by Abha Iyengar
This is a tale about my father, related to me by my father. It is a story of his youth. My father worked hard, and like many a young man, he hoped to make it big one day. ‘Making it big’ has different meanings for different people, but for him it was simply becoming a successful man who could afford to take care of his family and also afford the good things in life, because for sure, he had a highly developed sense of taste during the time I knew him as my father. And at that time he could be considered successful, because he had a good job in a good firm and he gave us a privileged life, denying us nothing that money could buy. He went to the extent of getting me sharpened pencils if I needed them the next day for school. Yes, it was that good, and I did not know it then, but we were spoilt as children.
The reason behind this kind of indulgence is simple. When a person does not have money when young and has to work very, very hard to provide for his parents and siblings, and feels a great sense of responsibility to do so, when he does ‘make good’, he wants to ensure that his children are denied nothing in terms of opportunities and facilities.
But, coming back to the story, which is to do with a suit, he did not always have this great taste. It was a developed one. So he told us the tale, sometimes, because he did not like to talk about his past much, of how he always wanted a golden suit. And so when he had saved up enough and felt that he could bring it upon himself to afford one, he went and bought this cloth, all shiny and golden, and then gave it in for stitching to a local tailor. He wore it with such pride, he told us, and I am sure he must have strutted around a wee bit. He would never be seen dead in such a suit in his more mature avatar, but then, that’s the story.
He never really laughed, but he would tell us this anecdote with a self-conscious smile, letting us know in his own way that he had also been young once. And had, among his many dreams, a simple one of wearing a golden suit that caught the sun’s eye.
published 12 March 2016