yesterday, would look great,

Or indulge in a trip to the park in that floral skirt,

Which, filtered into an Instagram pic, would never hurt.”

 

“ You are the queen of excuses, I bow in respect,

An amiable foe, in every aspect.

But let us now digress,

Look in the ethnic corner and reason a guess,

Why, after so many tops and trousers, do you want ?

These kurtas, kurtis and suits to flaunt,

And don’t even get me started on the bottoms,

Leggings, palazzos, pants and salwars in viscose and cottons.”

I close my eyes as I try to compose,

An argument to counter and propose,

“ Surely, you can’t only wear foreign brands,

And need to support the local artists in our lands,

Look a little desi, once in a while,

Wear a bindi with a coy smile.

And have you noticed, that Indian clothes make you look mature,

Taken more seriously at work, that’s for sure !

Do you think in western clothes I’d be heading,

To the family friend’s daughter’s wedding ?

Or to a prayer, meditation, bhajan or some such meeting,

In a tank top or shorts with a Namaste greeting ?”

 

As I see my wardrobe begin to lose ground,

And find my confidence rebound,

“ What’s with your matching obsession ?” I hear her squeak,

“ Matching coats, matching scarves and matching bags,” she speaks with tongue in cheek.

“ Well, with the garments come accessories,

And with them, I must fill my treasuries.

Wearing a black coat every time wouldn’t be proper,

For I’d dare not be known as a miserly shopper,

Nor would a brown bag go with every dress,

Not if you wear to impress.”

 

“ Can I ask you something,” the closet lifts up her head one last time,

“ Why am I filled with clothes, of all conceivable sizes of the size chart paradigm ?”

“ Oh you innocent fool !

I don’t mean to ridicule,

You know nothing of these clothes’ history,

And hence the perplexing mystery.

You see, Small are the clothes I wore in college,

And that they inspire you to lose weight, is common knowledge,

Medium are the clothes that carried me in masters,

And the best size I could dream to reach, claim the forecasters,

Large was the size I was, a few months back,

And I promise to reclaim it before you come up with a wisecrack,

Extra large is to accommodate the present girth,

And is flowy and comfortable, for all it’s worth.”

 

“ O Khaleesi, I cannot win this war !

There is truly, nothing, you can’t answer for,

And that I’m cramped for your need,

Is something I’m willing to concede,

But don’t you fret or stress,

And let not the sprees take a recess,

For I’m sure that in your house, you’ll find,

A family member’s closet, to raid, you mastermind,

And none, may dare, counter your claim,

You, the greatest guru of this game !”

An apparent apparition of an appalling agglomeration of apparel.

 

Capture

 

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 ?”

 

Shopper’s Paradise

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 guilt

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.”

 

Calendrical guesstimates

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.”

 

Foreign returned

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.

You are FAT, missy ! – How the Indian salesperson ‘subtly’ rubs it in.

fat

“Bhaiyya ye top dikhana.” “Ai Chotu, zara XL mein red top lana.” (I didn’t tell you my size. Please stop guestimating.)

“Madam, size barabar se dekho, haan. Badme change nahi hoga.” (WTF)

“Hamare pas dress material aur darji bhi hai.” (Maine poocha kya ?)

“Bhaiyya ye top dikhana.” “Is piece mein large tak hi aata hai.” (Again, will you stop sizing me up ? Its offensive.)

“Ye color heavy logon par mast dikhta hai.” (Abhi mera heavy haath tujhpe uthega.)

“Anarkali lo madam… ek dum slimming effect aata hai.” (You should be my stylist !)

“Medium size ?! Kisi ko gift karne ka hai ?” (Tumse matlab ?)

“Jeans? Aapke size mein ? Dekhna padega…” (Really ?! Coz, believe it or not, the pair of jeans I’m wearing, were actually made on earth.)

“Aiiye madam… bohat suits hain. Aapke size mein bhi milega.” (About turn.)

“Itna margin hai is kurte mein. Aapko kya, kisi ko bhi aayega.” (Haan, teri biwi ko bhi.)