Outside the heat was unbearable and, in the kitchen, with the wood light and three large pots on the fire, we could assure that, although we did not know hell, it could not feel very differently from what we felt at that time. We were 6 women, all from different generations, gathered in that small adobe kitchen preparing the first dinner that would later be the center of the great-grandfather's birthday celebration.
In the backyard, in the shade of the trees, the men of the family, after arranging the table and chairs, would start the party by opening beer bottles and laughing outrageously while telling old anecdotes.
In the kitchen, the noise of knives and boards was mixed with the conversation of the older ones and the whispers of the younger ones, who were discreetly fighting over who would be the lucky one who would have to wash the dishes when the food was ready.
While the mole was boiling and finishing seasoning, the oldest of all, an 82-year-old lady who was already reflected in her face and in her joints, slowly dragged a chair to the place closest to the stove and, letting out a giant sigh, dropped her round hips. - Rosa!- she shouted turning to her daughter, the youngest, - get my embroidery bag for me.- She obeyed and took advantage of the fact that the food only needed to release its last boil, to take hers and her older sister's and sit near her mother to share her silent hobby.
Me, also tired, although my only function in that kitchen had been to put on music and not get in the way too much (I have not inherit culinary skills), I also pulled my chair closer and lay down on my mother's lap, having a wide view of aunt and grandmother embroidering. The lucky niece who had won washing the dishes began to pick them up and slowly arrange them in the sink, while the discouraged loser sat on the cold floor to lie on my lap, just as I did with mother.
The silence was broken by the voice of the young niece who, curious, asked the eldest something that I had never doubted -Granny, do you like embroidering? – My grandmother let out a somewhat scandalous laugh and answered, leaving me surprised - No, but it's what I have left –
In my 22 years I have never wondered if that hobby was something that those women enjoyed because, for me, I was used to seeing them doing it daily, almost religiously. A tablecloth, a folder, a pillowcase, sweaters, vests, blouses, scarves, hats and endless pieces for every part of the house and each family member.
"It's the only thing I know how to do," Grandma continued– "and it's the only thing I can get busy with when I'm not doing anything. –
Truly, knitting and embroidering is a laborious task, it involves from going out to buy the materials, thinking about what is going to be done, from the shape to the techniques, carefully selecting the colors, taking measurements, if necessary, embroider and embroider, leaving the eyes, hands and soul in the piece. Each piece made by a woman who embroiders contains hours, drops of her life, tears, laughter and experience. Therefore, to think that the recurring activity of the women in my life was their I have no choice it made me sad, sadness that went over my 7-year-old self, trying to embroider the “evil" fairy of Tinkerbell that occupied my thoughts and gave up soon by not being able to endure the pain that the needle causes, she thought of the ladies sitting at a small place of the scandalous tianguis paying the teacher to teach them a new stitch, recalled all the blouses made by grandmother that I didn't use because they did not fit with my style, without realizing that, in each of these threads was her body, her time and her heart.
ARTE & COTIDIANIDAD
I tell this, because at least in my house, embroidery is something that women do when they are sad, when they are happy, when it is a special occasion and when they have nothing better to do. And, in the midst of the nostalgia that makes me think about (my) women, I came across the work of Amastiqué.
Embroidery is intimate, like a long conversation with oneself, and it is public, because a finished piece can be seen, used, and listened by everyone else. Embroidery, except for some communities, has been the work of women and for years has served as an expression of all those words, ideas and thoughts that are not said out loud, tells stories, draws maps, gives comfort, covers and shelters, pampers.
Amastiqué's work seems to understand this and shout it out, it brings to light that which should be private but, that is really public and political. Talking about menstruation, about free bleeding, about our vulvas and about nature is something that Grandma probably would never have thought of doing in her work, but that Amastiqué shows us, sometimes in a subtle way, sometimes violently, but always real.