It’s a simple knitting bag, faded brown and no longer used by anyone; a bag with handles in which women put their knitting needles and wool and a pattern book, carrying it in fashion. Now it sits in my closet, containing mementos, hiding secrets and whispers from a lady who used it. It is that of my Naniji (that of the maternal grandmother); reminding me of her and everything she has done and knitted. Aren’t women wonderful? They knit, they sew, they build lives, they persevere and they plant and dig roots as deep as they can to stabilize their lives and the lives of their families.
This is what she did in the 1950s; a young immigrant woman who traveled from Ludhiana to Ohio, not knowing the landform or the language fluently but followed her husband’s path. I wonder where things are going, when the person dies. What do you do with the things, the objects that she has lovingly collected over the years during her travels abroad as an expat? That’s life, our homes are already full, our homes have a certain decor and those old-fashioned hooks or embroideries no longer have a place with the avant-garde or minimalist approach to our lives now.
She had to sit down, snuggle up with other expat wives, learn to knit and mend those handles, and learn a foreign language. The snow, the weather, the conditions, the food, all different. This sentimentality comes from the fact that I have so much dust catchers (as they say) or money that I have collected over the years or trolls that I feel are my lucky charm. Who will take them?
I wonder where will he go? Life is fluid, ephemeral, but does that mean that you shouldn’t buy anything or that you have to have fewer desires. Who takes care of the dying objects that remain in a corner collecting dust? I will probably be remembered for the books I bought that would fetch a high price in the raddiwala and empty coffee pots.
It saddens me and pains me, the weather is changing, the leaves are falling and the trees are rising up without their foliage. I go back in time and think of all those who left their homes and settled in the Punjab after the partition to start their lives anew. Some have gone abroad to be pioneers, but what remains of them? A stain in history… and now a few washed out black and white images. I tried googling (my answer for everything), but realized it couldn’t be felt or emotional.
A life is lived with emotions and feelings and the change of weather has made me accept that it is okay to be tearful. It’s good to feel, to move and to cry. I keep the books, the newspapers and her things because she’s leafed through them and I can smell her. It’s like trying on my grandfather’s sweater and his bangle. Or a silencer who hugs me. I wish for a hug again. [email protected]
The writer is an independent contributor based in Jalandhar