Welcome to JP Melville's review, experience, and statement on foreign aid and the international development industry. A conservative faith in family. A love affair riding the riotous tensions between money, personal freedom, the majestic travesty of our specie's ecological footprint, and economic politics. Selected writing of both prose and poetry, anecdotal travel log to rhetorical essay, dating back from the 1980's to the present. Enjoy!

Saturday, 21 April 2012

A Note About Grandmother

A Blind Globe Trotter in Khoo Khad Village, Thailand

Grandmother has been weaving cloth for the past two months.  Everyday she slips into her loom, a tiny body and frail bones become the living motion of the poles, levers, and shuttles.  She and the loom are incomplete without the other and there is this living motion and this thing happens and we call it cloth.
Grandmother does not understand easily about making cloth for the foreigner.  The cloth she makes has such and such patterns and there are certain lengths into which the cloth is finally cut and that is that and that is the way it has always been done.  But the foreigner wants longer cloth and such bright colours!  Not that she feels that there is anything wrong with this in particular, but why not just have things the way things are, as they always were.  But the foreigners have bigger bodies and they wear different clothes, grandmother, explains her granddaughter.  Well, that may be so but this is how we make our cloth, says grandmother for the umpteenth time.  But the cloth is not for us, explains her granddaughter.  Yes, I know that, says grandmother, but why not just have it...  Finally she just shakes her head and says, smiling softly, well, yes, if it must be that way we can do things differently.  It is no matter really.  Her smile was with eyes sparkling silent thoughts.  The foreigner does not understand that he asked for our cloth but that all he really wants is his cloth.
Grandmother worries about her granddaughter who after three years of marriage still has yet to produce a child.  The granddaughter is infertile even though there is nothing wrong with her inside.  They even went and had her checked by a doctor at the hospital.  What is marriage without children?  The granddaughter is at home and is learning from grandmother about the weaving.  She already has a sewing machine of her own.  Such a good young woman.  No one has yet asked the son-in-law to have his fertility checked.
Grandmother shakes her head.  So many young people in the village that go to Bangkok.  When they come back no one knows what to expect.  The most trying of all the youngsters are the young women.  They find husbands that nobody knows!  These marriages are so difficult for the village.  They happen so quickly and how can you marry someone when no one, never mind the woman herself, knows the man or his family.  Everyone worries.  And there are so many widows in the village... men that go away and never come back...
Grandmother finishes cutting what cloth she has woven with the help of her granddaughter.  Because she is keeping only a portion of the cloth in payment for her work, her pieces and the foreigner's are folded into separate piles.  She goes beneath the house and returns with a little rice and fermented fish.  I am hungry after all that, she says laughing.
Soon she is back at the loom.  The foreigner's cloth has not yet all been made.  And there is little time.  Soon the rains will come and everyone must be in the paddy planting rice.

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