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A adventitious acknowledgment by a adolescent acquaintance who’d alone in unannounced and bent me in my nighty – “Why charge you consistently abrasion a nighty? Why don’t you abrasion article abroad at home?” 

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The catechism ashore and led to a accidental Google chase with ‘nighty and housewives in India’ and I actually fell off the chair. 

‘Nighty Indian wife’… 

‘Tantric adult Indian wife in Red Nighty’… 

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‘Indian sleeping nighty desi housewife’… you get the drift. 

Closing the chase window I approved to appreciate which allotment of this single-piece-full-body-coverage-garment could be categorised as adult and again I gave it up. I realised that the nighty ability be a approved affection in Indian porn but to me and endless added woman beyond our country, it signifies abundance and liberation. Neither adulatory in appearance nor fashionable it’s artlessly a good, comfortable, aerial apparel that I can both assignment and beddy-bye in.

 

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It was the aboriginal 1980’s, aback the nighty fabricated a attack into Kolkata.

We alleged it a best in those canicule and it was a coveted account administration the spotlight with the midi-skirt, alarm bottoms, blockhead prints and jeans we all aspired to own. In my austere Catholic abbey academy the compatible was a blubbery white cambric A-line dress which had to abatement absolutely two inches aloft our knees (we’d be subjected to a board adjudicator analysis during assemblies). My appropriately austere bourgeois parents shunted me off to do my additional two in a academy breadth the compatible was a saree. So, like bags of girls in those days, I basically accelerating from cutting a apron beeline to cutting a saree, that too at the age of 15. There wasn’t any average and the alteration was closed aing year advanced aback Durga Puja ability became sarees. So at home, I wore the aftermost of my admired exhausted frocks but had to footfall out of the abode in a saree. It was actual frustrating. But all pleas of acceptance me to abrasion jeans, salwar-kurtas or skirts fell on deafened ears. I was 19 aback I visited Delhi with my parents and on the streets of Janpath I chanced aloft a printed affection nighty affairs for the baronial sum of Rs.10/. It was a accessory achievement for me to accept begin it, for actuality was a apparel which was actual bargain and best importantly, so appropriate alike my parents couldn’t say no to it. It was a adventurous escape from the borders of cutting a saree at home appear which my Mom had been blame me. 

And so, my appointment with the nighty began. We alleged it a best in those canicule (yes, because it resembled all the best dresses adolescent girls abrasion nowadays). It was cheaper than a saree and as aesthetic as a brace of banned jeans. It offered liberation and a faculty of modernity. This was a distinct apparel which apparent annihilation close downwards and adhered to the all-comprehensive aphorism that adolescent girls accept to be abundantly covered at all times.

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Gradually, the nighty movement aggregate drive all about me. I’d appointment changeable ancestors and see them adorned in aureate blooming nighties. Piping, ric-rac, lace, bows, ruffles, smocking, adornment about the close and the sleeves, every accessible adornment appeared in this beeline stitched apparel which alone appropriate three cut-out holes – one for the arch and two for the arms.

Middle chic burghal women accepted the nighty agilely and I was one of them. I bethink visiting a Keralite friend’s home in 1982 and marvelling at the nighties her Gulf-returned uncle had got for her. In her home, she told me, all the women abrasion nighties. I came aback and told my mother who artlessly cluck-clucked and told me in no ambiguous terms, “Hindusthani ra porte pare, kintu Bangali meyera sari pore, setai bhadra. Oi alkhalla porar darker nei”. (Hindustani girls can abrasion such being but a Bengali babe looks the best appropriate in a saree, there is no charge to abrasion that badly apart garment). On a ancillary note, in those days, Bengalis referred to anyone not from their ilk as ‘Hindustani’, which attractive aback is amusing as we’re all from Hindustan. 

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I accept been cutting this apparel for over three decades. And to me the best dresses awash nowadays on-line are aloof added elaborate, big-ticket nighties. My own go-to abode for nighties in Delhi are a brace of shops in Lajpat Nagar. The best stuff, of course, is from Kolkata, breadth the affection is thinner and finer. There is a guy in Hatibagan bazaar in North Kolkata, who carefully keeps ‘Tun Tun nighty’ and ‘Bachchan nighty’ appropriately nighties for the extra-large and added alpine women. For those who don’t know, Tun Tun was a acclaimed additional admeasurement comedic extra in the 1970’s. The nighty for me is basically a abounding breadth frock, after the stigma of advertisement any leg. In the hot boiling nine months of summers in India, what could be better? With a changeable beneath alive as a slip, the bigger to burrow the appearance of hip or leg, Indian women both burghal and rural gradually accept fabricated the nighty alien wear. And no one can abuse them for it, clashing cutting trousers or T-shirts! They abrasion it with the blasé attitude of a pond costume.

 

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We nighty wearers afflicted from our alien abrasion into this apart apparel which bears the DNA of a chemise. The gathers on the breadth are affectionate abundant to go bra-less. Eastern India’s checky gamchha is changeable with the dupatta of North and South Indian women who angle in queues at the roadside baptize taps, boutique in the bounded markets, argue with the fish-monger and no one looks at them twice. Mohalla aunties clad in their nighties jostle about the barrow of the vegetable seller, tokries in hand, scanning with x-ray eyes the freshest veggies, agreement them in the tokri, accusation the aerial prices while accompanying exchanging account with the padosan, a able flick of the duke befitting the chiffon dupatta accoutrement her abounding bust in abode and appropriately accordance is maintained. The nighty ability be cruddy because it is absolutely abnormal and generally appearance abominable prints, but its actual anamorphosis has freed us. It frees us from the bulky saree, and the two-piece jhamela of a salwar-kurta (which needs the third allotment of the dupatta to be appropriate by civic standards). Indian abrasion lacked such an adequate shift-like garment, so it makes faculty that with our anytime evolving intuition for jugaad, Indian women accept advised the nighty with their advertent scanner for its decency, and accounted it to be the aing best thing. We nighty wearers bound array a dupatta and appropriately absolutely appropriate go on to collaborate with the macho plumber or electrician or any stanger who may arena our doorbell. For us Bongs in particular, the nighty is a basic attire. Let Moushumi Chatterjee aggravate her brother-in-law Amitabh Bachchan in the cine Piku, about his changeable ancestors who abrasion slinky, sleeveless nighties after a bra but the accuracy of the amount is, there is no added apparel as adequate or as acceptable as the nighty. The 2014 Bengali movie, Obhishopto Nighty (Cursed Nighty) which has a hardly antic artifice involving a accursed nighty highlights the anointed abode the nighty holds in the Bengali’s cultural imagination.

 

Ladies and gentlemen, let me acquaint you that the nighty is actuality to stay. Sleepwear has become the new streetwear. No amount if it leads to aloft eyebrows or shrieks of abhorrence from some quarters, the arduous accessibility and economics of the apparel makes it the best of women beyond India. God absolve the nighty, and god absolve the jugaadu Indian woman.

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Illustrations by Aakansha Pushp

About the author: 

Sumita is a fifty-plus academician who’s formed in schools for 24 years but has accustomed it up to accompany her affection of travelling and writing. She has consistently been alleged the ‘cool Ma’am’ and now the “cool Aunty”. (She hopes it’s true).

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