By Aditi Jain
Gradual is the foundation of a bountiful harvest.
Pandemic? Lockdown? 2020… so immured? Must have run to New Year 2021 jubilation with a hope of cudgel of change? Sorry, not even a change, a ‘transformation’ !
A pandemic is not merely a biomedical phenomenon, but a social and cultural phenomenon as well. And healing from pandemic takes place gradually. It’s not the first time in history, that there has been an outbreak of pandemic, though agreed it has deeply ravaged the humanity and society. Black Death ( 1346-1353) and Spanish Flu (1918-1920) are some of the gruesome reminders when history had been attacked by pandemics. The end of 2020 saw goodbye notes with loathsome memes and cold messages that expected COVID 19 to disappear at the start of the New Year. Wearing the shroud of negativity and animosity, such an outlook impeded our spiritual development and realisation that nature has spirit!
Do you think if we can ‘patch’ the immured 2020 with warmness? Possibly yes. Since the vocation last year and even till date ( though it’s your exalted 2021), is mostly carried as WFH (Work from home), let’s configure the patches.
An online meet opens in a gallery view where you are welcomed by the host with a coy or may be a wry smile. That gallery view reminds me of ‘patches’ …beautiful patches of a quilt; where each speaker/participant/patch presents his/her views or shares a story.
In a journey of a beautifully crafted patchwork quilt, the nuance of stories and emotions communicated by each patch can be felt. Each patch communicates and adds to the composition, which can be a trope for ‘ topic of discussion ‘ of an online meet.
Each patch of a quilt is sewn with a thread, whereas each speaker/patch of an online meet is sewn with internet connectivity. A patch loosely stitched in a quilt would blemish the entire composition. A technical glitch in connectivity also would blemish that online meet.
Not all patches of the quilt are embellished. So are we shrewd enough to cater to our favourite ones and pin them up to adorn the whole quilt? Imagine, the various quilting patterns resonating with the conversation patterns of the online meet. Candid conversations in plain and corny mood, resonating with straight line quilting. While framed narratives with lots of “so yaa” resonating with log cabin or concentric patterns of quilting. At times, a particular patch is quilted heavily to accentuate the look, but often creates a ‘yuck’ factor in that design. This reminds me of a speaker/patch, who has the audacity to blabber ceaselessly, being a stimulus for a bored yawn.
Quilting bee, a social event for learning new skills and techniques, were popularly known as ‘work parties’. But deep down, we may admit.. our ‘zoom bee’, ‘Teams bee’ or ‘ Meet bee’, have left us like zombies attending an online meet.
A quilt stitched part by part, with isolated yet beautiful patches is a treasure to hold. It gives profuse warmth and love in our life. Since they are sourced from different places, each patch or fragment carries a story of the place it belongs to.
So why not cherish 2020 as a quilt, rather than discarding it as a rag. 2020 had been an opportunity for self-reflection, self-acceptance , our communion with nature and the experience has played a critical role in nurturing our faculties.
The notion of transformation from the pandemic to the post-pandemic realm with merely the onset of 2021 was a fallacy, but we preferred to believe in illusions beautifully crafted by designer media. Antithesis of illusion, ‘reality’ says, healing from pandemic and recovery from this digression will happen gradually. Growth and recovery are always gradual and should be made with more informed and prudent choices.
So, let’s harvest our quilt!
The surface of the quilt is almost ready. Patches have been joined, each patch reminiscent of a new and different experience. Since every patch is reminiscent of a new and different experience, I sincerely hope and yearn, that the patches are not only cut in ‘squares’. Not only ‘squares’, as it might make your quilt a cold memory, or cast a sharp glare at you. I hope there will be ‘circles’ and ‘triangles’ too to inculcate warmness, flexibility, positivity and a path to subjective choices and emotions. Perhaps, you could be that ‘circle’ or ‘triangle’ in someone else’s quilt.
Quilting patterns have been explored intensively (you may choose candid talks, framed narratives or introspection). This time, I wouldn’t hope but surely suggest, to select ‘introspection’ for the above. An introspective quilting pattern would contain a series of intertwined quilting lines, gleaming with the rays of optimism and self-reflection. In those intertwined quilted lines, some would be prominently embroidered with thick threads; as some reflections and thoughts are too deep to be mulled over and to be taken into consideration. The negative thoughts would be slightly visible, since some would be nuanced threads. In spite of being negative, it would be part of your intertwined quilting, because the quilting pattern needs to be balanced, so your thoughts and actions as well; which would otherwise be impetuous, if not pondered critically.
Quilt batting would be consolidated layers of hopes, wishes and prayers. Backing could be our faith, our faith in gradual yet impactful recovery.
Bind the quilt with optimism, a binding which is not solipsistic. A border which resonates with holistic sustainability and growth, seeking inspiration from our indigenous wisdom.
It is heartening that the vaccine drive is kicking off at a steady rate, hopefully the drive will be a success and gradually we will be emancipated from the realm of the pandemic. But that emancipation will be gradual, not each of us would be vaccinated at the initial stages. The drive would be delineated in gradual steps.
The vaccination plan released, has certain limitations, which would take time for complete acceptance and achievement of the target. No doubt, vaccination apps would be launched soon, but to augment them to their best potential and efficiency would be a gradual process.
Assuming that you are that ‘lucky bee’ of our quilting bee, to be vaccinated, since you belong to those categories that will be catered at the initial stages; you would still have to take all the precautionary measures, till you get the second shot. Even after getting the second shot, you would be expected to adhere to social distancing and masks would still be your mandatory accessory.
Let’s fast-forward a little. Let’s assume the vaccination plan succeeds and it is available ‘easily’ to the masses and we have renounced the reign of the pandemic. So now what’s the need to harvest the quilt?
A quilt is used seasonally, so will be your ‘ ‘harvested quilt’, which would be stored in bed trunks and would be pulled out to protect from harsh chilly frosts. The ‘harvested quilt’ doesn’t resonate only to the pandemic, it’s a quilt of endurance , memories, experiences and an inspiring lesson for the future, if any such pandemic occurs again.
Basking in the sun, gather the quilt and snuggle in its warmness with faith and endurance. Store it in your trunks or bed storage with real happiness, real realisation, real endurance; you would be ‘real’ to yourself, if the ‘growth’ that has taken place in you is real.
You may end up with an imperceptible nod as epiphany will sound only when the quilt is finally harvested!
Aditi Jain is a Gurugram-based Textile designer and researcher, graduated from NIFT. She envisions textiles as media of expressions. The ‘expressions’ – that convey ideas and beliefs, imbibed in Indian cultural roots, with a contemporary blend to express them with a fresh and modern outlook. Currently, she is working on a research project on responsive fashion and sensory design.
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