My mekhela chadar memoir is vivid and vibrant. I was probably five when my fraternal grandmother died. But, I still remember her pristine everyday mekhela chadar look. A cotton silk crisp mekhela and a handwoven cotton chadar with a cream or ivory blouse. Her inner simplicity reflects through her attire. On the other hand, my maternal grandmother who carries a tea garden heritage, always wears a silk mekhela and cotton silk chadar with a small boarder usually brown or green or gray color. Through out the day, her pleats remain in the same place and position; her mekhela chadar reflects a strong woman who stayed strong through her life. As I grew up, I discover every woman's inner world with her mekhela chadar. My art teacher who used to wear beautiful mekhela chadars with intricate embroidery, I experience her sensitive inner world. Back home in Assam, our domestic help Hiramoni wears her mekhela chadar or saree the whole day so effortlessly and quickly.
I feel embarrassed to say mekhela chadar is an impractical piece of garment. Even though my affination for mekhela chadar started that early, I never actually wore mekhela chadar and did so on particular occasion only when it's really required. After moving to the USA, every time I used to visit Assam, I ended up buying mekhela chadars. I wear it once in Bihu, and after that the whole year I don't look back to it. I always have an excuse that it's too difficult to wear, my pleats are clumsy, my drapes are imperfect. The sad part is that, our generation always finds an excuse not to wear mekhela chadar. At the same time, we forget that our previous generation cooked, slept, ate and did chores in it. As you grow older, you probably recognize your style, and the same happened to me. Not that I don't wear western silhouettes, but somehow I feel more comfortable in mekhela chadar/sari which no other outfit provides. Even though I am not yet there, when it comes to draping and pleats, I still cherish wearing them. My drapes are getting better with time too. My mekhela chadar which used to sit in the corner of my wardrobe has started to see the light of outside world. I look forward to wearing them and style them according to my lifestyle or the occasion. I have dressed them for our Diwali and birthday parties and many more. I was surprised that our lovely mekhela chadar is still entirely unknown to rest of the India. I sport them to many other occasions, and my none Assamese friends have started to recognize them. I feel proud that my little effort of wearing mekhela chadar to none Assamese events have given them recolonization. It is always a pleasure to wear makhla chadar, as it associates with my heritage and my roots and the story of painstaking efforts of Indian hand loom
p.s: Makhela chadar is an Assamese ethnic outfit. It can be easily disguised as a saree. Saree is one piece attire, and mekhela chadar is two-piece, a skirt(mekhela) and scarf(chadar).