Just arrived home in Beirut and started unpacking. After emptying my suitcase that became for few minutes a magic box from which Enzo saw his so-longed-for skateboard with a skull design come out, his desired orange and red swim shorts, his especially requested order of Angry Birds items…I finally was able to hang my clothes.
One of my dresses had the hem falling in some places, so I asked Mother if she could fix it for me. I followed her to her room, open one of the cupboards, and take out of it the vintage sewing machine. It belonged to my late grandmother and Mother kept it and used it very often, to mend our clothes, tablecloths, Enzo’s ripped trousers… It brought back memories, sweet ones, during rough war ones.
I keep coming back relentlessly to those times as they are an indivisible part of my life’s history and the current events in the Arab world trigger the memory of those times. In a flashback I saw Mother and grandmother, digging in an ancient trunk layers and layers of fabrics trying to come up with a nice combination to sew some cute dresses for my sister, my cousins and me.
During those days, stores were closed and we had no access to luxury. I remember the parade of us girls in my grandmother’s spacious house in the remote mountains, far from the bombed city. They took our measurements, noted which fabric went to who, made sure the colors matched our hair color and skin, regardless of all the whining and crying: My cousin wanted my fabric, I wanted my other cousin’s one…A mess, but that didn’t disrupt the two determined women.
Few days later, the five of us had each a cute little dress that we wore on Sunday to go to church attending my mother’s cousin wedding.
Mother hadn’t lost any of her magical skills to use the machine. With her glasses on the top of her nose, in no time she adjusted the spool of thread, plucked the dress hem under the needle and with a light gracious maneuver spun the machine’s wheel, and the needle went up and down, up and down, stitching my torn hem.
(Mimi Raad of Al Arabiya is an image consultant who also blogs at mimisfashiondiary.blogspot.com. She welcomes hearing from readers at: firstname.lastname@example.org)