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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Keepsakes



                      The spicy aromas of mutton chops cooking in the kitchen, my cousins and I sitting on the gooseberry tree eating the sour fruit dipped in salt, sounds of Ammamma reciting shlokas and bhajans, the sight of my maternal uncle cleaning his vespa scooter, and playing hide and seek in the grapevines and lush gardens around Ammamma’s house in Mysore are a few of my favorite memories.  

                    Summer vacation days spent at Ammamma’s, some of my favorite times were when she would open her closet and trunks. I remember sitting cross-legged on her bed waiting eagerly as she took out gorgeous colorful silk sarees, small jewelry pieces, ivory hair combs, old family pictures, and other keepsakes. But most of all, I remember the smell of sandalwood that always seemed to linger in her room. Ammamma used blocks and sachets of sandalwood as a moth repellent. That scent even today reminds me of only her. That sense of excitement continued whenever I had the opportunity to open Ma’s closet. It was like a gift received; a treat for the eyes to see those brightly colored sarees and shawls, the feel of the cool silk, and of course the heavy scent of sandalwood.



                     I treasure two sandalwood boxes that Amma gave me. They are especially meaningful to me because one of the boxes belonged to Ammamma that she had received from her mother and the other one was given to Ma by her mother. Ammamma’s box which is now more than 75 years old bears burn marks on them. Ma’s box was given to her as part of her wedding trousseau. These boxes tell a story, share a glimpse of their lives.


                  When I look at these boxes in my home, I don’t see just a sandalwood jewelry box; I am brought back in time to moments spent with Ammamma and Ma, their rooms, and the emotions that were a part of those moments. As I hold these two sandalwood boxes dear to me; I realize that things that appealed to me long ago, the pretty things that I so looked forward to seeing and receiving, have now become more than just keepsakes; they are far more than pretty sandalwood boxes.


                 My inspiration for ‘the sandalwood box’ blog comes from a desire to express the emotion that is intertwined with my affinity for culture, arts and crafts, and the historical and intangible heritage of communities and people. I hope to share a picture of my life that is enriched and influenced by my attraction for all things old world, as expressed in objects around me, and diffused in my personality.


To cherished memories……


Amma, Ma               Meaning- mother
Ammamma              Meaning- Mother’s mother