Thursday, March 10, 2011

Through the Needle's Eye

Published by: Carmel International Publishing House –CIPH- Cotton Hill Trivandrum, Kerala 695014. 

"Through the Needle’s Eye - Everyday Life of Everyday People"; 2006; Pp. 124.
Hard Bond: Rs 290/- in India, Euro 15/- outside India
Paper Back: Rs 280/- in India, Euro 12/- outside India

Introductions to "Through the Needle’s Eye; Everyday Life of Everyday People"

1. Taken from back cover of the book:

This book, as did the first book “The Dolls Speak”, presents a second collection of dolls made over a period of more than 25 years by Francoise Bosteels, a Belgian by birth who came to India more that 30 years ago.

“Francoise too had a dream. Her dolls began to speak: they speak of the people’s everyday lives; they speak from the margins; they offer their pain, their poverty but also their celebration, their hope; her dolls speak of the many faces of violence; of exclusion; of hunger; of homelessness. There is a rage there, but it is offered gently, evocatively, inviting the viewer to think, to feel, to cross the lines, to break new ground; to leave the straight unilinear path of what is dominant and to search in the forest for old wisdoms, ancient paths, forgotten knowledges; to find new ways of survival; to listen differently; to hear the cries for justice. Another world must be possible!” 

~Corinne Kumar

2. Taken from book review in Vidyajyoti Journal of Theological Reflection:

Francoise Bosteels is well known in India and abroad for the many dolls she has created to express what perhaps cannot be adequately articulated in word. The book displays Francoise’s newest collection of dolls that look into the lives of ordinary people through delightful design and with depth of visions. Her first book, The Dolls Speak aroused much interest in this novel and creative form of expression that can truly be called ‘theological’, for the viewer is transported to the terrain of Transcendence. To quote the author, “These dolls attempt to express multidimensional insights into the mystery of the human, the cosmic and the Divine”.
The author’s Introduction summarizes her ‘vision’ –or, one could perhaps say ‘mission’ - to ‘continue to see and hear, to experience and touch, to ponder, to search and to question all that happens around me, day after day,’ and these everyday experiences are expressed through the medium of the dolls who ‘challenge our thinking, our very society,… Each doll has a story to tell about the beauty of life, its celebration and also the injustice, anger and frustration of those in despair. And finally of hope, hope for a better tomorrow’

The author’s friends, students, theologians, human rights’ activists and marginalized groups, etc., have given each doll a ‘voice’, so to say, by noting their thoughts, verses, poems and reflections alongside the photos of the dolls. These voices are varied. Unlike the previous book, in addition to Indians, this one has voices from overseas –e.g., that of Samil-al-Qasim from Palestine who writes alongside a doll in a cradle: “When my children are born, their tiny coffins are waiting for them” and Maya Angelou, from the USA, on ‘The Caged Bird Sings”. There are also collective expressions like the one on ‘Legend of an Adopted Child’ by the Women of P.A.S. (Project, Aid and Sponsorship) and ‘Women at the Tap’ by the Simorgh Women’s Collective from Lahore Pakistan.

While most of the writings in the book are striking and serve as catalysts to evoke though, a few of them seem ineffectual in conveying what the dolls seem to symbolize. In this sense, the dolls live up to their character of being ‘visible symbols’ that unceasingly unveil worlds of meaning without ever exhausting it. Hence, there is always a ‘more’ to be seen, heard, understood and experienced by encountering each doll.

Rather than browse through the book in a hurry, the reader would do good to: first, carefully gaze at the doll (without looking at the text), second, allow the doll to speak its own language and deliver its own message, and third, to see what the contributors have to say about the dolls. In this way, as Corinne Kumar writes in her ‘Foreword’, one may be able to ‘break one’s own silence’; or perhaps, even enter into a more profound one. Francoise’s dolls will, undoubtedly, enable the viewer to look at life not through a telescope as much as Through the Needle’s Eye. The author must be commended for crafting still another set of delightful dolls that not only speak but also symbolize and sacramentalize and could spur us to action.

~Francis Gonsalves sj

A sampling of poems and dolls from the book:

The Ironer

I stand and wait
To press and pleat and fold
Your crumpled clothes.

 A strange thought:

That you would hate
To even touch or hold
My cleanest clothes.

~ Jane Sahi

Paddy Field

It is hard work. Hard on the feet; in muddy waters.
Hard on the back; bent all the time.
The men did their part. Filled the field with water.
Ploughed it several times, turning the soil again and again.
Prepared the seedbed.
Now it is our time. Planting seedlings one by one.
In straight rows.
Yes it is hard work.
But there is music in the air.
And little rice plants are dancing. And there is hope.
The little seedlings will grow. There will be rice. Not much.
But enough for some months.
If only the landlords weren’t there
To take half of it away.

Why doesn’t the cameraman go away, so we could resume our singing.
There is music in the air.
And the little rice plants are dancing.

~ Hari Sharma 

Washing the World White

I dream of a world without long and deep dividing walls,
Where people against people raise no angry rabid calls,
To violent death and mass revenge on hapless innocents,

But forgiving love, its healing touch and message sends.
                                                                  ~ Philo Varghese

French Translation:

German Translation:

No comments: