The Farewell

Last week was N’s farewell and it was as if the entire household was thrown into chaos.

The husband was called upon to do multiple picks and drops while I had to organise costume, hair and makeup. The sister was put on standby for constant consultations on video calls. Bua and masi and her cousin, all were assigned specific roles.

Quite the family affair.

And everyone, I mean everyone’s advice was taken seriously. Except mine. Seriously! Teenage! When did she go from thinking ‘Mama knows everything’ to ‘Mama just doesn’t get it’? 

Anyway, this isn’t about me so let’s get on with it.

N’s sari came all the way from Lucknow. My sister had sent it two years back for her grade 10 farewell which didn’t happen thanks to Covid, and so it had been kept safely away — a black chiffon vision with gold twinkly sequins.

I have to add (even though the post isn’t about me) that there were no chiffon visions for me when I was going for my farewell. Mom would pick out from her cottons or silks and No, I had no choice. 

Worse still, she was annoyingly possessive and I was given a million instructions before I left home about not spilling anything or tearing the sari or poking too many safety pins in it. 

To be fair, no one in the whole world can tie a sari as perfectly as my mom. She’d do such a solid job I’d manage with a single pin at my shoulder. And I could run or jog or do jumping jacks if I pleased (which I didn’t, FYI) and the sari would stay just the same.

Years later in my very first job, living in a hostel, I was required to wear a sari every day and I couldn’t be more grateful for her training.

However, now, I haven’t worn a sari in ages. I remember the process of course, mom’s training and the little tips she gave are deeply engrained in my head and so I can do a decent job fairly quickly when I’m wearing it myself. 

Putting it on someone else is different, though. I don’t know how to explain this but the pleats are so much harder to do from the front, for someone else. Finally, I did this thing of standing behind N and pretending I was doing it for myself. Weird, but it worked.

A visit to the salon and we’d be done. Or so I thought. But then N came up with multiple conundrums. Should it be straight or curly – soft curls or tight curls. Some days I am flabbergasted at the craziness that goes on in that head of hers. The cook suggested straight (she works part time at a parlour so she knows her stuff) so did the masi. But N’s heart was set on ‘soft curls’, which her cousin seconded so soft curls it had to be. Unfortunately after paying over a 1000 bucks the curls all but disappeared by the time we got home from the salon! So that was that! Mercifully N didn’t make too much of a song and dance about it and we could move on to the next stage.

Which I’m a dud at. And, to be honest, I’ve never felt the need for it. I did have some foundation tucked away but then ‘My skin tone doesn’t match yours‘ declared N. (Hello! I had no idea we even had tones).

And so we went makeup shopping.

The sales assistant at Sugar rattled off a long list of absolute must-have makeup products. One must have foundation and concealer and then a compact to ‘seal’ everything. And primer toh is a must to protect your skin. And all of this is just basic. Sensibly enough we walked out with two small tubes (Thank god!).

Also, my niece, God bless her, is a pro at makeup so N was handed over to her. She perfectly understood N’s rather complicated and puzzling (to me) requirement — the makeup had to be put on so that it wasn’t visible at all.

Epiphany of the day: Every mom who has a daughter should organise an older sister/cousin.


Hair, makeup, costume all done, N was ready.

I got dressed in 7 minutes flat. The Husband was called upon to escort us to the venue. Parents were invited but he refused to sit through the whole affair, dropped us and jazzed off. N too disappeared with a bunch of giggly sari/suit clad girls/boys.

… looked beautiful but prettier than that were the young people milling around – excited and a little self-conscious yet pretending to be cool. Formally dressed-up teens are truly a delight to behold. And if they were sensible, they’d realise they needed no makeup, no jewellery, not even flashy clothes. They are so naturally buoyant, so cheerful they fill up the ambience with joy.

Then began the proceedings, as over 500 students stepped on stage one by one to accept mementoes interspersed with speeches from office bearers, parents and teachers talking about how the school had turned out lovely young ladies and how it had turned boys into gentlemen and how wonderful the canteen kathi rolls were.

Sorry if I sound a little salty here. But the process is tedious. N was on stage for two minutes and I couldn’t even click a decent picture because people in the front decided to move around. She did look splendidly elegant, managed a firm handshake and negotiated the steps down the stage like a pro despite the sari.

That’s the end of twelve years of schooling.

For now, I am grateful to have my girl back at the study table in her faded ‘Bazinga’ tee shirt, messy bun and oversized jacket, someone I can give a tight hug without worrying about hair and makeup.

Note: The purpose of this post is to dispel the dreams of mom’s of toddlers who think they’ll be free when their little ones grow up. Na-ah, not going to happen.

8 Replies to “The Farewell”

  1. I absolutely loved the chaotic collaboration to make her shine on her big day. Teenagers and their flair for the dramatic! As a former drama queen myself, I can totally relate. 😀 You must have felt so proud and emotional when she went up on the stage. As one phase comes to an end, another one starts. Really enjoyed reading your post.

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