Tuesday, December 14, 2010

IF WINTER COMES, CAN LEP BE FAR BEHIND?

Global Warming has perhaps affected us in strange ways.

One of them being the disappearance of the "lep" from Bengali lives and households.

The "lep" is a warm blanket made of thin red cotton (called ''shalu") with cotton stuffing inside. Which makes it the softest, cuddliest, cosy-est, snuggliest coverlet possible.

The North Indians had their 'kambals' (woollen blankets). Scratchy and dark, they were too heavy and too warm for Kolkata winters.

The Marwaris had their 'rajais' (soft cotton blankets with silk coverings). Light and pretty, they lacked the weighty gravitas of the lep.

The fashionable had their colourful pastel duvets. The lep was a red Plain Jane in comparison.

For us in winter, the lep was just right.

Every December, after Kalipujo, the leps would be dragged out from trunks and under beds (where they sometimes did double-duty as soft mattresses) and would be solemnly aired and sunned before they were deemed fit to be used.

And when they had absorbed all the warmth and affection of the bright winter sun, the leps would be folded and put at the foot of the bed and declared ready for use.

We had three leps. One small baby lep, which I outgrew pretty fast and handed-me-down to Bhai (my brother), who also outgrew it pretty fast. One ordinary single lep (fit for a single-size bed), which was rather worn out with faded red on both sides. My Maa, being a really good housewife, had stitched a white cotton cover for it to hide its shabbiness.

And one really B-I-G double lep with a coldish, slippery, gold-brown printed satin cover on one side and a warm red cotton cover on the other. Just the right kind of lep for some honeymoon fun (which is presumably why my parents had under it, although such matters were strictly taboo and never-ever discussed). Just the kind of lep that invited you to dive right in, right after dinner and the customary before-bed bathroom visit. This bathroom visit left our feet really cold and cuddling up inside the lep (alone) was the right remedy for cold feet. And little cold persons like us, with only our nose-tips and head-tops showing.

The best thing about leps was, that once you got in, you never, never, never wanted to come out from that warm cocoon.

WHAT DID YOU SNUGGLE INTO ON COLD NIGHTS AS A CHILD?

8 comments:

Swaram said...

I have this soft lovely razai even now which I get into with a book. Have been calling it 'Nayi Rug' from when I can remember. Nayi is dog in Kannada and its fur-like feel made me give it this name I think :P :P

Aparna said...

I had a thick razai with a velvet cover. Delhi winters were bitter and it was my salvation, specially when I had to study for my half-yearly exams in December.
I miss those days!

Shaswati said...

Lep - that reminds me of the nice smell of naphthalene (am weird) with it! :)

dr.antony said...

We used to have something similar called Kambal.The south is getting so hot,there is not a single day one can feel comfortable.Most homes are air conditioned.These have become memories.

dr.antony said...

We used to have something similar called Kambal.The south is getting so hot,there is not a single day one can feel comfortable.Most homes are air conditioned.These have become memories.

seana said...

Very nice, although I can't think of a similar name for anything. We did have some nice handed down quilts, though, which unfortunately we did not treat as well as they deserved.

The Weekend Blogger said...

Happy New Year Sucharita-di...and believe me the "lep" is still an important part of our lives in this dilli ki sardi !

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