Monday, September 13, 2010

Impossible is...


Handstitched cotton shoulder bag with jute backing, sisal handle and embellishments. Handpainted kingfisher on front pocket.  Made by Namitha (September 2010)
For some reason, the only phrases that come in to mind at this moment are advertising slogans like Kodak moment, "Priceless" as in the Mastercard ad, and "Impossible is Nothing" which my son tells me is from Adidas.

Sometimes words irritate me, it can be anything, even just the syntax which really gets on my nerves. The words get all jumbled up in my brain and rearrange themselves into some  memory unearthed from the past.

"Impossible is Nothing" is a classic example. It always gets rearranged into "Nothing is Impossible", and from there, it's just one way street for me. I have to get up, get into my Sister Act avatar and become part of an imaginary gospel choir singing "Nothing is impossible when you put your trust in God...".

All this is a throwback to my two years in a boarding school in Bangalore. By default, given their presence on the school campus 24/7/365, thanks to parents being abroad or in a different city, the girls who lived  in the hostel were coopted into the school choir. This made it easy for them to called for practice early in the morning for school assemblies and special events like annual functions, Easter and Christmas. There were many advantages to this, of course some expeditions to the outside world and visits to other schools, besides of course occasionally, official sanction to escape from class and spend time practising for special events. We had a hymn book which we used, and for special events we'd practise all those classic numbers like Oh for the wings of a dove... and Partrides in a Pear Tree.

I still lustily break out into song when some of these phrases pop up during conversation.  If you are wondering how doves and partridges could feature in everyday conversation, you obviously have no idea what we are about...this family has birds in its belfry.

Anyway to get back to my scintillating brush with choral singing, there was this time when we had to form two rows of singers facing each other with the choir mistress Miss Fritchley in the centre. I think we were practising singing in parts. Be that as it may, girls will be girls and a little fifth grader called Harsha kept making faces at the opposite row whenever Miss F had her back to her row. Unfortunately for me, I couldn't quite wipe the giggle off my face when Miss F turned to face us, and she immediately thought that I was the instigator and told me to leave the choir and never return or some such pronouncement.

Naturally, I was extremely upset at being wrongly accused, and I tried to convince myself that I was better off without choir practice. But as the little girl Harsha was in the hostel, a few well-meaning classmates of mine went up to her and insisted that she confess to Miss F. And this great confession happened about a fortnight or so later. I was unaware of all this background drama -- I was too busy being British without being British.

And one morning when I was just walking in the corridor before school began (no doubt after another of those breakfasts with disgusting cold fried eggs, which we'd have to smuggle out in our pockets for the campus dogs), Miss F came up to me and gave me a cheerful hug and said  "I'm sorry child, I believe that you were not at fault.." etc etc. I accepted the apology without much change in expression (I modelled myself after William in the Richmal Crompton books at the time). The next thing she said was "Would you like to come back to the choir?" and I just said No. It was clear that all the lessons in forgiveness and other moral values were no match against the mutinous and wilful girl that I was  at the time. I think William would have reacted in the same way.

Perhaps it was the resentment I felt that an adult should have been more circumspect before accusing the first person they saw? Perhaps it was a case of impulsiveness on my part and I might have answered differently if I'd had some time to consider the invitation to return?

In any case, the choir was without one member for the rest of the term, after which I became a day scholar anyway. I did actually miss that lusty singing in anonymity, it signified carefree abandon with every syllable.  Every now and then, I lapse into song whenever a  catch phrase pops up, and there is a seasonality to it. In summer it will be "Go no more a'rushing maids in May..", and it will include those sad numbers like "Fill my cup Lord" when I am particularly low. It doesn't matter who is around.  With time it has become an accepted part of family life and I am tolerated like some kind of aging budgie coming to life when the northern breeze ruffles its feathers or some such similie.

Which brings me back to Impossible is...Nothing. The reason this particular syntax does not gel is the air of arrogance it carries which is just NOT ME. Normally. Yet, it might just sum up this bag which signifies doing something against all odds.  Not really known for my sewing skills, and with plenty of witnesses over decades who would testify to this, I actually handstitched this bag, with jute backing, with all the embellishments,and found time to paint a little blue kingfisher on a separate pocket. If I had to choose between the hymn "Nothing is Impossible when you put your trust in God" and the slogan "Impossible is ...Nothing", I would choose the latter just for a brief while today. I also ask for forgiveness for my distinct lack of humility.


  1. Sweetheart - it is BEAUTIFUL. YOUr write up more so than the bag. The bag is fab - but the write-up is SO NAMI.... BIG HUGS to you. Miss you...and our endless all night chats when we'd meet.

  2. You make my heart sing...probably will do a Castafiore right now...thanks for taking the time to comment.


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