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Forward and backwards
I started passing the thread through the needle’s hole while drifting into the magical past


March 5, 2006

It’d been in back of my mind forever to sew the bottom ends of my pants. The same pants my mom sent me couple years ago from Iran. I went upstairs to find our lost and found box in the forgotten corner of the bathroom, the same place that we pile up our sewing instrumentations. I got what I needed, a spool of black thread and a needle.

Sewing wasn’t as frightening as what I imagined. I sat a little and started to think for a while to remember things from the past. I remembered years ago in Tehran around this time when my mom and I would go out for the New Year’s shopping.

At the end of the day of searching for a good pair of pants, we would get home exhausted but excited to try out the new trousers with the waist going up to my neck. Then my mom would make me to put them on and after a good laugh and posing for the mirror she would force me to stand up straight until she could mark them up, trim the bottom and apply the stitches. At the end when she was done, you could not tell the difference.

So what I did was easy: just recall those memories. I started passing the thread through the needle’s hole while drifting into the magical past. I remembered how my mom used to sew. I could hear her clearly... "look Mohsen! put the stitches one forward and one backwards!"

In the middle of my sewing explorations my wife came up to see how this quiet boy is doing. I didn’t even lift up my head to look at her. I don’t know why but maybe I was angry that I couldn’t dare ask her to sew the pants for me. Maybe I was long lost in my thoughts or simply I couldn’t do it because of the pain in my neck bending for a long time.

She asked if I wanted to join her and the boys for dinner. Oh well, I had had enough fun up here, that I wouldn’t need to get deeper in my debts by owing another dinner to her. I didn’t answer and she left, probably thinking I'm a jack ass. Sorry, she hasn’t got it yet that that is a compliment to an Iranian man. 

Back in my sewing journey, I remembered how my mom would carefully start the first stitch with her young beautiful long fingers. She would make the first stitch like a big ball of knots to make sure the thread won’t escape the hole in the next ten years.

Then she would take her time and pass one stitch over another to make cross-shaped joints that would guarantee no big-toe entanglements while securing maximum resistance against sudden stretches. But the most important parts weren’t these, rather at the end, when she had to close the door of my memory box and take care of other requests in the queue. It was the last stitch.

The last stitch wasn’t even a big knot; it was a signature, a statement of accomplishment, a claim that this will last forever. Probably she was thinking that I was going to record this moment for my son to know about it, the same way her parents showed how to make the last stitch -- against all odds including the American ones.

So here I was sewing my pants and making the last stitch. I searched for a good firm part of the fabric, stuck the needle in and span the threat around the needle over and over until I ran out of string. I put the pants down and thought I’ll do it for another ten years.

For letters section
To Mohsen



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