Sitting by a window on a damp, melancholic afternoon, sipping on a warm cup of tea, I often sink into a slumber of nostalgia. The elaborate designs engraved on the cup are gazed upon and knitted on with a paralysed index finger, as the perspired rim is circled on with the thumb. The steam emanates from the surface of the tea, evaporating into an abyss of thick air. I find myself lost amidst various thoughts and the crisscrossed complexities of life. A look into the bygone years and my aching heart pulsates for the sight of Ma. Her insights into the edges and the cores of the house have always been admirable. The power and the strength within her raise life within my corpse. Every element within the house premises locks a distinctive memory of Ma.
Days have slipped by, and as I sit by the familiar table across from an unfamiliar face, with a known cup in my hands, filled to the brim with black sugarless coffee, I search through the air of a misleading climate for those particular features of a person I knew a long while ago.
Mothers are the house-groomers, more often than not, in our culture. They handpick each and every item in our houses decorating it into a cosy cocoon. Mothers are nominated as the presidential candidates for their designated houses and being faced with no competition, elected the respective presidents by default. The crockery or the selection of cutlery are discriminately chosen and placed on the tables by these empowered mothers.
The appetite surges in with a heart-warming presentation on the table. The alluring tastes thrive with the appropriate crockery. You can feel the delicacies calling out to you from the beautiful designs. Karma is a belief that your doings revolve back to you, so how you present the food will have an impact on you. The karma of the food will energise your insides if you leave the caste of them untainted. The cycle of samsara has been put into existence so that your acts are returned to you through the deeds of others, so set your incentives where they belong.
In certain mysterious ancient cultures, a chipped piece or a broken shred of crockery is considered an omen from the dark side. Those of us who restrain from superstitions have not much to fear about but those of us who happen to fall under this category need to rummage those storage spaces. The individuality of the delicacies can be felt through the crockery. Crockery vocalises your personality as well as the ambience of your house. Vibrant crockery screams out that you are young at heart, ready to splash and play with some colours whereas, sophisticated antique crockery soprano sings of ancient civilization.
Neatly Greek olive leaves embedded on a surface of black crockery or just plain white reflecting microscopic floral imprints are choices for the chic and the classy. Like you would prefer draping a gorgeous sari around your body for an elegant evening, you should pay close attention as to how you should decorate your table for an occasion as such. The crockery has to blend in with the atmosphere of the household. Don't you dare mishmash your crockery!!
Artists have innovated the old, grouchy and boring styles of crockery into another set of art pieces to walk into your house with. The styles have reformed into eccentric shapes and forms. Crockery symbolises a new beginning within our custom and thus makes it a perfect gift for weddings. The newly weds could always use crockery around the house for their conjugal life. The efforts placed into selecting a set of crockery or a single teacup on a tea plate; is a small gesture underlying unfathomable love.
The Bangladeshi market constitutes of, but not limited to deshi brands of Shinepukur, Monno, Artisan and Farr. These brands over the years have evolved to compete with the international market and export their products to the nations beyond. A cup set per example, would cost from a range of Tk 500 to 3000 with a fully furnished tea set starting at Tk 1500 to 5000. A dinner set with decorative plates paired with a couple of side pieces starts at a price of Tk 2000 and can go up to an astonishing amount of Tk 10,000. Various Chinese brands are also available in the local market. The market comprises of but is no constrained within the narrow alleys of New Market to the broad cross-section at Elephant Road, the stores at Gulshan Market to the few at Banani Supermarket. The combination of crockery pieces vary, which allows one the flexibility to satisfy one's needs and indirectly one's taste buds.
My voice echoes around the empty dining hall as I blankly doze off on that particular set of crockery, the one that would be laid on the table when my family of four would sit together for a dinner date. Dust has accumulated on the surfaces of the crockery resting within the closed glass closet and a chair has remained empty ever since our last crockery tale. The dinner tales have merely grown into distant memories. Each piece of crockery has a tale of its own, discreetly hidden from the ordinary eye.
By Sanjana Rahman
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed
Special thanks to Samina Quasem for allowing us to do the photoshoot.