The woman who knitted

woman knitting

“Oh, it’s just nice to get away from all the noise at home. You know?” Her eyebrows had curved up while her fingers paused in mid air. I’d nodded politely even though I couldn’t possibly fathom why someone would go to the library every day just so they can knit. 

I’d just started working in the library when I met her for the first time. The curious stares never perturbed her, and neither did the incessant shuffling of feet.

People came and went. Since only a handful of them regularly spent time reading, the knitting lady soon became an icon you couldn’t miss.

In the following years, I spent occasions wondering what drove her away from home and into the library. I mean, I’d go when I wanted a book. Or to work or to attend a meeting. Theories constantly whirled my head—perhaps her neighbours were loud and rowdy, I mused turning on my cassette player at home one night. Or maybe her husband was a messy gardener leaving dirt marks all around the house to annoy her. Or perhaps, I wondered remembering my own grandparents, her grandkids were a pain in the ass and a torment to the ears.

But I never asked her.

“I should’ve,” I wrote in my diary the night after her funeral.

It wasn’t people that’d driven her way from home. It was lack there of.


Photo credit: Imani on Unsplash.
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Scars

She had an unmistakeable spring in her step. It was a new town and a new life, yes but she would make it work. She was nothing if not adaptive.

She slipped into her new sweater, pulled on the boots, buckled up the coat, adjusted the hat, and walked out the door. Winter was fast approaching.

Hello, world! Her soul yelled. Show me what you got!

As if they’d heard, two boys came up from hind her. With watermelon heads and noses the size of grapes,”Yo!” one of them called out. A large cap sat on his head while chains dangled round his collar and fake tattoos plastered his temple. He leaned forwards, shoving her nostrils with the nauseating scent of long-packaged cigarettes, “you got cash?”

Before she could react, the other boy grabbed her backpack and shook her. Hard. Stumbling on the walkway, she mutely watched him fish her wallet and grab her buffer money. 

He thrust the bag at her, while tattoo face ruffled her hair, “Good girl!” He leered before walking off.

It was now an old town and accustomed life. But she still doesn’t look at a man’s eye without shivering within.

Sunset by Lake Ginninderra, Canberra

Hop, stop, cherish

Walk, run, or dawdle

sit, breathe, and take a minute

moments don’t repeat


Photo: Sunset by Lake Ginninderra, Canberra, Australia
Sunset by the Lake Burly Griffin, Canberra, Australia

Oh, the fall

Tall, erect, in line

like our soldiers sent to war

except, more alive


Photo: Sunset by the Lake Burly Griffin, Canberra, Australia

Tell me a story

“Oh, I thought you’d forgotten!”

“How can I, mom? I just got 20 per cent off of bread on Mother’s Day sale.”

My mother thought I’d forgotten about Mother’s Day because I didn’t wish her on Sunday. It came up when I mentioned it, with the flyaway tone it deserves, in a conversation two days later.

Every street corner has a flyer or a billboard reminding us about this celebratory day. Everywhere I look, there’re roses and pinkish red ribbons cajoling people to splurge, guilting them into buying things their mothers may never even enjoy.

But that’s just the tradition of Mother’s Day. Each year during this time, storefronts and in-stores promote maternity, maternal thankfulness, love, and forever gratitude.

What a story, huh?

Storytelling is now an unmistakeable chapter in marketing books. Almost every marketer I know understands its value, speaks about it, and in public forums vouches for it. But this “trend” came about only in the last three to five years. Before that, no one spoke as much about the great tactic that’s storytelling and its role in marketing and sales.

And yet, for years, we’ve been falling prey to some of the most wonderful storytelling the retail industry has ever divulged.

Yes, I’m saying Mother’s Day is a story. And a well-said one too.

In most of Asia, children live with their parents until they get married or go off to work in a different city. However, in most of the western world, children move out of their parents’ far sooner—sometimes as early as fifteen years. That is an excellent market for the Mother’s Day story. You know how it goes: the child takes one day off from their personal life to meet with their mother, praise her, thank her, and show her how much they love her. It’s the perfect story—with the right blend of care- and guilt-inducing narrative, the story can survive generations, as we see it has. The best part? As the Asian culture adapted to westernisation, more Asian children experience it too.

In a sense, the grand narrative of being there for your mother, at least one day of the year, has become such a relatable matter for so many of us that we give in to without second thoughts.

With today’s tech growth, we don’t need one day of the year to bond with our mother. Heck, I moved to Australia a month ago, and I still call my mom twice every day. I don’t always want to—when you’re talking to your mom that often, you run out of things to talk about much sooner than you’d imagine—but I still make time to call her. She would freak out otherwise, but it’s also a nice way to acknowledge her and what she means to me.

I’m not the only one either. A lot of people I know have regular interactions with their parents. But even they follow Mother’s Day ritual because it’s just so baked into our minds, and—gosh what would people think about them if they don’t?

That’s how compelling this story is. It’s so haunting that you can’t get away from it without going through with it. And like a vicious cycle, as people fuelled the tradition every year, we’ve ended up with a generation of mothers who’re accustomed to expecting the $100 wine bottle (which they know was on sale for $89.95) as proof of their children’s love.

As a marketer, I appreciate the mastery of the storytelling. But as a child, it just makes me a monster who’s so obsessed with work that she couldn’t even send her mother a card on Mother’s Day.

Oh, well.