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.


  1. I love this master tailor/ designer. How old is he and when can he start on designing some stuff for me. I am calling it "stuff" because I don't know when and what may the new project be and limiting his creativity will not do.

  2. The master tailor/designer is five and his fascination with the world of clothes and stitching is still intact..just send him your specifications, then wait and see.. :)

  3. Omar is not a tailor and not a designer and i did not liked the yellow scarf he gave you.


  4. Zainab, Omar is the best tailor/designer in the whole wide world..and I love the yellow scarf. Why you don't like it?