Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve seen that my grandmother had only one hobby – sewing. I guess she led such a busy and tough life that she never got a chance to really nourish any other hobbies. Sewing was a bit more practical at that time.
Right from our baby clothes, clothes for our dolls, pouches to keep change, baby blankets – not just for us but for anyone who was expecting, beautiful quilts made out of material cuts that she’d get from tailors to the blankets that we use even today – everything was stitched by our Ajji. The warmth of a hand stitched blanket made out of old cotton sarees cannot be compared with any store bought blanket.
As a kid, I was fascinated by her old sewing machine. The sound it made, the peculiar smell it had and of course the joy of pedalling to see the needle go up and down. I’d play on it for hours, pretending to be a tailor. With the inch tape around my neck, I would pretend to stitch clothes for everyone around me. Ajji’s craft had me mesmerised. So much so that I even learnt basic hand embroidery patterns from my Aai and would make decorated hankies. And in all of this, I always had Nupuri as my partner.
Recently, Nupuri stitched a cute little pouch. And that brought back so many memories from childhood. So on a fine Saturday evening, I decided I need to get back to sewing. One thing led to another and I ended up making a stuffed elephant. I know it was a little rough around the edges and needed a lot of fine tuning (a lot!), but everyone loved it.
When I showed it to Ajji, a smile broke across her face. All she said was, “It’s nice”. But those two words meant a lot to me!
Eventually I got all the right tools and equipment and made better versions of it. I even take orders for these. Each handmade Ellie gets a handmade potli (pouch). Everyone thinks they are super cute. But that first clumsy elephant will always be close to my heart.
I wish Ajji were here to see these improved hand stitched elephants. I’m sure she would’ve had creative inputs on which fabrics to pair or tricks to make the sewing easier. But what gives me satisfaction is that I’m able to keep alive her one (and only) true hobby!
Ajji – this one is for you! I hope someday I can create magic with sui dhaaga the way you did!