Friday, December 2, 2011

I've been transcribing some of the stories my dad use to tell me as a child. As a kid, I didn't realize the kinds of messages I was receiving and devouring to straighten me into some kind of Athia.

Before I had feminism, I learned resistance from narratives of decolonization. Feminism has given me language, yes. But it has only ever been one part of the picture.

So, I hope ya'll enjoy. Good luck in finals week!

Back in my country, a long time ago when your Dada was a little boy, there was a town where you could find the most beautiful saris in the whole world. It wasn't any ordinary sari. The silk cloth was seven feet long and could fit inside a tiny, tiny matchbox.

It all started with the master weaver. Even before he made the most beautiful sari, he was very famous. He moved his thumbs across the silk like water. People came from all across the country to watch his fingers work. But he was not very happy. He knew that the more and more silk he used, the more and more tired the silk worms became and that when he died, he would have to answer to Allah why he worked the silk worms so hard. So, he would pray every morning during Fajr that Allah show him guidance--how could he still feed his family and all the people dependent on him in the town without torturing the silk worms?

He finally got his answer. One day, while he was collecting silk from a family of silk worms, the littlest of the worms crawled onto his thumb. She said: "My parents are very tired. Please, let them rest." And then she was gone. So, the master weaver decided that he would use only one kind of silk and as little of it as possible. It took him two years to weave the sari and when he returned to the same family of silk worms to show them his work, they were very happy. The material was so strong and so well crafted, it would last an entire lifetime. Now, the silk worms were rested and said that they wanted to share their silk with him.

For a little while, everyone was very happy. The master weaver was able to share his good fortune with the whole town. Everyone had enough food to eat and work to do. But this happiness didn't last long. News traveled very far about the master weaver's extraordinary saris--all the way to the Queen of England. The Queen was a very proud woman and wanted to gloat about the riches of her colonies. She demanded that she have a sari for herself. So, she sent her army to the little town with the message that the master weaver was to make a sari especially for her.

The master weaver became very nervous. He knew that if he made a sari for the Queen, then she would demand he make one for all her family and all her royal subjects. He would have to work the silk worms until they died and would have to answer to Allah. The army took him to England were they kept him in a small cottage outside of the palace. For many days he refused to work until the army threatened to destroy his town. He sent a message to the Queen that he would only make the sari for her if she promised that he had to make just one. She agreed and he began work.

After three years of working on the sari, he finally presented it to the Queen. She was very pleased at the wonderful material. She then became very jealous that she could not show off how magnificent her riches from her colonies were to the rest of the world. She demanded that he make her more and more saris. He refused. She knew she could not force him any more, but she wanted to make sure that no one else could ever ask him to make them a sari. So, she had her guards cut off his thumbs and blind him and had her army burn all the other saris he ever made. She kept her sari in the matchbox and it's now in the museum in London.

When the master weaver returned to his home, he was ashamed of himself. He thought he let down all the people of the town and they would now all starve. As he walked around his garden, he felt something crawl up his hand. It was the same little silk worm come to comfort him. She said: "You did the right thing. If you had agreed to make her more saris, she would have worked all of us to death, from my family to yours." The master weaver knew that the little worm was right. They would find another way. They always had.

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