This photo has kindled a lot of Nostalgic moments from my age of 9 to 15 i.e. 6 years. My school, Sri Venkateswara High School, fortunately had “Khakhi” uniforms knowing very well that children of poor cannot more frequently take bath than. It was a norm that once in a week if you take bath than you belong to middle class.
Once my father understood that Khakhi is the uniform, his decision was simple – now onwards no non-Khakhi clothes. Also we were three brothers (each with one year gap) who could wear each other’s clothes easily. My father felt 6 set of clothes (shirt and trouser) are enough for 3 sons – for all needs of day, night or schools, night wear, party wear, markets, marriages, farming….
It looked like things were going smooth until we observed something unique. My trouser, an old one was torn near the bottom where it was touching often the ground. I had to go for a marriage and I had no option; my only wish was to wear a “Khakhi” which is not torn in a wrong place. So I went to Dhobhi Mr. Palani’s house which was just 50 mts away. Mr. Palani who understood my problem started bluffing that it is still not washed. However, I persistently told him, it is Khakhi and hence washing is not a must; and I explained him its priority and the need to wear it for the marriage party.
Finally, he had to speak the truth, he said “Maniarasu, my son, has gone to the same marriage an hour ago with the same trouser.” That was the level of intelligence he used for his son who was also studying in the same school as me and my brothers; not buying a uniform of his own and sharing our uniforms instead!
Fortunately, this problem which created frequent ruckus between my mother and Mrs Palani was solved in the next academic year because of another mistake of my neighbor Mr Krishnaswamy who had to pay us some Rs. 20 for our wages which he indefinitely delayed. My father found that his mill store gives installments if he buys his mill product. So he was impregnated with the idea of buying Khakhi cloth for us. Instead of buying 5 meters material each for shirt and trouser, he bought 10 meters of material of only trousers.
My father was bit worried about the mishap and he got into quick damage control by talking to the tailor who argued “I have never stitched a shirt using trouser material”. And somehow he finally was convinced. Then we got 5 setsof Khakhi Shirts and trousers – of which the shirts lasted too long; and Maniarasu could not wear our clothes because it would have been distinctly identified by any one in that village.
I distinctly remember our wardrobes had hardly anything and what we had worn for 6 years, 24×7 was same – Khakhi!