MY FIRST FASHION ICON, MOM !
When she isn’t engrossed in watching a video on the highest volume on her phone, my mother is usually scanning social media, “to stay abreast with the changing times,” as she claims. She is 56, and is super tech-savvy. Of course, she still blames her smartphone’s low battery for being unable to hear me on a call sometimes and wages a battle with the reluctant fire-stick occasionally—but when it comes to getting things done, she’s my Oprah Winfrey. She’ll Google her way through millennial terms that she doesn’t understand, stand up for things she feels passionately about on chat groups and occasionally drop me emoji-filled texts just to say how much she misses me.
So, one day I decided to get my A-Game on and stalk my mother on social media to see what she’s up to. After digging through several birthday posts, I finally stumbled upon an old photograph that a friend had posted of her teenage days. Turns out, my mother was cool way before I’ve known her! She pulled off her statement barrette and trademark smile with the same panache that I have grown up admiring. Even today, she’s a minimalist diva in her own right. A pair of natural diamond studs teamed with a crisp, white kurta, elegant heirloom bangles to go with my favourite Tussar silk saree, a bold bindi matching her Kalamkari dupatta—she carries herself with an élan that is almost timeless.
My mother was a teacher for a small part of her life—a phase I was fortunate enough to witness as a four-year-old. So my mornings went in carefully watching her paint her lips, pleat her saree into neat folds, and wear her favourite pair of natural diamond earrings, while the afternoons were dedicated to emulating her in front of the mirror. Draped in a makeshift dupatta-saree, I’d copy her deft moves in the same order—kohl, lipstick, and bindi—to horrifying results. I soon learnt that broken lipsticks were poor secret-keepers as my mother’s warnings grew sterner and I grew more audacious.
But it all came to a screeching halt the day I tried on her prized possession—the diamond earrings, and ended up losing one of them. I remember my mother in tears, frantically searching every nook and corner of the house. Years later, she confessed that it was the first pair of natural diamonds she had gifted herself. It wasn’t a purchase made in a moment of weakness, but a carefully planned investment. It was a part of her that she had hoped to pass on to me someday. To think of it now, those earrings would have been the ideal heirloom piece to pass down for generations because they reflected her best qualities— elegance, uniqueness and resilience.
Over the years, like every mother and daughter, we’ve had our share of squabbles. But every little tiff has ended with us knowing each other a little better. And, through all of this, the one thing I’ve learnt from her is the importance of being a good listener. She’d listen to my never-ending rants—even if she didn’t agree with me—she’d always hear me out. When I wanted to get a nose piercing because it was subversive and cool, she wasn’t exactly delighted. But like always, she found her way around this as well by setting one condition—she would buy me my first nose-pin. So off we went to her trusted jewellery store where she picked for me the most subtle yet exquisite natural diamond nose-pin. She was the first to tell me how she loved the way it sparkled against my skin. She’s the reason I am now a proud owner of a piece of jewellery that’s rare—a miracle of nature.
When they say that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, I feel a little hopeful. Maybe someday, I’ll have the same confidence and sense of conviction that she has. She’s fiery, someone you just wouldn’t mess with. It’s like she has a blueprint of her life’s goals chalked out in her head—complete with sticky notes of meticulously planned do’s and don’ts. But again, there are moments I catch her smiling blankly through awkward social gatherings, rolling her eyes when bored and stifling a giggle in inappropriate situations. My mother for all her poise and charm is also a free spirit—a preciously rare mix of sophistication and exuberance.
As I glance back at her pictures I know she isn’t this picture-perfect all the time. She has her moments of weariness but miraculously keeps pulling on. Like the times she spends tireless hours packing tiffin boxes full of home-cooked meals for me when I visit her. “At least you won’t have to worry about your meals for a few days,” she reassures me every time. As I reminisce, I wonder if I’ve ever told her that I think the world of her. That she’s been my first fashion icon, my first friend, and my most trusted critic. Maybe, words won’t ever be enough. Maybe, its time I replaced the lost natural diamond earrings to thank my precious one.