Last week, I opened an old diary and flipped through its pages. As I read out aloud the vaguely familiar words, my mother stared at me. “What on earth went on in your little mind? How did you retain your sanity?” I never spoke much as a child. Even now, I am terrible at making conversations. Writing was the only way I emptied my head. The poetry was terrible, but it was never meant to be read by any one else. So my mother never knew I wrote.
Reading all those words written as a young adolescent so many years ago, I felt like I had entered a time machine. Oddly though, almost everything in those pages dealt with the frustration of subtle social sexism and blatant natural destruction.
I was particularly amused by one of the poems, which, in a sense, is the most revealing. To me at least, it reveals the struggle against established stereotypes, subtle racism and blatant sexism. And between the old Grimm tales and the newly unveiled magic of J.K. Rowling, it reveals the struggle of an adolescent caught between two different worlds!
Written on 31st January 2004 at 5:30 pm*, enjoy!
Once there lived a grumpy ol’ witch
Her hair a mess,
And her clothes of bad stitch.
She hated spring times
When the birds and the bees would sing in rhymes.
One day she went out to collect poison ivy.
But near the bush lay a blue eyed baby.
May be some other witch would have eaten it with delight.
But this witch just screamed with fright.
For she had always lived in the forest
And never came across an infant.
She scrambled back to her cottage
Hidden ever so cleverly amongst the foliage.
She looked at a picture
Hanging on the wall.
Her picture — when she was so small.
She had lived her entire life all alone
In the cottage made of stone.
She had longed for company.
And it seemed as if God had gifted her a baby — for company
Although she was a witch — a grumpy old witch
She had a heart
As sweet as tart
And so she went back to the bush of poison ivy
And saw the blue-eyed baby.
The baby smiled so sweetly
And the witch picked it up carefully.
And ever since then
She was never the same again.
*My grandfather (mother’s father) once told me to always jot down the date and time I wrote anything. I don’t remember if I questioned him, but I followed it religiously, and am thankful for that wonderful piece of advice.
The photograph featured in this post is the original poem written in a diary which was gifted to me by my aunt.
Photo edited in BeFunky
PS. I can’t help reading the story it in the tone of a narrator of a children’s movie :P
A speck of dust
A stitch on a rag
The artist’s note
The labourer’s hand
The rainbow above
A bug below
Dense air around
A journal unbound
Can it be seen?
Can it be heard?
Pray, tell me!
Where can it be found?
This evening, inspiration came to me through the electricity. Or rather, the lack of it! With no computer or wifi, I decided to pick up an unfinished drawing (and there are plenty of them!). I’m not sure when I started drawing it, and I’m not sure when I will complete it. I don’t even know what it is that I am creating! Hopefully I’ll be able to complete this soon and show it to you.
Meanwhile, I can’t seem to move away from seashells. Some of them made their way to my painting!
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I have been fortunate to have spent my life in a place where there is plenty of greenery, with exotic birds for neighbours.
When we were small, I remember walking around with my friend, picking up things from the ground. We pressed leaves and flowers and stuck them on the pages of an old notebook, along with little stones, feathers of birds and strange looking seeds. We would try to identify and write down the names of the things we collected and took turns taking care of it. It smelt a little, but we were very proud of it — it was our little treasure chest.
Yes, we were advised not to pick up things from the ground. But we picked them up nonetheless. A hobby that has never faded away. To this day, my cupboard overflows with boxes full of seashells, stones, seeds and feathers.
My friend would eventually give our scrapbook to a science teacher in our school. It upset me for a while, but then she probably knew it was better to let go, than to hold on. I tried to recreate the collection, but I ended up throwing it away — apart from the stench of rotting plants, it was the tiny insects which had turned the feathers to dust that made me discard it.
Since then, I have taken extra care of my feathers, keeping the soft delicate ones in an airy box. The larger ones occupy pride of place atop a bookshelf, alongside photographs of family and friends.
Large brass cylinders holding flowers — they were always unique vases to me. It wasn’t until several years had gone by, that I discovered that they were bombshells.
I was talking to a friend of mine, when our discussion meandered towards the differences between our country and that of corruption-free nations. ‘Those people out there,’ she said, ‘they do not even know the meaning of the word bribe!’ And I recalled at that time that corruption, and every form that it takes, is quite literally a part of the curriculum of our education system.
Why are we taught these things? Nothing good would ever come out of it.
If I hadn’t accidentally found out, the brass casings would have always looked like vases, never like ammunition.