"Jewellery Chooses you" something Aysha says in her podcast that really stayed with me throughout this project, that I also tell my participants in every conversation since this first interview with Aysha. I truly believe in this sentiment, that the jewellery pieces handed down to you or carefully chosen by you or for you, are meant for you. Wearings a piece of jewellery is such a personal ritual, as it sits on you skin, worn on intimate places on your body such as on your neck, ear or wrist, so its synchronicity with you and how it makes you feel is so crucial.
In Episode 4, you'll hear about a pair of earrings that date back 4 generations of females on Aysha's maternal side as a marker of the eldest daughter; Matriarch in the family.
"These earrings have been passed down in my mum's side of family, so her mother gave them to her, so they're passed on from eldest daughter to eldest daughter and that's been happening for four generations. She passed away soon after my parents got married, so I feel that this is my connection with with my grandmother when I wear them, because we never met."
She then tells me how she feels when she has them on:
"Yeah, but emotionally. When I wear these earrings, it's like you could take on the world. It literally is like, you know, the best pair of shoes ever, and you could just feel like they're all here, with me, so when it is sort of an important occasion it feels like there's generations of women before me, present with me when I wear them."
Aysha then goes on to mention a lost and fabled seven layered necklace elder aunts in the family always mention;
"My grandmother apparently had a seven layered necklace which was made of gold and it was said that when people got married, it got added to, so it was kind of like a family tree in a necklace. I was so gutted that there isn't even a little bit of it somewhere where we could kind of reconstruct the view like what it was, but clearly during all of the turbulence. It was lost somewhere along the lines and nobody knows what's happened to it."
(Photo of Aysha on the left and her mum on the right, both wearing the earrings)
Through out the conversation we touch on the significance of what these gold jewellery pieces were and are for women.
"This is how women got things done, because they didn't have the access ti finance, particularly in the Indian subcontinent women were expected to sort of stay home and not really leave the household very often. So that's sort of going out and getting things sort of sorted, never actually used to happen. Things used to come to them so you know if they needed shopping doing somebody was going to. I think it's very empowering.
And for the most important thing about your entire project is the fact that it's our female history, and for the diaspora, because more than anything, it's our story, and our ancestors, and how they quite often were up against the similar fights that we are. They went through hardships too, we're going through this COVID pandemic, and there's all kinds of things happening in all kinds of places and people are suddenly finding themselves in times of trouble again."
(Photo of Aysha's first Eid as a baby with her parents on the left and her Grandmother on the right also wearing the earrings that you can just make out)
Speaking to Aysha, about the journey of her family to the UK, the inspiring matriarchs who adorned these earrings and what these jewellery pieces mean, in the wider context of the history of South Asian females, really set the precedent for the whole series. We speak about the resilience of the pieces and the women that adorned them, surviving upheaval of partition and then starting again in the UK and she feels the energy of these powerful women through the earrings that she wears on incredible special occasions. As a member of Council for the Labour Party in Ealing you can really feel her passion for amplifying that sense of belonging and making a difference through her work.