Writing101:day10:HappyNewYear/familytime

“We shall always treasure the wonderful times shared with amazing people.” 

― Lailah Gifty AkitaBeautiful Quotes

Some thirty years later, I still revisit those times every time the new year rolled around. The warm memories tinged with tragedy, death, broken relationships. The only time we didn’t celebrate was the year Grannie died. She died the weekend we always got together. A totally different reason for everyone getting together. 

My dad’s eldest sister hosted the family celebration every year to which immediate family, extended family, close friends and their kids were invited. We lived about an hour away and would be so excited to see everyone that we would awake and be dressed (extra play clothes packed) before our parents, and they awoke with the roosters:-)

We would arrive to screams of joy, hugs, and my aunt’s house overflowing with people and the mouth watering scents of smoked ham, fried fish, stewed pork, baked chicken. A quick change of clothes and we were off to explore the huge yard, too young to be solicited for the kitchen duty.  We would all be back right before the late lunch hands washed, to place utensils in napkins, fancy plates for everyone except the littlest ones who got plastic plates, glasses for the grown ups for beverages and brightly colored plastic cups for us non-grown ups which we used to make a punch mixture out of the six or seven home made juices. 

Endless games of hide and seek, lime and spoon, sack race and Dutch ball were enjoyed. Those who arrived later joined in and we even learned some newer games. In later years, girls would go off on their own after quick hellos to the boys. Usually around 3 pm, we were ready to eat by then – starving is more the word – we were called in. 

Grace was said then it was time to eat. I loved the auntie’s home made Mac & Cheese, my dad made Breadfruit Balls often stuffed with  Saltfish (a local dish he knew I loved), Greenfig Pie, Red beans, Fruit Salad,  Ham and Hot Cross buns using my grandma’s recipe. So much food, so much fun. It took me quite a while to eat but hey, that was the plan. 

Whenever I visit my island, my aunt still likes to duplicate that experience but on a much smaller scale and as we sit and reminisce I am instantly taken back to those days and the ones who are gone. 

Writing101:day9:point of view

“Consider the difference between the first and third person in poetry […] It’s like the difference between looking at a person and looking through their eyes.” 

― Diana Abu-JaberCrescent

Today’s prompt: A man and a woman walk through the park together, holding hands. They pass an old woman sitting on a bench   The old woman is knitting a small red sweater. The man begins to cry. Write this scene. Twist: write the scene from three points of view. The man’s perspective, then the woman’s, finally the old woman. 

This moment had been hinted at many times in their relationship before but neither one wanted to be the one to throw in the towel. He realized how much he needed her in his life, she was like a good photobomb in his memories and he couldn’t let her go. As they walked he noticed the subtlety of her behavior towards him – still loving but more assertive, more determined. The peaceful look on her face so different from the often pensive look when she had something to say. From a distance they saw an old woman sitting on a park bench fiddling. As they neared, he saw she was knitting. That moment mirrored the moment he first met his love. She was sitting on a park bench waiting for some friends and she was wearing a bright red sweater. He later learned that her favorite color was red! Tears brimmed to his eyes as he turned to her. 

She turned to look at him and saw his tears. She knew what he was thinking. How could she not! They had shared so many memorable years together. She loved him with every breath that she drew but she wanted this. “I have been yours for forever, I would like to find me” she thought. She didn’t want to find anyone else this was about her. Doing things on her own, discovering who she was. She would come  back and she wanted to come back to him. She had thought about this for a while now, and now she had to tell him.  Somehow, she could tell he already knew. She wouldn’t be glib about it, she knew he had been trying everything to change what he knew was bubbling in her. When they passed the old woman knitting the swearer, she would, she had to. She loved him but selfishly she knew she loved herself more. 

“What a beautiful couple they looked so in love” the old woman thought as she watched them walk away.  The man had big, brown eyes and the stature of her Paul. Paul loved her in red.   It was his favorite color, he always said that red made him happy and laughed his infectious laugh which would make everyone want to share in his happiness. As she sat on the park bench she remembered all the happy moments, all the sad moments she shared here with him.  Now he was gone. Her Paul was gone. A bittersweet smile that came across her face as she knitted that sweater. You see, Paul was her only son and he was driving home with his wife to share some amazing news with her. He wanted to do it in person, on that park bench, their special place. As she got ready to meet him, the phone rang. Someone said something had happened. She couldn’t remember much from the conversation but her Paul had suffered a heart attack and was in a coma. When she saw his wife, she knew what the surprise was. They were expecting a baby, her very first grandchild.  The park is near the hospital where she visits Paul almost everyday. She had come to their special place because she missed her Paul and as she knitted that little red sweater for Paulina who was due any day now, she heard that familiar infectious laugh. 

#BringBackOurGirls: 365 Days of Neglect and Insensitivity by Salam Amdi

#BringBackOurGirls: 365 Days of Neglect and Insensitivity by Salam Amdi

Nationwatch

Exactly, 365 days ago, April 14, 2014, the Nigerian people of the Chibok Community in Borno State witnessed what has been recorded as the most gruesome and terrifying kidnap attack by a terrorist group, Boko Haram in the nation’s history. Over 300 Chibok School Girls were taken from their schools while in the pursuit of their Senior School Certificate Examinations and the quest for a brighter future.

For 365 days, families have wept, bleed, screamed, wailed, starved all in protest of their children’s whereabouts. Some have been harassed; some sympathized with, others neglected. It is so sad that when these young girls were kidnapped, they could have easily have been retrieved but the inconsiderate and inactive government never took it seriously, even saying it was a political move by the opposition to smear their name, harassing those who chose to demand that they be brought back.

“Goodluck Jonathan, has been…

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Writing 101: day 6: character study

Writing 101: day 6: character study

“I think that the best thing we can do for our children is to allow them to do things for themselves, allow them to be strong, allow them to experience life on their own terms, allow them to take the subway… let them be better people, let them believe more in themselves.” 

― C. JoyBell C.

I thought about this assignment for a bit which is why I’m a day late. I would like to think that everyone I meet is interesting, at least in the moment if I’m being truthful. After much thought and deliberation (primarily because I’m challenging myself to dig deeper, to step out of the box) I decided the most interesting person I have met all year is my daughter. She is tenacious, self assured, ambitious, smart, carries herself with such grace that I am very aware I did not possess in my early teens. 

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She may not be someone I have just met in the literal sense of the word but every time I look at her or share a conversation with her, I feel like I’m getting a glimpse of the beautiful heart, the strong willed, outspoken woman she is growing up to be. She has always inspired me to be more and I tear as write this because I’m proud to be her mom. 

Writing 101: Serially Lost: Day 4

It would have been easier to talk about the loss of my dad, both grand parents but I thought of using this exercise to challenge myself. What have I lost, what am I scared to the point of insomnia to lose –  my sanity, my family.

Some years ago I “lost” someone I was really close to, an instrumental part of my youth. She is seven years older than I am and a very giving soul. We dated and married siblings, had kids, did dinners and outings together. The bond got strained when I went out to work and she became a stay at home mom. Did I pull too hard to have her create her own identity separate from being identified as someone’s wife but then again I had found things out that she didn’t know and I couldn’t share. Still we tried to stay connected. Lunch certainly, girl talks yes, she wanted to get a part-time job which I secretly applauded but she changed her mind.

She started unraveling right before my eyes. Conversations  and arguments we shared as children became her reality as an adult, accusations about being recorded by the government. She  was later diagnosed with schizophrenia.   On one of our final visits, I had to walk through two locked doors to visit. When I walked through the first door, the nurse walking with me informed me that I could not be allowed to see her if I was sobbing (I was hysterical by the second door) so by the time I walked in my eyes were red and swollen.

It’s been almost 6 years since I have seen her. I remember her often especially around the holidays and when I see her children. I know she is doing ok not better but ok. I keep up with her activities through other family members but I can’t bring myself to see her to visit. Afraid that she is not the person I remember, the person that I shared so many moments with, afraid that the person I want to be there is lost to me.

“The most painful goodbyes are the ones never said, never explained.”

Writing 101:day 3:3 songs that define my life

What a tough assignment! Pick three songs that are the soundtrack to my life!! You must be kidding. Reminds me of the phrase “If music is the food of life, then play DJ, play”

There are the sounds of my youth, the lyrics of first love, first crush, the sounds of summer, the beats of freedom, of self empowerment and independence, the songs that change my grey skies to blue, song that define my mood, moments, emotions, of my children’s eyes lighting up when I would sing in my off key tone, of setting the mood with my baby, of being brave, invincible and a conqueror. 

Music defines my life and every song has a tangible memory from the conscious lyrics of Bob, Taj and Gregory to the lovers rock of Beres, Rod and Sara to the zouk and soca of Kassav, Byron Lee, to the country beats of George, Kenny, Shania and the gang to music of the streets of KRS One, DMX, Tupac, Jodeci even Puffy to the alternative sounds and beats of the world.  It has a rhythm, a story because the soundtrack of my life has many notes and is as lyrical as my life.  

     

Writing 101: day 2: fast forward to the future

I have dreamt about this day for quite some time. The day when he and I renew our wedding vows. 

We met in our early twenties on a night when I was celebrating my birthday with an out of town boyfriend.  No sparks just casual conversation. Out of towner left and a friendship ensued. He was easy going, funny and caring so easy to fall in love with. Said goodbye to the out of towner and made serious googly eyes with The One. We moved in, broke up, made up and got married. 

I loved him then and thought that was the icing on the cake and some twenty five years later the love, admiration, support and laughter is so much more than I, than we, both could have dreamed. We are breaking tradition because at thirty years of marriage we will renew our vows   A sunset wedding on the beach in the Caribbean with me in a simple flowing dress, barefoot with lime green painted toes, him with his bespoke elegance and our kids, family and friends. We will solidify the deal with one of those kisses that causes the sunset to melt into the horizon and hold on to each other for the second part of the journey. 

Guess Who is Not Coming to Dinner: writing101

A friend and I were catching up and somehow the conversation meandered towards same sex marriage. Actually I do remember how they conversation came out. A family member recently got married and dropped by to introduce his wife to the hubs and I. In sharing the details of the visit, I happened to mention how opposed the family member is to same sex relationships. My friend and I are both heterosexual but have strong friendships with persons in the gay community. As persons who are not born Americans and raised in strong Christian backgrounds, this could be a bit challenging. We chose and continue to choose to treat people based on how we are treated, on how they interact with us. We can’t change everyone’s mind but I think we wished we could. Not easy. The hubs and I have dinner plans with thenewlyweds and I’m sure with warmer weather coming up, we will all be getting together frequently. Then again, maybe not so frequently since most of my gay friends are staples at my get togethers. Maybe he will be polite, maybe he won’t but it’s a party and I want the atmosphere to be fun and festive and yes, relaxing.