Tonight Arabella and I are driving to Liverpool in Sydney’s South-West where we have an appointment with the tailor who is making her formal dress. I don’t really like going to Liverpool, mostly because I don’t know how to get there and I’m very likely to end up lost and because it can take between 45 minutes and three hours to get there depending on traffic. On a Friday night you can expect bad traffic.
And it would be very easy to wonder why it is I am doing all this given there is a perfectly good (as in brand new and unworn) Sass and Bide dress hanging in Arabella’s wardrobe that would be perfect for her formal (and we did in fact buy it for her formal), and even if I did concede to letting her have a new dress made, there are plenty of tailors in my suburb and engaging one of them would spare me a drive to Liverpool.
He was born in Iran and grew up to become a champion gymnast. When his gymnastics career ended he became a tailor and pattern maker, married and had two children. Politically, Iran was changing rapidly as Muslim Extremists took over the country. It became compulsory to be a Muslim and there was zero tolerance towards every other religion. The tailor and 13 others disagreed with some changes being introduced by the Local Government. As a punishment and as a warning to others to not challenge the oppression being brought in, the 14 of them were arrested and lined up in front of a firing squad. Bullets were fired but they were blanks. One of the 14 had a heart attack and died. After the firing squad episode the tailor was charged with ‘aiding a political dissident’ and sent to prison to four years.
In jail he was tortured and put in a concrete box that was not long enough for him to lie down and not high enough for him to stand up. He spent three months in this box in solitary confinement in temperatures that soared and plummeted. After being in the box he spent four years in jail. After three years he was allowed day-leave once every few months. On one of these occasions an acquaintance hid him in the boot of his car and drove him into Turkey. He lived in Turkey for a few years but was in permanent fear of being found and deported to Iran. He became a refugee and several years later was granted residency in Australia.
Shortly after arriving here the tailor met Carl. Carl has been trying to help him set up a business in tailoring, repairs, pattern making and leather goods. So when Arabella asked me if it would be okay for the tailor to make her a new formal dress, all I could think was how wonderful it would be to be able to give this man, who has endured such immense challenges, a little bit of assistance.
Yesterday Arabella and I bought the fabric at Tessuti Fabrics. It’s a beautiful light pink silk and she is very excited. We have downloaded the photos of the dress from the internet and somehow, the tailor will recreate that vision. I have no idea how he will do it. I wouldn’t know where to start. But as challenging as this may be, compared with all he has been through, this must seem a very minor challenge indeed.
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