My grandmother must be 80 years and strong now.
From 1993–1999, most of my winter-wear — sweaters, scarves, gloves and mufflers, now buried under some bed, were all sewed by her.
After a heavy Bong lunch, when rest of the family was sleeping, she would head to the balcony with a guava, knitting needles and a ball of wool — my personal fashion designer. She is so good that she made a replica of my school cardigan- the same red, the same fit.
Not just winter wear- even shirts, trousers and handkerchief — she was the one stop solution to all my wardrobe needs. Winter afternoons were about stitching and stories; yes she is a great storyteller too. She used to tell me about how my father struggled to grow up with 3 other siblings, how they found happiness in little things (compared to ‘today’s’ generation), how the joint family culture is slowly fading off and other middle-class anecdotes.
Well, our mini store-room was the place where we had ‘the grandmother’s sewing machine’- so majestic, so grand. It was not rocket science, but I failed to understand the mechanism. I used to play with the pedal- my only leg workout; and the round steering felt like I was driving a Lamborghini. Trust me, a sewing machine is not less than a work of art.
My grandmother used to work in a community center where she taught the basics of hand-knitting and stitching to the underprivileged. She also did her research quite well; her table was full of European magazines- even now she keeps up with British winter-wear trends.
Winter afternoons were also about the 4 p.m. tea with 4 priya marie biscuits- she made the best tea. Apart from Fashion and trends- I did not miss out on culture, literature and arts. Who says a storyteller can’t be a teacher? As she was busy knitting a sweater — my task was to read and memorize ‘Abol Tabol’- an anthology of children rhymes/poems found predominantly in every Bengali household. My grandmother taught me so many little things too- how to peel an orange and how every carpel can be made to look like a lotus (there’s some technique there).
A part of my childhood was weaved around this knitting machine with so many threads, yet I was not tangled — and I miss that pedal and steering.
Today, I will call my grandmother and speak to her for longer.