Thursday, March 10, 2011

the man with the sewing machine

He is a black man. A very black man. When you look at him, the first thing you might notice is just how black he is. The reason his blackness is so striking is because his clothes are so white. He wears a full-length galabeya robe that is whiter than the brightest fluorescent light, and a pure white knit cap on his head.

How he keeps that galabeya so clean is a mystery to me every time that I walk past him with a scarf on my head, gripping it with one hand holding my skirt down with the other hend to fend off the sand and dust that swirls in the wind around me.

Whenever I walk past his corner, I see him there, sitting behind his pedal pump cast-iron sewing machine that is about as old as he is - very. Bags of white galabeyas and zippers sit piled behind him, along with a box of assorted bits of fabric and sewing supplies.

But I never actually talked to him until yesterday, when my friend wanted her taube... her bright-coloured woman's party robe... hemmed at the edges. She asked me to translate her instructions, but no translation was needed. With barely a glance, he took out the white zipper he was mending and replaced the white thread in the machine for red. He charged a fair price and was done in ten minutes. We sat on plastic coke bottle racks and watched him as he sewed a flawless straight line.

He didn't react at two foreign girls. He didn't try to take advantage of us. He didn't expect us to wait. He just got the job done.

As I write this for Imperfect Prose this week, I want to look to the man with the sewing machine as an example. Will I take what life brings me without reaction? Will I take pleasure in the things I do without seeking to eek out a little more for myself? Will I attend to the needs of others promptly? Will I care enough to get the job done with the kind of humble pride that drives a person to keep his clothes white against all odds?

Thank you, Imperfect Prose friends, for striving with me to be, humbly, the best we can be.

16 comments:

happygirl said...

That is my goal, as well. To care enough to be the best me I can be. To care enough to take pride in my work, without being a perfectionist. Just giving my best effort and not judging myself so harshly. Thank you for writing.

Brandee Shafer said...

Nice. I find myself marveling at those with flawless dress. I mean, I am forever dribbling food on myself. These days, it's their food and my food, and sometimes their food is of my body only to be spilt back on it.

Glad for your looking for the "more" in simple exchanges. Blessings to you.

Ruthiey said...

You did a great job of setting up the scene. I saw it vividly.

And I admire him. I'm generally not brave enough to wear white. =)

Brian Miller said...

nice. sounds like a really neat man and yeah there seems to be things we can learn from him as well...glad you noticed him...

David N. said...

I can picture this well, even though I'm sure the picture in my head doesn't match where you are. You describe these scenes well.

LauraX said...

Kati, this is such an inspiring post...to accept what we are given without expecting or even wanting more...I think this takes tremendous practice...and life is continuously offering us opportunities to do that.

Cathy at While the Dervish Dances said...

The imagery here is so very evocative and the inspiration simple, though not easy: you are who you are in this moment.

I discovered your wonderful blog through 'imperfect prose' and am now linked up with the group. 'See' you soon...

Kati patrianoceu said...

Thank you all... It's such an important but hard lesson to learn. Ironically, since I wrote this I've gone on to have a day wallowing in self-pity and selfishness. Doh! Much room for improvement here.

emily wierenga said...

love, love, love this, the description, the takeaway... my favorite paragraph is the first one, with all of the black and white contrast. well done friend.

repressedsoul said...

Oh my, the contrast you paint with your words does not leave any shades of grey. I don't think there's a lot of tightening up to be done here. In fact you could expand to make it a short?

Joybird said...

I love it when you share your world with me. You are so far away from where I type but in reading you I feel the dry, sand laden desert wind in my hair and I see this man. What I love most though, is how you really see him. You notice his character on display like his skills. These are very good eyes you have, Kati. I think I often miss seeing the people around me because I can't get past looking at myself.

Abby said...

i loved this too...so full of this scene;moment...you shared enough of what you are at liberty too, to teach us all...

well done kati:) may you be blessed richly right where you are right now:)

nic said...

oh, i can see him. thank you for bringing this scene and this humble, upright man to life for me tonight.

Janis@Open My Ears Lord said...

Kati,
This was beautiful! Especially the lessons you took away from this experience. Even if the lessons are not learned immediately--give yourself grace and process in the "becoming".

Your descriptions of this man, his knowledge, his dedication were done so well. And you painted a vivid artistic picture.

Thank you for your comment on my post. Please realize that kids bring a lot of joy along with the pain. Just as you describe that you see joy right next to the pain in your searching, realize that having a child brings both--BUT IT IS WORTH IT!!! They are a reward and blessing from the Lord.

Blessings to you, sweet one,
Janis

alittlebitograce said...

i love the pictures that you paint of your life in corners far away. You describe life so beautifully.

Meryl Jaffe, PhD said...

A beautifully written lesson for us all!

Meryl
http://departingthetext.blogspot.com

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