The gravity of time had pulled Anjali forwards to a setting and an event that she was convinced she could never have avoided. The brisk flow of time through the valley had deposited her in the far corner of a carpark, situated to the rear of the Riverside Hotel. Time, of course, also often flows in a contrary manner. There was still a good half hour before the time that Eileen had advised her to arrive at the Riverside Hotel. She had half an hour of thinking to do, and Anjali could not avoid her thoughts.
‘Is it really too late to decide whether we throw ourselves into the flow of events or step away from them?’
This thought was quickly followed by another.
‘Everyone sees the world in their own way. I see my world through the eye of a needle. It is a view that is roundly defined and fixed in steel.’
It was gradually growing cold in the car. Anjali’s thoughts were always hardened by the cold.
‘The end has come for Panya and I. We are two bodies that passed through each other’s gravity. There were only ever two possible outcomes. Either one collides violently into the grip of the other, or each of us gains momentum from the encounter and we are thrown apart onto our separate trajectories.’
A mallard duck landed on the river just beyond the carpark. It scrambled towards a safe boulder at the edge of the river, the fast-flowing water dragging at its body the whole time.
‘Panya is wrong to say that a tailor is responsible for their creation. All a tailor – all that Threads – does is carry the message and strengthen its delivery. We are not the designers of the message. We do not embroider the truth. We do not shape influence. We just improve the power of the signal. It is not Threads that decides what truths people choose to select and what conclusions they agree to gather together.
Panya’s choice is to hold on to the same old boulder as the river rushes past her. If all Panya does, if all Threads does, is alter and repair old garments, maintaining the struggle against damp and mischievous time, we will never escape this valley.’
Anjali shivered as she sensed a cold wind of injustice and loss that had entered the car. Her thoughts continued, but now they had broken out into spoken words.
‘I need to design,’ she said, ‘in the same way that the river needs to flow. I cannot exist without design. Design is the overcoat I pull on against the winter. It warms, comforts and protects me against a climate of despair. Design is the antidote to the grey and the damp. Design is the sun rising in summer and centring itself in a deep sky. Form, cut, texture and colour are vital to life. They are as vital as the elementary components of water or the crystalline structure of iron.’
Anjali looked down at the clock on the dashboard. It was counting down the old time. The new time would begin very soon. She needed reassurance and her thoughts granted that wish.
‘My work is as subtle as the light that sweeps across the depths of the river,’ she thought. ‘My work is not the dress of Queens and Princes, coercing the audience into acknowledging their wealth and power by merely strapping wealth and power to cloth. My work is the precise art of influence; designed to grasp hold of the visual prejudices of the viewer. I am in truth just a tailor who knows how to flatter prejudices.’
The mallard duck gave up its precarious perch and flew off into the grey sky.
‘The river is the greatest designer, mixing light and material, texture and colour. The river dares to leave the permanence of the hills and take its chances in the mercurial sea. The river has courage that the hills, with their fixed and sound foundations, will never hope to understand.’
The time had come. Anjali took her briefcase from the rear of the car and headed towards the hotel door. Now her thoughts began to play out like the beat of a drum.
‘Panya is the seamstress of this destruction. The seams of our partnership are ripping apart. She has snapped the thread. She has secured the end.’