Vinitha Jayaprakasan, Research Assistant, Centre for Community Knowledge, Ambedkar University Delhi wrote The Emerald Green Scarf as part of the workshop session on Reading/Writing/Re-writing/Telling/Re-telling using prompts, 20 December 2019.
This is a story of an emerald green scarf that travelled from Thimphu, Bhutan, to Delhi, India. The scarf, which was gifted to a sister by her elder brother with the first hard-earned money. We were born to a middle class Malayali parents who migrated to Delhi for a living. Our parents often narrated stories of how education liberated one to a have better life, how it releases you from the identity that pulled you down once. We were raised as kids who had to grind themselves to be the best in school, to get the best college, to eventually get a better job and living standard. There was no room for “excuses” that discouraged you to reach this goal- no room for not having fancy notebooks and geometry boxes or kids bullying us for Malayali accented Hindi, oiled hair with gajra or the exotic food we brought for lunch.
My brother was the first one to achieve this. Thimphu was the first of his many international visits and successes in his life. He went there as a post-grad scholar. I imagine him standing in a small shop with the saved stipend money in hand, choosing gifts for his family. The money, which was symbolic for reaching the goals that our parents imagined. He chose woollen shawls for our parents and the woollen emerald green scarf for me. That gift meant as a hope for me to look up to him and aim bigger. The scarf has travelled with me to many places in the past nine years. It was present with me during the years as a mathematics graduate in a premier women’s college, to the first trip, which was an all-women trip to Sikkim in the cold winter of 2014, to the liberal arts college for my Masters, which changed my perception of the world around me. All of the events in life, which helped me, take a step forward. The scarf gave me warmth and hope when life got cold and difficult.
Pedagogical tool: Narrativise a personal object
Credits / copyrights
gajra: a string or garland made of flowers and worn in hair in many parts of South Asia.
Malayali: group of people originating from the present day state of Kerala, India.