The March Hare

This is a re-post of a post I posted in March 2013. March is special to me, for a very self centred reason.

alice in wonderlandYes there does seem to be rather an obsession with the creations of Lewis Carroll. Can’t you find any characters of your own, Lenora, rather than plagiarise everybody else’s!? Good grief.

Well yes, but I haven’t quite invented anything to do with March, and March happens to be a very important matter in my life. For example, at some point in my life, I shall demand to visit the town of March. Given than my husband to be is also born in March, this does not seem like such a concerning possibility. The March Hare, now, is a very celebrated character and I feel as though he deserves a very special dedication.

So, here’s to the March Hare, the subtle creature whose madness is rather equal and just as potent as that of the Mad Hatter, whose loyalty to his opinion is disdainfully grandiose, and whose ability to be demeaningly gracious is marvellous to behold, and quite candidly I tell you this, but it is also terribly enviable.

Here’s to his dubiousness on whether liking what one gets is the same as getting what one likes.

Here’s to his distinctly severe attitude to uninvited sitters at his table, and here, finally, is to his ability to be rather less grumbly than the Mad Hatter, and to possess a likeable amount of gloom and absurdity.

Here is, in short, to him who stands below:

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23

I can now legally say that I am a 23 year old woman. Woman. Goodness. I used to hate that word when I was younger. It seemed crass and weak to me. I preferred ‘lady’. I love being a ‘woman’ now.

I don’t know what changed. I think as I have grown I have begun to associate the word ‘woman’ with all the strong and incredible women in my life. My eyes have been opened.

I think my mind was 23 way before my body was. I don’t feel any different. I don’t feel excited about ageing, as I used to. I just feel like a person who is an adult and has some responsibilities and aspirations. I also feel worried and sad because I miss my parents tremendously, and being an adult means I have to be away from them a lot. I just miss them. Thinking about them makes me want to cry.

Is this normal behaviour for a 23 year old lady?

I don’t want to list 23 things I’ve learned from my 23 years on Earth. Honestly, it feels pretentious. I feel as though I can learn so much more, and change so much more, and that actually I am a little green when it comes to knowledge and life experiences. I also don’t know what to think of life itself.

I have a lot of hope, but I know that if I didn’t have faith, I would be one of those hopeless people. I keep thinking that my time here is limited, that I am worrying about what doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things.

I feel like it’s my fortieth birthday. When I pass young people I view them as ‘young’, then I remember I am too, but I feel so removed from them. I just don’t feel it.

I feel it when my legs want to run in the sunshine, and my energy spills out of my mouth in excited babble. I feel it in my bones when I move. But my mind feels weary. The world doesn’t feel real to me, somehow, like it is my road to…somewhere. I do believe it is, and I feel like a stranger. Like I have travelled for years and years and my time is nearly up. The truth is however, I have not travelled. Not really. Sure, I’ve been to Spain and Paris and Morocco and Italy – but in between those travels I have been lazy and unproductive and have done nothing at all. Not a single thing, save for university assignments. And maybe teach a little at school. But in three years …. nothing. What have I learned?

I honestly feel sickened with myself. I should have been experiencing the world but I didn’t.

So why on earth do I feel so old? Feeling old signifies having a tonne of experience and living a full life. My grandmother, God rest her soul, used to say towards the very end of her life, ‘I’m done now. I’ve raised my kids, I’ve lived to see my grandkids grow up, I’ve got nothing else to offer.’ Granted, she said it whilst in constant pain and hurt, but she had lived a complete, whole life. Not a very happy one, but she spent her days always doing things. She touched so many hearts and lives, people still come up to me and tell me how good my grandmother’s soul was. For all her unhappiness, she spread so much good in her world.

I spend my days saying I will do things but never doing them. I feel like I wasted my twenties. I feel old and not in a good way; in the way that I have nothing to show for my years on earth.

But you see, I am hopeful. So every single night before I go to sleep I tell myself that tomorrow is a new day to make amends with my soul. To step out of the house. To exercise and explore and learn and work and be. To make it so I DO have something to show for my time on earth. I try so very hard. And I shall keep trying until my time on earth is up – because the hopeful thing is… my time didn’t finish yet. So while I am still here, I will never stop trying.

Cheers! 🙂

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Wed 30 March 2016

You know, I forgot I turn 22 today!

My mum texted me yesterday saying ‘How are you Mrs 22??”

I racked my brains for a bit thinking, why on earth would she write that? Then I realised of course that she was the one who birthed me, and it was almost my birthday.

My husband doesn’t remember, though! I sat back and thought about it for a bit, and realised it actually doesn’t faze me. I know he loves me, and not remembering the date I was pushed out into the world kicking and screaming doesn’t make any difference to that fact.

Or does it?

I guess a tiny part of me would like him to acknowledge the fact. I know he has a million and one things running through his mind, though, so it’s ok. It’s OK. Okay. There.

Also today I was craving chocolate and my little sister in law who is eleven knocked on my door just now and came in with a pretty teacup filled with  Cadbury mini eggs. Which I thought was darling of her, and she deserves a big hug and a kiss from yours truly.

Anyway. I don’t know why I wrote this post. March 30 has always been a special day for me, because it’s just so symmetrical and in my diaries over the years it signified many growth milestones. Each March 30 was more dignified than the last, and each March 30 entry had better spelling than the last. Is it vain to pore over my own history like that? I don’t know.

I just remember small Len who kept looking down at her feet to see if they were any further away from her, and little Len who swore vehemently she would never become a ‘teenager’, and small Len who scoffed at the thought of boys and told everybody she would live in the countryside one day with animals and plants and run in the fields and lie amongst the wildflowers and adopt children and always always always play. She would never stop playing and laughing.

She was naive, and sometimes disillusioned, but she always saw life as an adventure and a happy place, and every month she had a ‘best day ever, even better than the last best day ever’, and she discussed how one can measure a ‘best day’ with her friends who, in those days were kindred spirits, and I don’t know what happened to her. She has vamoosed. She vanished and in her place is a girl who mopes a lot now and complains and is often sad.

So all the March 30s are little glimpses into what she became, and perhaps little motivations as to how she could go back.

Sometimes I wish she never grew up. Horrendous things happened to her and it was all my fault and I am so sorry, but I think I ruined her forever.

 

Lamenting my Toes

Today

As I wheeled by bike

Out into the wonderful outdoors

Fresh, cold wind on my face

Up my ankles

Fanning my cheeks

I heard the trees swishing their bare branches

The birds tweeting

The hills rolled away in the distance

I climbed aboard

I squeezed the handlebars

And I thought to myself

Goodness gracious me

I am twenty two in 26 days

TWENTY TWO YEARS OLD.

Only eight years or so,

Until I am thirty.

When you reach thirty, folks,

You have hit the point of no return.

You’re a true adult,

At thirty.

The truth is, folks

I still feel twelve.

In fact,

I still feel six

Looking down at my feet

To see how far off the ground is

And wonder if I’ve grown a little

I still feel small.

Nowadays,

When I look at my feet,

It is only to have adult thoughts

And lament about my long toes,

 

The coursework that I have to submit,

Or the bills I need to sort out,

Or the..

Let’s just leave it at that, shall we?

March Hare

Fleeting days

Restless nights

Cluttered corners

Of my mind

Half me here

Half me there

All of me wanting

to be elsewhere.

Unfinished essays

Unread books

 

Bits of work

In every nook

Hair needs washing

Face needs threading

Wear a hat

that’ll sort that

Body to scrub

Bath to have

Never smile

Force a laugh

Clothes to wash

Muscles to toughen

cloth and brush

dishes and ovens

Butterfly tea

snailshell toast

ground beetle gravy

over duck roast

unfinished talk

with my other half

rats scuttling

fore and aft.

Scatterbrain mind

deadlines at large

February looms

I was born in March.

Half me here

Half me there

I’m all over the place

I am a March Hare!

 

 

I am going MAD!

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Dear Nan

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Today I want to commemorate my maternal grandmother. She passed away four years ago on June 22nd, 2011. She was a beautiful soul.

Today is her birthday! This was originally scheduled to go up on June the 22nd but i was talking to my mother this evening and we got to talking about my Nan, and I thought, since it’s her birthday today, I might aswell speak about her on the day she was born.

She would have been 81 years old today.

My earliest memories of her were warm hugs, soft wrinkled cheek against mine, loving stories and piles of knitting. I used to stay at her house from the age of one, sleeping next to her on her bed. I remember tottering towers of books and magazines stacked around her room. Her mind was a vast cavern that was so filled with knowledge that it refused to echo. Knowledge and painful memories.

She had silky black hair that, over the course of my memories, grew silver as she aged. She used to wear a blue coat when she went out, and I used to accompany her to the vegetable markets, where all the sellers knew who she was. She talked to everybody, about anything. She was brimming with love.

Her house was filled with plants. Nurtured tenderly with each passing year. When she was at home, her garden bloomed with colour. She had roses and lavender and her window boxes were vibrant with pansies, petunias, geraniums, fuschias and busy lizzies. Nodding in the breeze, reflecting the glorious summer sunshine of England in July. Her back garden had some grapevines that were as old as my mother, because my grandmother planted them when she was pregnant with my mother. A large apricot tree grew proudly in the centre of her back garden, defying all weather odds. The apricots that she did get, every three years or so, were all gobbled up by the squirrels as soon as they formed.

“Naughty squirrels” she would say, “they’re taking all my apricots!”

When she left, the garden languished, and one by one the roses dropped and the plant pots vanished, leaving behind a sore greyness.

My grandmother was born in India, but migrated to Pakistan when the partition occurred in 1947. She was very young at the time, and told me some horrific stories. Her father was wealthy lawyer, so she always lived in a lavish house with many servants. She would always say the time she spent at home were the happiest of her life. Her father held a special place in her heart. She would always tell stories of his generosity and kindness. When he passed away she was already living in England, and her heart was broken.

My Nan didn’t lead the happiest of adult lives. She worked hard, and was not very well off, and her husband broke her heart so many times. So much so that thirty years after their divorce she would still break down in tears after talking about him. But she was a strong woman and made a beautiful home for her children, and brought them up single handedly. My mother says her mother was both a mother and a father to her children.

She was divorced during a time when divorce was looked down on in society, so a lot of people in her social circle shunned her. Despite her sadness, though, my grandmother spread joy wherever she went. Her door was always open to people, her cooking readily available to anybody who popped by.

 

When she passed away, she was very ill and in a lot of pain, but she was surrounded by all of her children and she said she was so happy. Her son stayed at the hospital with her night and day, and the nurses said how peaceful it felt in her room.

Despite her suffering she still had my mother and her two siblings at the forefront of her thoughts.

“Oh, don’t cook for me,” she would say to my mum, who’d been running up and down the stairs all day, “let me buy a takeaway.”

Everybody who knew her, loved her. She went around sprinkling a bit of happy into people’s lives. Once I told her about my English teacher who had the same name as one of my grandma’s dearest friends who was deceased. So my grandmother bought her a book and wrote her a small note. My English teacher was very touched. That’s just a small example of how Nan reached out to people. She always had a gift to give someone, a thought to tell them, a smile to put on their faces.

 

I don’t want to think about the sad things though, the pain she was in, the loneliness she often felt when her kids got married and moved away. I want to think about how happy she made everybody, how all my baby memories are peppered with Nan hugs and games and comfy blankets, how she had her favourite chair, her masses of books and magazines full of interesting subjects, her fascination with the Arabic language (which she did an MA in despite not being Arab!), the way she always had misri in her handbag to give out to the children, her flowers, and her never-ending kindness, generosity and love.

She told me a week before she passed that I was her “first baby”, being the oldest grandchild.

“What about me!” my mum exclaimed, her real ‘first baby’. My Nan just smiled and patted my hand.

We miss you, Nan. Terribly. The world is lacking without you.

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