Winter Wonderings


Saturday Centus #162

The prompt this week:   “If a June night could talk…”
Number of words:  106 total (including the six words of the prompt)
Style of writing: Any

 

Rain  has splattered our windows noisily all day. As night settles and the rain rattles on, the hissing and slight crackle of our log fire keep pace, testifying that like most June nights, it is indeed a cold, wet night in Cape Town.

If a June night could talk, it is not likely our story – of warmth and wi-fi, hearth and home –  that it would tell.  Why would it? There is no news or horror in the mundane middle-class comforts we enjoy.  Except perhaps, that warm and dry ,we spare no thought for the wet beggar, huddled under the bridge,  her stale dry bread now soggy.

homeless

jennysidebar_button_SAT-2

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The Beggar


The Beggar is God’s friend

And when the beggar knocks
Beware:
The one who scoffs
at those in great despair
Will find God’s wrath
Descend upon their path
Wreaking great havoc
Where they once lay
In sleep
As if
In Peace.

For Peace is love and harmony
Kindness and generosity
Not merely in the things we see
But in our hearts
Our minds and
Our humanity.

Can sleep bring Peace
When rights are wronged?
Can Peace be real
When vice is strong?
Can good men sleep
When harm is done –
By their own acts or
Inaction?

Not all beggars appear in rags
Not all are destitute, filling bags
Wives too can beg
For love that’s lost,

For some sign that

They’re not just ghosts
Of past selves
Sold to servitude
Or trapped in timeless platitudes.
They beg for love that they have spent
With passion and servility.
They beg for compassion and dignity
For reinstatement
Of their humanity.

How God must rage at
The audacity
Of men who sleep
Through their calamity.

And still…
Wives pray for God’s Mercy
To reign over their Family.

Revealing the Mask:
I wrote this poem a while ago after visiting the Saartjie Baartman Center for Abused Women in Cape Town, South Africa. I had taken my students on a visit there after discussions on Saartjie Baartman’s story. Aside from gaining an insight into how women in general (and African women in particular) have been viewed historically, they were also keen to get a sense of the havens available to women in abusive relationships today.

It was a somber and moving visit. I went away pondering what the social worker had shared: The women sheltered at the center often had no other options for safety. Despite some coming from comfortable middle class families, most of the women’s  relatives were often detached from the reality of the abuse they faced. Perhaps this is connected to the stigma and perceived humiliation that women fear exposing themselves to by sharing fully the extent of their abuse. Perhaps it is symptomatic of the desensitized society we live in. It was also tragic to note how great a percentage of women sought the sanctuary of the center secretly when their husbands had fallen asleep or gone off to work, how very few would press charges and how many would call those same husbands to fetch them and briskly take them home.

I realise that this behaviour is tied up in the complex psychology of abuse victims, but can’t help believing that despite their own miserable circumstance, women’s inherent protective instinct over those they love is unshakable. I returned home frustrated and saddened  not only by the unchanging history, but by the present reality for far too many women begging to be safe and loved, and the complacency of our society on the matter.

 

Written for prompts from Three Word Wednesday and We Write Poems

Synthesis


Together

Stronger than before

Each confident and certain of the bond that binds us

Needing everything and nothing from the other.

A unit

Distance does not alter the function we perform.

Dependent and independent

Relying on each other’s strengths,

Compensating for each other’s weakness.

Complete

Separate and inseparable

Looking forward to being together

without expectation,

Without anxiety

Nothing hidden.

Bringing everything we are

And loving everything we find

Partners.

Trusting

In the layered light of our love,

In the comfort of the worn path behind,

In our own capacity to move beyond the obstacles

Thankful:

To Him for favouring us with Faith

To each other for weathering the storms

that brought us here

To ourselves for striving for what’s possible

Satisfied:

Brimming with contentment for what is

Savouring the gift we have

Right Now

The only moment of Life

Promised Poverty


“Corruption is a slow evil,”

I read tonight.

Leaders- indeed politicians- in their double speak

will say We have won,

we no longer live in the darkness of oppression:

we are a leading African nation,

a Democracy of prized freedoms

our economy stable, growing…

evidenced by their armored cars,

their private jets and multi-million mansions

on lush Pretoria hillsides.

 

Mere minions would dispute their claims

ripe with untruth,

stinking of exaggeration and greed

empty in the township daylight

What victory is this

outside my tin shack

with my hands outstreched

or reaching into rubbish heaps

to still my hunger,

find a treasure,

feed?

What dignity?

Lies lacerate my future

but line their swelling pockets

like malnourished bellies

bursting with disease

and rotten promises

In response to Three Word Wednesday’s prompts:

ripe, lacerate, dignity

 

 

Water Haiku


drops of life

sustained universe

essential

H2O

two-thirds of the whole

pure quencher

Gentle rain

dead Earth re-birthing

Gift from God

Written for Haiku Heights. Love their chalenge…30 Haikai in 30 days…not sure I can do it! How about you?

The Colour of a Lie


It’s repugnant and unacceptable when politicians are caught out in a lie. We scorn their reputations, doubt political reporting and express our unanimous outrage at their corruption. Lawyers and journalists are equally infamous and the rest of us raise our noses in indignation at people who “lie for a living.” We don’t trust what we read or hear in the press, on TV, on-line or anywhere for that matter. We’re skeptical about it all.  Did Osama bin Laden die? Hmm, but when? Ha, did he even exist? Suspicious and cynical, we trust nothing and no-one.

But have we considered why we are so comfortable in our skepticism? Why are we so convinced of the lies of others?

Perhaps the answer lies in the next question: When last did you lie?

Think about it. Don’t be outraged at the question. And don’t flap it aside with “Ag, we all lie!” as a flippant response. Think about it.

What is it YOU lie about? And why?

Do you tell yourself, it’s a small thing, just to protect someone’s feelings? Is that really it? Or are you protecting yourself, the way people see you or avoiding an outcome you don’t want to face? Do you find yourself spinning the story according to the enthused reaction of your audience, enjoying them enjoying you, adding a bit here twisting a little there? It sounds better that way and they love the drama you’re adding. Or do you lie about your spending to hubby, mum-in-law or you down-and-out friend? The new shoes were on sale, or they were “a gift” from your mother…It’s interesting when you begin to explore the lies you tell…and WHY?

It’s just a white lie, we say, completely convinced of our justification in tainting the truth, brightening or diminishing it, twisting or distorting it, feigning sincerity or giving our statements false authority or omitting aspects of the facts. There are numerous ways in which we spin our tales and pose them as truth…our creativity knows no bounds.

But is there a difference in the colour of our lies?

Given, the colleague who passes off their under grad Degree as an MBA seems worse than the mother who tells her daughter she looks great in a garish dress. And the man who tells his wife his working late while he’s actually philandering, seems worse than the one who pretends to be “out-of-town for a meeting” when he really just doesn’t feel like saying “yes” to another family commitment. And yet that guy seems worse than the sticky-faced child who says he really didn’t steal the chocolate at the corner shop. There definitely are degrees of magnitude and impact.

But in reality, how different are we to the politicians, lawyers and journalists we sneer at? Are we not motivated by the same basic instincts: to protect or advance ourselves at the expense of the absolute truth and the consequence we’re avoiding? Are we not just plain and simply lying through our teeth, as the expression goes.

Whatever, your reason, excuse, justification, how about risking the truth? How about telling it like it is, regardless of how it isn’t. How about digging deep down and finding the resource to communicate exactly what needs to be said, with self-respect and empathy, owning the outcome and having the courage to face the people in our lives, as we are, as circumstance presents – as Life is. How about being AUTHENTIC?

I’ve heard that lying is easy because “It’s the path of least resistance.”

Yes, lying is common place. It’s human nature. And developing as human beings takes resisting our base nature.

Speaking our truth takes courage. And it is freeing. We are left free of the fear of what others may think. Free of the fear of discovery. Free of the pretense of what we are not. Free of the guilt that we are false and base.

We are left knowing ourselves as courageous. And the possibility of being fully known and loved becomes available.

Reflecting on Youth Day


It’s Youth Day in South Africa tomorrow 16 June. It’s the day on which we commemorate the youth who stood up to the Apartheid government in 1976, raised their collective voice demanding “Equal Education” over their parents’ preferred chant: “Half a loaf is better than no bread.” It was the day they loosened the oppressive grip that Bantu Education aimed to have over young minds.  The first youth to die that day was merely 13 years old. I don’t think Hector Peterson imagined that 35 years later he would be written about as a martyr Armed only with their determination, placards and freedom songs, hundreds more youth were gunned down in the days that followed. And hundreds more in the years preceding the dismantling of Apartheid.

To remember them still hurts. They risked their lives for a future they would never see. The South Africa we are proud of today, where we experience the joy and freedom to be so very diverse – and are happy to celebrate and engage with that diversity – is the future that they died for.

Are our youth fully conscious of the enormity of that gift?

Are we, their parents?

We live in the heritage of those and other martyrs. But what is our legacy?

STEVE BIKO AND IMAM HARUN

In my work with youth, I am often disturbed by the greedy current of individualism sweeping our youth along. They are urged to study harder, to get great jobs, to attain all the trimmings and trappings of success.  When I ask them about their future, they inevitably gush about the degrees they will have, the cars they will drive one day, the designer threads they will wear, the fat salaries they will earn, the green suburbs they will live in, and the respect, status and influence that they will have through these accomplishments. This is what their teachers and parents are cheering them on to achieve, they say.

In their speaking, there is a numbness to their fellow South Africans, a deafness to the pleas of the poor, a blind faith in the fiction about what breeds satisfaction. And it saddens me…for they only echo us.

In our free and beautiful country, our communities – indeed our youth- are plagued by ills we can no longer blame our government for. Nor can we expect that the actions that erradicate these social ills must come from elsewhere. They are not ills that money and status can cure. Our youth simultaneously face the mediocrity of the rat race, low pass rates, the scourge of HIV and AIDS, unprecedented rates of teenage pregnancy and drug addiction on a community level.

In honouring the memory of Sowetan youth tomorrow, many public programs are focusing on empowering and uplifting youth from all communities to grab opportunities and reach for success. And rightly so. Our youth must succeed. But at what?

Are we empowering our youth not only to deal with the challenges they face, but to interrupt the spiral of decline? Are we getting across to them that this is their Legacy? Are we effectively communicating that with the freedom and power they have been born into, comes the unshirkable responsibility to serve, grow and lead communities that are healthy, sustainable, empowered and dignified.

youth building food tents- courtesy betterplace.org

My concern is that we are promoting education as a way to achieve a standard of living, rather than as an access to powerfully developing a way of life that will make a difference to the quality of life for all.

So as you celebrate Youth Day, I challenge you to engage with a young person about the actions WE can take to make the kind of difference we’ll be celebrating 35 years from now…

Who will be the ones we’ll be blogging about then?

Response to http://www.threewordwednesday.com using “grip”, “prefer”, “thread”