The cloth is like the light vapours of dawn.
Chinese traveler to India,
I FIRST HEARD OF MUSLINon a hot summer night in Karachi, Pakistan. It was sometime in the late 1960s. I was at the verandah table arm-wrestling with my school homework. My father was at the other end drinking tea. I can’t recall now how the subject came up, but I probably asked him something about the British colonial times. It was a topic on which he held forth occasionally. He must have answered me, for he always did. Then—and from here on my recollection is clear—he said, “Muslin.” Not knowing what muslin was, I looked at him questioningly. “Our muslin. The British destroyed it.”
Muslin, he said, was the name of a legendary cloth made of cotton, fit for emperors, which used to be made way back in the past. Muslin from Dacca had been the finest, he said, from where it used to be shipped to the far corners of the world.
“Dacca?” I asked, surprised.