My new blue dress bleeds colour.
It bleeds without provocation. It has no hesitation, discretion, intent nor prejudice. It is a dress with a lot on its mind, and with nothing to lose.
I have never—deliberately, at least—owned anything that has the potential to cause so much trouble. I love my dress. But it is dangerous. I’m terrified of what it, in a machine, would do to my clothes and my flatmate’s. So I wear it a lot, my patience in ready competition with the dye, waiting for the bleed to get better.
It is a dress, but I treat it like a disease that I’d rather treat like an inconvenience. Not something as face-splittingly painful as a rotten tooth. But maybe more like a corn in the crook of an unimportant toe, or a mysterious, highly specific ache in my shoulder.
Whenever I wear my dress, I sit exclusively on dark coloured sofas and granite slabs, stand despite the rare fortune of seats in the gleaming metro, and when I forget, I lean against a wall. Once, I caught myself sitting in a paper white chair. I didn’t know how to bring it up with my host. So I left, a little giddy with a secret that she would only uncover when (if) she washed the chairs and lined them up in the sun. My chair would be that frustrating white sock sacrificed to liquid blue.
My dress fits me well. It fits my chest with a snug, grown-woman fullness. It hugs my waist and flares at exactly where my self-consciousness begins. It’s a heavy dress, batik in technique, contemporary in motif, anarkali in inspiration. In temperament, it is an indulgent craftsperson summoning an extravagance of fabric to put to employ in making me look beautiful.
The first time I’d worn the dress and taken it off, I had noticed that my white panties (my favourite with blue lace trimming) had been dusted blue by contact. The blue folds against the white cotton had looked like the stretchmarks along my sides. When I bathed that evening, blue rivulets had run from my feet to the drain.
Yesterday, when I drew my hand out of my pocket, I found blue grit under my fingernails.
My dress is the blue of night. Not nights of stolen, sodium-vapour-lit, shawl-swaddled walks through Hanumanthnagar. But of a night on my back on Surathkal beach, watching the star-stippled sky and the lighthouse cutting slow ribbons through it.
I match my dress with serious-seeming earrings and feminine-enough sandals. When I walk, my dress swishes as is appropriate for my age (not like a synthetic sun-dress on holiday). It is reluctant to play with passing drafts, and it rustles like I have important business to do.
In my dress, I’m daubing my city in a blue carbon-copy-paper patina. I am a vandal, leaving imperceptible blue graffiti in the shape of my seat.
I am guilty of laundry discourtesy. And theft of a slice of sky.
4 thoughts on “A Report of My New Blue Dress”
I have a red block printed dress fresh off Ajio and I wore it to Anchor on the first day. It bled everywhere. The white covers of the chairs, my denim jacket is red from the inside (now), my underwear, bra, my skin, my face and hands. You just reminded me that I have to wash it separately.
I want to see you in this dress soon and we can paint the town blue and red.
Just how do you do it? 🙂
Beautifully written, as always Amulya!! Especially loved the line “It hugs my waist and flares at exactly where my self-consciousness begins.” ❤
have been that host who encountered one such blue dress…. 🙂
Your story resonates with truth which perhaps only those who love handloom (all indian girls I guess) have wrestled with !!
Sitting at my desk on Monday morning, your language has transported me to a dusty hot afternoon, reading Hemingway in my summer holidays from school, to walking in the market behind my mother’s red batik sareed back, getting red stains in the folds of my palm as I try to keep up with her purposeful shopping…of reading and re-reading Ujaala bottle instructions, and still being defeated by inevitability !
Loved it !