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Double Graduation

I knew one other thing: I too had graduated and you were congratulating me.

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When the music played and the lines began filing in neatly, I cried. I had never imagined the day would evoke that kind of emotional response. But the sky was overcast and a heavy, violent deluge had spoiled my plans of wearing a sari.

After all these years of trying to fit in, to blend in with the crowd and to be like the other moms, I took refuge in a sari. At long last, a sari it would be. This day, which marked such a significant moment in our life, called for an exquisite outfit. And I would celebrate in one, celebrate in all five yards of silk, draped ceremoniously around me. And it would not be the official black. If I was breaking the rules, why not go all the way?. It would be the color green, one of the stripes in the Indian flag.

I would wear a green sari for my son’s graduation. As the graduating class in my son’s roaring school walked on stage to receive their diplomas I would drape in the comfort of familiar silk of a familiar green.

Then I realized today was not about me, it was about you. You had never asked that I look this way or that; that I dress one way or the other. You were comfortable all along in being who you were, amid who they were. I never saw the tell-tale signs of “peer pressure.”

I had completely skipped the rebellious, sulking, angry teenager. Instead, I got a son who kept the continuity of our bond. Luckily for me, the toddler child, the missing-teeth first grader, the goofy junior high basketball player, and the skimpily-clad, lanky high school runner, had kept me in the loop of love smoothly, seamlessly.

The movement of time had manifested through the obvious physical changes of growing up, but nothing else had changed. Everything else had remained the same, especially our love, untainted, untouched, unmarked by the territories of your transformation. And therefore on the day of your graduation you brought me to my roots. Or your supple growing-up did.

Sari? Why not?

I could rest now. As your class glided one by one to their seats, I knew you were there somewhere. The gown far too baggy for your thin frame, and the tight cap making your freshly cropped crown far too tiny.

I also knew one other thing — that I too had graduated and that you were congratulating me.

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Commentary | July 2011 | Magazine

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