The Wordsmythe's Weblog…

…On Words, Love and Life

Archive for the month “March, 2011”

The unwelcome guest

Here’s the first part of what started out as a short story but may go on just a bit longer.

“This is a waste of time,” my husband’s mother said, as my unimpressed 7 month-old daughter spat out the butternut squash and potato puree I spooned into her mouth.

Jo, give her some amala and ewedu instead of this concoction.”

I almost retched at the thought of feeding my child the thick brown paste made from blended yam skins and the accompanying thick slimy green sauce. I silently counted to ten while trying to steady my breath.

“She usually likes this combination; she must be having an off day,” I replied evenly, wiping my baby’s chin with a wet dishcloth.

“’Off day’ ko, ‘off day’ ni,” she cackled, kissing her teeth in disapproval. “The child does not like this oyinbo, western food. I fed all my six children amala from 3 months and I never had a problem feeding them.”

“I’ll just give her some fromage frais for now, we’ll try again later, won’t we now, Munchkin?” I replied, tickling my little girl’s feet and delighting in her giggles.

“Fromage -kini? What is that one again? Another concoction she will spit out? No wonder she is all skin and bones, when you won’t feed her something she can eat.”

I stood in front of the fridge holding the door ajar a few seconds longer than needed to grab a pot of yogurt, gritting my teething while letting the cold air soothe my frayed nerves.

My mother-in-law is consistent. She seems to take perverse pleasure in putting down everything I did but never in Ade’s presence.  She would only drop subtle hints when he was there. Ade never picked up on the hints.

I was tired of her constant put-downs. I couldn’t do anything right, she criticised pretty much everything I did. Even when I did exactly as she insinuated, she would still have something nasty to say about it. If it wasn’t what I was feeding the children, then it was the way I kept home or the fact that I was a stay-at-home mum.

“I was back on the plantation two weeks after having each of my six children. I used to carry them on my back with rappa, wrapper.  What is with it you young women nowadays? You don’t want to work and help your husband with the upkeep of the home. You are so lazy!”

Why didn’t she take it up with her son? She wouldn’t dare challenge his opinion instead she took it out on me as soon as he went to work and then would be all sweetness and light whenever he was home.

On the other hand, her son was a saint. He could do no wrong. I tried my best to make sure we didn’t argue in her presence because if we ever disagreed, she would blindly take his side.

“It’s a pity you have little or no influence with your husband.” She’d said to me time and time again, gloating over the fact that I couldn’t sway Ade to my way of seeing things while she could. It was like we were in competition for his affection and attention and she seemed to be winning.

I couldn’t live like this much longer. She was driving a wedge between us unfortunately Ade couldn’t see it. He would jump to her defence if I so much as alluded to her being wrong saying she wasn’t the person I accused her of being after all he’d known her to be loving and caring all his life. I guess that was a side of her personality reserved for her precious son only.

He would say “Sweetheart, be patient with her. You married her only son and she is just having a hard time adjusting to not being the only woman in my life but she means well.”

‘Hard time’, I’d think, ‘I’m the one having a hard time but you’re too blinded by your loyalties to her to see.’

I tried! Oh God knows I tried to be patient but the woman would try the patience of Saint Peter himself!

Why did I bother trying to be kind to her? At best, she would ignore me, at worst, she would rain down insults on me and my ancestors, cursing the day her son married me. The woman paid lip-service to any form of civility with me and that was only when her son was about.

What had started out as a 2-month visit had now extended to an indefinite stay and with no plans to leave anytime soon, she’d been here for 9 months!

Ade would never ask her to leave. He was enjoying having her around. Whenever I broached the subject of her departure, he would tell me she was lonely and missing his dad who died a few years ago. It was up to me to get her out and fast too. So I’ve been thinking long and hard and I think I’ve come up with a really cunning plan, even if I do say so myself. We’ll just have to see how this pans out.

To be continued.

Thanks for stopping by and tara for now

In perspective

I wrote this poem in honour of all the teenage girls sold and trafficked into sexual slavery.  May those who work tirelessly via different agencies to free them and end this horrific act be blessed immeasurably. As for the perpetrators of this crime, I leave you in the hands of the Almighty God.

You look at everything and everyone with disdain.

Your words are filled with contempt

I am looked upon with disdain

I am the object of men’s contempt

 

 

For you, life is one big experiment.

You take everything for granted

The world is your oyster

For you, the sky is the limit

 

 

I am the experiment

Men take me for granted.

My world is but a small oyster.

I hardly ever get to see the sky.

 

 

You have no cares or responsibilities

Life is yours for the taking

The money you spend on trivialities in a night

Is more than enough to secure my freedom for life

 

 

My skin bears the tell-tale signs

Of whipping and scourging so sore

My sole purpose in life is to please

Men, who, for me, have no regard

 

 

Your mother complains every time she tidies up after you

But it’s really just a humble brag

She’s thankful for the opportunity to look after you

And proud to call you her own

 

 

My step-mother sold me into slavery

My mother died when I was a baby

She was glad to get rid of me in order to save her children

For the price I fetched fed my family for a week

 

 

Your laughter rings out, unrestrained and loud

Your friends are numerous and proud

Your opportunities are limitless

Your problem is too much choice

 

 

I have no reason to laugh or smile

No friends to call my own

Cruelty is my constant companion

My problem is I am trapped.

 

 

So the next time you decide to complain

About the unfairness of your life

Because you were not allowed out to that party

Or couldn’t buy that outfit or latest gadget

 

 

And whenever you are tempted to reject a home cooked meal

In favour of eating out instead

Or complain your bedroom’s too small

For your countless clothes and shoes

 

 

Remember me and be thankful

Your life is full and bountiful

Count your blessings and be grateful

That unlike me, you are no one’s fool.

 

 

Appreciate your friends and family

Be content with your lot

What I wouldn’t give to be in your shoes

Instead of a teenage sex slave.

The storm is over?

The storm is over now but it’s left in its wake

Devastation, destruction, the aftermath of a quake,

Weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth,

All commonplace expressions of their collective grief.

 

The storm is over now but for some it’s just the start

Of great loss, deprivation and brokenness of heart

For some dear friends and loved ones they’ll no longer behold

‘Cause of this disaster that never was foretold.

 

The storm is over now but life must go on

How does one carry on when close ones are gone?

Homes destroyed and livelihoods swept away?

All this while keeping radiation at bay?

 

For those in Japan, priorities have changed

Mindsets and attitudes all rearranged.

The tiniest of morsels is now of great price

And the barest of shelter has to suffice.

 

The storm is over now or is it really

Out in Japan, ever so chilly?

Guilt, regrets and feelings of doubt

For those who are being bailed out.

 

So many left wandering around

As confusion and devastation abound

They may have survived the tsunami

But present conditions are far from balmy.

 

So please spare a thought for those out there

And find a way to show you care.

For a prayer and / or a donation

Do not require any translation.

Hollywood, how far?

My friend and fellow blogger, Joxy expressed her gripe about Nollywood movies a few weeks ago here. It was quite interesting as it evoked similar feelings in most, if not all, the commenters who responded to the post. I would like to have a similar rant but this time about Hollywood movies.

We all know Hollywood is the standard every film industry strives to attain. It is the trendsetter, the pioneer in film technology and everyone wants a bit of what it has achieved. However, I think the success it has attained sometimes causes it to lose perspective and forget that we, the viewing public, are rational beings who won’t always suspend our sense of reality for the sake of being entertained.

How is it that in the movies so many people know how to pick a lock? And with ridiculous instruments like a hair pin or a nail file which they so conveniently happen to carry on their person? If it were so easy, I bet the burglary and break-in statistics in real life would be through the roof! Besides, people in the movies should know by now, having watched so many movies themselves, that they should ensure they have more secure locks on their doors.

I also wonder how they manage to open airplane doors mid-flight. In real life, it is impossible due to the pressure. And what’s with people being sucked out of large gaping holes in the fuselage which have miraculously appeared because a gun was shot? Again in real life, a gun shot would only create a tiny hole and decompression of the cabin would never be so rapid!

Why do the bad guys or ‘baddies’ as my son calls them usually have English accents? And not just your regular Joe Bloggs’ English accent, they actually sound like they went to public school!

Why is that whenever the baddies catch up with the good guys or cops in a chase, instead of finishing them off immediately, they proceed to give an elaborate and detailed speech, explaining how they carried out the crime thereby allowing back-up to arrive just in time? Another thing is when a couple is fleeing for dear life from a dangerous situation or person, the moment they feel they may have shaken off their chaser, they lock lips in a fierce embrace leaving you, the viewer, yelling  in exasperation at your TV screen for them to actually get to safety first!

How come there is usually always a parking space available in busy city centres like downtown New York, Manhattan, the West End or even the City for people in movies to pull into? I have to drive around several times to find one!

Doesn’t it strike you as strange that there is always a priest ready to take confession in a Catholic Church no matter what time of day or night people get there?

I’m always amazed at how people in the movies can look away from the road for minutes at a time while driving and hardly ever have an accident! It only takes a second or two of taking your eyes off the road for disastrous consequences to occur so I’m baffled how they get away with it time and time again.

Lucky them but how come people almost always wake up looking so good? No gunk and goo in the corner of their eyes, no dried streaks of drooling saliva on their cheeks, no dragon breath (this is evident from how they make out passionately), no tangled hair and the list goes on!

Don’t get me started on some of the outlandish stunts that we are supposed to watch with nary a raised eyebrow!

Something that never ceases to puzzle me is the fight scenes involving several baddies against one or a few good guys. How come the baddies only attack one at a time when they could so easily subdue their adversary by all attacking at once? Surely they are not that noble! I also wonder how most protagonists can walk away from a fight with their clothes still intact, not torn, creased or smudged!

I don’t watch horror movies any more but when I did, I couldn’t understand how it was that people could see a large, seemingly abandoned house in the middle of nowhere and still somehow reckon that that would be the best place to stop and ask for directions, to use the bathroom or even spend the night.  If I was dying of thirst or from pestilence, lost, had a broken limb or bursting to relieve myself and I saw one of those houses, I would run in the opposite direction for dear life and not look back. You wouldn’t even catch me in the vicinity of any such house in the first place.

In movies, anything is possible. I guess that’s why we watch them, we want to see things that wouldn’t or couldn’t happen in real life. I watch movies to be entertained and as an escape from reality but some of the above are a step too far. They make it impossible for me to remain in that state of make-belief and crash-land me back to earth with a harsh bump.

In spite of all I’ve mentioned, I will continue to be enthralled by the magic of movies. They provide a nice break from harsh reality.

Have you noticed any peculiarities, abnormalities or just plain unrealistic things in movies? Pray, do share!

Thanks for stopping by and tara for now.

Be nice to pregnant women!

Her body is expanding daily and finding clothes that fit and match, without making her look like a sack of potatoes, is increasingly becoming something akin to juggling six balls in one hand. Her skin is stretching tighter than a drum by the day, with the brush strokes of stretch marks etched all over like a child’s canvas.

Her hormones are raging and mood swings become the norm rather than the exception. She cries at the drop of a hat one minute, and laughs hysterically, the next. Smells of anything from food to perfume send her to the bathroom retching out her guts. The simple act of brushing her teeth is enough to bring up the bile from her innards. She suffers a myriad of medical conditions including heartburn, varicose veins, constipation, incontinence, anaemia, carpal tunnel syndrome, high blood pressure and bleeding gums.

Her centre of balance is almost non-existent and she is slowly but surely losing every ounce of momentum that she once took for granted. Tasks as simple as bending or getting off a chair take her thrice as long and require such manipulation of limbs that any contortionist would envy.

Her nose may double in size, her feet, ankles now ‘cankles’ and hands sometimes swell and every time she brushes her hair, she wonders if the Lord is truly keeping count as the hair on her brush seem to outnumber the hair on her head. She has cravings that range in weirdness from sniffing petrol fumes to eating carrots and chocolate together. She may have an irresistible urge to stuff her face 24/7 or totally go off food.

The very thought of standing on the weight scale gives her the heebie-jeebies as the needle never seems to come to a rest and when it does, it reveals weight gains she never imagined possible. She feels bloated.

Finding a comfortable position to sleep in at night is an exercise in futility as no sooner than she does, the little one decides it is time to practice calisthenics on her already full bladder. If she is lucky enough to doze off uninterrupted by the call of nature, she may be woken up at some point by leg cramps or some other malaise.

All of the above, and too many more to mention, are the some of the things that a pregnant woman has to deal with in varying degrees for 40 odd weeks. As much as pregnancy is a wonderful thing, it can also bring with it some pain, discomfort and major readjustment.

Comments like “you’re a bit big, aren’t you?”, “are you sure it’s not twins?”, “your bump is rather tiny”, etc are not very smart and go a long way to eroding her already shaken self-confidence. She knows you mean well but hearing these comments time and time again can do more damage than good.

So the next time you are tempted to state the obvious when you see a burgeoning tummy, resist! She’s got eyes. She can see everything you see when she looks in the mirror and she doesn’t need you confirming what she already knows and can do nothing about. The next time you are wont to share from the deep wells of your wisdom and extensive knowledge of pregnancy, don’t! Every woman is unique; each pregnancy, different. One size doesn’t fit all.

And please, refrain from sharing the gory details of your or someone else’s horrific pregnancy/birth story. She doesn’t need to be further scared by anything you have to say, her imagination is doing a good enough job without your help. If you have nothing positive or complimentary to say, then mum should be the word.

Do not, I repeat, do not rub her tummy! How would you feel if a perfect stranger (or even someone you knew, for that matter) walked up to you and groped your tummy? Admire the bump, but do not touch it! Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Instead give up your seat for her on the bus, tube, in church, at a party or wherever you see her. Compliment her on the new glow she has acquired, her dressing and whatever else you can think of. Express admiration for the noble job she is doing of bearing the next generation. Commend her for going through what may be a particularly difficult time with dignity. Inquire about her welfare and listen to what she has to say without interrupting.

She is bearing a heavy load and remember, the Bible admonishes us to “bear one another’s burdens.”

Thanks for stopping by and tara for now.

Dans l’espoir de vous revoir un jour

I’m sad. I just found out that a friend of mine died last week. I’m in shock. I had no clue she was ill. We’d met up a number of times in the last couple of years and there was no indication from the way she looked or anything she said that even alluded to the fact. But she was very ill and only a few people knew that. She’s the second friend of mine who’s died in the last four months.

I don’t believe they ever met; at least not through me but as I write this, I realise they had quite a lot in common. They are both survived by a husband, young children, parents and siblings. They were both dark-skinned, pretty and had a lovely smile. They both spoke French. They each had two children and they both turned 40 last year. They were from the same tribe in Nigeria but were born in the UK.

It’s funny how when people die, you start to wish you had done things differently. I wish I’d been in touch with them a lot more than I was. I don’t know if they really knew how much they meant to me because I don’t remember ever actually telling either of them. Perhaps they could tell from my actions. I don’t know for sure. I can only hope they did.

I’m struggling to find the words to adequately express how I feel. I  just want to pay my friends a tribute so I’m pouring out my heart in this poem;

It’s hard to believe you are gone

That for you a new dawn has begun

Planet Earth is now a bygone

And from life as we knew it, you’ve withdrawn

 

Grieving hearts, you’ve left in your wake

Feelings of sadness, pain and heartache

And though I know your death’s no mistake

These emotions remain so difficult to shake

 

For without so much as a backward glance

You went, yet no one can blame you for taking that stance

You’ve joined in the heavenly dance

With saints gone before to inhabit that promised manse

 

As you breathed your last on earth

On the other side, you awoke to mirth

Your departure, for us here,  a dearth

Your arrival, for them there,  a rebirth.

 

There are lots of things I never said

Leaving them all in my head

I hope my silence wasn’t misread

And that you saw my heart instead

 

You are missed already, dearly

Our hearts are broken so severely

We’re trying to hold up but barely

Keeping body and soul together merely.

 

You ran well and finished your race

No longer confined by time and space

Our Saviour you now embrace

Beholding Him face to face

 

So I smile through my tears

And lay down my hopes and fears

Before the One who bears my cares

And answers all  my prayers.

 

Someday we will meet again

Together with the Lord, we’ll reign

Then there’ll be no more pain

And our joy will forever have free rein.

 

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelations 21:4.

 

Tara for now.

‘Sitzfleisch’

I’ve mentioned in a few posts that I subscribe to Wordsmith.org – AWAD (A Word A Day). Every week the words are based on a theme and this week’s theme is German imports (words). Starting off the week is a word I’ve never heard or seen used before but it’s meaning served as a further wake up call in my determination to write more this year.

The word is ‘sitzfleisch’, pronounced SITZ-flaish or ZITS -flaish. It is a noun and means;

1. The ability to sit through or tolerate something boring.
2. The ability to endure or persist in a task.

Synonyms would include having stick-at-it-ness, steadfastness, perseverance, indefatigability, resolution, endurance, tenancity, doggedness, unwavering and untiring.

There is a certain comfort one gets from hearing these words. They are strong words. If they were human they would be Roman gladiators in full armour. They paint a picture. A picture of something or someone who is always there, who can be depended on, who can be relied or counted on, who can be trusted to deliver. I would love to be described as having any of these words but none more so than ‘Sitzfleisch’ for having it is what separates the wheat from the chaff. In the words of AWAD, “It’s often the difference between, for example, an aspiring writer and a writer”.

If, like me, you fall into any of the following categories

  • You would like to change your designation from budding writer to best-selling author.
  • You have great ideas in your head but you are completely stumped when it comes to translating them to paper/computer.
  • Some days all you can do is stare at the blank page and not think of a single thing to write.
  • Writing seems like such a chore and you are tempted to chuck it all in.
  • You doubt yourself.
  • You worry about securing a publishing deal, finding an agent or anything else relating to publishing.
  • You would love to have some sitzfleisch.

You are in good company. Most, if not all, successful writers have shared these thoughts at one point in their lives. So here are some of their words of encouragement to help you along the way.

“You can’t wait for inspiration.  You have to go after it with a club.”  Jack London

“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.”  Richard Bach

“Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.”  E. L. Doctorow

“Love the writing, love the writing, love the writing… the rest will follow.”  Jane Yolen

“You will have to write and put away or burn a lot of material before you are comfortable in this medium.  You might as well start now and get the work done.  For I believe that eventually quantity will make for quality.”  Ray Bradbury

“The only certainty about writing and trying to be a writer is that it has to be done, not dreamed of or planned and never written, or talked about (the ego eventually falls apart like a soaked sponge), but simply written; it’s a dreadful, awful fact that writing is like any other work.” Janet Frame

“Being a real writer means being able to do the work on a bad day.”  Norman Mailer

“The mere habit of writing, of constantly keeping at it, of never giving up, ultimately teaches you how to write.”  Gabriel Fielding

“Talent is helpful in writing, but guts are absolutely essential.”  Jessamyn West

“The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.”  Mary Heaton Vorse

“Successful writers are not the ones who write the best sentences. They are the ones who keep writing.  They are the ones who discover what is most important and strangest and most pleasurable in themselves, and keep believing in the value of their work, despite the difficulties.”
Bonnie Friedman

“Mere literary talent is common; what is rare is endurance, the continuing desire to work hard at writing.” Donald Hall

Sources: http://www.bethanyroberts.com/writing_quotes.htm

http://wordsmith.org/words/sitzfleisch.html

 

Thanks for stopping by and tara for now.




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