Writing Purples

I am supposed to be writing for myself this month but there are six days (about) left and I only have ten thousand words of the fifty thousand minimum limit. I shall give up without much of a fuss this month And hope for the best in the next month I set aside for some writing.

With cheer I say, I do believe I have once again stumbled upon the Writing Blues! Everything seems to come to a juddering halt before the brick wall of discouragement. None of my characters will adhere to my commands. They have wilful souls of their own, and oddly, all seem to be biased towards the defiant, sullen demeanor. This will not do at all, because they can’t all monopolise the brooding inclination. They can’t all have the same damn personality!

These aren’t blues, though, so much as purples. This is not the muffled thump of me falling into a pit of writing misery. This is the tremulous hanging in the airless space between inspiration and avolition. Between red and blue. In purple.

That Guy (On 9 Years)

I have to write a post about it because I do every year.

Even though I don’t particularly feel like writing it this year.

But nine years ago today I married this guy. I felt like the luckiest girl in the world. Dancing on a rainbow. Sunshine in my eyes. He felt like the luckiest guy in the world too. He better have. He is still the luckiest guy in the world.

But yes.

Begrudgingly I say it today, I am very lucky still to be married to this guy. Who drives me up the wall, but in the same breath makes me so joyful. If anybody on earth can make me laugh when I am in a bad mood, it’s him.

My daughter has his smile.

She smiles with her entire face. Her dimples dance in and out of her gorgeous cheeks and her eyes could light the entire world. Her teeth flash in a way that is so unique to her, to him, and I promise you, when she smiles, your heart will move an inch to the right.

I see it all the time. Even strangers are not immune to her smile.

And she gets it from her Dad.

When we first began ‘courting’, I wasn’t too sure about this guy. I was impressed by his biceps, I will admit that. He smelled so good too. But I knew it would take more than an attractive body and face to make a relationship strong.

And one day he sat on the sofa adjacent to me, and we were talking about this that and the other. I said something. And he smiled. It was a small smile at first, but then his entire face lit up. I saw dimples where I had never seen them before. His eyes drew me right in. It moved me in ways I had never been moved before.

That smile could move mountains, I thought.

It’s a special smile, I can only get it out of him rarely, and not many people can coax that particular smile from him.

Our daughter, though? She graces me with his special smile every day, multiple times a day.

So I am thankful for the gift of him, his smile, and the joy that he has passed on to the next generation.

Even though, right now, he is THAT guy to me, because I am upset with him. (I say this with a smile, marriage is full of ups and downs. I still love THAT guy.)

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A Quiet Life

What’s a quiet life, to you?

If the first thought that sprung to your mind is … a comfortable retirement?

Comfortable retirement. Dancing in the living room. Through the dining room. Tap on the shoulder in the kitchen, lit only by a lamp and the shadows of the plants behind his back moving as they sway gently across the hall. Lines deepening on faces, death followed by new life. Leaves falling and blooming again. Piercing cries in the night, but this time they belong to the generation below their progeny so they sleep a little deeper. Urgency no longer beckons them in their dreams, it does not sit on their shoulders anymore and they do not hear it when they are in the shower. Piercing cries. Precious baby they can love without shackles.

What is a quiet life… to you?

Oh, you there. Yes you. I see it in your eyes.

Your quiet life is still. Even in the chaos there is a dark stillness that shrouds your heart as you wander slowly through a crowded hall with two beautiful loves clinging to your skirts, and you see those who are like you, but not like you, and you feel on the fringes again.

Urgency calls you.

It’s a silent kitchen is a quiet life.

Voiceless.

Echo.

Empty buildings, the sun setting and slanting through the dusty glass and the road outside is still, dry, dust pooling on the pavements because..

Nobody calls you.

You grow alone and you may die alone.

That’s a quiet life.

And there is frustration because you have always felt this deep chasm of loneliness. And you thought it would go away. In your teens you waited. In your twenties you yearned. And you approach 30 and it’s banging on your door this desolation and it won’t go away.

You tell yourself, your mother, your people.. you tell them you’re cosy in this cocoon of isolation.

But you aren’t.

You aren’t.

You worry this will seep through the invisible gossamer veil that hangs delicately between you and your children, you worry it will shroud them too like a clingy web that won’t go away.

You don’t want this sadness to be theirs. This loneliness to ache in their chest. Their precious hopeful faces.

You don’t want a quiet life for them.

So you aren’t. Cosy. Happy. Content.

What is your quiet life?

Were Their Faces Dirty?

I really like to look at old buildings as I sit in the modern day life of hustle and bustle and minds sucked into a cloud of technological machinery grating against each other.

The clock tower, with its ancient clock, still ticking away one hundred and fifty years after some hands carefully welded it all together. Single pane windows underneath a plaque set in bricks which reads ‘AD 1859’ and I think, who peered out of those windows in 1860? Who walked the streets I now walk? I think of how they were dressed and what they could possibly have thought about, and whether they wore hats and then pssshh, of course they wore hats.

They all dressed well back in those days, or at least we like to think they did. Were their faces dirty, though?

The clocktower I was looking at today, as I sat having a chocolate chip shortbread biscuit in Chatwins, the bakery opposite this Market Hall in Sandbach, Cheshire. It did not look like this today, as this photo was taken in the summer 🙂

Beautiful Moment

I went out to get ice cubes today. Morrison’s is just round the corner from where I live and so I set off with a short list in my hand, and some change gathering sweat in the other.

It was a sunny day. I passed a lot of charity shops (thrift stores) on the way, and I paused as I always do to look at the selection of books they usually set on pretty tables outside. Lots of nice things, really. Only I am a bit poor this month, so I shook my head and walked on. An old lady started to smile at me.

I quickly looked away. Then in that split second I thought, why.

Why do I always look away when I catch people’s eyes? What if they fancied a smile and nothing more?

I smiled at her and the expression on her face appeared to be one of pleasant surprise.

So I decided to let go of this people avoiding shell and be a bit more friendly. I am new in this town afterall. Might as well make me some smiling buddies.

As I was walking towards the entrance to Morrison’s, an Indian lady walked out. Well, she looked Indian. For all I knew she could have been Sri-Lankan. She wore a bright pink and purple traditional shalwar-kameez, and her hair was gloriously snowy white. He face was brown as a nut; the deep rich brown of being out in the sun and living and there were wrinkles on her face painted in the gesture of a smile.

I smiled at her because her face looked so inviting. It was a bogus smile at first. The tentative dipping of one’s toe in cold, unfamiliar waters. Then I saw her look at me, and her face lit up. As though she knew me. Her smile in return started off small, but as the seconds passed it spread all over her face like sunshine.

I was so taken aback that I reflected it with one of my own. I felt my mouth sliding upwards of its own free will. I felt it surge deep within me.

She was smiling at me like she knew me. Like she was my grandmother looking at me after years of being apart. Like our souls had met before and this was their glimpse of each other in physical form.

Then the moment passed and I was walking through the sliding doors of the supermarket. I couldn’t help but glimpse back at her as she trudged on with her shopping bags, without a backward glance. 

Perhaps I am exaggerating this moment, perhaps I am reading too much into it. Nevertheless, it is one which I will never forget! I shall make it my point to smile, really smile, at people more often. The aftermath of it is so rich and joyful.

Perspective

What annoys you?
That is what she asked.
But there was no frown on the other’s face, so I assumed it was a general question.
I did not hear what the other said.
The rain fell on my nose.
Sometimes that would annoy me, and sometimes it would please me.
Do the things that annoy you annoy you all the time?
Or is their annoyingness contingent on the situation in which you currently find yourself when you’re annoyed by them?

This is a Monet. Specifically: The Thames at Westminster, by Claude Monet.

Hug

“Do you want a hug?” I asked my sister.

We don’t do affection. At all. Ever.

“She doesn’t,” my mum said, when my sister didn’t answer me.

I was at the door, leaving home to go back to my home after the christmas-new year break.

“Ahh, I think she does,’ and I went to hug her.

“I’m just awkward,” she murmured into my shoulder, so I gave her an extra squeeze for good measure.

My family do not show affection. It’s clumsy, awkward, strange.

Once my sister was in a state of Terrible Hurt. She was crying alone in her bedroom, in her bed, under a pile of clothes and blankets. Normally we are catty with each other, but that one time I went into her dorm room, climbed into bed with her and held her while she cried.

‘Go away” she said in the end, sniffling.

I didn’t go away, and she didn’t ask me to again.

I don’t know why it’s strange and weird and awkward to give my family affection, when I do it so freely with my children and husband. With my cousins and aunts. With my friends.

Why is it so hard?

I love them all so fiercely.

So why is it so hard?

Sandstorm

It was the darkest, coldest night of the year, she felt, as she stole her way out of the side door and into the blackness outside six months ago. The world was alive, still. Cars and lights and surges of people milling around malls and shopping centres like the sun was not going to rise in 3 hours.

It was the meanest, cruellest thing, she said as she ate two scoops of chocolate ice cream.

It was the harshest storm, she whispered, as she put the coats away in the cupboard.

The floors were polished to a shine. Gleaming in the dark. When the sun rose she could see her reflection in them. Her face distorted, blurry, somebody else.

The windows were dusty, so she got her cloth and slapped at them until the sand fell in little heaps on the windowsill. Then she dampened her cloth and smeared the windows so they became muddy. She could no longer peer out of them at the sand storm outside.

‘Perhaps it is for the better, perhaps seeing the storm is worse.’

There was food they had left on the table. Bits of rice by empty plates. Clumped with leftover sauce, some yogurt smeared on the side of the plate. Glasses covered in greasy fingerprints. The dim light that fills the room after a day of torrid heat, after the sun is covered by sand dunes, yellow world, dust up nostrils, clogging all the openings into the house. And when you step outside you have to cover your face. Wrap a scarf around your head, over your nose, only your eyes visible. Like a face veil.

And silence.

I don’t think you realise this, but sandstorms are silent.

After the initial gust of wind and wailing currents, there is only silence.

And a fog of dust.

Don’t stay out too long, you shall wheeze.

It was the coldest, harshest winter.

But the summers are long and arduous. And mountains of dust engulf the city every other week.

Phone Call

“You have to dial 9 before you call an external number,’ he said to her when she picked up the receiver. She looked right at him, piercing black glare right into his hazel ones. He did not blink, glared right back at her. She knitted her brows, he looked at the receiver then at her again as an alarming beeping sound began to play through the earpeice – loud yet distant.

She slammed it down so it clattered, not quite slotting into its correct position, and flounced away.

‘Fine,’ he called after her, ‘Fine. I will do it myself, as I always do.’

He pressed the correct sequence of buttons, held the receiver to his ear and waited. She waited outside the door, which was slightly ajar.

‘Yes, hello.’ he said firmly, ‘It’s me.’

A pause.

‘Yes, she was.’

Another pause.

‘Do you really expect me to believe it works like that? I have been up from dawn doing these things.’

Long pause.

‘The papers will not write themselves, is all I will say. She has been dreaming of this day for three years. She maintains it was three hundred but she was always marvellous with hyperbole.’

He shifted impatiently from foot to foot.

‘Now listen here, Francine. Listen to me…’

He gasped.

‘You will not!!’

He jumped.

‘I forbid it!’

He put his hand to his forehead, and began to pace, picking the phone up and taking it with him. He stopped short when the wire became taut, and turned back on himself, staring at the ceiling and rolling his eyes.

‘Listen to me Francine. This has gone on for far too long. You will remove yourself immediately from that seat so that my wife may sit. And I WILL complete the papers and send them off. If you do not, oh, trust me, lady there will be hell to pay. We do not bake apple pies for nothing. Now I am going to put this phone down and I expect my request to be handled appropriately.’

He stood still, cocking his head to the side.

‘Alright. Good.’

A small smile graced his sour face.

‘Goodbye, Francine.’

Then he turned to the door while putting the phone down and tidying up the wire which had tangled with the receiver’s wire.

‘She said yes.’ he called.

She breathed a sigh of relief, patted her hair, and walked primly away down the hallway, her heels clacking loudly.

He nodded to himself lips pursed. Then allow a smile of relief to take over his face.

As I always do,’ he muttered, putting a cigarette between his teeth and lighting it.

Liver Pâté

Are you a parent?

If you are, I think you can attest that one of the toughest, most worrying things as a parent is seeing your child ill.

My son has been so ill recently. He has caught one thing after another from nursery, and has developed huge dark circles under his eyes, and lost some weight. I can feel his little tiny bones through his skin, and he has lost that round chubbiness of toddlerhood.

It’s the most troubling thing and frankly I am just burdened by it.

Now of course we are having him checked up by doctors and whatnot, but I also sat down to research some ways to add nutrients into the body after bouts of illness and weightloss.

One of the biggest causes for dark circles around eyes is vitamin A deficiency. I have no proof (yet) that my son is deficient in vitamin A but it can’t harm to get some down him, can it?

Liver is apparently one of the biggest sources of vitamin A, so I sourced some liver from the local butcher.

I hated liver growing up. My father loves it, and the Moroccan way to cook it is to cut it into small pieces, fry it up with onions, garlic, coriander and a bit of cumin. Lots of seasoning, and the resulting liver in gravy concoction is eaten with some crusty bread. Freshly baked french loaf is the tastiest option, according to my family. I could never eat this food. The smell of liver alone put me off, and therefore eating it was simply impossible.

I am an adult now. And I know that liver is an excellent source of nutrients for my unwell child, so I looked up ways to cook it where it would not taste so… LIVERY.

One great way is making liver pâté! It’s liver cooked up with onions and garlic, some dijon mustard, balsmic vinegar, herbs and seasonings…. and a LOT of butter. You can spread it on toast or crackers and it’s just a really tasty savoury spread. So I made some tonight while my kids were in bed.

Let us see how well it goes down tomorrow, ey.

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