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Monday, March 3, 2014


 H is for heirlooms
Pair of jugs,the lace, small bowl and the lace centerpiece. All about 85 years old.BTW I designed the cushions behind.

Heirlooms are antique artifacts, furniture items, furnishings, fancy upholstery, exquisitely crafted decorative articles, kitchen relics and many more cherished family treasures that pass from generation to generation as a way of inheritance. Sometimes such items are of great historical significance, monetary value and are a gateway for revisiting a family’s history.   

They’re a link to our ancestry and fountain of many enlightening tales about our parents' early days and our grandparents' times. If one happens to inherit a few such objects one can be proud owner of a mini museum bonding us to the past. In fact, through these legacies, past, present and future co-exist in a linear unbreakable bond. There is never an absolute break. Heirlooms take us back in time forming a fascinating cradle of oral history lessons thereby familiarizing us with the origin of our cultural traditions, rituals, festivals associated with our parentage.

However, taking proper care of these vintage materials entails effort, yet there is a tacit pride and sense of sentimental belonging, which they evoke with our lineage that is precious.

I consider myself lucky to possess a few entities, which I’ll refer to here.

My mother belonged to a well to do land owning family and received rich gifts as part of her dowry. Since no body was aware of the importance of those valuables, over time, either they were misplaced or sold, being considered old fashioned.  Out of the few I got there are two brass jugs (shown above) purchased by my maternal grandpa, I think around 1920 and gifted to my mom at her marriage. I recall, when I was small my mother used to pour water in our tumblers from that brass jug at dinnertime.  My other memory is that later, a glass jug took its place and my mom demoted it to the upper shelf of the kitchen cabinet. Then there was a circular small brass bowl. Its bottom displays my grandpa’s name carved in Urdu language. It was the youngest sibling’s privilege to have his vegetable dish in that. 

Whenever I look at the jugs, my grandparents images float in my mind scape picturing an  old man of medium stature with a lean frame but large glazing eyes and pearly teeth cracking jokes and playing games with us. My grandma was totally opposite in personality attributes. She was blue-eyed, very fair, tall, strong and  practical. Both of them were the epitome of the purest of the pure love. We their daughter’s children were special for them and they would go out of their way to do our bidding to please us.

During those tender years, we were selfish and took them as ours hundred percent They were sort of our altar ego. In the evenings I'd insist on going with grandma to see her milking the buffalo and the cow at a distance of half a mile; where there was a large shed and a room for the cattle including two pairs of oxen and the farm hand who looked after them. I’d watch raptly grandma pressing the teats and milk came out in thin streaks. One day it so happened that the cow suddenly swept its tail over her body, presumably to drive away flies or some stinging insect, moved her legs, and disturbed grandma so that half the milk was spilled.

On my repeated tantrums, she allowed me one day to sit on a low stool and try my hand at squeezing the teats.  Fearfully I did it and failed. Our short visits were always exploratory, mirthful and educative in the ways of the village life. I can go on and on with the reservoir of cherished memories I treasure in my sub conscious.

I lovingly preserve a fabulously crocheted lace centerpiece, done by my  mother in her young days. After some restoration work, I use it for special occasions.

There is also a beautiful lace I've about three meters long. More than eighty-five years ago, dear mother did it for sewing it on to a mantelpiece. I wonder how she could muster such patience to crochet that superbly looking lace in white cotton thread.Polyester thread came much later.

There are few other objects, which I inherited but that would be the subject matter of a new post some other time.

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  1. Nice narrative. I always worry about getting to attached to STUFF, which I've lost over time from fire, flood, and loss.
    ROG, ABC Wednesday

  2. Thanks a lot Roger.We prize these objects because they keep us linked to our heritage. The association makes us feel we are part of something bigger than merely ourselves.

  3. I love heirlooms, too, but it seems the younger generation want different kinds of things. It is a bit sad.

    abcw team

    1. Hi Leslie,
      Yes, younger generation is too enveloped in the up market technologies to give a thought to these delicate interests. I think it is also due to lack of communication between parents, grandparents and grand kids. Sentimental and respectful bonding no longer exists. That is the reason so many young people feel rootless and go astray in no time.