The philosopher Blaise Pascal once remarked, “Cleopatra’s nose, had it been shorter, the whole face of the world would have been changed.” Something tells me it wasn’t just the nose that would have changed the history of the world. A nose ring perhaps.
Just take a gander through history and literature and look at the havoc created by the various accessories women use to adorn themselves. Maybe it wasn’t havoc all the time, but you have to admit that the various trinkets women wear have played significant roles in many tales.
To start off on a light note, with a much beloved fairy tale – ‘A guy, a girl, and a great pair of shoes’… so said the tag line for the movie ‘Ever After’ a Cinderella story. Nothing could capture the essence of the classic fairy tale better. The clock struck the midnight hour, Cinderella fled before her carriage could turn into a pumpkin and in her desperate flight, could not stop to pick up the wonderful glass slipper that slid off her foot. Or did she leave it behind on purpose? As a token for Prince Charming so that he could come in search of her. Anyways, that lone slipper set off the biggest ‘foothunt’ in fairytale history for the perfect girl with the perfect foot.
If that slipper paved the way for one girl to find her ‘happily ever after’, another girl was led to her death by her dainty handkerchief. Who would have thought that a small square of cloth would be the downfall of a Venetian beauty, at the hands of her husband who suspected her fidelity? The Bard spun a classic tale of love, lust and envy in Othello. Iago, one of the foulest villains ever to deface the page of a book plays upon the feelings of inferiority deep within Othello the Moor and fuelled the flames of suspicion. Finally upon the damning evidence of a handkerchief, Othello strangles his innocent wife, the ill-fated Desdemona, ‘kissing her ere he killed her…’
While this husband suspected his wife, another suffered a major case of amnesia. All because a certain ring went missing. Shakuntala was pining away for her love, probably not eating right or getting enough sleep. Her frail body wasting away for love, it was no wonder that the ring Dushyanta slipped on to her finger slipped off her while she took a bath in the swirling river. The poor girl had to play ‘single mom’ for quite a few years before the ring was discovered in the guts of a fish and recognition finally dawned in Dushyanta’s royal mind.
Beautiful lines were also written when a lone woman was dragged into a royal court to be humiliated as grand, wise old men and five defeated warriors watched on, helpless. Dushasana learnt a tough lesson that day. That it is not easy to disrobe a woman unless she wants to be disrobed. And after the mega serial producers had gone to town on the scene, the world would never look at the humble saree the same way again.
The worst havoc perhaps in all literature was caused by an anklet. A particular anklet that had rubies inside it and NOT pearls, as the mighty Pandya king found out the hard way. Of course, the anklet in question was the one that belonged to Kannagi, the one she had given her husband to sell, so that they could start life afresh. But it went on to play a pivotal role in reducing the fabulous city of Madurai to ashes, when the Pandya king wrongly accused Kannagi’s husband Kovalan of stealing the queen’s anklet, listening to the words of the thieving royal goldsmith.
And Malayalam moviedom’s favorite goldsmith made his ladylove a necklace that went on to chart its own comedy of errors. The inimitable Sreenivasan, as a golden egg laying goose, wove a tale of love and betrayal, all around a necklace.
Picture Courtesy: www.oldmalayalamcinema.files.wordpress.com
And more recently, a certain blue dress played considerable havoc and almost got a President impeached, all because its owner was not in the habit of getting her soiled clothes cleaned.Be that as it may, with such shining examples, it is no wonder that women pay so much attention to what they wear. You never know when it could change the course of history… her’s or the world’s.