Writing

7 Reasons to hate me

By Martha B. Balaile

Hate me because I’m ignorant
and know nothing-
of your pastimes, customs
and food.

Hate me because I’m poor
and can’t afford to eat-
at the restaurants and hotels
that put food on your children’s table.
(Let alone mine)

Hate me because my hair is dirty
washed once a week
and too thick to comb through
wouldn’t bow down for the Queen
Mother of gels.
You find it disgusting.

Hate me because I can’t tan
I stay the same filth colour then burn-
darker than your coffee table.
I don’t blush or glow red
with embarrassment,
makes it harder to read me
to trust me.

Hate me because
I have big lips, big hands, big eyes
to see your secrets
to steal
to lie.
That’s all I do for a living, right?

Hate me because I don’t
carry myself with grace-
of a gazelle or panther
but of a monkey and a hippo
I don’t have the same ‘manners’
How do I eat with man-made metal?
Over God-given hands!
The very idea revolts you.

Hate me because I believe-
that I could be one of you
own a house
drive a car
wear labeled clothes with
your foreign names crawling all over them
while my people curl up and die.
But that has nothing to do with you, does it?

Hate me to the core.
Turn away to avoid my filthy presence.
Teach your children to touch mine
only with snort ridden spit
of a child of four.
Call me a rude name
that I will proudly adopt and pass on
to my children for generations.
But please don’t hate me because I’m black.

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Kotter Escapes

By Allegra Von Hirschberg

The wild kotter escaped from the mainland zoo yesterday. If anyone has seen it, please contact 1-800 2000.

That was what the headline read in the local newspaper today, but of course I already knew that. I am the wildlife specialist who first discovered the endangerment of the kotter one year ago. I became very attached to the one we had at the zoo. I named it Kottie and was her main caregiver. She escaped yesterday when a worker went into her cage to feed her and didn’t close the door properly. All she had to do was nudge the door and sneak away and hide. You see, she is a very intelligent animal and has been here long enough to learn the workers’ routine.

She must have been eager to escape and when she becomes nervous or excited she moves very quietly and fast, so when the worker turned around from the feeding trough to find the door a jar and the kotter gone, he ran out looking for her immediately. But he obviously didn’t find her because we are still looking for her today.

You must understand how crushed I am about her escape. I really though Kottie was happy here. I did my best to make her comfortable and respected as an endangered species, but I must have failed; and her actions just prove that to me. I have put fliers up around town describing her: Grey animal, commonly confused with a koala or an otter, responds to Kottie or Kotter. Not very big, can walk on all fours or two legs. Looks two or three years old. If found please call the local zoo.

A few days after her escape we received a phone call from a local fisherman. He told us that while he was fishing yesterday he caught sight of something bobbing up and down in the water. When he went to investigate he found a creature with grey fur lying on its back with its eyes closed. The fisherman took it for dead but I knew better. The kotter loves to swim and when it is especially happy it lies on its back and seems to giggle quietly to itself. If the fisherman had gone closer to it he would have heard her low giggling purr.

As soon as I received this news I was overjoyed that she had been found and that we had a place to start looking for her. As I was making plans to get a search party together a colleague of mine asked me a few questions. ‘Are you sure she wants to be found?’ he enquired with an anxious voice. He loved Kottie as much as I did but he was thinking of her not himself. I was troubled by this certain question. If the fisherman had described exactly what he saw then she was completely content where she was.

I pondered over this possibility of her not wanting to be found. I was starting to come to a decision to let her be free for the rest of her life. The day before I definitely gave up my search party there was a crocodile warning on the mainland beach, I wasn’t going to put Kottie in danger of being eaten by a crocodile so I got the search party together again and we headed off shore. We looked everywhere off the shore right around the coastline. We couldn’t find her and then a thought struck me – she would have tried to get back to Winwin. We headed back in that direction of the island. It was about a ten minute boat ride from the mainland. All the way there I was looking for anything in the water. As we reached the shore of the beach we didn’t see anything at first, but I remembered they liked the sheltered side of the island. We circled the island and as we got to the calmer side of the bay there she was.

I was at first so happy to see her again that I didn’t notice that she was lying down on the sand, when I saw her more clearly I became very frightened. I jumped off the boat and ran towards her. She was breathing, but she was hurt, her left back leg had been bitten and she was bleeding. I quickly got the first aid kit we had on board and bandaged it up tightly. She looked up at me with her beautiful soulful eyes, which seemed to convey an apology. I smiled back at her and carried on bandaging her leg.

After she was well again and could walk without limping, I decided that if she was so eager to get back to her island for anything then something should be done about it. I signed a petition and collected some signatures to help Winwin become a conservation island where all the indigenous creatures would be able to live. Kottie was returned to her natural habitat and there people could and visit her. She also found a mate, and she now has three beautiful Kottie juniors.

————————————————————-

Oil Black

By Stephen Masaka

It feels so smooth and gooey like tar my hands sink into; the warm feeling is carefree and reassuring. It feels comfortable when it molds around my hand, soothing it.

It smells unsettling and overused, like tarnished-burned rubber, old yet new – in a way the old is from the maturity of it and the new from the new machine smell.

It sounds like tiny steady raindrops on a stagnant pond. It sounds like the unnoticeable ripples which follow the raindrops. It sounds like the sun setting.

It looks gloomy, motionless and moonless yet glossy and shiny like a midnight moon reflecting on the sea. It looks silky like a black nightdress.It looks smooth but impermeable.

It tastes rancid. The taste is so unprecedented. Rough and chewy like a piece of gum, it is so revolting on my tongue.

————————————————————-

Nessa

“Anorexia nervosa is a psychological disorder; it causes someone to refuse to eat because they are afraid of becoming fat. Anorexia is the third most chronic illness among adolescents worldwide. Twenty percent of people without treatment die ad only one out of ten anorexics will receive treatment. Over fifty percent of anorexics are Caucasians and over eighty percent of anorexics belong to dysfunctional families. In most cases, anorexia has been described as a cry for attention and love…blah….blah…lies more lies… ” This is what the sign above my bed post reads, right next to it are other signs that read “Eat or Die” and “Food is Your Friend” If only I could, I would untie my bulimic self and vomit all over those lies.

My name is Vanessa Regan and I am anorexic. I was born with a beautiful head of blonde curls, the rosiest cheeks and the deepest blue eyes. Unfortunately for me, I was also born with a disgustingly slow metabolism so that everything I ate went to my adipose layer forming a round ball of fat that was me. In spite of this, I had never been sick, ever! Now, to quote my doctor “I have stunted growth, dead hair, corroded enamels, kidney failure, ulcers, mood swings and a bad attitude.” I weigh in at thirty five kilograms loser of the long war against anorexia.

Post war; I had been to exactly five doctors three specialists, and one rehab in counting. I have been called psychopathic, selfish, materialistic, and plastic. Pre-war, I had been to eight different schools and I had been called ugly and fat in eight different languages. My only friends were food and a rock named Rochelle. Quite frankly, I prefer the nicknames now.

I cannot blame this on my peers, I was always strong willed and as a child I wore a cereal box on my head even when it was considered strange. People did not bother me and I was used to my shadow and whispers about me in the corridor. I had never had friends and it was okay as I never wanted any. I cannot blame this on a dysfunctional family, the fact that I was molested only made me stronger, a hash truth I had learnt to live with. No one seemed to care so I made up someone who did, Rochelle. I had learnt that my position in life was and would always be second. I accepted it because I was a natural introvert and I had never wished for the spotlight. My sister took the lead and I took orders and commands. It was not that my parents blamed me for my brother’s death they only implied it, and it was okay because I blamed myself too.

What I have is not a disease. Vomiting is a hobby, lies of common dialect, and comments about my thinness are merely flattery. I have a voice in my head, and no, I am not talking about that little voice you think is your sub-conscious. Imagine that voice amplified like someone blowing a horn in my ear. It is the voice of my mother calling me fat when I was eight years old. It replays in my head every time I crave a slice of pizza, a bar of chocolate. It is what keeps me going. My mother might not know this but she is the reason I have reached my goal weight so, thank you mother.

My mother, oh dear mother, you hurt me far more than me having to be the elephant in the Noah’s ark production, than me breaking the trampoline at my birthday party, than me not fitting into a tutu. Oh but I do not entirely blame you, you did try; you gave me a carrot while my sisters had cake, you signed me up for boy’s rugby, and washed my wounds after I beat up the skinny mean girls at school.

Ironically, after I began my habit, as we now call it, my mother was the first one to tell me that I was beautiful …on the inside, and it did not mater what anyone else thought. But it did, it mattered that my dad could not carry me to bed like he carried my sisters when they fell asleep. It mattered that I was not allowed on some rides in the park and I had never been on a swing. But what mattered the most was when people gasped in disbelief when my mother said I was her daughter. She always said I had the perfect eyes and hair, but that is not what I wanted to hear. I wanted to hear that I had really great legs defined cheek bones, I wanted to hear the things my dad whispered to my sisters at night as he said goodnight.

There is a mirror right next to my bed, so I drag myself out of bed I pull off the ties on my hands the tubes out of my mouth and look at myself in the mirror, really look, I silence that voice. I see the defined cheekbones, but now they look like mere skeleton on the outside. My legs, the ones I thought were great, look like the bones on the chicken that I threw up last night when the nurse was not looking. I look at my eyes; I see right through them a translucent blue, tired, lonely and sad. A reflection of my soul. This must be the breaking point. It is the point that all those girls talked about except I do not feel exhilarated or free only guilty, empty and lifeless. So I take the tube and slice through the thin layer of skin that is supposedly my stomach. It does not hurt; in fact it is quite the opposite. As the blood gushes through it feels like all the anger pain and frustration is being let out. It feels guiltless, full and exhilarating.

————————————————————-

Malaria

By Jasmina

I’m not invincible. We’re not invincible; we’re not immortal. We’ve been taught this- we’ve been taught from an early age that we will eventually die .We read, hear and speak about death every day. No, we’re not immortal, I’m not immortal. Still, I have always refused to believe that one day my heart will stop beating and will fall incredibly, unbelievably, silent.

But Malaria! It cares not at all about your beliefs. Cares not even for your ambitions, or your dreams, or your future. It is a merciless opponent. Still, I was not wary of it. Even now, I believe I might just win this battle against this tireless beast; this beast which invades my body. This beast! It invaded my body under the guise of a headache. A pounding headache, yes, but a headache no less. I am used to those. But then came the vomiting. Even when I felt that I had no energy left it came and convulsed my weak body. Relentlessy.

I screamed at the beginning. Aieee! Screamed, searching for pity. Pity from those who are not here. Mother! Is that you? Are the whispers I hear real? Is the breath you breathe true? No, malaria laughs, spinning itself into darkness. There is no one here.
Yes, at the beginning there were screams- now, only silence from me;
From my ghosts, only murmurs.

I try to fight the blackness. Try to fight the Malaria. But blackness- black ness isn’t there. You can’t tough anything in black. Not even shadows. Shadows, shadows which can melt in your grip dare not come into the black because black is uncertainty, uncertainty and fear. Fear which seeps into your blankets, then into your head.
Fear. It engulfs you with its intensity and speed. Fear. It cannot be stopped. Cannot be slowed.

At my least fever is red. It burns, yes, but it indicates life. It shouts, it screams, letting me know I’m still fighting, still breathing. Yes, fever rasps to me, you’re still here. You are my prisoner, but at least you’re still alive. But can I really believe that? You don’t assure me, fever. You only scare me. You chase me, you taunt me, and you corner me.

Somewhere, deep inside my head yet still impossibly close to my being, I scream. I can hear it. I can! Yet the world can’t. Why not? Because I’m slipping. Slipping down what, I don’t know. It’s hard. Hard to catch myself when I’m falling down nothing. Hard to free myself when I’ve become trapped inside my own head. I try to push, yet there’s nothing solid to push against. How can I break free when nothing is trapping me?

I’m too weak. Fight! My head screams to my body. No, my body sighs in reply, I’m tired. Why don’t you try? See if it’s so easy. I’m still slipping. Do I even want to stop this? I do not have the energy. I scream again, this time even deeper inside my head. I try to shake it off. But I can’t. I think I’ve lost.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.

I’m caged. I’m lying. I’m standing, I’m dancing.
I’m free.

————————————————————-

Heaven sent

By Omolola Akingba

Out of the brilliant mystic gates, she appeared, adorned with gold and silver. Her face brightly lit and unusual and she was different to the common people around her. She was in reality an angel from THE ALMIGHTY, sent for a purpose. She stood glaring at the busy images about her, a woman running to catch a taxi, boys tipping over garbage cans in an alley and a little boy gripping a teddy bear, weeping quietly. She knew why the master had sent her here. She had an assignment.
She looked to the heavens for some sort of sign from the Almighty. The sun was alluring, showing off its golden rays, exuberant and bold.

She stared mesmerized at the sky, as if seeing an outstanding wonder for the first time. “The master’s work is beautiful,” she said. Her voice was delicate and sweet sounding as though blissful. She was sent to earth of the master’s accord. A place no heavenly Being would dare venture to. She still stood captivated at the master’s handiwork when she heard the wailing of the little boy.

The sobbing of the little child grew louder, she moved towards him wanting to raise his spirit. She moved nearer and nearer to the child. The child’s tears became awfully audible; his eyes were dilated and teary.
She smiled at the boy as she put her hands on the child. She could see he was an innocent soul.
“Have you come for Mama?” he whispered. She stared at the child, amazed. “Why could the child see her?” she thought.
Between a sob the child asked “Are you going to take my mama to heaven with you”, glancing up at her.
She looked at the little boy intently “your mama is going home”, she responded.
The small child led her to a room. A lifeless room crowded with flowers and cards. She could see a woman on the bed. Her face as cold as ice and very still. She touched her fragile hand and silvery images emerged. The life of the woman flashed before her eyes. She saw her battle with cancer and the arduous chemotherapy. She saw the women’s endeavor to fight her condition only for the love of her son yet her body grew weaker. She needed to rest.
She touched the women a second time; the woman very slowly opened her eyes. She looked at the angel knowing why she was there, then her beloved son. Tears dripped from her eyes, she knew her time on earth was up; she had to accept she was not going to be with her son anymore. The angel stood beckoning and comforting her. The silver images had disappeared.
A golden light shone into the room .The woman rose from her bed as if carried by invisible wings, the little boy was awestruck, he watched as his mother and the Angel drifted towards the blinding light leading to a magnificent gate that opened majestically.
The woman smiled at her son, whispering the words “I love you” and she was gone along with the Angel and the light.
The child stood, staring at the ceiling.
“I love you too, mama” he whispered.

————————————————————-

And then there was silence

By Jade Leibbrandt

Sarah stared deeply into her six year old daughters eyes; she gripped her cold soft hand and sang to her gently. As she did she remembered the words that had briefly stopped her heart from beating, a brief pause of circulation that at that moment she wished had lasted forever. She knew she could not live without sweet little Emily, she would miss the way she giggled with joy and delight whenever she saw something pretty like a butterfly or a colourful bird, the way she greeted her mother with hugs and kisses every morning, her smell, her voice, the sight of her, she was so beautiful, the perfect image of an angel in her mother’s eyes. But now her time was running out.
At first Sarah didn’t want to believe it, when the doctor told her that Emily had just under a week to live, but now the paleness of her skin and thin bony body seemed to prove him right and acceptance started to sink in. “What’s wrong mommy?” Emily asked in a coarse whisper
Sarah forced a smile that even to her seemed unconvincing, a mask that would soon weather and turn to dust revealing the fact that deep down inside her heart was bleeding, a wound that would never really heal, a reminder of what she lost, and as she gazed upon the tiny withered body of her once healthy daughter she open the gaping wound more and more, tearing the tissue of her emotions and letting cold dark depression seep out, stinging her insides.
“Nothing sweetie” she croaked above tears “I’m just gonna miss you is all”
Emily reached her free hand out and touched her mother’s face “you don’t have to worry about me mommy, I’ll be ok”
Sarah held Emily’s hand and pressed it to her face as the tears rolled down her cheeks “oh Em, you were always so sure about everything” she whispered
Emily coughed, and softly said “I love you mommy and I always will”
Sarah touched her daughters face and smiled “I love you too baby”
She leaned down and kissed her hairless head, she could feel the flaming temperature of it spread through her lips, and as she did she knew that it would be soon now.
Sarah leaned back into her chair and started to choke on her tears as she watched Emily fade, first she saw her slowly shut her eyes, then she heard her breath run thinner and thinner, watched the slow thudding of her chest fade into a sigh and as Sarah desperately tried to hold on to her lifeless child she felt the hands of doctors and nursed pry her away and drag her kicking and screaming out the ward……
And then there was silence

————————————————————-

Affra

By Sherry Yeh

‘Matty!’ she called to her best friend. Affra was panting a little, from running as fast as she could the entire way to his house. She waited impatiently, her lively personality not letting her stay still for even a moment.
After a while, there was still no sign of Matthew. It puzzled her- Matty was always out of the house in a flash, eager to play.
‘Matty?’ she called again. Affra was a cute girl, with dainty caramel features and wide, expressive brown eyes. Most of her unruly hair had escaped the ponytail after running, and gave her a wild, careless look. She was dressed in a loud rainbow-colored t-shirt and light blue jeans, her small feet clad in scuffed neon-pink and white sneakers. The single piece of jewelry she had on was a silver ring on her left thumb- given to her as a promise from Matty that they would always be best friends.
After an hour- or so it seemed to Affra- Matthew slowly drew open his bedroom curtains to peek down at her from the second floor. Affra jumped up and down excitedly, waving at him to join her as the boy looked at her with a strange expression, almost as if he were ill. Her elated mood died instantly.
‘What’s wrong? Are you sick?’ she asked, concerned. The boy- a mix of Asian and European, with wavy dark brown hair, pale skin and almond-shaped brown eyes- shook his head. ‘Then why aren’t you down here?’
Matthew hesitated before he replied in a voice so low she had to strain to hear. ‘Momma says I mustn’t play with you anymore.’
‘What?’ she was taken aback. They’d been uncharacteristically good lately, so why were they being punished? ‘Why?’
‘Cos you got AIDS.’
‘No I don’t, just HIV.’ She corrected, confused. What did this have to do with anything anyways?
‘Yeah but it’s gonna turn into AIDS, and Momma says you get really sick from it.’
Her eyes went wide in shock. The eight-year-old was at a loss. Her parents had told her all she had to do was take her pills and she would grow to be a strong, healthy girl. No-one had mentioned anything about getting really sick!
‘And after Momma found out you got it she said it’s not safe for me to play with you, ‘cos you gonna give me AIDS.’ He continued. ‘She says I must tell you to go away and leave me alone.’
‘But… but Matty,’ she spluttered, her heart thudding. What was happening? ‘We’re best friends, we’re s’posed to play together! And I can’t give you AIDS, I don’t got it!’
Matthew shrugged uncomfortably. ‘She said that only people who do really bad stuff and sin get it, and they gonna go to Hell.’
Affra started trembling. She was going to go to Hell? But she’d never done anything really bad! ‘Stop it, Matty! You’re scaring me.’
‘I don’t wanna go to Hell, Affie,’ he yelled fiercely, ‘so go away and leave me alone!’
She felt as if he’d kicked her in the stomach. Matty, her best friend, was sending her away for something she’d been born with!
A screech signaled that Matthew’s mother had arrived home. Mrs. Johansen was immaculately dressed as she always was for work, her heels clicking as she stepped out of the car and strode over to tower over Affra, a hostile expression on her face. ‘What are you doing here?’
Affra was still shaking. ‘Calling Matty to play.’
‘He’s not going to play with you anymore.’ Affra tried to cover a gasp at the venom in her words. Mrs. Johansen had always been tolerant of her in a motherly way, letting her help bake cookies and play with Matty. ‘Now leave us alone.’
‘Matty?’ she pleaded in a small voice. ‘You… you’re not really sending me away are you?’ He refused to look at her, playing with the curtains as if she’d never said anything. Affra visibly wilted, a flower trampled over in a stampede.
‘There’s your answer.’ Mrs. Johansen said coldly. ‘Now leave- and I don’t want to see you or your family anywhere close to my son again.’
Affra turned and ran homeward, a little girl lost in a suddenly hostile world.
Never before had she felt such a horrible, horrible feeling. The ring she’d cherished was suddenly garishly ugly, and it was burning her. Affra pulled it off and threw it in the bushes.
‘I’m a big girl, I won’t cry. I’m a big girl, I won’t cry.’ She chanted to herself under her breath as she ran, a desperate attempt to act grown-up. It didn’t work, and soon the path went blurry as she cried, and cried, and cried.

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One response to “Writing

  1. Pingback: Back home « Laura Fish’s Swaziland blog

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