Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Turning Brown

My cousin Mimi wore brown on her brother's wedding because she wanted to be understated. At Indian weddings, the sister of the groom is perhaps the most over-dressed person after the bride and here was Mimi in a dull, depressing shade of brown several shades lighter than her deep brown eyes. She could as well have come to a funeral. We had to field questions from inquisitive guests about her "unusual" attire all evening.

She used to be my favorite little sister - Mimi of sparkling eyes, pretty smile and quick wit. I don't recall exactly when all of that changed for the color brown to take over her life. She stopped singing. I don't remember what her laughter sounded like. Increasingly that was the only color she wore - to her the color of understatement. I was not aware that Mimi had ever been guilty of overstatement.

Her love of brown extended to rich chocolate cake, coffee, leather satchels and a mood of melancholy that approximated the bleak season when trees turn leafless - an endless sea of brown. Because of Mimi, brown came to be associated with sadness and loss for me. I no longer recall what it meant to me before it turned synonymous with Mimi. Because of her, I panic when my wardrobe starts to become dominated by any one color. I make haste to break the pattern, throw some randomness in. Because of her, I know I can't let a color overpower me.

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