Bimla, Deepa, Geeta, Gudiya, Kavita, Mamta, Meena—-the original seven.
We have traversed a long path in the last 18 months, learning and enriching each others’ lives. From those early wintery March days at home, when one questioning touch of mine was enough to make them tremble, to our riotous Wednesday mornings of 2014—it has been a memorable learning experience. We have knitted our way through kilos of wool, angora and cotton yarn—produced hundreds of wraps and shawls—learnt 32 patterns and unlearnt 64 methods of making mistakes. Proficiency and competence has been accomplished by each one of us.
These seven knitters of mine have tutored me on the finer points of teaching. They squinted at unfamiliar knitting charts and quietly found the errors I had mad. They knitted and unraveled their work umpteen times without complaining ( that would be utopia!! There were some downcast faces initially). I learnt that one should always run downhill if a bear finds you while collecting firewood in the forest. I heard about the visits of departed dear souls—random behavior of cows and goats meant that “Bubu” or “Ajji” had come to see how their families were coping in their absence. I can rattle off all the festivals which encircle our quiet lives and the rules of Nature—when its time to collect flowers from the forest/tuck green sprouts behind the ears/clean the house/prepare piles of those knotted sweets.
To the knitters, I am the one who has twirled every rule on itself and lived to tell the tale. An-almost-senior-citizen who loves living alone with (unmarried) daughters working in distant lands, who loves to drive and eat jalebis and who hates hiding mistakes in her knitting…strange! Detests being called “Madam”, insists of being called “Didi” and loves preparing tea for all of them…strange!! Proud to be a single mother, glad to be single and happy to be in their little hamlet….the strange bits never end!! They have learnt to ask questions, develop a zero-tolerance policy to knitting errors and forgotten that I have been their Didi for just a year… words, laughter, snatches of songs and gossipy news –all swirl and float effortlessly around me now. No topic is taboo, no discussion is inappropriate, and no joke or jibe is too lurid for Didi and her knitters.
Hema and Gudiya Khan—the stalwarts on the home front who knit up savior scarves and socks when they can find a few free minutes in their hectic lives.
Hema keeps us fed, clothed and clean, and then goes home to feed, clothe and clean her two moppets, one house-hubby, one mother-in-law and her four visiting daughters.
Gudiya Khan woke up one morning and found her inebriated husband lying lifeless next to her. He left her a stamp sized patch of land with a tin roof on top (they call it home), two young school going boys, a bewildered mother in law and no money. I have watched her keep her smile firmly pasted on her face, and take each day as it comes. A keen knitter and an amazing student, she knits perfect socks. These days, summer visitors give her some fleeting domestic work , but its not enough to keep body and soul together. I want to do more for this brave, beautiful woman who shoulders her burden with such dignity and grace. I want to help her to find her wings, to fly high and to sleep peacefully at night.
I want to make a big pile of soft, warm, comfortable and perfectly fitting socks, and send them out into the world. The socks will warm toes and gladden hearts, make great photographs, and evoke wistful questions from envious friends. Orders will flood this website and I will pass them to Gudiya Khan. I want to see Gudiya knitting the winter away, snugly warm in her recently completed small home, and watching her sons doing their lessons. Outside, the night-jar calls float across the frosty, quiet winter air. Inside, a pot of delicious spicy daal simmers quietly and the well-kneaded atta dough waits to be turned into rotis for dinner.