I don’t have many recollections of my grandpa. But I do know he had a great choice of clothes and loved my mom.
My mother lost her mother when she was all of six; she was already the second eldest among seven siblings. As the eldest daughter, she mothered her siblings as well as she could. And her father singlehandedly (well, along with a male cook) raised the seven of them.
My mom was his favourite child, but that didn’t mean she always got what she wanted. Money was always scarce and as the eldest it fell upon her to sacrifice and think of her younger sisters and brothers over her comforts. Even simple things like getting a new sari was a special occasion that only came once a year.
But on her wedding (she got married the last) grandpa gifted her many saris, and I think they are the most beautiful gifts ever. They have now passed on to me and every time I wear them, I feel enveloped by his love, amazed at his choice – the beautiful weave, the fine silver threads running through the fabric, its softness… it’s like affection in the form of a piece of cloth.
And I realise why these are my heirlooms. My mother never got to make jewellery for me, like other mothers do for their daughter’s weddings. She never had the time. But these saris are my real heirlooms, it’s their love that envelopes me. We don’t take anything when we move to the next world but for the ones left behind, these inheritances mean the world.