The Secret Life of Threads

South India

Entering the hushed,
Almost religious concentration,
A myriad of colours
Pluck the cords of my emotions.

An indefinable smell
Pervades the penumbra,
My sense awakened
by a palpable mystery.

“It is just a factory”
I try to detach,
But it is now too late.

Raju knowingly says:
“The loom symbolises the structure
And the movement of the Universe.

In the sacred book of the Hindus,
Usha, the daughter of the sky,
The goddess of dawn,
Is compared to bana, the weft
That weaves the day out of the night.
Surya, the sun, is tana, the warp,
The god of light.

Weaving is a form of creation-
He continues-
Once a cloth is finished
The weaver cuts the threads
Holding it to the loom
And pronounces
The same words of blessing
That the midwife says
While cutting
The umbilical cord
Of a new born baby.”

His words resonate in my mind
And I tread slowly
Amidst the silent looms.

Threads to hold them in place,
Threads assembled
In harmonious shades.

Threads hanged to dry
On sticks waxed by use.
Threads abandoned in a corner,
It could be a ruse.

Threads wisely arranged
In a wall of white bobbins
Like obedient soldiers
Of a diligent army.

The rebels,
Make up
A multicolour formation
Of almost empty bobbins.

The charkas,
Solid wheels of life,
Spin fast
Like a kaleidoscope.

Threads laid out to rest,
The motherly hand
That guides the thread
Might not know
That she could even break it.

The fleeting priestess
With her white hair
Comes to check
Knots and weights.

Is she in charge
Of every single thread?

The door is slightly open,
I need to bend to enter.
The lonely loom
Pauses elegantly,
Until the shuttle
Brings back the song.

And then I see,
This precious, solitary loom
Carries gold threads
And little dancing pearls,
Shiny notes
On an artistic pentagram.

I dream of a nostalgic princess,
In her palace far too big,
Waiting for her golden sari
And her handsome groom.

While only Rani,
Bent over her loom,
Seems to perfectly know,
The secret life of threads.

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