Celebrating East African Writing!
It’s been to cocktail parties, gigs, bridal and baby showers. It’s witnessed love lost and love found. My bare-back halter-neck rayon polka dress has lived to tell tales. I’ve had it for almost 20 years.
Shocked? Talk to any size 8 to 10 lady whose size keeps fluctuating and she’ll tell you she has that ‘one’ dress she absolutely refuses to let go… It clad me on my most important date (or so I thought) 15 years ago.
Nothing slutty about it, it’s neither cut too low nor too high despite the bare-back.
Coy without being too prudish. Just right for me as I negotiated the highway to the adult universe. Neat as it sat on me. Neat as my oft-practiced signature.
No extensions or take-ins at the waist for ‘the dress’ – even after having my baby fourteen years ago I went back to my size 24 waist…I lost ‘the dress’ for a while when I was pregnant and finally two years down the line tracked it to my parents by rummaging in ancient wardrobes.
As a young lady, not having to take ‘the dress’ to my tailor for adjustments was a sign that I was not the walking anachronism that I feared. Sometimes I used to feel kinda lonely trying to put on a few inches only to encounter the opposite in many ladies trying to shed off some.
Finally I was at peace with myself when I realized that a mass-market dress that fitted meant there were thousands of others like me.
Over the years it has come in handy as a last minute resort or last ditch effort to look presentable. Take this instant four years back. Simba Telecom were Safaricom Dealer of the Year again! Of course we were invited – strictly by card and with my curious propensity of losing invitation cards, I misplaced mine a couple of days to the event and subsequently lost interest in attending the gala dinner, though it was the talk at the office cum shop with my colleagues during the week.
On the gala evening, half hour to the event a Manager friend at Safaricom called me. “Moraa, I’ve just now managed to get you another replacement card! Pick it up at the venue’s reception.”
My mind went blank for a minute. My hair and a dress! My trusty pair of tongs took care of my hair. Minutes later I was standing at my closet and a sense of déjà vu engulfed me when I glimpsed the polka squeezed in between a wickedly awesome Moo Cow creation and a Donna Karan – you’ve guessed right, ‘the dress’ won the day….with a chiffon wrap to accessorize.
The European size 10 polka led to many other cocktail dresses, but I don’t know what it is about ‘this dress’. It seems to have a life of it’s own and I just can’t let go…
Its keeps me occupied in between jobs as I prance around in it and write my short stories, articles on socio-economic issues and novels.
It accompanies me on my emotional roller coasters and many a times it goes into hibernation to re-emerge and attend an impromptu dinner party…
It doesn’t matter that it isn’t the height of high fashion. I always come back to it.
As a young girl growing up, I always thought that the right accessories would change my life. ‘The dress’ didn’t change my life, but it acted as an enabler.
Recently, I stumbled upon ‘the dress’ hanging in my closet albeit with a teeny weeny stain of raw matoke on it, I still couldn’t resist airing it, sending it to the drycleaners and wearing it to the beach with my straw hat and kikoi.
Still fits like a glove…
‘The Dress’ just like the ink on this page has proven to be indelible.
Next time I would talk on a shoe fetish. The highs and lows of wearing a size five and a half shoe, grabbing that shoe at the mtumba flea market and hollering at the top of your voice at the other lady lunging for it that you saw it first…
© Moraa Gitaa 2009
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