Yellow Girl

Back in the day, there was a reason for everything.

A well-thought-out reason.

A reason pondered over cups of tea and reams of warm conversation, preserved with ink and sailing thousands of miles to each correspondent.

Hostility ran wild, self-preservation ran amok.

There were sheep, and cows, and acres and acres of land. Empty land, up for… well, grabs, really.

People called themselves Frontiers, revolutionists, fighters for freedom, tea planters, imperialists, soldiers, White Man was superior to the darkies.

Everywhere.

From Africa to India to Australia to America.

White Man was superior to the Negro, never mind the latter outnumbered the former.

White Man was superior to the Red Indian, never mind they weren’t from India.

White Man was superior to the real Indian, who was awed by their white skin and cowed by their division to conquer.

White Man and his delicate White Woman were superior to everybody, so they built a separate toilet for the black woman who cleaned their shit.

There was religion, and the up-holding of one’s values. There was chastity, minor hand-holding before marriage, and many bibles. People were appropriate and went to church where they preached hypocritically, then went home where the Help had bathed their babies and were now preparing their dinners, heads down, skin not worthy of the same quality of life. Church. God loves everybody. Just not black people.

it’s true!

God says white people are better. It says so right here in the bible, Master Johnny. Right here. Them black slaves were born for it.

And that you may tie to.

There was primitivism and people were less intelligent than others, because they had darker skin.

And that, was a fact.

Oh, yes, a fact.

They couldn’t possibly be half as intelligent, Harry, because, look, they have spears and boomerangs! We must teach them the ways of civilisation. Why, they are mere savages.

The man taught the white children from Academia. He taught the half-castes how to run a farm, and he taught the darkies how to make saddles.

Oh, why? Why! Why even ask, the whites were far more intelligent, of course!!

Let’s built our homes here because we found this land. Right here, Laura, right here, my little half pint. Never mind those nasty Indians with their wide faces and black hair and harsh, glittery eyes.

Eyes of humanity and hope and fear and loss and fierce love.

We feel this way, we are human, they couldn’t possibly.

Oh certainly we shan’t have sugar, we are rationing, didn’t you know? Here’s an orange. Just for you.

Oranges grow in Jamaica and Florida.

The French and the Irish and the Danes and the Scots and the English and the Germans.

My grandad was Irish and my grandma was Scottish.

But I am American.

Yes this is my country but my ancestors came from Europe, and get those damn immigrants out of my country they are taking all our jobs.

In sunny Florida.

And oranges grow in Florida, where the white man rules.

oh why, why do the black communities have so much poverty?

why are they like this?!

Oh.

Shithole countries.

Oh.

Why?!

I don’t know, maybe because they were stripped bare. They froze for two hundred years to serve your pasty arses. Then they got rid of you but were ruined and stripped.. bare.

Diamond mines in India for little Sarah Crewe from England.

Diamond mines in India for little Aditi Kapoor. Diamond mines made of broken glass and corrugated pipes. 

Maybe I’ll marry a yellow girl.

Yes, marry her. Have some half-caste children. Let the Americans be scandalised by your brutishness. You brute man. Then a white girl comes along and you don’t have to divorce the yellow one, and she shan’t complain, because you are a white man, and you have the right to do with her as you please.

 

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Rilla of Ingleside

I have heartache, dearest reader.

A heartache borne of the most insipid of things. It’s tragic, really. So painful. The world is so bleak and old, yet so young and fresh.

A long time ago, when I was a wee mite of eight years old, I acquainted myself with Anne Shirely. She lit my life, I assure you. She was eclectic and electric, and her mind soared through mine, influencing everything I touched and saw after that.

Just everything.

I only had the first three books growing up, and the sixth. And oh, how fitting, really. No pain or fear or sorrow touched my soul, the literary world remained quite tame.

Now, I am 23 years old, and have tripped back to old Prince Edward Island, only Anne is older and she has a budding family. Today, I finished reading the last proper book in the Anne of Green Gables series, ‘Rilla of Ingleside.’

I am left feeling bereft. Almost in grief, and it is so stupid, because it isn’t even real, and real life is so much more than this. So why do I feel this way?

You see, in the later ‘Anne’ books, the Anne Shirely we know and love so dearly recedes further and further away from us. In fact, she has already receded by the end of Anne of the Island. Going into Anne of Windy Poplars, we have her in epistolary form, and it isn’t quite tangible because she spends all her time talking about other people. People who aren’t the old, loved Avonlea people, at that! In Anne’s House of Dreams, it is much the same way. Anne starts a new life with Gilbert but we actually learn far more about those around them, than we do about Anne and Gilbert. It’s sad, but Montgomery seems to have drifted away from them. I don’t feel like we had a proper goodbye.

Anne’s House of Dreams introduces us, in so many words, to the first sore loss suffered by Anne. Her first born child dies mere hours after birth, and little ‘Joyce’ is buried in the garden of her ‘House of Dreams’. Montgomery skirts ever so delicately around the subject, dressing it with literary frills, most likely due to the impropriety of uttering such things aloud.

But, in Rilla of Ingleside, it is much worse. Oh, so much worse. Anne is a mother, and we barely ever hear from her except a reaction here, a comment there, an illness over thataway and a reproachful look or two. We learn Marilla Cuthbert has died, but not how or when. We learn Mrs Rachel Lynde has made a throw for the spare room bed, but never hear a single peep from the respected lady. In fact, we’ve heard neither a peep or pipe from neither of the two ladies since Anne’s House of Dreams, and even then they barely said two sentenced. As for the prolific, bursting-with-character Davy, why, he went off and married and had kids and that, reader, seemed to be that! This book is about Rilla Blythe, the youngest of the Blythe children, during the First World War.

This book is about growth and pain. This book is about the blooming of life, and the suddenness of death. This is about anticipation and terror, about love and suffering and patience and, well yes, laughter. Plenty of it. The same spirit of Anne of Green Gables, the same odd characters, but tinged now, tinged with the burnt brush of life. Singed and papery, ready to crumble at any moment.

The older I grow, the more my mind expands, the more I am aware of the sheer finiteness of life. The definite end, looming in sight. The pain, just around the corner. The sheer love, enveloping everything. The yearning hunger that is humanity, always reaching, always wanting, always crying out for more. But can we handle more? So much love, yet so much pain.

Rilla of Ingleside brought all that to the forefront in the most raw way possible.

You see, Anne has always been in my heart. Her children have always been in my heart. I dreamed their lives were so wonderful, and they are, they are such fantastic people, one can very well see why Montgomery wanted to escape her grim life and lose herself amongst her almost-perfect characters.

And because Anne has always been in my heart, her joys and pains are my joys and pains. Her children, in some strange way, feel like mine. Rilla’s siblings, feel like mine.

Walter Blythe (oh it hurts) feels like my brother, my son, my lost beautiful soul following the call of the piper, part of the dead army, fighting for the freedom of his loved ones.

Why, when he isn’t real?! When none of them are real?!WHY? And why does it hurt so much to say goodbye?

Fireworks in the Sky

Explosions in the sky. Bright colours cascading their light like thousands of stars, only louder and more vicious. Like thunder, with clouds that drift away. Erratic, and always risky.

Perceived with happiness and joy on one end of the globe, and terror and fear on another.

Perceived with welcoming eyes, children staying up late to welcome the new year.

Perceived with dread and gut wrenching pain, houses torn to pieces and babies under mountains of rubble.

Heaving loss.

Brilliant eyes.

Souls ripped apart.

Eager excitement.

Anticipation.

Of good things to come.

Of loved ones never to be seen again.