Gilded Memories

I was probably seven years old when I fell in love with the beautiful handmade creations on a background that was the color of melting chocolate. There were five apparitions in all, each a masterpiece. I would look at them, collectively first and then each one separately- admiring every fine detail. All of them displayed a female form in various moods. Interestingly each of them featured the Indian string instrument ‘Veena’ along with an alluring young woman. Over time, two of the artistic pieces became my favorite.

My absolute favorite creative piece was a beautiful damsel who lay languorously, back arched, one arm lying lazily by the side and the other folded behind a perfectly shaped head covered with ebony hair, spread out like a flame, breasts covered with a translucent veil over a rust color floral, blouse embellished with gold flowers, a red skirt with an intricate tear drop shaped ornamental paisley design adorning the broad border. She wore delicate jewelry of gold hoops and a gold chain with a pendant resting near her ‘beating’ heart. The ‘Veena’ lay across her body suggesting that the winsome lady had been singing a romantic strain accompanied by the soft notes of the instrument, now intimately covering her curves. Her veil, splattered with glowing gold stars floated towards the heavens above in undulating waves sharing the tale of a love fulfilled. Her eyes had a look of ecstasy and of dreams realized!

My other favorite featured a most attractive young lady sitting next to an open window adorned with an exquisite pair of curtains, held back with delicately embroidered bands of copper. A crescent moon peeped in apparently to hear her melodious verses of endearment. She wore a dress of muted gold with leafy motifs woven into the soft folds of her dress. A gossamer gauze veil enveloped her delicate form revealing the voluptuous figure within. Her thick braided black hair adorned with flowers snaked all the way down to her waist. Her lap cradled the ‘Veena’ while her hands were on the strings, seemingly playing a sweet melody of undying and everlasting love dedicated to her lover. Her eyes encased in long lashes were closed in rapture, her cheeks were flushed and a secretive, charming smile played upon her rosy lips.

Over the years I developed a relationship with these figures. As I aged, my thoughts on love and romance evolved, my perspective changed, as did the stories I conjured up in my head about them.

On rare occasions, I would hug my mother tightly when she wore the trousseau saree on which the captivating figures were hand embroidered with single strands of silk and gold.

After my mother passed away, I would hold the saree close to my heart to feel her presence. Ultimately, I decided to give its art form a new life.

Today my two favorite maidens adorn my house in gilded frames, bringing eternal warmth and beauty to my abode.

Neeti Parti

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