Thanks, But No Thanks.

girl with an ugly green frock
Thanks, But No Thanks

After a decent vacation, going back to college and getting about my mundane routine seemed a little difficult. With it came a long chore list- the first one being ‘cleaning’. I simply cannot imagine coming back to my room and looking for my bed in the sea of strewn papers, napkins and truckload of clothes. As I reorganised my closet last-minute (why, last-minute? Well, read about one of my many frailties of being human right here ) , I couldn’t help but go through the lovely presents I had received over the last few years. Its diversity was quite astounding as it was overwhelming. My aunt lives in the Middle East, my brother and uncle in Mumbai, and one of my first cousins in Indonesia. So yes, it was quite a colourful platter of loving thoughts spread in front of me- chocolates, those giant Toblerone bars from the airport, a phone (yes.), clothes, jewellery (I’m talking Swarovsky here), a handbag, and Kopi Luwak coffee.
But my luck with presents hasn’t always been this way. Harkening back to my days as a wee toddler, I remember how the go-to present for a little girl was a puffy frock or a knock-off Barbie. Now fake Barbie, I had no problem with; I ruined her and real Barbie, alike. The frocks, on the other hand, I hated them. One such monstrosity was a gift from someone I can’t even remember. I’m sure it was well-intended but for a toddler who’d rather run with nothing but underpants, I couldn’t have been more bothered about the intentions.

Other than the fact that it was horribly designed and made my skin crawl, it also put a constant strain on my relationship with my grandmother. My grandmother, you must know is quite a lady. She’s kind, she bought me plenty of toys, she compliments me even when I look like Edward Scissorhands. One thing that she thoroughly enjoys (even today), is to dress me up. Given that I am the only girl in a family of boys, it is fairly justifiable on her behalf. Unfortunately for her, I prefer to wear my T-shirts inside out because the seams irritate my skin. Naturally, we locked our metaphorical horns over the dress. It was far too fluffy and uncomfortable.  Soon our petty squabbles became quite serious, and I dreaded every social occasion that headed my way (I still dread them now, but that’s a different issue). I refused to look like a pastry that was stamped on and be uncomfortable at the same time. My parents, who skilfully avoided this drama couldn’t care less about what we did. Quite rightly so, as I always sucked up to my grandparents and acted up around them. Sometimes, I feel it was inadvertently done to teach my bratty little self a lesson in diplomacy.

Days turned to weeks, weeks to months, and the day that I was blissfully ignorant of unfolded- my grandmother’s birthday. December 1st. I knew better than to refuse my grandmother on her birthday, especially after the whole “I’m an old lady, who won’t be with you forever” card that she used. (Am I the only one with a grandmother who has a morbid sense of humour?) Not only was I emotionally manipulated into wearing that ghastly thing, but I was also forced to accompany her to a gathering where other old ladies brought (or dragged) their own grandchildren. Unlike me, their clothes were made of fabric that was meant for little children and not devil spawns. They looked comfortable and didn’t have a thousand layers. Their shirts weren’t made of sandpaper and the only embroidery on them were the small insignias of the multinational corporations that mass-produced them. My entire body itched and I was repulsed and sour the entire time. Come to think of it, it probably made things worse as it felt more like the albatross around my neck (from Rime of the ancient mariner). It represented my defeat and was a humiliating reminder of my helplessness. As for the rest of the evening, the other kids didn’t play with me. Come to think of it, it had more to do with my exceedingly snooty unpleasantness than the dress. But of course, I thought the other children refused to play with me because of what I looked like. I am certain I still partially blame my grandmother for that.

Roughly seventeen years have passed since then and now and I am reminded that I am still the worst person to shop clothes for or any present as a matter. With this article hitting the family WhatsApp group(s) shortly, I’m certain I’m getting amazon gift cards this Diwali.

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