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2008 was quite a year. I was pretty much infected by various art forms – and although my abilities were always constrained, I tried to make the best out of it, and subsequently quite a few “results” sprouted. Wrangled with poetry, this is one of them done in December 2008.

This photo-poetry-feature (abridged from the original) has 13 slides with 5 poems. Please do give a bit of time for the images to load and your feedback will be greatly appreciated!

the Preface (from the second slide):

Nakshi Katha is a traditional folk art of embroidered quilt that has been passed down through generations in Bangladesh, more than often reflecting the folklore and heritage of the country delicately woven with histories, struggles and triumphs of the people.

More importantly, for many rural women, it is the only means of earning, and consequently their empowerment. The designs unlock from the souls and hopes of rural women, while the running stitches reflect their lives weaving their aspirations, dreams, wishes, even fears and nightmares in a splendor of color and deftness that leaves the imagination filled with sentimental love of the stitches.

This is my attempt to bring validity to the lives of the women who weave day and night for a measly payment – for the women who work hard to grasp free of exploitation and empower themselves. Nakshi Katha is not merely a piece of fabric, but rather tales of struggling women and their unheard dreams. The least we can do is appreciate their words and acknowledge their lives through the art.

“what i weave is no less than gold”

the text of the Poems:

of blue Peacocks and red Aanchals

Wrapped in somber red,
She walked through the vivid gardens
Her scarlet aanchal grazing the mud with inelegance,
Stained deep crimson, dull and heavy
burdened with the weight of her threads and rusted needles.
She walked on, dreamed, stitched without relent,
to complete the embroidery of her dreams,
of dreams soon to be bought,
of blue peacocks and her red aanchal
that she could never put on over her laden shoulders;
but she stitched on for the ignorant others,
for those who would wear her dreams like any other
well embroidered piece of expensive fabric,
never even realizing the blue peacocks sturdy lone stare
nor the eloquent dreams, she now lays wrapped within.

Dated 07.12.08

Lives Strung Together

Blistered hands, fragile fingers,
Needles fraught with a strut will to live,
Of claret draped in emerald,
Teal dressed in indigo
and voiceless lives bound to tinted threads;
To seam, hem and embroider
the tales of the Rosalila,
of fishes scales in tiled water
of ignored lives, unvalued dreams
soaked and dripping with dormant salty tears
inside 2 mm threads of Nokshi Kathas.

Dated 10.12.08

the Sun in the Sea

As the sun drenched itself into the golden sea
the fishes swarmed around it’s petals
of beige wrapped in smokes of white,
and the sun dropped and droned and swooned,
its eyes captivated by the wrinkles
of the waves, old and sage; and bitter.
The sun lay hypnotized;
it whirled and hurled into depths so cold
that its petals could no longer hold
as the sea churned and swarmed its thirst
and finally engulfed the round twirling sun.
The winds wept and cried
as angry mists crowded the sky,
the grasses lay covered in tearful fright
and thus came the winter nights.

Not Dated

the Voyage

…and the bride remained still,
trembling and ecstatic within her palanquin of reverie
anxious and timid behind its curtains of providence;
her mind raced, slow and steady,
she weaved with new threads
as they boarded “the peacock” for Shitalokha’s crossing;
the boat cradled like an infant on the water’s arms
as did her body and her silent mind,
while people did dance and sing in delight
the craft approached cold land,
only she looked back from whence the boat departed
trapped within her beautiful palanquin
and her lonely voyage of her marriage.

Not Dated

Veins entwined with Tales

The roots are what I call home
They carry the scent of my being
and sway not with the gale of my sins.
The leaves are my voice
Enriched with concealed veins with tales of my small steps –
from sunrise till it sets, the buds are my smiles,
my anger are the black threads suppressed within the foliage
that dare not extrude its bounds;
The stem is my breath,
as I walk with legs, as with fingers I weave
as with knees I kneel, and hands I feed;
my insignificance is the payment I receive,
yet satiated and happy, I stitch.

Not Dated

“the Nakshi Katha Tales” is scheduled to be published as part of my upcoming book “Canvas.”