top of page

Dada Sa's Shawl


Woven strands of wool were neatly folded into a mound of shawls.  Some bought and some gifted on  weddings, inaugurations, memorials. A stack wrapped in an old bandhani knotted together by the ends just like the trailing ends of a pallu knotted with faith or superstition to find a thing lost--a valuable souvenir--unknotted only when it was found. 


My mother un-knots it.


She unravels the white, beige, brown, maroon woolen shawls. Scent of fresh oldness and paper-y wooly wafts emerge from the folds, kept folded for too long; scent of an unfamiliar man, a man from history one has not lived through: my grandfather.


The stark unfamiliarity was only softened by the likeness of bloodline, lineage and my father's face which mirrored my Dada's.




I pick out a shawl with hopes of adding it to my clothing accessories, then choose the best colour, weave and design while the rest go back into stacks again to remain folded for another eternity.


Over some months, the shawl, put on a hanger, was left aloof and forgotten, gliding through the cupboard as I rifled through other pieces of clothing to wear to dinners and outings. 


The memory of my grandfather, recollected through tales narrated by my aunts and father hung onto the shawl. 


My grandfather's shawl. 


On a cold Sunday morning, the shawl was carefully removed from the hanger, lest the careful pleats vanished. I wrapped it around my neck as a shield against the cold wind. 


My grandfather's shawl.


It's materiality, it's fabric slowly, through the day, transformed into an abstraction; an abstraction of dada sa - someone whom I'm never known in person.


An affiliation, a bond emerged between the two of us.  The shawl sat like a pat of affection. The knot disappeared; the valuable thing was found. 


The auto zoomed past the cold winter evening, the shawl's promise of warmth stayed.

bottom of page