I don’t know about you, but when you spend nine months incubating life in your womb, you begin to reflect on your own childhood. You ask your parents to share stories of their experiencesraising you. You are shown photographs and documents and if you are lucky, an actual momento, maybe the first outfit you wore, or your ID bracelet from the hospital, or maybe even a well worn out toy that you carried everywhere with you.
I have loads of photos [perks of being the first born], but as a result of moving as a child, many of my physical momentos were lost in translation. I desperately wanted to have something of mine to pass down to my future child. But reality is… I don’t really have that…
In my search to find something meaningful to pass down, I realized I wanted it to have a sentimental value far beyond anything that could be recreated. I wanted it to infuse in itself the generations of the past and weave a story for my child and any future child of this family. I wanted the love I have always felt from my family to radiate from this *thing* I was in search for… Except, it didn’t exist.
Then one day, I got it. I knew what I wanted for my baby. I wanted an hairloom katha [blanket]. In Bangladesh, everyone had one or a hundred growing up. A tradition that grew in the villages out of necessity, but a staple in the linen closets or rather alnas [clothing rack] of every home in villages and cities alike.
Created by cutting a well worn cotton sharee and layering those pieces together and painstakingly straight stitching the entire area of the blanket.
These tiny stitches that encompass the entire blanket are what makes the fabric incredibly soft to the touch and surprising warm. Usually they are made by the women of the village who are very resourceful in nature and have an indescribable amount of patience to sew in such great detail.
I went to my mom’s linen closet to scour through our collection of katha and even though I was impressed, there just wasn’t one that I burried my nose into and felt connected to my childhood. I couldn’t really see why I would pass them on to my baby.
I was sad.
But not for long! I scoured some more and came upon an old cotton Sharee my Nani had left behind when she had left for Bangladesh. When I opened up the nine yards of soft well worn fabric, I smelled my Nani. The scent of her when I used to lay my head in her lap to listen to the stories she would tell my sister and I. As I examined the piece of fabric I could even see a turmeric stain left on it from her cooking for us. That’s it! This is it! I grabbed this Sharee and practically ran to my mom and requested that a katha be crafted from it as soon as possible. The problem was, who the heck did I know who could make a katha!?
I was sad. Again.
But not for long! Because guess who loves a challenge? My mother! Heh.
Also the idea of my mother sewing a katha out of her own mother’s Sharee has a very transcendent quality to it. It was already part of a story. I liked that. Not surprisingly, when I brought it up with my mother, she was completely on board. She had no idea what she was doing, but she knew she wanted to do it!
Over the next few weeks, she washed, cut and layered the old fabric… and began the process of straight stitching small stitches through the entire fabric till it was complete.
Two generations of love weaved together that will belong to my baby. And when he asks about his childhood, I’ll tell him the Blankie story.