You don't even have arms, how will you stitch



Limitations live only in our minds, but if we use our imagination our possibilities become limitless – Jamie Palionetti.


This (true) story sets out with a basic premise – the human mind can make the “impossible possible” when it dwells in possibilities.   


The protagonist of our story is a man who started a small tailoring shop but people around him were skeptical about his sartorial skills. The truth is that discrimination had always been the staple diet of this man’s life. As a young student, he was once denied entry to an inclusive school. Their skepticism or discrimination weren’t fully unfounded either. After all, the protagonist of our story was born with what people would call “disability” or “limitation.”


The art of story-telling requires that our story needs to specify the setting. Yes, the man we have spoken so far about, the man with “disability” is Madan Lal from Fatehabad, Haryana. Madan, as he will be called hereafter, had always dreamed of becoming a tailor. But then, the skeptics were at work – “you cannot make clothes, no, it’s not possible. You can’t ever run a sewing machine,” the skeptics would famously deride.  


Our learned readers will no doubt have a good idea of the chores of a tailor. A tailor needs to measure, to cut the cloth, to run the sewing machine, to put the buttons or the hooks …And for all these tasks, as commonsense would say, a tailor needs arms. Bluntly put, a tailor needs hands. To expect a tailor without arms to stitch is like expecting a bird without wings to fly!


Right from the genesis of his dream, repeatedly a big question confronted Madan. The big question that was perennially asked was “you don’t even have arms, how will you stitch?” Without arms, how will you eat, or wash or bathe, or brush your teeth? ‘How’ loomed like a hideous ghost that had to be exorcised to survive. Madan found the answer to these questions in his feet! Eating, bathing, brushing teeth, cooking and stitching…Madan does it all using his feet. While others would sympathize, Madan lived as if he was oblivious of the fact that he didn’t have arms. Verily, he had deconstructed the notion of feet by making it his hands!


The art of story-telling requires that our story should have an end. Madan found a guru who trained him in the art of stitching clothes; Madan opened a tailoring shop in his village and started stitching clothes – with his feet, of course. Madan cuts the cloth by holding his scissors with his feet which he also uses to take measurements and operate the sewing machine. The skeptics who wrote-off Madan were now rubbing their eyes with wonder at the sight of a tailor who stitched clothes using his feet! Persistence never disappoints. Yes, Madan had exorcised the ghost in his minds; and in the minds of his fellow beings!


Gone are those skeptical days wherein people would say “he stitches with his feet, he will ruin our clothes.” Madan’s sartorial skills have now made him a national icon. Not only that, he is training some five to seven children from the village under him. He is also visiting schools and colleges to share the story of his fight against ‘disabilities’ and inspire the youth.


Our basic premise is - making the “impossible possible” is a matter of dwelling in possibilities. Limitations live only in our minds. When the mind has wings, where is the need to crawl through life? Madan’s winged-mind dwelt in possibilities, and that, as our premise says has made the “impossible possible!”


Sojan K George

Associate Professor of English

Dr G Shankar Govt Women’s College & PG Study Centre

Ajjarkadu, Udupi