There’s something so intimate about hand-me-downs, don’t you think?
As a child I hated using things my brother no longer needed. I felt as if he was more important so he got to use brand new things: like a new study table. (I was too small to use anything else yet.)
I had outgrown my tiny table and got promoted to using my brother’s.
Why can’t I get my own table?
But studying at that table with my brother next to me, my feet hardly touching the ground, are the earliest memories I have of my first home; one of my fondest memories.
I loved to read and I’d read my story books cover to cover and answer all the questions at the end of each one before they were taught on class as my brother practiced his math questions, scribbling squiggles and pluses and minuses.
As I grew a little older, I would wear clothes from when he was small. I didn’t really mind. I don’t remember complaining about it; the table was another matter. In my head, it was every individual’s inviolable right to possess their own table.
I wear round neck t shirts my mother used to wear at one point. There are three of them, of which two go wherever I do.
There were countless times when my brother no longer liked a t shirt that much or it didn’t fit him too well or he didn’t get his size but bought it hoping I’d wear it anyway and each of these times I welcomed these new additions to my wardrobe with greater glee than if I’d bought them.
What is it about hand, me-downs? I wonder.
It is almost like a book being passed from one owner to the next; the object holds stories of the previous owner and in its own way, brings to closer to them.
My mother hasn’t worn a t shirt in years. It doesn’t seem like a very conscious decision. When old age and its problems start kicking in, whether you’ve been wearing t shirts regularly isn’t a question that many would remember to ask.
These t shirts are precious relics of a time when she dressed differently, she was another person. Younger, more naive. Wearing them, I feel close to her.
I like to think of it as a long distance hug.
Over the years, I have borrowed her saris and shoes and salwar kameez but none if them come close to the Lee t shirts.
They’re a part of my mother I no longer see, in more senses than one. My uniform chiefly consists of oversized t shirts and denim; these t shirts were the starting point of my experiments in dressing.
I’ve worn them since high school now. I was fat for a while then, so they helped me cover the uncomfortable bulges. But even after when I had lost sufficient weight, they have remained with me. Once an expression of my mother’s self, today mine.
Inheriting a piece of history. Long distance hug machine. That’s what hand-me-downs are to me.
I love you mom!