Heart And Soul

Learning to sew at 5 helped mold a pioneering surgeon

I started sewing at an early age. It was after my mother Raheeja's mastery of the needle arts caught the attention of our neighbors in Lake Charles, La., my hometown of some 13,000 people. They had noticed the finely tailored handmade clothing my mother fashioned for her family and the linens she tatted and embroidered. A handful of local parents asked if she would pass on her expertise to their daughters.

Each Tuesday and Friday afternoon, four girls, ages 7 to 14, settled in our pine-paneled living room for an hour. Ever observant and curious, I remained quiet but was...

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