Monday, November 28, 2005

Just Being

I wanted to touch,
that place where love lies,
where tears never reach
and scars can’t disguise.

I wanted to heal,
the wound set so deep,
but words cannot move,
the dark treasure you keep.

I wanted to remove,
the symbols of your past,
the secret inscriptions,
in flesh and blood cast.

As I sat thinking,
the light slowly came,
these things were but letters,
that spelled out your name.

And so I embraced,
the sorrows and pain,
things I could not touch,
would never ascertain.

But that was alright,
I found a truer meaning,
for love is not wanting,
but sometimes, just being.

© 2005 Steve Johnston

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Article Review: Acorn Stomping Anyone??

Yesterday I read an article by Ian Frazier in the Nov. 7, 2005 issue of The New Yorker. The article is called: Pensées D’Automne and appears in the Shouts & Murmurs section of the magazine. I’ve read it several times since. I am fascinated by the way his words flow at a pace that’s as easy as the leisurely autumnal morning walk that he is describing. The closest analogy would be a train ride where each passing scene is framed by the window for an instant and then it passes as your eyes focus on something else. I was happy to board his train of thoughts for sometime.

Fall or autumn in America is always a memorable event, especially in the north east where some people are even described as leaf-peepers, they take to the roads in mid-September and head for New England just to stick their heads out of the window and absorb the fall colors at their peak, spotting hues they didn’t know existed in deciduous trees, interlaced with the greens in the evergreen gymnosperms; an innocuous yet magical activity that has the power to overwhelm, the power to soothe the soul.

Ian’s article, as the title suggests, is about his thoughts during a crisp fall morning walk. He talks about the special heavy, shin-high boots he’s wearing, a “Danner Foothill model with Vibram soles”, that he declares are perfect for, take a guess….”acorn-stomping”!! It was this talk of acorn-stomping that grabbed my attention in the first paragraph and I was hooked, I had to read on and discover for myself what acorn-stomping was all about.

Ian managed to convey the exhilaration that he felt at this favorite childhood activity. His Danner Foothill boots apparently have a “sweet spot” in the heels and as he walks along the oak-tree lined sidewalks of his New Jersey neighborhood he devotes considerable thought to a strategy that would maximize his satisfaction from this activity. He says, “Hit a single acorn just so and you get a satisfying, shivery tingle between the shoulder blades. Hit a series of acorns, first right, then left, then right, and so on as long as the random distribution of acorns on the sidewalk permits, each acorn struck square on the sweet spot, crunch, crunch, crunch, never breaking stride – well, that’s what you’re looking for.”

Now this article is really not all about acorn-stomping, it is about present day America, about the deep satisfaction derived from an effectively stomped acorn, the sound of its gunshot-like report and how disheartening and jarring it is to stomp on it the wrong way, in a way where one fails to make it pop and it just whooshes out its contents in a mess.

While walking and stomping he wonders about his reasons for doing so. Perhaps it is a way of working out his frustrations, his deep dissatisfaction with the rising healthcare costs in the country. But then again it can’t be because the more he thinks about the issues that are plaguing this country the more inaccurate his stomping becomes and the more unpleasant the activity. For an inaccurately stomped acorn, leaves one with a “jangling, teeth-grinding wrongness”. He compares this “wrongness” to the way certain theologians have described sin, as an “apartness from God”. This gets him thinking about the state of his own health which is why he’s walking in the first place. He talks about the obesity of this nation, a country where even the raccoons and squirrels are getting morbidly obese by rifling through suburban garbage cans, scurrying away with toaster waffles in their mouths. He talks about innocuous events that could shape the future. He thinks about these vast spaces, this land of plenty where deer are found dead on the road while we build homes in their natural habitats and the gourmet smells that rise up from our manicured, never-grazed lawns as we mow down the wild onions that are a part of many a lawn.

He talks about Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez’s visit to America and his comment about 99% of the cars, rather SUV’s, on the road being driven by a single occupant and how unsustainable a mode of life this really is. Hugo decides to sell Venezuelan oil to the poor in South Bronx, at half price, and an evangelist is prompt enough to issue a death threat on Hugo’s life.

As an American I can appreciate Ian’s concerns, I have felt the jarring, discordant note in many an aspect of my own life. A sense that things are essentially wrong and that this way of life cannot possibly be sustainable. However, thinking about comparing this to an acorn-stomping autumnal activity as a metaphor for contentment or discontent is what makes me feel like a stranger in this rather strange land. I could never write an article such as this one because this wasn’t my childhood. I have lived in America for seventeen years and this is the first time I’ve heard about this favorite childhood pastime. It is a detail I could never absorb, a metaphor I could never use.

This makes me realize how right Maugham really was when he said:

"It is very difficult to know people and I don't think one can ever really know any but one's own countrymen. For men and women are not only themselves; they are also the region in which they were born, the city apartment or the farm in which they learnt to walk, the games they played as children, the old wives' tales they overheard, the food they ate, the schools they attended, the sports they followed, the poets they read, and the God they believed in. It is all these things that have made them what they are, and these are the things that you can't come to know by hearsay, you can only know them if you have lived them. You can only know them if you are them. And because you cannot know persons of a nation foreign to you except from observation, it is difficult to give them credibility in the pages of a book. Even so subtle and careful an observer as Henry James, though he lived in England for forty years, never managed to create an Englishman who was through and through English."

But does this passage assume that one could feel at home, living and breathing the inherent, generational culture and memories in one’s so-called “homeland” as opposed to one’s adopted home? What if no place feels like home? Perhaps I should try some acorn-stomping along my own sidewalks and see if I can get to experience the sweet satisfaction of the shivery tingle that could start at the heel and travel up to a spot between the shoulder blades, perhaps practice could make me perfect at this exercise and then finally I’ll feel at home, enhancing the American dream by “living” the American "fall".

Saturday, November 26, 2005

A Shot in the Dark...

sometimes we trawl
back into those times again
through the tiny aperture
they call memories…

and scout from the shambles
some old photographs
those that we’ve
gingerly treasured as relics

hoping to filch some color
from those photographs
and vigorously rub
on the grayscale that tints today…

Thursday, November 24, 2005


It had been one hell of a day at my office. Here I was negotiating the traffic with an edginess I barely recognized. I had worked so hard on that particular presentation to pitch our sales, which had been sliding downhill. Despite my best efforts, the buyers were not convinced. There had been series of meetings throughout the day to discuss the ways and means to save our company. We tried negotiating with the bank. But nothing came of it. If this continued, we would go bankrupt. Not a nice prospect. Finally we decided to call it a day at 9.30 p.m. I was not looking forward to the long drive home.

Impatiently I kept waiting for the lights to change, tapping at the steering wheel, the day’s events passing through my mind like a bad movie. Lost in my thoughts, I did not notice the lights changing. The car behind me honked. I moved, slowly turning towards the left. A yellow Chevrolet followed behind.

It had been raining intermittently for 3 days. The dark clouds made my mood even bleaker. Barely glancing behind, I kept to my lane. Rains make it so difficult to drive. I felt my car lurching. The yellow car was still behind me. I kept driving straight ahead. The car behind me turned right and disappeared from sight. But after some time, I noticed it following me. May be it had taken a wrong turn before this.

But it was uncanny; the Chevrolet followed me closely wherever I turned. I too noticed the driver of that car making wild gestures. It was unnerving. I accelerated, so did he. I slowed down to let him pass but he too slowed down, waving at me to stop.

Without warning I swerved to the middle lane, and he did the same, waving menacingly at me. I shook my fist at him angrily and accelerated away. But there he was, faithfully following me, shaking his head. By this time I was getting a little paranoid.

Again I felt my car wobbling but as it was raining I did not give it much thought. Now all my attention was on the car following me. I kept changing lanes, without fail. The car followed me wherever I turned. I speeded up and took another detour. But there it was behind me. I was getting genuinely scared by this time. My palms were so sweaty; I could barely hold the steering wheel. It was pouring so hard. Not another vehicle in sight. Occasionally, a car passed by. In that rain, no one had any time to glance at what was going on. I tried calling the police but no network on my phone. My mind was in turmoil and my heart was hammering.

Suddenly I felt my car shaking. I must have drove over a pothole. Before I could react, the Chevrolet speeded up and stopped in front of my car. I had to brake swiftly to avoid hitting him. The driver got out. “Jerk,’’ I thought. He looked so sinister. He came towards my side of the window. He tapped and said something, pointing towards the rear end. I kept my window close, stared ahead resolutely, avoiding looking at him. I did not want him to know I was petrified.

I saw another car stopping behind. A woman got out and tapped on my window. I ignored her too. They looked at each other, shook their heads and then kept looking at the rear of my car. I smelled something. Throwing caution to winds, I opened my window and asked what was wrong. She said my left rear wheel was on the verge of coming off. She did not offer any help and drove away. I got down with a jolt and checked it. It would have come off in few more minutes, if I had been driving. And if I had not stopped when I did…………!!

I kept staring at the wheel like a moron, my mind blank… Without asking, he got down to the business of fixing the wheel. That made me break away from my stupor. We both worked at it, without exchanging a single word. By the time we finished, we were both drenched to the bones and looked like drowned cats! But he did not appear to be unduly concerned. When I offered my thanks, he brushed me aside and drove away, taking a U-turn, barely glancing back at me.

I started the car, changed the gear, and progressed slowly. My grim mood had disappeared. I was lucky to be in one piece. Feeling the tension ebbing away, I switched on the radio. Suddenly I braked, and sat there with my head on the steering wheel, numb to the core, thinking, thanking my stars and that man in the yellow Chevrolet.

Interrupting the song, there had been an important announcement……….. The old bridge ahead had partly washed away, some time back taking a few vehicles with it……...

What if?

(c)2005 Gautami S Tripathy

Innocence Recalled by Vijay Nair

Our innocence still lingers on
there, beneath that banyan tree
As if in an endless wait,
shadows of yesterdays roam free

Someone plays the flute again,
a lass dances to its tune, defter
the sweet jingle of her anklets
reminding me of your laughter

The meadows are still green,
like the scarf you used to wear
The butterflies flutter past teasingly
and the lake water is still clear

Children stream out in frenzy
when the school bell rings
like innumerable little sparrows
with just sprouted wings

Women in their colourful clothes
Men smoking, herded around a water pipe
Wind caressing the trees,
pleading to shed their mangoes ripe

This letter, I hope, brings to you
the earthen fragrance, as always
The raindrops on your windowsill
reminding you of our bygone days

Vijay © 7th September, 2005

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

A Time of Gratefulness

It’s a cold and blistery November night, logs are crackling on the fire, and I am sitting here reflecting on that certain lady in my life…her name is Stefanie, and she’s my wife.

Ever since our first meeting in a recording studio, I believed in her, and knew she was destined for greatness. Of late, she has been building her strength up for the challenge – for the reward. She has always had a sense of purpose; a passion for life, and a love affair for the arts. She is not overly motivated by money, power, fame or success; rather she lives her life in the moment and loves to sing. Being born with the last name Singer, she has no choice but to pursue her namesake. It hasn’t been an easy road however, and she has had her share of struggles and obstacles to overcome.

The struggles have been that Stefi (as I lovingly call her) is not 21 and shapely. Rather, she is 45 and “pleasingly plump.” Consequently, she has not received due recognition as the wonderful singer she is. Believe this or not, some have actually told her point blank…”You are too fat and too old.”

I have seen the heartache and felt her rejection over this “finger pointing.” Nevertheless, I have stood by with loving support and suggested, “Stay focused on what you do best honey…writing songs.”
Succeeding in the arts is about self-empowerment – making it happen yourself for yourself. From my perspective, she is helping others understand their own lives better. I know she has had a positive influence upon my life, and I am now a better person because of her.

By listening to her perform, the audience discovers who they are and who they want to become – they affirm it with applause – as do I. She possesses all the tools; there is no need to wait any longer. She no longer needs to fear rejection or be dependent upon her mother’s approval. She was born a “Singer,” and a singer she shall forever remain.

Recently Stefi wrote both lyrics and melody to three contemporary gospel songs. Once the songs were "in the can," she sought out a producer on the internet super highway. After a two day search, she found one in Charlotte, NC. Smashing the piggy bank, we loaded up the ride and took off.The following day, Bill met us at the door, and invited us into his "studio..." his spare bedroom. We had sent MP3 files ahead so Bill could begin the "layering process" of producing the songs. Bill was a wonderful producer. Three days later we walked out with the finished product. The following day she met with a promoter who listened to the cuts. Of the three, she expressed an interest in the one that we actually liked the least..."This Time." With our funds nearly exhausted, we returned to Pittsburgh...a ten hour trip, with no deal and no "check in the mail."A few days later, Stefi received a call. The promoter had passed her song onto the record label EMI...a real biggie.

A “greater source” than Stefi has given her a special gift, and NOW is the time to open it. She is on her way to some new and exciting opportunities, the fullness of which is not presently known. But what is known is that she has optimism; she is organized, and passionate about what she does. Living life to its fullest requires a balance, and in order for all her dreams to be fulfilled, she keeps her focus on the creator…not the created. Today she is the sum total of all her yesterdays, and she just keeps loving, living and learning.

Stefi seems to have come to terms with the age and size barriers, and is now focusing on her song writing. She overcame these “obstacles,” and is now promoting herself as a songwriter…her true calling.

I love her more than any words I can write, and I am so grateful for her. She is the greatest woman any man could ask for. I believe in her….oh, excuse me, the phone is ringing…it just might be EMI.

-- Terry Ploeckelmann 2005

Diving Lessons

Dive deep into the darkness
Beyond dark
To the light
Where everything
You see
Is clear
And clean
And bright

Here you find your Self
Unscathed and serene
And brilliant
At peace with what has been

Ready to claim the life
You couldn’t imagine
Or dream
'Til you moved through
The sacred darkness
To the place
Where awareness gleams

©2003 Jodi Flesberg Lilly

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Can You Smell It?

By Carol Roach

Living in Canada, we celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday of October. I am told we do not celebrate it with quite the same enthusiasm as our American neighbours. We give thanks to our lord for the bounty he has bestowed upon us. And we remember the first settlers to Canada and the hardships they must have endured braving the cold Canadian winters. We remember the story of Jacques Cartier who in 1535, came up the Shores of La Riviere St Laurent (St. Lawrence River) to establish the first settlement for New France at Stadacona.

Stadacona was the native name for his village settlement. Later that named changed to Quebec City, the capital city of the province of Quebec which is the province in which I live. Many of his men died from scurvy before they had even reached our shores.

If it weren’t for the natives as was the case with the settlers in America, Cartier and the remainder of his men would have perished. The natives introduced maize (corn) and other supplements to the European diet, and taught the men how to survive the cruel elements. Later, they taught the settlers how to hunt, fish, and farm.
First the fur trappers came over for the lucrative trade in beaver pelts, and then “Les Femmes Favorise”, the elegant French ladies from France who were to wed the trappers and create a new life and new family in this brave new world.

But after all is said and done, I can bet that if I went out on the street and asked anyone the question, “who were the first people to celebrate Thanksgiving,” the majority would say the pilgrims of Plymouth Rock, coming over on the Mayflower.

Do we have our histories mixed up – yes, but is it because we were not taught our own history in school – no. It is because America takes more pride in that part of her heritage. The pilgrim story is reenacted in plays all over the country. The Internet is bombarded with jokes and poems and information galore. The day is also known as turkey day to many and nobody has to question what that means, it is a given.

Thanksgiving day in Canada is a national holiday. But you see I work for an American company as a customer service representative, in its only Canadian call center. For me my Thanksgiving was just another day to work. Though I was given a different day off to compensate for working on Thanksgiving Day, needless to say I did not have a turkey dinner. As a matter of fact I worked until 9pm and didn’t have much of a supper at all.

When it came time for the American Thanksgiving, I thought for sure that I would have the day off. But much to my chagrin, I found out that we were working. As stated before, we are the only Canadian call center, for my company. The American call centers in Omaha, NE, and Houston, TX, were running on skeleton staff of course.
To ease our disappointment, the company maintained they did not anticipate many calls and that we would have a very light day. Such was the case and we laughed and joked around most of the day. We wondered why Americans would take time from their special day with family and friends to bother calling in to say they wanted to order a movie pass, or to cancel their membership. On the other hand, we had many clients telling us how sorry they were that we had to work on Thanksgiving while everyone else had it off.

If anything, we are a great group of people and we laughed and joked all day long. There were jokes like “do you know the Americans call Thanksgiving turkey day” and the retort being “well it sure isn’t turkey day for me, I have my tuna fish sandwich right here.” Michael asked “I wonder if I ordered a special turkey pizza would they make it.” And Samira replied, yeah if you ordered it from the states.”

As the day wore on, we of course grew hungrier. However, the strangest thing occurred. The call center started smelling like food. Since the company cafeteria is far enough away, the aroma of food never reaches us. Yet today, November 28, 2002, the call center smelled of food. How could that be? Charles having the wisdom of Solomon, and the humor of Seinfeld, retorted “it’s the Americans cooking their turkeys that we smell. They weren’t about to leave us out on their biggest day of the year.”

The real explanation for the smell of food in the call center was never determined, but for this little group of Canadians who never got to eat turkey on either the American or Canadian Thanksgiving day, in our minds on the American Thanksgiving, we sure could smell it.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Thanksgiving: Some thoughts on love and gratitude

Today is a symphony composed by the Divine, weaving magical notes of joy, harmony, love and inspiration into a translucent, golden, glowing tapestry of energetic interplay.

Today is a blessing given generously to be received with eager open arms.

Today is a clean white sheet of fine hand crafted paper, gleaming with the invitation to write my life upon.

Today is mystical. Today is magical. Today is to be revered, treasured, loved, adored.

Today is to be lived at the top of my lungs, to the depth of my soul, to the utmost extraction and distillation of each precious second.

As I write, I am aware that my friends in the United States are celebrating Thanksgiving. I love the idea that a whole nation takes a day out of their full year to sit down together as family and friends, to simply give thanks for all the blessings in their lives. The practice of mindful gratitude gives us the gift of awareness of the treasures in our lives, the simple things that we take for granted unless we make gratitude a living ritual.

The daily mindful awareness of all I have to be grateful for, has seen me safe through some of the most challenging times in my life. It is about being fully present in the moment, chosing to focus on the light, rather than dwelling in the darkness. There have been times when tears of pain and fear have cascaded down my face as I spoke my words of gratitude out into the world and in speaking them, the tears dried and the pain was soothed. Gratitude gives the gift of healing.

The daily practice of gratitude has brought me another gift in the last few months, an ever increasing visceral feeling of reverential love of life which flows into every aspect of my presence on this earth, creating a deepening sense of joyful connection, so powerful that there are times when I feel as though I have entered another dimension of being. For those of you familiar with energy work, I would describe it as a massive energetic shift, a falling in love with life.

When you fall in love, everything is different. All of your senses waken up and your perception of the world shifts through the filter of that love. Suddenly you become acutely aware of the more subtle beauties of life, wonders which were always there but not observed at a conscious level. Emotions sweep unbidden and unfettered in response to stimuli you were previously deadened to. Everything is sharper, clearer, brighter, illuminated in glowing sacred colours. Radiant happiness shines out into the world and joy becomes your close companion. Life itself becomes the object of your passion.

I find myself allowing a deeper caring about the world around me, its joys, its sorrows, its triumphs and its pain. For the first time in years I am engaging with the wider issues of the day, speaking out boldly where there would previously have been the silence of unwilling acceptance.

I share more intimately who and what I am with an ever widening circle. I am no longer afraid of being known. Love has given me the freedom to express ever more clearly and powerfully the essence of my soul, who I am at the core of my being. Once I would have peeped out timidly into the world, revealing little flashes of my thoughts and feelings, then retreating back into the sanctuary of my privacy for fear of being swallowed up by the external world. This incredible gift of love has swept away those barriers of the mind's own making and I am ready for whatever comes. There is no going back.

What truth are you hesitating to acknowledge in your own life?
What passions have you been damping down for fear of the fire that it will light in your life?
What gifts lie dormant, awaiting your own kiss of life to blossom richly into the world?
What wings are aching with the desire for flight; what mountains to soar magnificently over; what wild thermal currents to drop down into, to be carried along on, trusting the journey and your own power; what savage joy in the freedom of flying free?

So look at life through the eyes of love; rekindle your passion for the great gift of life.
Take out those dusty dreams that became lost and buried in the everyday challenges of life.
Nourish those dreams with your love. Let them lead you out into the world , a world where your love will make such a difference.
Care with all you have and all you are.
Reach out to the world and love it.
The world has such a need for love and it cannot afford to be denied by even one of us. Start with those who are closest to you. Look into their souls and let them know how much they mean to you. When we are loved, we dare great things.
Through gratitude and love:

Dare to dream.
Dare to love.
Dare to act.

Maria Stepek Doherty

Saturday, November 19, 2005

The Old Man, The Boy and Santa Claus

Old man D’Souza sat huddled over his glass of tea and a buttered bun at the Irani restaurant. Christmas is coming, he thought, as he carefully chewed the morsel he had dipped in the tea moments earlier. Not that Christmas meant anything more to him now than the need to line his ragged coat with newspapers to keep out the cold. The tea soaked bun he was chewing jabbed into his bad tooth and he winced.

It hadn’t always been like this. There was a time when Christmas meant family gatherings round the Christmas Tree, presents being exchanged, squeals of delight from his grandchildren as they tore open presents and their frugal mothers tried to save the wrapping. A brief smile flicked across his face as he remembered that a generation before, his girl had squealed in that exact fashion and Fiona was the one trying to save the wrappings. Maybe her daughter got that paper saving habit from her, he mused. It was like a dream now. The decorations, the cake, the wine and the rum and the whisky that had flowed. He felt his pocket to check if his bottle of cheap, countrymade liquor was there, the only thing he could afford on his meagre pension. He’d need the bottle tonight. The memories would not let him sleep otherwise.

How nice it was before the Big Fight. When Fiona was there, and they watched together with pride as their daughter grew, married, had children of her own. Why did we fight, I don’t even remember that, he mused. But fight they had and he had lost count of the number of Christmases that had gone by without those family gatherings. Or rather, of the number of family gatherings gone by with him absent. For she was surely carrying on the tradition of the family gathering. Fiona had taught her too well for her to forget that. If Fiona had been there the big fight probably wouldn’t even have happened. Even if it had happened, she would have got it all straightened out. She had been a strong woman and he missed her strength sometimes. That’s life, he thought, then corrected himself. No, that’s death. I’ll be coming soon, Fiona, he whispered.

The waiter roused him from his reverie, demanding to know if he was going to go soon, there were people waiting for the table space. He paid up and left, shuffling down the street. He wasn’t going anywhere in particular. There was nowhere to go. But he had learned long ago that as long as you keep moving, the urchins and the police don’t harass you. Every once in a while he stopped to rest and to retie the cord around his waist to keep his trousers up. He reminded himself to be on the lookout for a cotton cord. Nylon knots kept slipping and loosened the cord.

He was scurrying past a sidestreet when he heard a sound. He looked into the sidestreet and saw a boy apparently struggling with a large man. “Hey,” he shouted instinctively, the sight stirring up a protective paternal reflex. Without regard for his own safety, he stumbled into the sidestreet as fast as his arthritic knees would let him, shouting all the time.

* * * * *

The boy scrambled to help the fat lady pick up her groceries, effortlessly elbowing the other boys out of the way. He generally didn’t like to help the fat ones. They always haggled over the price. Somehow, the thinner ones seemed to be more generous. Well, whatever it was that this one gave, at least he would have enough to buy his next bottle of glue. He had lost the last bottle in a fight. He needed the glue for the times there was no food and for the nights when sleep wouldn’t come. Then a few sniffs from the bottle gave him enough of a high to forget himself until he could either get something to eat or fall asleep. He loaded the groceries into the car and she gave him a Rupee coin. “Five”, he demanded. “Are you crazy?” yelled the woman, “get going before I use my hand.” “Please,” said the boy. The woman raised her hand and the boy slunk away. That was another problem with the fat ones, he mused. They used their hands as readily as they used their loud voices. He looked around. Not many people around, and no one who looked as if they’d need help. He’d have to cross over to the other side, to the vegetable section.

He entered the sidestreet, on the lookout for the other boys who might decide to gang up on him and snatch his coin. He saw the bike and automatically looked at the petrol pipe. No lock! He looked around for a bottle. If there was no glue to sniff, petrol was just as good. He saw a discarded water bottle and, scooping it up, ran to the bike. He had just tugged the petrol pipe off the tap when he sensed a movement behind him. He turned, poised for fight or flight. If it was one of the smaller boys, he’d fight. It would increase his status among the urchins. But if it was one of the bigger boys or a drunkard looking for a quick buck, he’d have to run.

The figure loomed large over the boy, dressed in some kind of bright red costume. Too large to fight. He had turned to run when he felt a firm, yet curiously gentle grip on his shoulder. “Look at me,” rumbled a voice in a tone that was strangely familiar to him. It recalled to him the times his mother had called him for a cuddle. When he had a mother. He turned slowly and saw a huge bearded figure in a red suit. It reminded him of that fat man he had seen some years ago, when some well-meaning socialite had tried to organise a Christmas party for urchins. The fat man had been brought in to distribute gifts, but he’d turned up drunk, lurching between the women and generally making a nuisance of himself till someone wisely called the security guard, who took him into a back room to cool off. Was this one drunk too? The boy gripped the coin tightly, determined to retain it at any cost. His eyes flicked from side to side, looking for a stone, a stick, anything he could use as a weapon. Then he looked up again, straight into the fat man’s face.

Somehow, he sensed that this was no drunk or fancy dressed fool. The beard was all too real, the costume somehow not at all incongruous on the huge figure. He’d never seen anyone dressed like that in the relatively warm weather of his town. The suit seemed to be padded enough to make a man sweat, but the figure was cool and comfortable in it. The huge man smiled and the boy relaxed. He knew he would not be harmed.

* * * * *

Old man D’Souza picked up a stick he saw lying on the ground and shuffled towards the two figures, shouting all the time. He didn’t know if he would have the courage to actually use the stick, but maybe the man would let the boy go if he made sufficient noise. He came closer to the pair and the large man turned. “Don’t recognise me, Mr. D’Souza?” he said, chortling. D’Souza stopped short. It looked like… it couldn’t be! And then, like the boy, D’Souza somehow knew this was the real Santa Claus.

“But you can’t be,” he spluttered, “you aren’t real. You’re just a Christmas myth.” “If you believe,” said the figure, “everything is real. If you don’t, nothing is. Now won’t you help me entertain this young man? It’s Christmas season, and he needs to know life can be good even without glue.” “Entertain?” stuttered the old man, “how?” “Just like you entertained your grandchildren. They’re grown now aren’t they? I believe Alex has even started working”

“I don’t know,” mumbled the old man, “I haven’t seen them for a while.” “Oh, but you can,” said the figure, “all it takes is for you to reopen the dialogue. I know you want to, and the universe always helps someone who wants to do something good. Now come, let’s show little Xavier a wee bit of Christmas. Remember the Christmas cards you used to get?”

And suddenly, the old man, the boy and Santa Claus were in a winter wonderland. They saw snow for the first time in their lives. The old man felt like he was in a Christmas card as he and the boy romped in the snow. They had snow fights, the boy shrieking and the old man chuckling in delight. They rode a toboggan down a gentle slope and went on a sleigh ride, the silver bells on the horses’ collars keeping up a cheerful accompaniment to the boy’s squeals of pleasure. At his begging, the figure in red pulled a silver bell off one of the collars and gave it to the boy, who promptly began waving it near the old man’s ear. The Christmas carols came alive for them and the old man and the boy wished it would last forever.

* * * * *

The old man woke up, and sensed the warm little body nestled against him. He looked around. They had fallen asleep against a door in the sidestreet. “What a dream,” he muttered to himself. He couldn’t figure out how he’d got in the sidestreet, but that was nothing new. He’d woken up in strange gullies after drunken binges before. He just presumed he was waking after another binge. But at least he seemed to have made a friend, this little bundle of energy who, even now, was smiling and kicking in his sleep. “I must figure out a way to buy a present for the little chap,” thought old man D’Souza, “if I can’t give my grandson a present, at least I can give this boy one.”

The boy stirred and woke up, stretching. “What a dream,” he said, “what a strange dream.” Then he looked up at the old man. “You were in it too. Am I still dreaming?”

“No,” said the old man, “this is real. But… I have a job to do. I have to reopen a dialogue.”

“What does that mean?” asked the boy.

“Just that I have to find someone. They moved house long ago and I never bothered to find out where. But this is a small city. I’m sure I’ll be able to find them.”

“Who are they? Maybe I can find them for you.”

The old man smiled. “I doubt it,” he said, “but I’ll tell you anyway. It’s my daughter and her family I have to find.”

“What’s her name?” queried the boy.

“Margaret Fernandes,” said the old man, preparing to rise.

“Oh, I can take you to her!” said the boy excitedly, “I do odd jobs for her every weekend!” And as the boy jumped up to take the old man to his daughter, something fell from his pocket and rolled, tinkling, between the old man’s feet. The old man picked it up.

“A bell,” he said in wonder to no one in particular, “a silver bell!”

Copyright (c) Deepak Morris, 1998-2005

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Life is Beautiful

Life is beautiful when we can sit quietly and admire an ant

Marvel at a grain of sand and find splendour in a spider’s web

Life is beautiful when we can sample nature’s garden

Watch the glistening ocean and walk amongst the trees

Life is beautiful when we can laugh with friends

Share with strangers and have compassion for our enemy

Life is beautiful when we can create our dream

Pursue our passion and share our wealth

Life is beautiful when we can read to a child

Listen to a friend or volunteer our help

Life is beautiful when we can smile at our mistakes

Forgive others for letting us down and heal past hurts

Life is beautiful when we can love and be loved

Break free from oppression and embrace the miracle of our own existence

Life is beautiful when we can stop long enough to understand

That our presence on this planet is a privilege what we make of it is our legacy

Life is beautiful when we can appreciate the diversity of life

Respect and accept our differences and be humbled by our own magnificence

A Dream?

A warm embrace,
eyes, so young and innocent,
skin pale and soft.

The first time,
our lips joined in silent prayer,
the sound of water flowing.

The warmth of your breast,
full and ripe fruit of love,
the taste of salt and sweetness.

I woke up with an emptiness
cold, darkness beside me,
and the lingering smell of lilac.

(C) 2005 Steve Johnston


Silk. It reminded him of the glorious sea waves sliding over each other. Of her smooth body in perfect communion with his. Of her lovely coil of black hair snaking down her bare back. He picked up his pen and began to write. Swirling thoughts in his head made him incapable of capturing them on paper today. Exasperated, he pushed back his chair and with an impatient flick of his hair went outside.

The sky was a purple bruise over the dark ocean. He wanted her desperately tonight. Time stood by and watched him, as he lay down on the sand and stared at the velvet sky above. The stars twinkling there reminded him of the glittering lights that would adorn her huge mansion tonight. Through a film of tears, he saw the stars move from their places and drop upon him like liquid fire. His eyes burned, his heart was ablaze, kindled perhaps by the fire before which she sat, in her red and gold silk sari. Silk on silk, he would say, every time she had draped a silken sari around her silky form. He could never have afforded one. But, that had never deterred him. He would drape her form with gossamer words, he said, or with velvet kisses.

With a start, he got up and walked to the ocean. Of what use were his words now? He kept walking. Silk on silk… he smiled and walked on. He remembered those silky arms twining round his neck as the waves closed over him.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Breath by Maria Stepek Doherty

I breathe out upon this paper,
The beating of my heart,
Out into the wondering world,
A butterfly breath.

It shakes the forests of the Amazon,
Thunders on the mountain peak,
Stirs the distant oceanic deep,
One sacred breath, one heart beat.

I breathe out upon this paper,
In Black words etching
The whiteness of the universe,
Butterfly breath, breathing worlds.

Monday, November 14, 2005


Boring, blasé,
That is what night is today,
How could feng shui
Energy just slip away?

Quiet, a yawn,
Even sound has long been gone.
Time stops, eon,
Dreary-eyed waiting 'til dawn.

Time to arise,
Sunlight pouring in my eyes,
Workload, apprise,
Suffer through the lows and highs.

Caffeine, Pills to
Get me home to try anew,
Clocks roar, I knew,
Sleeping hours are far too few.

(c)2005 by Jack Huber


Man Rays Tears(1932)

I only want to know,
to dream
how your caress would feel
so dizzy for contact,
making me reel.
Unsure how to act,
not good at this game anymore.
sure that your love
will seep through my pores
expose my soul,
now in secret
grows a weedy garden
of needy wasteland.
angst and pain
flows like rain
through the dream-cluttered
gutters of my brain.
My mind
screams a silent
refrain of mistakes.
And in
my dreams,
all that I yearn
seems so far away,
on the highest summit,
out of reach.
for now
I have to teach
myself to wait,
willing fate to
deliver one day.

(c)2005 Gautami S Tripathy

My Island, My Love, and Me

By Carol Roach

The fierce angry heat of the sun gives way to the gentle seductive breezes of the evening. It is inviting; enchanting as it serenades my soul. I gaze into the sky set afire with diamonds,

Proudly glowing

Wickedly sparkling;

Oh the tales they could tell.
I do not want to tell tales. I do not want to speak at all. I stare into my lover’s eyes. He has the most beautiful eyes I have ever seen. The green of his eyes are the envy of all. The beautiful blue/green Caribbean Sea cannot compete with them. The water shines as the gentle waves splash against the shore.
The smell of the sea mist both salty and tangy appeal to our senses. The sea succumbs to my lover’s beauty. The great one gives up the fight for majesty and bows down in homage. Neptune himself gives orders to the gentle breezes

to tease our senses,

captivate our souls.

He is a gracious opponent.
As the waves sing their lullaby, I gaze up to the heavens. The stars are smiling. The moon is full and brimming over with pure joy.
I look again to my lover’s eyes, my husband's eyes. They too are shining; they are spilling over with love.
Quietly we sit at our table. We are oblivious to our immediate surrounding. We know there is much activity going on around us here at the Hilton Hotel but we are unmindful of it all.
Our beings are united as one.

One mind

One heart

One soul.
We are at one with love and at one with the sky, the moon, and the sea.
I feel his hand touch mine as we drink up this paradise, this bliss, and I truly understood the meaning of the song,
"Beautiful Barbados Gem of the Caribbean Sea. You'll find rest; you'll find peace in Barbados. So come back to my Island and me.”

If you are interested in other stories feel free to join her newsletter: Storytime Tapestry at: , or email her directly at

Friday, November 11, 2005

Come Fly With Me

Come fly with me
We’ve earned our wings
The time is ripe today

The game of life
Begun anew
Heralds another way

The sun and moon
The turning tides
Proclaim a pristine day

The currents shift
And jet streams flow
Clouds pass and drift away

Stars in heaven
Inspire and guide
Their gift a grand display

The dance begins
New trails ablaze
Spirits ignite in play

Eyes on heaven
With wings spread wide
We soar on golden rays

From high above
Observing earth
Its splendid disarray

In blues and greens
Our sphere revolves
Brilliance holding sway

Jeweled planet
Spinning through space
In sacred interplay

© 2005 Jodi Flesberg Lilly

Monday, November 07, 2005

Love Unspoken

I have no regrets,
Save the silent whisper of one,
That time on time haunts me
Like a timid well mannered ghost.
Slight shade of a choice once made.

I have no regrets,
Amidst a life serenely lived,
Save for the murmurs in the night
Of wilder dreams that could have been,
Had courage taught my heart to speak.

I have no regrets,
Save that lingering ache
For a path we might have shared,
For a love I left unspoken,
Silence severing what might have been.

Written in a Time of Sadness

Withdrawn from the world outside my window,
I watch through the cracks of the blinds.
Voices echo from below my window,
thunder rattles my walls.

I am alone and feeling the weight of my company,
seeing my own weaknesses in vivid color,
fearing my own shortcomings,
second-guessing my life.

Thoughts echo against the walls,
bare emotions surface exposing flesh,
vulnerable before my own eyes,
digging at myself.

Worthlessness takes root,
love and affection seem distant,
tears well inside,
I am alone.

The weight of my depression pulls at my defenses,
everything is wasted,
I hope you understand,
I am nothing.

There is a moment of light,
the wind blows,
darkness takes hold,
a frozen picture in oblivion.

(c) 2005 Steve Johnston

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Separated By Winter

Despite the cold winter's
Most desolate gloom,
My heart is full
There's simply no room,
Except for the warm
Sensual memories of
The woman whose sweet
Tender touch I love.

I remember embracing
Before my depart,
When the tear in my eye
Came direct from my heart,
I must keep in mind,
Regardless of snow
I will be with her soon;
That much I know

(c)2005 by Jack Huber

Love's Sacrifice by Toni LoTempio

Love’s Sacrifice
Toni LoTempio

The light bothered her.
Turning her head away from the window, the girl fought against the nausea that welled in the pit of her stomach. She’d never felt like this before. She bit her lip and gazed out the window at the breaking dawn.
Colors of purple and pink lit up the early morning sky, and the sun resembled a huge ball of liquid fire. She turned away with a strangled cry and buried herself in her pillow. For some unknown reason, the light affected her strangely.
Her hand went to her throat and touched the necklace she’d worn ever since he’d placed it around her neck. A symbol of their love, he’d said.
Silently she fingered the large gold “B” encrusted with tiny freshwater pearls and her birthstone, the garnet. The blood red of the stone fascinated her.
“This will bind us together for all time,” he’d promised, an instant before he swept her up in his arms and crushed her lips with his own. She’d felt dizzy, light-headed, and assumed it had been from excitement. But now, thinking back, she realized that she’d never really shaken that feeling. Each day, she’d grown worse.
Her eyes rested for a brief moment on the tiny scar on her neck. That, too, had appeared suddenly. Flinging back the covers, she reached a decision. She would find him and make him tell her what was happening.

The hall was silent and she made her way carefully down the stairs. She knew every inch of the old house; still, there was so much that she wasn’t aware of. She paused. In the distance she could hear voices, joined in sing-song chanting. She strained her ears, trying to determine the sound’s exact location. As she went further down the hall, the chanting grew stronger, until at last she came to a brick wall. The voices seemed to be coming from there.
But how could that be?
She pressed her palms against the cool brick. The wall was solid. And yet-
She stiffened. Had she imagined it, or had there been a slight sound behind her, a footfall? Cautiously, she turned her head and felt a sharp pain, as if a million bright lights were exploding in front of her.
She knew no more.

When she awoke, all she saw at first was inky blackness. Then, as her eyes gradually became accustomed to the darkness, she saw that she was in a tiny, windowless room. She went to raise her hand and found that she could not. Both her hands and feet were tied, and she was stretched out on what appeared to be a marble slab. She felt the first beginnings of fear start to slowly rise in her stomach.
“Where am I,” she cried, knowing full well that it was useless. The house was deserted. Who would hear her? Yet someone had to have put her here. A figure emerged from the shadows, then, a figure wearing a long, black hooded robe. As it came closer, the hood slipped back, and she could see the features. She breathed a sigh of relief.
It was her own Alfred.
“Alfred,” she whispered. “You’ve come to rescue me. What am I doing here?”
He smiled down at her, perfect white teeth flashing in contrast to the black of his robe, the olive of his skin. “Ah, Giselle. You are perfect, little one. Do not be afraid. The master will be pleased.”
She tried to raise her head. “The master? What are you talking about? Whose master?”
He stepped back slightly. “Mine, Giselle. And soon, yours.”
She detected a slight movement and gasped in astonishment. From the shadows came several more figures, all dressed like Alfred, in black robes with hoods that hid their faces. Slowly, they began to chant the same chant she’d heard in the hall. She strained against the ropes that held her but they were bound too tightly. Alfred was standing over her, but he seemed different. Gone was her gentle, loving fiancee. In its place was this cold, unfeeling monster.
The chant grew louder and she tugged ever harder, but to no avail. In the distance, a clock started to chime. Alfred reached down into the folds of his robe, drew forth a gleaming knife,held it aloft. In horror she realized what he was about to do.
“No. Alfred. No,” she screamed, and in the background the chiming of the clock and the droning of the chant seemed as one.
With one swift motion, the knife found its mark.

Much later, he removed the necklace from around the throat of the now lifeless form. Slipping it into the folds of the robe, he silently left the room.
He’d loved her, as much as a creature such as himself could love anyone. But it had to be done. There was just no other way.
At least the Master would be pleased.
He leaned back, and a cry escaped his lips, long, loud and bloodcurdling, from the depths of his tortured soul.
He lifted his head. It would be dawn soon. He would have to hurry to get back to the safety of his coffin.
His fingers touched the necklace. His fangs, long and sharp, gnawed against his lower lip.
Soon, very soon, another would wear it. Another would be marked for death.
Another would become the sacrifice.
He raised his arms. For a moment, there was only silence.
Then the gentle flutter of wings as the bat flew away, the necklace clamped firmly between its teeth.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Needing to be free

Snorting the wind
Falling down in slumps
Big Huge Windfalls
Wandering without sense or goal
Humping Thumping
Pete's a Jumping-Jack

Moon over fallen river
Screams of the rats awails
Floating on the sea of gumbo
Barking trees and
Darker Knight's
Smoke is filling the room

Yanking the invisible chain
Memories of a meadow in bloom
Lullabys from a mother's lips
Lights from a home
Surrending to the Misty lull
Failing yet another Day

Cordless phones in duffelbags
Smartchip's and Notebooks
Littering and blisters
Dark alleys and bizz-ness
Foil leaving no marks
Careful holding the pan

Not another winter night
Needing to be free
Lending just a few more
Making money legit that way
Freeing my soul and life
Selling That Magazine each day

Having a purpose
Doing my job
The Big Issue is
Loading and bringing
Life and audacity
Setting us free

Norwegian Coffeeaholic:)
The BewsN'News Blog

Thursday, November 03, 2005

I Remember

I remember his green eyes, beautiful aquiline nose, white skin, and big bushy afro. He was the handsomest man I had ever met. At 19-years-old, he still kept his boy-like appearance. When I looked into his face, I could not help but see the innocence of youth.
As we walked along the street, all the young girls stared at him. Some were bold enough to come up and talk to him, ignoring me completely. I remember how good it felt to be with someone who was so good looking; someone far better looking than I could ever be. I knew other girls wanted him badly but he was mine; all mine.
I remember how generous he was; giving everything he had to anyone in need. Material possessions were not important to him. He received far more joy, just in the act of giving. Sometimes he made me angry, giving away everything like that, but I always loved him for his good heart.
He saw beauty in everyone. He had not yet learned to be suspicious of people in the big city. He had not learned that some people were simply manipulators. Even though I was just as young, we came from two different worlds and I understood the dangers of big city life. He understood the meaning of true friendship and the safety of the island paradise he called home.
He would walk along the streets of Montreal, smile, and say hello to everyone he met. He did not understand why people gave him a funny look and walked away. Everyone in Barbados would nod and say hello. They did not have to know you. All they knew was that you were another human being and worthy of love and respect.
I remember how I was concerned that Tony never really proposed to me. Our son was on the way and we needed to get married sooner than planned. We went to the jewelry store and picked out our rings. My blue-chip diamond gold engagement ring was set in a very unique triangle flower. It was the envy of all my friends. I loved that ring more than any possession I have ever had in my life. I still wear it after all these years even though we have long since divorced. Tony faithfully made weekly payments for three months until he could get it out of the store. But still he had not proposed to me.
I remember Valentines Day, February 14, 1976. It was the official date of our engagement. I remember Tony taking the rings out of the boxes and placing the engagement ring on my hand. I watched as he admired his own wedding band. He turned it around and around in his hand. Oh how he loved that ring.
Just before he put it back into the box and away for safe keeping, he said to me, “Carol, when are you going to marry me? I can’t wait a second longer.” My heart swelled as never before. I finally knew that his heart felt the same way as mine.
Of all the good times we shared before our divorce and before my husband’s illness, I will always remember the beauty of his heart.

Carol Roach

A Native of Montreal, Quebec, Carol is a graduate of Concordia, and McGill University. She holds a bachelor in psychology and a Masters in counselling psychology. Carol Roach is a published writer and newsletter editor. You can purchase her book: Picking up the Pieces: A Woman's Journey at, or You can also go to your local bookstore and order it there as well. Carol’s second book: Angels Watching Over is currently looking for a home. Stay tuned for details.

If you are interested in other stories feel free to join her newsletter: Storytime Tapestry at: , or email her directly at and she will be glad to accommodate you. Carol enjoys email and responds to every inquiry.



Through the years.
Searching for
A cap
Of blue
And red
Warms the heart,
Stirs the soul.
By stark
Black and white.

The baseball diamond.
American turf.
The curse
Is out there.
A goat
And a Chicago bar.
Urban legend?
No matter.
Runs deep.
The championship
So elusive.


Virginia C. Foley

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The Firefly

Rahul had to get out of his house that night. How he would manage to do that, without his parents observing him, needed careful planning. Today, he would be very, very good. He would have his dinner without fuss, and feigning a headache, (something his mother always seem to suffer from) he would go up to bed.

At 8.30 pm, he was in bed. Now, he would have to wait for his parents to go to bed. The problem was staying awake. He kept pinching himself every minute, to keep himself from dozing off.

Rahul felt under his pillow to make sure that his net was there. He had constructed it himself with little bits of netting and a wire loop, and it had a stick for a handle.

He woke up with a start! All was still around him. Looking at his bedside clock, he realized it was 2 am. He must have dozed off. But now he was wide awake. On tiptoe he went, a white figure in his pyjamas, down the stairs, careful not to step on the one that creaked and finally he reached the front door.

Opening it, he felt braver. It was a full-moon night, and the garden seemed silvery. Holding the net in one hand and his slippers in another, he went out and closed the door behind him.

Rahul was a collector. A collector of shells, shiny stones, bright wrapping paper, matchbox labels and tiny models of cars. The latest craze was collecting insects. Beetles and bugs in little matchboxes, with holes on top for air, were lined on his bookshelf. Today, he had to catch a firefly.

The scene that was before him was magical. The dewy grass and cool breeze lifted his spirits. And woke him up good and proper. Now, for that firefly. He hoped to find a dark corner where the three tall trees formed a canopy of sorts, and moonlight made specks on the ground.

He had barely entered the nook, when he heard voices. He stopped in his tracks and pinched himself to see if he was dreaming. OUCH! My God! What a din they made, almost as bad as the boys at school. School! He wished his friends were here. They would never believe him if he told them about this!

“Oh no,” said a caterpillar to another, “Someone’s coming.”

“So late at night!” “How could he have known that we are having a moonlit party?” said another, munching on a leaf.

“Shh… what a din you make.”

“Chomp…Chomp…he’ll catch you and put you in his net as he did with Bugsy Beetle.”

“Let me tell you,” began Miss Ladybird, “that it is not proper to eat in such a manner.”

“Oh, SHUT UP!” came a unison of crackly voices. “The boy is almost here, let’s hide.”
They scrambled under leaves and twigs.

Rahul stopped to listen. Never had he imagined himself to be such an ogre.

“Well,” he thought, “ to work”, as he spied a firefly among the bushes. He quietly crept towards it, when he heard it say, “ Come along, come along, I don’t have all night. Will all the little bugs line up and come together?” it said, lighting the way for the tiny-tots.
Rahul paused, not wanting to disturb their nocturnal activities.

“How could he catch the firefly and leave the little ones in the dark?” He waited patiently for it to come back.

“There it was!”

Rahul managed to put the net over it, when he heard it cry out, “Oh no, don’t, I am needed in the insect kingdom.They cannot see in the dark.”

“You can light up my insectarium,”said Rahul, grinning.

“Bb…but…why do you want to catch us? We’ll die very soon.”

“I’ll give you leaves to eat and water to drink.”

“Little boy, our lives are not very long, let us live in peace in the wilderness.”

Rahul hesitated, but stilling the voice in his heart , he went inside his house stealthily and took out a matchbox.

“Oh no!” screeched the firefly, “Don’t put me in that little cave, I’ll die. I need to fly about, I need to light the way for others.”

Rahul pondered, and said, “But you just said that your life is very short. Why is it so?”

“Because…,”said the firefly, “Mighty Nature has made us live a short life, clambering, creeping, crawling about, as we did not value our time in our previous lifetime, and wasted our lives away. A life is for living for others. You do the same, and see what happiness it brings you.”

Pausing to catch its breath, the firefly continued, “Anyway, what will you do with us? You will show us to your friends, and very soon, when we die, you will throw us away. Let us live and die in your garden.”

Rahul paused awhile.

Shuddering, he remembered the time he had got locked in the garage by mistake.He had spent an hour there, imagine spending a whole lifetime?

One by one, he picked up the matchboxes and went out into the garden. Slowly, he opened them and let out the insects.

“Firefly, firefly, light up their way back to their homes,” he said.
“Sure, little boy, and thank you.”
“Goodbye,” said Rahul, as he saw it flitting among the bushes, a friendly glow in the dark.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The Chair

He wouldn’t let me sell the chair. Or use it for my experiments in carpentry. “See this dining table?” he said one day, when I petulantly demanded to know why I shouldn’t take the chair apart to learn the fine art of furniture making. “It’s the finest I could afford. You can saw it to pieces if you like. But don’t touch the chair.”

I couldn’t see what the big deal was. Sure, it was an old chair. A small chair made for children. I knew the story behind it too. His father, my grandfather, had made several chairs for the local school, and this had been a spare, an extra. I myself had sat in similar chairs in the selfsame school, secretly proud that my grandfather had probably made several of the chairs that accommodated the bums of a couple of generations of schoolboys. But it still didn’t explain why I couldn’t dismantle that chair to learn the secrets of dovetailing and tongue-and-groove joints.

The years telescoped to my thirtieth. Against all odds, I had secured a job in Dubai, UAE.

The night before I left, he sat stroking the chair in a peculiar manner. He would rub his thumb along the edge of the seat, while his thick fingers, the fingers of an artisan, not an artist, caressed the strut that supported the seat.

In his usual style, he began speaking, with no preamble, “He liked to stroke it like this. And one night, he called me and told me to take care of Ma, your grandmother, as he stroked the chair. I didn’t know why he was telling me that. I didn’t know why he was stroking the chair. In the morning, he was gone. He died with his hand on this chair.” He looked at me, and it was the first time in thirty years my father let me see any emotion in him. “Ma,” he said, blinking back the tears I would see only once in my lifetime, “told me why he liked to stroke the chair. He was never around to caress us, so he took the chair with him wherever he had to go to make the money to keep us in school.”

He paused, then, “Go to sleep. We have to leave early so you can catch your flight.”

As I tried to drink myself silly on the flight back for his funeral, I realised why he wouldn’t let me touch the chair, and why he had stroked it the night before I left, as his father had, the night he bid goodbye to his son.

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