The Great Unknown
Our most recent designs were inspired by a trip to one of the most exotic, overwhelming, and busy places on this earth: Jaipur, India, pop. +2.3million souls.
One of my most intimate moments with the country was on the car ride through the rural areas surrounding Jaipur. While my car mates were wisely catching up on some sleep, my restless brain would not shut off and I resigned myself to capturing the beauty of the countryside flying past us.
I saw ancient looking temples, their onion domed roofs overrun with vines and topped with ugly monkeys and sloping mountains and forests of evergreens filled the background. Every time the camera would finally focus on the temples, a tree or building would block the lens and the perfect image would be gone forever. I am already forgetting the incredible beauty of what I saw.
There were children bathing in front of brightly painted pink and blue cottages and ramshackle shacks with three-wheeled carts sitting under the shade of a nearby tree. I saw a dog and a little boy eating off of the same dish, boys pushing wooden wheels with sticks in the middle of the road, men and women hacking dried grass out in the heat of the scorched fields, and I saw girls walking home from school separate of the boys in traditional dress and in miniskirts.
There was a separation though, of the children walking the streets. While we were waiting for a herd of cattle to clear the street, a group of women dressed in rich red, orange, and yellow saris passed on the left side of the SUV. On the other side, a group of teenage boys and girls passed wearing Catholic school uniforms. The two groups ignored each other studiously but for one woman wearing red. As the group of women neared us, I readied my camera for a dramatic shot of burdened older women that would be perfect for my paper on sexism in the third world.
What I saw was entirely different than what i expected. The woman closest to the car turned and stared straight at me. She was beautiful. A mirage. A goddess. She was around eighteen or nineteen, and she had the smoothest clay coloured skin I’ve ever seen. A garnet encrusted golden hoop protruded from one nostril, and her hair was darker than squid ink at midnight, smoothed and plaited in a single side-braid. The sunlight reflected in her brown eyes, turning them into liquid gold. Her mouth was turned up in a brilliant smile that revealed perfect teeth, a slight dimple on her right cheek, and full coral lips. She stared a moment longer at me before shyly lifting a corner of her sari up and covering the bottom half of her face. She didn’t stop staring though. Even when the cattle cleared the road and we finally started moving again we still stared. The connection was only broken when the cattle once again converged in the road and blocked our view.
That one moment made my whole visit to India pale in comparison. Nothing was as beautiful as that girl. Nothing made me feel as much as she did. It was a feeling of sacredness and serenity amidst a horrid chaotic world awash with cultural divides and obstacles. But that one girl…
the light will lead us on
He must have caught me fidgeting next to his sawhorse while he put an edge on the blade he was working with because he suddenly handed me his old pliers with the worn rubber and a length of wire and said, “Here, Little Luv, come make me something pretty.” And I did. A delicate and strange looking cross was the first product of a seven year old’s wild imagination allowed to run loose in the metal dust of an old workshop. Since then Papa has handed me many different pieces of nothing and challenged me to make “something pretty” out of them. And I have. And I love it.
Now, many years later, I have found a purpose and sense of fulfillment in creating these sweet nothings.
Teaching other young women how to create things and seeing they, in return, spark the creativity in others brings great joy in a world full of darkness. In order to continue, however, we have been forced to sell off some of the pieces of our souls that have been given physicality in the form of our art. We have come to find that beauty and pleasure do not come free.
The flame lights the way.