We are born into this world steeped in stories to tell
Cover reveal of Nine Yard Sarees by Prasanthi Ram
Have you ever worked on something for so long that you forgot how it ever began? Of course, it must have started from somewhere. But you cannot quite put your finger on its genesis anymore, your memory unreliable by now. Perhaps—you tell yourself—it has always been there, waiting to be recognised.
That is how I feel about Nine Yard Sarees. The promotional materials emphasise that this is my debut work. As if a newly minted coin. But the story has been brewing in my mind for six years, maybe even more, the same way a windswept seed becomes a majestic tree.
If I were to engage in the imprecise exercise of remembering, I could tell you that the story began with Krishnan, the elder son of the Srinivasan family who moves to Sydney to study medicine and never returns home. A convenient setting since I had just moved back to Singapore from Sydney a year before the book began. Or I could claim that it began with my grandmother who, during our family’s summer trip to Chennai in the early 2010s, told me about her late sister as we sipped from silver tumblers of ginger tea. An oral narrative that then transformed, after much imagination, into the darling Raji and Kamala. Or perhaps, I could even insist that it began in my first home, our family flat in Bukit Panjang that had a coffee table filled with books courtesy of my mother, who taught me to read in a language that was not at all her mother’s tongue. A flat I imagined over and over again as an integral part of Krishnan’s and Keerthana’s childhood.
Funnily enough, none of these versions would be incorrect. And if I let myself, I could probably trace these stories further into the past, before I even came into existence. For we are born into this world steeped in stories to tell—stories from our mothers who bore us in their wombs, and stories from our mothers’ mothers who bore them in theirs.
Indeed, Nine Yard Sarees is a love letter precisely to this persevering tapestry of tales that umbilically thread us from then to now to thereafter. It is my way of saying, “I recognise you,” and I hope that in reading this book, you recognise yourselves too.
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