We don’t always have to travel to seek stories; they are right there in our homes too. In “Stories From My Home“, I examine the many objects surrounding me at home and attempt to document and share the memories associated with them, one story at a time.
My maternal Paati (grandmother in Tamil) had only one request for relatives visiting Madurai — to bring back Captain Sandal Face Powder that was only available at the M.K. Azeez and Sons shop located in the West Tower Street outside the Meenakshi Temple. Once or twice a year, a few small tins of the face powder would be handed over to my thrilled grandmother by obliging relatives returning from Madurai.
Paati would get to work immediately. A newspaper would be spread out and the little tins of Sandal face powder would be emptied on it. Some ‘normal’ face powder (Ponds, Lakme, or whatever was available) would be added and then mixed and filled in 4 silver powder boxes — one each for my mother, her two sisters and my Paati herself.
Paati and her three daughters used only this face powder and each had her own silver powder box. When the powder box got empty, it would return to Paati for refilling. After Paati passed away in 1980, Amma took over the role of preparing the powder mix for her younger sisters and herself till they passed away, and then she would do it just for herself.
Amma passed away more than a year ago, When I was clearing her dressing table afterwards, I came across her silver powder box with some off the face powder still left in it. As I inhaled the familiar fragrance, memories overwhelmed — a 7-year-old me begging my Paati to help her with mixing and filling the powder boxes; Amma nagging me to somehow get more stock as ‘powder levels’ were dangerously low; a friend surprising Amma with four boxes of this powder on her 80th birthday…
There is just one box of Captain Sandal Face Powder left at home. Since I don’t use powder I will open the silver powder box occasionally to get a whiff of memories and travel to a bygone era.
Sometimes, just sometimes, I may use some in memory of my Paati, Amma and my aunts.
PS: The silver powder box is at least 40 years old and I just realised that the pattern on the lid is very Art Deco-ish, isn’t it?
Stories From My Home: Meenakshi’s lamp | The box of coins | The photographs in the envelope | Bala’s oil pot | The girl on the swing | Captain sandal face powder | Appa and Thomas the tank engine | Amma’s Tambura |