It is a story of losing and finding. Rediscovering. Returning to seek, find and embrace.
Flashback – as the camera rolls, so do images. Images – a run down worn out shawl that is off white in color, with a comfortingly uneven texture. The ends are tied in tassel, ends which reveal their silkenness in the shiny strands
As an extra big shawl, this is a constant companion of my grandfather.
In the summers as in the winters. In rain as in shine. Loving, versatile and always there. Like a mother.
In the winters, this humble piece of cloth is warm and comforting. Wrapped around my grandfather’s body, it keeps him warm. In the summers, its presence lends a cool but dignified touch to his outfit. Both unique in their contribution, yet by the same fabric.
Silky but not shiny, warm and cool by turns.
Another scene as the camera rolls back even further. I am four or five. A basket of silky flattened cocoons in a basket in the verandah at home . It looks like cotton, but as I remove the soft wooly fibre, I can feel the silky texture.. I can feel the luxurious strands.. my mother takes one and shows how it can be rolled together as a thread. I ask my mother what it is. She tells me. She tells me how we get the cocoons from the little silk worms that her mother used to rear at home. How the cocoons are separated from the worms, without killing them. I hear the name again later. And again. Many more times.
I didn’t think much of it then. I ignored it – just like how the ugly duckling was ignored. Except that it was not ugly. Only unpolished. The plain Jane called Endi or Errandi.
Three decades pass by. A lot of water flows down the Brahmaputra.
And then I came to hear about it again. This time in a completely different setting, in a different place and circumstances.
Everybody is in awe of it. Except that it is no longer ‘it’. She metamorphoses into a charming enchantress. This time around she tantalizes, she challenges you… She caresses, she laughs with you, she comforts you, she is the ugly duckling turned into a swan….
She is now the world’s much toasted to, much revered, Eri Silk. That falls like crepe, that acts like cotton, that’s as light as chiffon.
It’s time has come. One of the four natural silks available in the world, the Eri silk is found only in Assam in the North Eastern part of India. For long, called the ‘Assam Silk’. But now Eri has found its spot of fame under the sun. It has found her wings, flying across the world.
A silk so ethereal, so beautiful. Yet so much with character. Eri, the ahimsa silk, the peace silk.
In its new avatar, I find many an answer. I am attracted to it like a moth is to light. I seek and find answers.
It fills the senses. I create dreams with it, dreams that can be part of our everyday – for work as well as partying. For the drawing room and the boardroom. For the long holiday in Europe and for the short jaunt to Commercial Street. Comfortable in your own skin. In nature’s skin.
The swan had arrived.