23rd June 2020. I received the order for this beautiful black ivory Sambalpuri silk saree. Alka Raghuvanshi shows the customer name. I am like I know only one Raghuvanshi and she can’t be the same. Being the true connoisseur of ikat why she will buy a saree from a small business like Sanskriticuttack. 24th I dispatched the saree. And 25th true caller is showing “Alka Raghuvanshi Calling”. I picked the call and asked her are you the same Raghuvanshi. With a big laugh she said “aur Kaun hoga bhai”. That was the day a beautiful saree bonding started. We spoke about different ikats. Mostly Sambalpuri. Because her and me both are crazy about this odisha handloom beauty. She will call everytime. Mona have you got any Sambalpuri exclusive. My Sambalpuri thirst is killing me. I will show her sarees. She will pick her choices. And she without any other question will tell me to send me the bill. I will transfer. I asked her ma’am why do you believe that what I am saying is absolutely true. She will say “I have seen your work. The quality you speak. It shows in each and every saree. I don’t see you sending an inferior quality or random sarees. I love your handpicked Sambalpuri sarees.” That was the day I was overjoyed. Someone who knows and bought Sambalpuri from many sources is appreciating the effort of our weavers and my saree collection. She understood my passion for sambalpuri. She loved each and every saree I sent. She had an eye for true beauty. I asked her Alka jee people are making all these people saree gods. Why they are not seeing ur posts or sarees. She said saree is a materialistic thing. Let them be God. I don’t want to take God’s place. I am happy to support and collect the best.
I have shared my encounter with various people and their behavior. She strongly advised don’t pay heed Mona. They don’t know the true beauty of these sarees. Sambalpuri or any fine ikat sarees need that special eye and taste. Not all has it.
I lost many of her photos when I changed my phone. One fine day she shared a sepia picture of her wearing a coffee brown nabakothi in sambalpuri silk. And said see this saree was made only 4 pieces. One was gifted to Indira Gandhi, 1 I bought for my engagement in 1982. One was sent for the national award committee. And one was sent to saree museum. People did not have the knowledge of true art pieces. So weavers did not make this saree. Until recently weavers of nuapatna started making the nabakothi in khandua. I don’t like these too many colors of nabakothi. You need to get me some Sambalpuri nabakothi sarees. And she took 3 of sambalpuri nabakothi in different colors. And each time she appreciated and loved the saree and said I have this and that events to show these sarees.
May 11th I spoke to her regarding some sarees she asked me to get for her. And at the end of the call she said, desperate times Mona. Support the weavers. They need the help. Let me know if u need any help in terms of money. I will buy the sarees so you can pay them. I was overwhelmed. A true supporter of Indian crafts. With the art she understood the pain of these people who make these art pieces for living.
When I heard the news yesterday that Alka jee passed away. I did not want to believe. I texted her as per our arrangement because she was involved in many things and I never disturbed her by calling. I was supposed to text and when she will be free she will call back. I am still waiting for the whatsapp message blue tick and that call is still due. I will never get the call back. I will never be able to talk to her. I never met her. We just spoke over calls. Her invitation was extended to me. Mona come with your parents. We will meet and have good food of Delhi. And you have to get me some Sambalpuri sarees. It will never happen. You are gone too soon. I will keep you safe in my heart until I die. Thank you for your unconditional love, support. You were a friend, guru. ♥️
You have given enough memories for this lifetime. I am not a great writer but I will be forever grateful to you. Rest in peace Alka jee.