The call for the evening prayer rings in the background. The last rays of the sun filter in through the window. Lying on the floor is my day’s work. There is fabric everywhere. Rummaging through the heap, I think of all my work and how young I had begun.
As a child, I picked up the art by the age ten. My grandfather and father passed it on to us; my brothers and I. Shuttling between school and play, we managed to learn. Listening to our grandfather’s stories, watching him as he worked, helping around the workshop. I was a child then. Being pulled away from play, I dreaded it. As the years unfolded before me, I realized I had to get serious, for this is what I had to do. This was going to become life.
Home was and continues to be in Dhamadka. We used to work together there, my brothers, sisters and everyone in the family. As we worked, our sisters used to lend us a helping hand from home. Away from the family now and here in Ajrakpur work sees a different pattern. Laborers help us. A common unit for washing is what we have to make do with. We had everything in Dhamadka. What more could we ask for there?
Back in the day, natural dyes were not being used. People wanted chemicals and that was what we worked with. My grandfather had a hunch that these chemical dyes would not last long. He taught us to use the natural dyes for a rainy day. Soon enough the tide turned, and natural dyes were in demand. I owe much to my grandfather now. Being able to print and dye and even carve my own blocks, travel with my work through India and abroad. Ajrakh to me is special. Working on it and taking it far and wide, I am truly happy.