I have so much respect for asian mums. Being a brown girl and watching Eastenders and similar shows where the parents are cool and they let you move our without hassle before they retire and just don’t worry about anything but themselves – you really notice how different you are.The excessive amounts of dishes your mum cooks for the day even though one should be enough. The way they live under a roof with extended family and not complain and just get on with it. Brown mums are lit, including my mum. She told me the story behind why she sews so much – and it really made me respect her more,
The thing is, usually, when someone has an obsession or a hobby, they have some sort of evidence to back it up, evidence that leads to the source of their obsession – I always love those stories. For instance, my bad-ass brown mother is always sewing and she even said it started off with her “hating” it.
She was born when Pakistan celebrated its tenth year as an independent nation. Living in somewhat of a tiny house in a poor village with her father, mother and eleven siblings (six brothers, and five sisters), she didn’t like being a traditional girl. Whilst my Grandpa worked in a small store a few blocks down, she was often told off for getting caught playing football with her brothers, and for skipping school to watch the animals being brought in for the freak show on Fridays. Her clothes were never perfectly ironed, she never had any interest in bows in her hair. She just didn’t care much.
She loved exploring the abandoned houses with her brother down the road, these were the houses people were thrown out of because they couldn’t keep up with the costs. This all changed one day when her father passed away. My mum said since that day she feels empty, as if the carefree-ness came from being around her dad.
She explained daily things being a chore, because they weren’t doing them for themselves, they were doing it to make money. Her mother became a cleaner and her sisters started cooking for big events – mainly funerals. They weren’t making enough. So my mother took up sewing. She described it as the most boring thing she ever did. She said that for every stitch she made, she lost out on play outside. She stitched everything – from shoes, to uniforms, to buttons, anything to make some money. She tried to put it in perspective for me, she simply said:
For every ten shirts I had made, it was like having enough to buy one milk bottle and eggs.
But soon, she said, her other sisters followed, and everyone started sewing together.
They sewed day and night for everything. One of her sister’s got married before their dad died and she started sewed in London for big events – mainly weddings. So this was the perfect opportunity for her to call her sisters back in Pakistan and pass down her expertise on sewing – because it was all she knew. My mum then changed her tone and told me it wasn’t so boring any more because It was the only time of day that all the sisters spoke to each other and got along. She said it was slowly stitching together the relationship of her siblings. Before she knew it, everyone was growing up and getting married, the brothers started earning decent money and the troubles were slowly going away.
Her mother stopped being a cleaner and started being at home more and she started being looked after more. My mother said her best project was sewing her sister’s wedding dress, because she finally saw the value in her work. When all the girls were married off and in their own homes, they didn’t need the sewing business any more. The sons had enough from their own jobs to support the house, their mother and their wives.
It’s now forty years later and my mum still sews even though she doesn’t need to. She does it because sewing was the reason she was here today. She explained to me that she was thankful for sewing because to this day it gives her a sense of security, togetherness, and reminds her of her home.
My mother is lit.
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Note: I created the artwork for this blog post myself, the photography originally was not mine