Genes or Jeans, the spelling didn’t matter.
It didn’t matter to my teenage-addled mind that denim had first found its use owing to its durability, for wearing a pair of jeans and tee represented everything that we were — cool and rebellious. Those were times when owning a pair of Levi’s, the last word in jeans, placed you high on the ‘cool’ ladder.
And then the fashion scale tipped from blue to its black counterpart.
It had taken a lot of coaxing, reminders, good grades and a conscious attempt to keep away from anything that spelt trouble to get my first pair of blue jeans; so, getting a black one was wishful thinking. Not one to give up, I dared to try, only to be caught in a tangled web of scrutiny about everything other than my request.
It was about then that a job opportunity got my cousin, who owned the most-coveted pair of black Levi’s, to move into our home. Paulo Coelho in The Alchemist explains that when you want something, all the universe conspires into helping you to achieve it.
For me, what the universe didn’t, Mother’s culinary magic did. The cousin outgrew the handsome pair of black jeans. Months later, I found it among the discarded clothes to be given to the scrap dealer in exchange for steel utensils. The one piece of discarded clothing that guaranteed Mother’s dream steel utensil did a sudden disappearing act, for it had another dream to fulfil.
Over the days that followed, every solitary moment was a secret mission, every stitch was a fashion statement that was being altered to fit a perfect dream. My handiwork would have done what the school art project, the shawl, didn’t, and would have convinced my art teacher that application of the art curriculum was better than projects that were forced on us. When the dream materialised, it was a little too perfect to fit, but with a little bit of time and effort I managed.
A dream project that was tailored to perfection for me was nothing short of rebellion in my parents’ eyes. If they appreciated my persistence or artistic abilities, I never got to hear it. Instead, I was given a piece of their mind, but the pair of black Levi’s was officially mine and mostly the one piece of clothing that everyone remembered me in until my next dream project took form.
It takes becoming a parent to accept, understand and appreciate what it must have been for our parents to raise us from crying babies to tantrum-throwing toddlers and then rebellious teenagers.
On a recent day, when I found the pair of socks still in its original packing, the colourful pattern reminding me of those beautiful moments spent with the friend who gifted it, I was happy to show it to my children and paint the morning with lovely colours of the past. The pair of socks inside its packing went back to where I found it and we all went back to pick up the day from where we had left.
The following day, Little Princess first insisted on wishing to see my gift once again and then requested if she could take a careful look at the patterns for a bit. By the end of the day, my friend’s beautiful gift had been transformed into sock puppets complete with earring studs for eyes and a big smile drawn with a felt pen.
The artist had given her final touches with kitchen scissors that snipped the elastic off. She had thoughtfully made two puppets — one for her and the other was sweetly presented to me.
Today, as I look at two identical puppets smiling at me — now holding a beautiful memory and the touch of a persistent artist’s hand, I wonder if it is the fault in my genes or just Karma.
Pranitha Menon is a freelance writer based in Dubai. Twitter: @MenonPranitha