Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Lessons in a Yellow Scarf



A yellow strip of cloth, with mauve ribbons sewn at the ends, hangs on my computer table. 

No, I have not draped my table to ward off some ancient or present demons.  Much as I believe in charms, I have found them impotent when it comes to demons. Demons, whether ancient or newly befriended, are here to stay. So I might as well make peace with them.

The yellow strip of cloth, which gently sways as I grope my way through words, is a scarf that is supposed to drape my neck and not my computer table. It’s a scarf even if it doesn’t look like one. It’s a scarf because Omar says it is; and he would know because he designed it.

It was after much cajoling that I was allowed to hang the scarf on the table instead of adorning my neck with it. I had to rest my case on a built-in engineering defect: that of having too thick a neck on which such a beautiful scarf wouldn’t look becoming.

The cutting, sewing and designing business is the latest craze sweeping the Land of Lilliputians. Scarves were initiation rites of sorts. Lilliputians have long since graduated to shirts and shorts of various sizes and shapes. You can find them strewn in every room or hanging on the banisters.

Omar is the master designer. Or call him master sahib, if you want to. He looks at a piece of cloth and can immediately make out if it can be turned into a scarf, a shirt or shorts. For Omar, every cloth can be designed and stitched into anything. Anything at all if one wants to.

There are some possible lessons in the way he finds all his designing and cutting solutions.

Lesson one: If one wants to do something, it can be done. And if something has been done before it becomes radically simple to do it since you now have a sample.

Lesson two: Start with the basics. So what is so complicated about a shirt? Nothing at all.  Look at any stitched shirt and all you find is three holes to make your head and two arms stick out of the rag in which you wrap your body. Once the shirt is designed and cut, we, the adults in his life, have to perform the mundane task of stitching the ‘two sides.’ Whenever the master designer wants us to.

So there are shirts and there shirts. All with three gaping holes.  And now we have to guard our pillow cases.  Omar can look at a pillow case and immediately gauge its potential upgradation to a shirt.

“You just have to scoop out some cloth to make three holes. One for the neck and two for the arms. You don’t even need to stitch the sides; this doesn’t involve much work, right?” Omar’s mind dwells in possibilities.

Lesson three: Once you have figured out the basics-in our case it amounts to three holes and two stitched sides- you can always graduate to aesthetics. Like a shirt that Omar designed for Raina. A two coloured shirt. Wouldn’t Raina look so cute in it? I tell Omar that the shirt seems a bit short for one year old Raina.

“But we can try it. And if it doesn’t fit her we can give it to somebody else, everyday some body is having a baby,” Omar also has a grip on our population statistics.

“We can even give it to a baby boy. Can a baby boy wear this pink and yellow shirt?” he asks

“Of course, Omar. Boys can wear pink and girls can wear blue," I make a feeble attempt at gender sensitization.

Omar is now making sorties into the world of multi-coloured shirts and shorts for both boys and girls. And why not? In Omar’s world, everything is possible.

The yellow strip of cloth may not be able to ward off my demons but it does flutter merrily with a few lessons.


Saturday, 1 September 2012

Martian in the Land of Lilliputians



“Are you really from Mars?” Saif asks me in his usual pitch of voice: loud. He apparently presumes I am sitting on the ceiling fan. 

“Saif, I am near. I can even hear you whisper. Yes, I am from Mars.”

Saif tries to lowers his voice a notch. He doesn’t succeed.

 “No, you are not. You make up stories, and you don’t understand the language of birds and animals. You have made up also those stories about Selfishia and Kayseria.”

“Saif, first you doubt my Martian antecedents and then you challenge my communication abilities. Okay, if you don’t want to believe it, don’t,” I say with Martian nonchalance.

“But why do you say so? Okay, now that the Curiosity Rover has landed on Mars will you go back?”

“I don’t need any curiosity rover. I can go there on my own volition, just by snapping my fingers and closing my eyes.” Martian nonchalance helps to make your point.

“I know this can’t be true. You are not from Mars,” Saif asserts his nine years old adult-hood.

“Okay, don’t believe it,” I shrug my shoulders like a Martian who doesn’t care a wee bit about what the earthlings say about her.

Saif now turns towards his father: “Baba, is your sister from Mars?”

Baba is working on his laptop but manages to look up, pause and utter, “If she says so.”

Now the statement that Baba makes does not stem from any sense of familial obligation. It is not made to validate the antecedents of a Martian sister. The thing is when you are CEO of LumenSoft, which Baba is, then nothing else in the world is worth commenting upon unless it has something to do with Candela. And Mars can only become an interesting place if some retail brand decides to open up a store there.

Here Saif now turns to Dado.

“Dado, is your daughter from Mars?”

Dado is like: “Khamkha. She is my daughter.” Dado asserts her ownership rights.

Now Omar comes running to give his verdict on the situation at hand. And he hollers as if communicating from another room. I decide not to play the role of 24/7 nagging adult and ignore Omar’s voice rising to a crescendo and probably resonating in our neighbor’s living room. Besides, what Omar has to say needs to be proclaimed loud and clear:

“I know she is an alien. She doesn’t sleep at night and she drinks tea and coffee all the time.”

Omar’s proclamation has piqued Roshan’s interest. “Do you have four arms, are you hiding two?” he asks me.

“No, I am a two armed alien. They are a step up in the evolutionary ladder. Better than four armed aliens.”

Roshan, of course, ignores my Darwinian eloquence.

Omar’s mind is racing, weighing cosmic considerations.

“So when you fly back, can I hold your feet and fly with you?” Omar is excited at the prospect of charting the cosmos by hanging on to my feet.

I feel good, somebody believes in me even if it is just an imaginative five year old. 

A perfect day.