Coverings

By Anita Goveas

Because I don’t know how to pleat my sari, and YouTube tells you how they do it to look slimmer and how they do it in Bollywood, but not how to drape it to make your Nana smile when you Skype her.

Because when I was a shepherd in the nativity play, I wore our best mustard yellow table cloth with a ‘present from Blackpool’ tea-towel wound round my head, and it slipped over my already-squeezed-shut eyes and I forgot my line and convincingly bleated instead.

Because I wanted to wear dungarees like the other girls, and I got a musky-smelling white cotton blouse covered in very orange pineapples that my dad bought on sale.

Because I walked around freshers’ week at Sheffield University in a perfectly pressed lavender tunic top, swishing like a windscreen-wiper, with a streak of green chutney across the collar that never ever came out.

Because I wore a pink ruffled low-cut top on my first ever date because Louise Parsons said I should show off my best features, and I fell out of it at the bowling alley when I got a strike and afterwards thought she might have meant my eyes.

Because I wore a paisley patterned skirt with a handkerchief hem, your gold flower studs and very clean white trainers to my job interview at Price Waterhouse Coopers to show my versatility.

Because I can still hear the ripping, like the intake of breath before Dad weeps, when I put my foot through my favourite pin-striped, low-waisted, wide-legged, soft-as-your-earlobes trousers with my new Christian Louboutin stilettos that I gave to the Cancer Research shop, in case they could save someone else.

Because I’ll walk down the aisle, doused in your neroli oil, clutching my unsteady father till I leave whip-like marks because my mother can’t be here.

Anita Goveas is British-Asian, based in London, and fuelled by strong coffee and paneer jalfrezi. She was first published in the 2016 London Short Story Prize anthology, most recently in OkayDonkey, X-Ray lit and New Mag. She’s on the editorial team at Flashback Fiction, an editor at Mythic Picnic’s Twitter zine, a reader for Bare Fiction and tweets erratically @coffeeandpaneer Links to her stories can be found at coffeeandpaneer.wordpress.com
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