Cross Stitch Crossed Over

Every time I visit home which still remains Delhi because as the adage goes – once a Delhi girl always one. I never miss visiting Bahri Sons, my favourite book shop at Khan Market, there is also Anokhi with its winding staircase. To my surprise, at the back lane, I found a shop window that had the promise of a good premenstrual syndrome cure. The joy of retail when the world seems like a tilted space and only tilting towards the ones you feel has it all. I opened the glass door with the confidence of a woman who knew the difference between Pinot, Sauvignon and Reisling. The journey has been long from watching the posh who had travelled extensively and knew the difference between their wines and their Bubbly. And me as usual said anything in white wine because I remember my mouth had turned red after a glass of red,  almost like the paan stains that my aunt had, post the Sunday staple Bengali mutton curry rice.

I saw the obnoxiously exorbitant priced clothing that had tons of sequins and gold trimmings. I stared at them thinking and amused, who would wear those garish outfits. But I did quick forgiveness, I knew I was in Delhi, where more is less. My eyes fell upon a wooden bangle that was encased in blue silk with cross-stitch embroidery on it. I found that the bangle fit my wrists which is small in comparison to my ankle. I loved telling the sales girl that I need the smallest size bangle. After those years of having put on weight and my brutally honest father saying, “hey you look square these days”. So asking for the small size is like you talk to yourself reiterating that it’s been a journey.

Cross Stitch has never left my mind ever. I recall this embroidery that we were taught in my school Loreto Convent. It is embroidery that most young girls are taught so that they learn to embroider, record alphabet and sew in her household items to identify its owner. They wanted us to be the epitome of the perfect little women from a Jane Austen novel, who could play the piano, sing do re mi, embroider and say her A and O with the perfect rounding of the lips. Oh damn! I could think of more interesting things to do with rounding my lips.

I think the little rebel in me was growing its little unhindered horns. The day they told me that cross stitch produces a symmetrical image as both warp and weft fabrics are evenly spaced, I knew even surfaces are not for me. My fingers refuse to thread the needle. My Ma did most of my homework of cross stitch patterns and told me not to tell anyone. She didn’t know,  I didn’t need tutoring there. I kept quiet under the beady owl eyes of the Welsch nun who knew I would never follow her path ever. I was a master liar.

Cross Stitch is used widely in Palestinian embroidery. So for the love of Gaza, I will buy cross stitch wherever I find it aesthetically used. I don’t need to learn embroidery to be the perfect Loreto lady. I can buy it or better get someone to buy it for me. On the outside, I am the perfect cool and calm person but deep down I know how lesser I felt in those classes of “lady making” when I couldn’t thread the needle.

On lonely summer evenings, I recall those silences when I returned home from the hills with half done embroidered doilies. Today, I know half done is good because it leaves space overtime to complete the half done pieces. It’s never ever too late.

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