Stories from My Home – 5: The girl on the swing


We don’t always have to travel to seek stories; they are right there in our homes too. In “Stories From My Home“, I examine the many objects surrounding me at home and attempt to document and share the memories associated with them, one story at a time. 


Shortly before I was born, my Amma and two older brothers visited an acquaintance’s house where they saw some exquisite patchwork or applique work embroidery on display. Amma, a skilled needlewoman, was entranced and wanted to learn how to do it. The said acquaintance wasn’t too keen on parting with the knowledge of patchwork and it took Amma nearly a year of persuading her till she agreed to do so.

And thus began “Project Patchwork”, which eventually turned into a family project. My Appa helped in finalising the designs and shopping for cloth bits required and my brothers took care of me, while Amma went for her “classes”. Over the next couple of years, Amma went on to embroider quite a few themed patchwork sets, which were eventually turned into cushion covers and sofa​ covers, and some into framed art like the one below.​

The Girl on the Swing”, as I like to call this work, is not one of Amma’s best, but it is my favourite. It currently hangs above my bed and it is always the first thing I see when I enter my bedroom. I particularly love the way the swing’s movement is depicted as well as the long and short stitch that has been done to depict the girl’s hair.

Stories from my home, Made by Amma, Patchwork, Needlework, Embroidery, Girl on the Swing, Framed Art

Amma’s patchwork has seen a lot, including winning the first prize in a prestigious needlework exhibition; getting stolen and then being found after some drama worth a Bollywood film; ‘living’ in 12 houses across 6 cities; and more. More than 45 years later, the cushion covers are still in use, though a couple of them exist as framed art, like the one shared here. They never fail to be conversation

Amma’s passed away earlier this year and this is part of the legacy that she left for my brothers and me, her children. Whenever I look at Amma’s patchwork I get that lump-in-the-throat feeling that my brothers and I have something that she made to cherish long after she’s gone and pass it on to future generations as well.


Stories From My Home: Meenakshi’s lamp | The box of coins | The photographs in the envelope | Bala’s oil pot | The girl on the swing |


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6 thoughts on “Stories from My Home – 5: The girl on the swing

  1. So many memories from that time…
    – Of Amma walking 5 kilometres for her embroidery lessons (public transport was unreliable and alternatives were virtually non-existent
    – Of said brothers waiting anxiously for their mother’s return (there were no phones then)
    – Later, after she was born, making sure that our kid sister was fed while our mother was away

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sudhaji, what a lovely piece of craft (I love the detailing, especially how she’s shown the movement of the swing and the slightly concentrated, slightly distracted look in the girl’s eyes)! ‘Stories from my home’ is my current favourite among your blog series. Do keep writing. 🙂

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