|Image courtesy - www.city-connect.org|
It’s time aam aurats of India conveyed their heartfelt gratitude to the lady who was too lazy to change out of her nightdress and ended up sparking a revolution that led women to discover the delights of an unhindered, unclasped and drawstringless existence. Had it not been for her genius, Bhartiya Naaris would not have known Nirvana through Nightie.
Agreed that a fashion conscious, brand flaunting woman wouldn’t be seen dead in a shapeless nightwear masquerading as a maxi that does a perfect job of making you look like a dowdy behenji, but it is through its loose character, sweat soaked women all over India were exposed to the comforts of air-conditioning. Is there a greater satisfaction than slipping into a sack made of the softest cotton that lets you be yourself in all your hanging and paunchy glory? Who cares that the flowers printed on it outnumber the stars in the sky and its front has a bib like thing with even more flowers embroidered on it!
Its dusting cloth like texture is perfect for wiping your kitchen weary palms and your sweaty forehead with. It’s the perfect attire to slip into after a long day at work and what’s more, it gives you more space than your relationship!
The ubiquitous nightie is to women what lungi is to her husband - its comfort factor more than making up for its ewwness, bestowing its wearer with a beatific smile.
And who has the time and inclination to be that woman who slogs for hours at the gym and has three carrots for dinner before slipping into a lacy Armani that lovingly hugs her detoxed and toned body!
Of course, there is an emerging woman-force that has adopted the middle path and anointed pyjamas and loose t-shirts as their new nightie. These are women who spent their childhood traumatised by the vision of their Moms and neighbourhood Aunties flapping around in these hideous tents. I’m sure, all sabziwalas of certain Delhi localities like Lajpat Nagar and Rajinder Nagar have fond ‘mammaries’ of Chinki and Chunnu ki Mummy haggling for an extra bunch of coriander in her nightie-chunni. Or Raju Raddiwala who forgot his trademark manoeuvre to take the extra kilos off the stack of newspapers, the moment he sighted Mrs Mehra spilling out of her checked nightie with a waistband hugging her ample middle.
But no garment can beat the versatility of the Indianised version of the nightie that doubles up as a lounging, going out to buy groceries, screaming at presswala, gossiping with maid or even night-walk dress. What’s more, it doesn’t discriminate fat and the slim, lovely and ugly, and uniformly transforms everyone into a frumpy aunty jee. It doesn’t expect you to shape up or tidy up and goes perfectly with your no-make up look, bed head or even puffy eyes. A frock that fits all and covers all, it can be customised to suit your lack of fashion sensibilities. If floral fantasies make you sick, you can always opt for polka dots, checks or even cute hearts in pink. Sleeveless, side-slits, block-prints, flowy kaftans or even jhabla style. It is a garment that’s as forgiving of your indulgences as your conscience. Pair it Bata flip-flops for an outing to the grocer. For a more formal look slip into the pink beaded sandals that you bought for 650/- at the sale and if you’re feeling sporty, pair it with keds and voila you’re ready to conquer the world. Why, just the other day I spotted an elderly Indian lady in her nightie and sports shoes at a swanky shopping precinct in Brisbane! She looked cool as a cucumber.
As a busy homemaker who has devoted the rest of her life in pursuit of her family’s happiness, the aam aurat is least bothered what others might think of her as she rushes off to buy cheese slices for her son’s tiffin from the kirana store in her cotton nightwear and then rushes out again to drop him off at the school bus stop. She has little time to be stylish as she switches between playing the dutiful daughter-in-law, understanding wife and a doting Mother. It is this garment that understands her needs and has adapted itself as her all day wear. No wonder, it is the most loved and widely accepted attire of the Bhartiya Nari.
I’d like to believe, it’s through this humble garment Indian women discovered liberation rejecting the image of the comely wife in a sari or a salwar-suit and embracing their devil-may-care free spirit in an ankle length nightie.
In a society where women are held responsible for a man’s lust, the nightie does a perfect cover-up job of desexualising her feminine assets. It’s drab enough to elicit chaste thoughts from the beholder (sabziwala and raddiwala’s roving gaze can rot in hell), yet liberal enough to accommodate her needs. Easy to slip into, easier to slip out of it. Geddit?
So, if men can keep their cool in airy boxers and lungis, isn’t it imperative that women keep theirs in their humble nightie, fashion statement be damned! After all, you have to be cool-headed to deal with the men in your life who refused to grow up after 14.
This post was first published on IBN Live - ibnlive.in.com/blogs/purbaray/3353/65085/freedom-from-enforced-sexuality-why-the-aam-aurat-loves-the-tentlike-nightie-the-life-partner-of-the-lungi.html