Agnes Kunze 1962

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Hands at work

From 1966, Klaus’ genius was obvious everywhere : While setting the pace for spinning and weaving with the help of Salim, finding out many different sources of raw materials,  and in the same go he applied his own designs with his recruits’ own labour  for latrines and first quarters made out of hand-made bricks, he embarked into micro- and macro- architecture.

 The micro –bordering on alchemy, was re-inventing basic and intricate weaving pattern techniques along with the tools needed for them : out of string, wood, iron, nails he conceived sharpening machine-tools, foot-or hand-powered; rediscovering the Jacquard technique, he created his butterfly pattern, and made the nails and card own contraption perform the desired effect on a sari border, whom the latest choice recruit, K.Bangaraiah wove as an introduction to his long unrelenting artistic carrière, passing through many other avatars in the process.

 The macro job was to conceive and build a proper large workshop with spinning, dyeing, weaving, designing and managerial provisions.

 For that, he spent days and weeks choosing the best suitable sturdy materials, planned the foundations and structure for whom all valid patients were put to work.

 Himself did the setting up, masonry and plastering work and by the time an interim unexpected volunteer, Pierre Reyniers came as a substitute to the elusive expected German one, and joined the wagon (September 1967), the building was practically finished but for finishing touches on the residential cum administerial room Klaus planned for himself or his successor on top of the workshop.

Good for Pierre that Klaus spent his remaining couple of months showing him the basic textile technique, introduced him to suppliers of spinning and weaving implements as well as furnishers of raw cotton and wool.

  Without any experience in this art to discover ex nihilo, my Hindi inexistent, I relied heavily on Agnes to begin to understand the picture, oriental mentality, and the chasm with “normal” society  imposed on “lepers” -en block- till Klaus left by Christmas time.

 At the same moment, an illiterate but promising young Nepali man got admitted, to become Workshop Manager after years of treatment, schooling and close guidance by Agnes and Pierre.

 The 1968 period was spent with much difficulty for all 90 of us but with some relief coming through Ms Gina Hald, whom Agnes trained into people’s nursing rather than animals', her official profession.

 Let’s not forget that for one young exceptionally potential newly admitted leprosy patient, 10 dejected and difficult to pacify were admitted too, and that high proportion of personalities went declining over the next decades.

 The next two years will demonstrate the fragility of growing up….

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