This 40 page AR 4.5 book touches on gender norms and breaking cultural expectations, as well as a mother’s love and a child’s determination. The beautifully illustrated pages show Kashmir’s landscapes and culture. The message is for third graders and up with its longer passages and understanding of gender roles, but younger children will enjoy the story just as well. My only concern is the timeline of the story, the mother has a week to make two embroidered rugs and worries when she awakens with a fever on the day the rugs are expected, exclaiming that she hasn’t even started the second rug. How was she going to meet the deadline even if she wasn’t ill? Even with the extension, she asks for a few days, not a few hours. That aside, the book is a lovely glimpse into a nomadic culture and people. There is no glossary at the end explaining namaz or Chacha or Bhai, but there is a bit of information about the Bakarwals of Kashmir at the end that provides context and enhances appreciation.
Sadiq wakes up to the sounds of the river Lidder, he prays and drinks his cha and heads to the meadow to milk the sheep and take them out to pasture. His father died two years ago, and now the responsibility of the flock is his. After his chores are done he sits and watches his mother embroider. He sometimes stitches his own patterns on the edges, but his mother does not like him sewing.
When an order from the city comes in for two rugs by the end of the week, Sadiq offers to help. His mother refuses his assistances claiming that the women stitch and the men tend to the sheep in their community. Sadiq dreams of the designs and colors he would like to sew and decides he will do so in secret.
On the day when the rugs are to be picked up, Sadiq’s mother has a fever and cannot stitch. When the man comes, Sadiq’s mother starts to explain that they are not ready, but Sadiq surprises them both with his completed rug. The man likes it, but notes it is not what was ordered. Ammi wants to keep Sadiq’s rug and asks for a few more days to complete the second one, now that she has her son to help her.
Abdul agrees to a few more days, and the next morning Sadiq’s mom has hung Sadiq’s rug for everyone to see, and is proudly crediting her son’s work. She hugs him, just like she did in his dream, and chides him that she still expects him to do all his other chores before he sews.