“When Yamraj, the god of death will come to take you, you will keep him waiting in order to complete a dress that you would be stitching then”, I would say jokingly and my sister would add, ” No, grandma will see him, and ask him if he got his dress ‘readymade’ from a store? and will say, “It is just not fitting right, give it to me and I will make it perfect for you””, to which my grandmother would agree, laugh for a fraction of second and dismiss us to resume her work – the work she loved till the very last breath – stitching beautiful dresses and doing exotic hand embroidery.
A ghagra made by my grandmother for her great granddaughter. My grandmother was 79 then.
I loved this ghagra so much that I was impatient to see my niece wear it and hence used photoshop to visualize the look.
Her love for embroidery was such that she would wake up at 4:00 in the morning (almost mid night for people like us) to complete some of the finest designs I have seen.
She would make dresses for new born babies to senior women and each of her dress is a masterpiece.
Frocks for little girls
I have been using one of the dresses she made for me for last 17 years and not a single stitch has ever opened. Now it has been passed onto my cousin who is 17!
17 year old : both the dress and the girl (photo by Puja and Archita Khodke)
I would take some really complicated designs to her and she would make them real! She was so thorough technically that she would turn some of my really complicated designs and weird imaginations into reality. In one such design of a frock for my niece (3 year then) and her great grand daughter, she used thirty meters of lace without making the frock heavy. This is how it looked:
A frock with thirty meter lace
She would use a thin cotton lining from inside especially for the dresses meant for babies and kids and make all the joineries seamless so that the joinery won’t scratch the tender skin.
Seam the difference: Blue joinery is by my grandmother and red of a ‘ready made’ dress (these days most of the ready made, store brought dresses also come with seamless joineries).
Party dress, head gear and bed sheet made for my niece
The patch works she made blended so well with the main cloth that 10X zoom is needed to spot the patch border.
A dress with hand made patch work of traditional Dharwad silk saree border, and unorthodox balloon sleeves with broad cuffs.
She was so cool! She maintained a book in which she kept miniature dresses of all kinds of dresses she made. At 80 she would use Facebook, Whatsapp and Google like a pro!
<photo of the book>
Once when we were discussing design of a new dress, I got a phone call that I received hesitantly. After a few haan and hmm, my grandmother got annoyed and said, “switch off your phone and don’t waste my time”. That very moment I wished I want to age like her. That dress she unstitched and stitched for four times, and when I said it was good, she gave me a sharp look and said, “but not the best”. And in her signature style she made the best possible dress even if it meant doing it for the 5th time!
A Japanese Kimono style kurta made from Valkalam Silk Saree and salwar made from khan fabric. Note the bell sleeve and its border.
She would not let a single piece of cloth go waste. Once she made a dress for me and from the remaining cloth made a beautiful frock for my niece.
She was the reason, I loved to design dresses, because no matter what I designed her magic wand would make it look beautiful.
When my grandfather passed away, people would say that she will get back to her work and she did. She was rock solid and started her work again. She was not just a great artist but also an amazing teacher. She started her work and teaching tailoring to the girls in her neighborhood. On a fine morning she was teaching the girls the nitty gritty of tailoring, when the death god appeared and without a slightest effort she dropped the scissor and went with him, leaving the girls shocked and awestruck at the same time.
When I got the news, I wondered if she would have made him wait? But may be looking at her work, the god of death must have said,” Your husband has been complaining about our dresses, we need you to make the best dresses for us in the yamlok (the kingdom of the god of death). Will you come along?” and she must have instantly obliged 🙂
Nirupama and Sharad Godbole, my grandparents (flowers in the background are painted by her ;)).
I Wish we had photographed all the dresses she made, and it would have been a nice catalogue.
P.S. I hope to receive my grandmother’s skills and temperament in virasat (as heritage / inheritance).