‘I feel sorry for Anjali,’ said Panya to her niece, who had recently joined Threads of Arrow Street as Panya’s assistant.
Panya’s explanation to Anjali’s uncle was couched in terms that she knew he would understand.
‘I need my niece to help cover the busy times that come as the March winds mix into April showers,’ she had told him.
Panya looked up and across the room. Her niece was pushing one of the commercial irons with the noticeable care of someone still very much feeling her way.
‘Push that more firmly,’ said Panya. ‘The secret of good tailoring is in knowing how to press a garment accurately, untiringly and hard.’
She pushed a needle firmly into the material, pulling it through from the other side with the same dexterity.
‘I was forced to consult Anjali’s uncle about the differences between Anjali and me. There was nothing else that I could possibly have done. There was nothing else that offered itself.’
They both worked silently until Panya had finished the line of stitches, fastening the white thread firmly in place.
‘I remember,’ said Panya, gesticulating with the needle, ‘I once asked my father, one cold winter, not to put traps down to kill the mice. “But you have to kill mice to protect your quality of life and your larder,” my father replied.’
She folded the blouse she had been working on, and placed it carefully on the consulting room’s well-ordered table.
‘I protested,’ she continued. ‘I said to him, but the mice are having a hard time of it as well this winter.
“If the mice would just take a little, I could live with it. The trouble with mice is that they just don’t know when to stop,” was my father’s firm reply.’
Panya picked up another garment, its waist needing extending like so many as the years advance. She reached for a tape measure and, needing to concentrate, fell silent.
‘Measure twice, cut once,’ she said under her breath.