The Magic Carpet

Last week’s post about Moments and eternity sparked a good deal of reminiscing and walks down various memory lanes hereabouts. One of the paths led to the floor. Or rather, my parents’ floors.

Persian rugs have been part of my life for as long as I can remember. My parents would save up money, often for other things, but then chance upon a particularly beautiful rug and be unable to resist, putting off the practical for little bit longer. They didn't have many rugs in my childhood, but as the years went on and they gradually became more comfortable financially, more were added. Placed around the house, they were islands of beauty, pulling the rooms together, pulling our family and our history together.

My favourite has been with us since I was a child. It is a Maslagan rug.

I don't know much about it, its origins are a mystery to me and although I did do a brief Internet search, I stopped once I found a place to link to, because I discovered that I don't really want to know the details. This rug has become something more than itself, it has become a vessel of my history.

When I was a child, the Maslagan provided hours of play for me. It was my stage when I was a ballerina, it was my interior hopscotch field, it was where the Christmas tree stood and when my sister was born, it cushioned her crib during the day.

This rug also taught me important things. It is not perfect, there are many small mistakes in it and I would spend hours lying on my stomach, finding them, memorizing their place. When I asked my parents about it, they told me that it was for two reasons. One, so you could see that it was handmade, a quality that in my family is more valuable than anything. I come from people who worked with their hands, creating works of art in wood and food. My grandmother cooked like an angel and my grandfather made beautiful furniture - he never made much money, but his dressers sing.

The other reason there were mistakes in the rug was that they were deliberate, inserted because 'only Allah is perfect'. Decades later, I found out that this idea has a name. It's called the Persian Flaw. The admiration my parents had for the people and traditions that created their beloved rugs taught me much about how to interact with the world. And their passion for these rugs created in me an abiding love for imperfection and the handmade.

These days, the Maslagan lies in my mother's living room and I still get lost in its colours and patterns. Every time I look at it, it gives me a flash memory, so quick as to be gone in a second, yet containing everything of my life.

Late note: Today, I have a piece published in The Globe and Mail. I'm fairly jazzed about it.


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