Running stitch

The feel good factor ruled the roost as compliments were passed back and forth.

Some summers ago, I was commissioned to teach embroidery to the little girls in the neighbourhood. “Running stitch” happened to be the first lesson. The young ones had to pass the needle at even intervals over a straight line drawn over a piece of cloth.  The learners and their mothers felt belittled by the simplicity of the task. I had to bat for the “running stitch” to commence with the classes.

I quizzed them on the much touted kantha stitch making its rounds in the haloed boutiques of our land. When my listeners showed suitable interest, I told them about how the poor and creative women of Bengal stitched beautiful bedspreads and sheets from used saris using the humble running stitch. The stitch required a good bit of concentration, a fair amount of skill and discipline to achieve perfection. Over the centuries, it had entered the realms of tapestry in the name of kantha stitch after the kanthas or the housewives who used it creatively.

Suitably convinced and several stitches later, akin to all aspects of learning these days, the lessons proceeded from one to another without tarrying to review, revise and imbibe what has been learned. Soon the students were ready to work on their dream projects which would showcase their proficiency.

We decided to have a little exhibition of their needlework at the end of the day. What started with the idea of motivating the classes turned into an uneven playing (or is it stitching?) field. Mothers, aunts, cousins and even some grandmothers, who were experts in the said area, stepped in self righteously to help the learners wind up with flying colours. The feel good factor ruled the roost as compliments were passed back and forth. Pictures were taken and posted on all the social networks and were “liked” numerously.

More recently, we harvested coconuts at our place. The professional came along and dislodged the large nuts and let them down with a rope with ease and élan. It was certainly not a very rare sight in our household. Yet, this time around, his coir rope looked fascinating. It was a regular rope, strong and dark as they all are, in the vocation. Yet this particular rope stood apart because it had a gleaming plastic cord running in and out of the rope at precise intervals. Our man Friday had used his sartorial skills to keep it strong for a long time to come. His pragmatic effort displayed with clinical precision wowed us, with reason too!

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