Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Securing Your Boundaries....

I had been thinking of putting a fine line of Fevicol to bind the edges of the cross- stitch matte.  Despite telling myself each time I picked up the piece to embroider that I must do it at the end of the session, I'd invariably forget. I'd pack everything away carefully without protecting the edges from fraying. And the moment I picked it up the next day, I'd tell myself the exact same thing and forget, each time, in exactly the same way!

Once I had settled down to stitch, it was tedious to get up, put aside the many coloured skeins I had sorted out for the embroidery session – put the needle back into the fabric, go into the next room, hunt for the Fevicol tube and do the needful and then start the ritual of getting started all over again! Not to forget that the viscous solution of Fevicol would need time to dry. And this meant that the precious time I had set aside to sew that evening would be lost. No excuse really. More than laziness, it was the careless chalta hai attitude of “I’ll deal with it when it happens.”

The ritual of reminding myself, doing the embroidery and then putting it away, invariably without doing the needful, had gone on for days now. Predictably, as I was working on the same cross-stitch one evening, the threads at the edge of the matte started fraying. It was the insertion of the needle - a tad too close to the cut edge that was the culprit. But even so, I had known well enough that it would happen one day, but I had been careless nonetheless.

The threads were coming un-done.  This meant that the edge of the work, to which I was giving  finishing touches, would look rather ungainly. I was thinking this, chiding myself for not having put the Fevicol, and hating the idea of the wonky-edged cross-stitch. Almost in the same instant, as if by some ingrained reflex, I then used the very same needle to hold the fraying threads together.


Using the same cross-stitch technique that I was working to embroider the fabric with, using the same needle that had caused a fragile edge to fall apart, made me stop and think. It was a curious fact that I couldn't escape from:  the needle that pierces also repairs and even embellishes.... eventually. And equally curious was the idea that the technique by which I was embellishing the fabric was the same that I had used to repair the edge - doing my jogaad (make-shift repair). It wasn't just a repair of fraying fabric that I'd put into place. The stitch also allowed me to continue with the planned embroidery - as if the fraying hadn't even taken place. At least you couldn't tell unless you scrutinized the edge very closely. Only I knew of the damage.

Well, maybe an expert eye could detect it, but the kind of frayed work I was doing these days, it would pass muster.

I stopped doing the embroidery. I mean this sewing session was laden with meaning, I couldn't continue. I was distracted. I started thinking of the numerous instances when someone or some situation that had hurt me, had also been the catalyst for growth, change and more in the same vein.

It's not easy to deal with this rather paradoxical nature of life and I for one, can never really figure out how to deal with such things. Should I not be wary of the sharpness of the needle? Should one overlook its intrinsically violent nature, to only embrace the beauty that unfolds through its piercing of the fabric? No matter how beautiful the end-result, dealing with an instrument that tenaciously carries its thread in and out of the fabric, generating pain along the way, is a complex affair.

 The needle follows a charted course (sometimes not quite drawn on the fabric but guided by the unfolding design) - unwavering in its stance, oblivious to the silent trauma of the fabric.

If I consider myself the fabric, I know that I cannot forget the pain. And yet we do. That is, until the same sort of thing occurs again. And then it's almost as if a well has been uncorked, where the pain is felt all the more with each recurrence. It makes me wary of those people and circumstances that recur with them. Setting those boundaries can be a difficult thing.

I had known from experience that unless I protected the fragile edges, secured the boundary as it were, the threads would come apart. But I'd continued inserting the needle through those fragile threads for days together - forgetting to put the Fevicol that would bind and protect them. I hadn't taken the precautions - the fabric had to fall apart. It wasn't the fabric that was intrinsically fragile. In an unprotected state, I had carelessly subjected it to repeated piercing by that sharp, pointed needle - causing it to fray.


There was no-one to blame but myself. Again a loaded reminder that if one doesn't take cognisance of those fragile edges of ones being, doing what's needed to keep the equilibrium and set boundaries,  things will inevitably fall apart. Just like the threads of the matte did that night. And these repairs are not always as seamless as my embroidery work......

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