Do you have any regrets in life? Any mistakes you have repented for all your life? One that feels totally worthless after all these years? I do have. And as I have often done, I have written about it many times. In my diary. Then tore it. Into minute pieces. And then threw it from the terrace. On my laptop. And then deleted it. Word by word. Over and over again. Just to get it out of my system. But it doesn’t go. A silly mistake, completely unintentional, that I made over two decades ago, still keeps raising its head again and again and mocking me right in my face.
Our dance teacher had instructed us to come all dressed up for Thalappoli and reach the temple. I was thirteen then. I told Amma that I wanted to wear a Kasavu Saree. She happily got me draped in that off-white saree with golden border, with light make-up and jasmine flowers on my hair. She also made me wear her Jhumkis and necklace. May be the first time she would have dreamt of me all dressed up as a bride. I looked at myself in the mirror and was all excited.
We reached the venue. Most of my friends were in Pattu Pavadai or Davani (Half Saree). We were all given the lighted thalams (decorated plates) and were made to stand in two parallel rows. Everyone was praising me and my big girl look. Who doesn’t like to be noticed and enjoy all the attention! Just when the procession began, the teacher came up to me and shouted in front of everyone. What for? For wearing a saree and not a pavadai. She asked me who asked me to wear it and I muttered the name of the first girl I saw at that time, my friend and classmate. An unintentional mistake I committed out of fear. The teacher insulted me and mom in front of that large crowd irrespective of my repeated apologies. It was not even that I was the only one in that attire. I could not take it. But I did complete that procession weeping silently all through the way.
That was the last time I had dressed up well and with all my heart. Never again did I wear a saree willfully or applied any make-up (not even Kajal) till I had my second-born in my arms. My tears were for my mother and my innocent friend. My friend did confront me, but I did not have the courage of telling her the truth and accepting my fault. I kept quiet. She kept aloof all through our school life. And I secretly kept seeking apologies from her all through these 23 years. That was also the end of my dancing career. I never wore a chillanga (anklets) again. Four years, I had practiced and performed for this.
Even after so many years, I still get reminded of that day every time I want to wear a saree or everytime I attend a dance performance. I still want to apologize to that friend. We are friends again. We speak normally. But I have never had the courage of talking to her about that day. God only knows how much I have repented for taking her name that day and dragging her into this totally worthless episode. Today I want to do that for myself. I want to be regret-free. I finally want to let this go. For myself. And for everyone else. A public confession I owe her and myself.
When we are kids, things, people, circumstances matter to us a lot. They then stay with us. Inside us. Shaping our lives. It is necessary to talk to someone understanding and get the wrong ones out of our system at the right time. I failed to do that. But I’m glad I will not die with this inside me. My mistake was not one that could not have been undone or was unpardonable. But it ate up precious moments of my life and that of my loved ones.
I keep asking myself if I hate that teacher for making my best day one of my worst ones. And I cannot help but say that I do. She didn’t have to make it sound like an unpardonable sin. Her rude words cost me my dancing, my friendship and much more. But I finally forgive her.
I recently visited one of the temples we performed together at and there were small girls all dressed up for their stage performance. And that gave birth to this post and courage to me for publishing it.
Dear friend, forgive me if you still can.
And Renu, this is the reason I had to refuse most of the times you wanted me to wear a saree.