"Un cititor trăieşte o mie de vieţi înainte de a muri. Omul care nu citeşte trăieşte doar o singură viaţă." – George R.R. Martin

Quote of the Day – August 3, 2017: Seamstress's Love – Maria Duenas

I grew up in a happy environment with moderation, rather poor, but without great deprivation and frustration. We lived on a narrow street in a select neighborhood of Madrid, next to Paja Square, two steps from the Royal Palace. On a throw from the continuous fuss in the city centre, I lived among dry laundry, in the smell of lye, among the voices of neighbors and several cats that were sun-cinged. We were following a rudimentary school, which operated in a nearby mezzanine; on her benches, designed for two, we sat four children, arguing and nudgering us to say by heart and how long the pirate song and the multiplication board were holding us. There I learned reading and writing, the four operations and the names of rivers that bhaded the yellowish map on the wall. At twelve, I ended my account with education and entered an apprentice at the workshop where my mother worked. A very common fate.

From the salon of The Madonna Manuela Godina, the mother's patron, she came out for decades, craftsmanship, excellently tailored and sewn, famous throughout Madrid. Daysuits, cocktail dresses, coats and capes worn by ladies distinguished for walks on Paseo de la Castellana, the Hippodrome and in Puerta de Hierro, when they drank tea at Sakuska or went to mass to epatate. But it was a while before I penetrated the mysteries of tailoring. At first, I was the good girl at everything in the workshop: I was grinding the charcoal in the hot-bathed dishes and sweeping the patches on the floor, heating irons on fire and running as long as my feet held me to buy threads and buttons from Pontejos square. Then they gave me to take to the homes of the newly finished protipendade models, put in large bags of dark cloth: my favorite activity, the biggest amusement at the beginning of my career. We have known the goalkeepers and drivers of the brightest residences, sub-networks, maids and butlers of the wealthiest families. I watched them, almost without being seen, the most refined ladies, their daughters and their wives. As a silent witness, We entered bourgeois houses, small aristocratic palaces and sumptuous apartments in traditional edifices. Sometimes, I didn't get past the door inside out: a maid was getting the dress she brought; other times, i would like to go into dressing rooms, walk corridors and see salons, look incenseed carpets, lampshades, velvet curtains and tailed pianos, which were played or not, and I was telling myself it would have been strange to live in such a universe.

The days flowed quietly into the two worlds, for I was almost foreign to their incongruence. I was walking with the same naturalness and the wide streets, swayed by walking pins and large gates, and the crazy labyrinth of the winding elves in my neighborhood, always full of puddles, garbage, vendor scouts and the sharp barking of hungry dogs; on those ules, they were all in a hurry and, when they called it "attention, the water comes", they quickly put themselves in shelter, so as not to rain with drops of urine. Craftsmen, small merchants, officials and workers with the day recently arrived in the capital filled the houses for rent, giving the neighborhood a popular air. Many of them if they got out of there, and only in cases of force majeure; My mother and I, by contrast, were in a hurry at dawn to Zurbano Street and we started without any delay in work in the workshop of Donna Manuela.

Two years after I started working, my mother and dona Manuela decided that it was time to learn how to sew. At fourteen, I started with the simplest: bride, surplet, lightly sown. Buttonlinks, gypsies, heathen. I sat and worked on small wicker chairs, bent over the wooden headboards on my knees; I kept working on them. Dona Manuela handles clients, tailored, sample, rectify. My mother took action and did the rest: she sew everything that was delicate, divided things, controlled their achievement, imposing rhythm and discipline on the small battalion of six mature seamstresses, four or five younger and a few guralive apprentices, who always had more mood laughter and gossip than true toil. Some became good seamstresses, others were unable and continued to make things the least pleasant. When one left, the other took his place in the room always in disarray, which did not fit either with the serene opulence of the façade, nor with the sobriety of the bright salon where only the clients had access. Only them, Manuela dona and mother could enjoy his saffron-colored wallpaper; only they could get close to mahogany furniture and step on the oak floor that we, the youngest, polished with cotton rags. Only they were enjoying the sun rays that entered through the four high balconies that were in the street. The rest of the band always sat in the rear guard, in that winter ice son-in-law and fire in the summer, which was the ashes workshop behind the house, with only two saws facing a dark patio and where clocks passed like air between the tracks we were humming and the nuting of scissors.


The Book of Seamstress's Loves can be purchased from:

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