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

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Heidi: My friend, philosopher and guide

Heidi was the first book ever purchased for me. I was about 6 or 7 years old at that time, the same age that Heidi is when her story begins. Heidi was also the 16th and the 73rd book bought for me. Yes, you read it right. Till date, I have owned 3 Heidi books and each one has a story attached to it.

Heidi-1 was with me for just a day. Raju, my maternal uncle, had just received his first pay cheque and in a fit of generosity decided to buy something for his 8 nephews and nieces. So what does he do? He goes and buys some books, one of which is Heidi. Only, Heidi is not one book here — it is a serialised version spread over 6 palm-sized books with tiny illustrations and microscopic lettering. He then distributes these 6 “Heidis” to 3 of his nieces and nephews in a random manner. I am one of the recipients and get books 2 and 5 of Heidi.

We 3 recipients of the Heidi books were so thrilled with the gift that neither its random distribution nor the impossibly small lettering bothered us. We could squint and read, couldn’t we? It was a Saturday that day, so we didn’t have to worry about school either. After lunch that day, we got down to reading the books in serial order, with each one reading his or her books aloud for the others. I still remember the instant connection I felt with Heidi — her spirit, loyalty, adventures and love for her family and friends proved irresistible. At the risk of sounding corny, I knew that I had made a friend.

I am not sure whose mother discovered the books that evening. The small lettering was deemed unsuitable for us children and were confiscated, never to be seen again. My poor uncle got an earful from all our mothers for buying something so child-unfriendly. And that was the rather dramatic end of Heidi-1.

Continue reading “Heidi: My friend, philosopher and guide”