A quiet fireworks of sand balls appear across the beach, patterned universes of tiny planets made anew after every high tide by jubilant architects.
They roll out hope beads tirelessly, one after the other, in search of nothing but the fulfilment of nature. Yet for anyone who would pause to observe, they leave beautiful stories.
I met the Sand Bubbler Crab and her meticulous masterpieces on a calm, pristine beach in Malaysia and immediately fell in love. The perfect little bubbles forming shapes of palm trees and flowers, the small transparent worker I would have easily missed, busy rolling away the sand, unaware of the magic she creates, the stories she’s inspired! If I might be like that Sand Bubbler Crab! ❤
If you’re as fascinated as I am with these lovely creatures, here’s a wonderful article and film.
I’ve always wanted to be a writer-poet. There, I said it!
Writer. Poet. The words stop me in my tracks, make my breath catch tight in that place right under the collar bones. A torrent of thoughts – how I dreamed and failed at being a writer, how dare I come even close to insinuating that I could be one, how misguided I was to choose the path of corporate ambitions knowing full well it wasn’t my soul’s calling nor was the option “as just as fair” and who would want to read any of this crap anyway? … you get the drift.
But you know what? The stories refused to go away! They circled inside me like hungry hounds, waiting to be fed and set free. And like hungry animals fed up of being ignored, they made sure to disrupt my comfortable life with snatches of story and verse so compelling it made my heart ache to ignore them.
So decades after leaving behind that bolder version of me who dreamt of embracing the world with her words, I’m starting on this journey to re-find (fr. retrouver) her. The first step was to write. Just write. And also have fun. So the best way to combine the two was to start this blog.
Now I’d like to grow up with this blog as a poet (argh!) and thankfully, WordPress is super supportive of new bloggers and offers all kinds of free courses!
Day 1 task of the Branding & Growth course is to set three goals so here goes:
Reach 100 followers by December 2016 (someone please tell me if this is crazy)
Today, everything was as it should be, I’m pleased to report.
The trudging along familiar grainy pavements to and from my nine-to-five
– a dreadfully important occupation of course –
eyes down, mind focused
on not getting consumed by this dogged tropical heat and boredom.
The same old impassive structures I pretend to ignore,
secretly wishing I owned one of those small, dark holes in the sky.
The impatient parade of Toyota’s and BMW’s filled with people (like me but richer)
rushing to and from important places at 28.9 km per hour.
But wait a minute!
Look at those plump, buttery clouds
Big bosomed ballerinas secretly waltzing across the horizon…
a dead giveaway!
Beautiful totems in fact (a spinning top would have done nicely too)
reminding me that this reallyis the dream.
We could perhaps visit the little tea house in the ancient Byodoin temple together?
“What? Travel all the way there?”, you would have said. It’s not so far away, the little town of Uji. It has been at the centre of green tea production in Japan for over 800 years… well-worth the 30 minutes by train from Kyoto (and however many hours by flight to reach Kyoto). I would tempt you by saying that they serve the most delicate tea and sweets, knowing that you, like me, wouldn’t be able to resist beautiful Japanese sweets!
We would enter the all-glass tea house that lets in all of that afternoon’s spun-gold light. We would sit at the smooth dark wooden table, silent for a few good minutes, until we had our fill of sun.
Your choice this afternoon would be gyokuro tea, “drops of jade” in Japanese, best enjoyed in small, slow sips. We would be fully conscious that we were sharing a rare moment, both of us together, sharing tea. We usually prefer coffee – the smell, taste and effect are more in keeping with our rush-about lives it seems. Tea, on the other hand, requires another type of resolve… we would have to wait. The tea is even served with an hour glass to let us know when it’s time to sip the fragrant liquid, lest we ruin the potential of the taste with impatience. If only there was an hour glass for all potentially perfect moments, we may give up much less often “five minutes before the miracle”!
With the hot tea between our hands and the aroma of turning inwards filling the air, we would be tempted to talk about the past, to apologize for all the missed miracles and the people we did not manage to become. But we would resist that this afternoon and enjoy the moment.
There’s something exciting, romantic, intense even about chance encounters that take place late at night or in the wee hours of the morning.
The darkness seems to cover every trite corner with possibility, to transform normally uninteresting characters, including ourselves, into shiny heroes and fairies.
An intimacy that may have taken months to unwrap often reveals itself in a few hours in conversations that probably wouldn’t have taken place in the constraints of day.
Every haphazard brushing up against another soul that happened late at night left a kind of imprint. This is the first of those encounters.
The country’s first 24-hour music festival in 1990,
a gathering of indie and rock bands, cool kids and artists, at the Garden
an arts space watched over by a sprawling Banyan tree
adorned with fairy lights in the middle of a large concrete compound
surrounded by short graffiti-covered walls.
My big sister (the cool kid) let me tag along that night,
a shy, skinny, long-haired, sheltered preadolescent
in jeans and a yellow cotton shirt.
Before he appeared, the night was all very loud music
boom-booming in my insides, even louder laughter, heat and smoke,
hot sweaty bodies pressed together in camaraderie.
At close to midnight, he arrived – someone’s younger brother.
There was a massive two-year gap between us, me a little girl
to his full-blown teenage worldliness. I was afraid
of his good looks and self-assurance, of my own scarcity.
The first thing he said to me was “Where did you get your bracelet?”
and before long we were chatting about favourite songs, school
and faraway countries we couldn’t event point out on a map.
He built a bridge with gentle gestures and silly jokes to reach me,
coaxed me out of my rabbit hole of insecurity
to stand bravely in the spotlight of his attention.
Time stopped, the music stopped, me being me stopped.
I remember details like smells, textures, sounds.
I remember him carrying me above the grown-up crowd so I could watch the band, covering my head with his large palms when it started to drizzle suddenly as it often does in the tropics. I remember exchanging bracelets, holding hands when we navigated through the crowd because
“I don’t want to lose you” he said.
I remember how he drew a rocket that carried his name
toward a cratered moon that carried mine
on the graffiti littered wall.
We parted ways when it got light.
For many months after that chance encounter,
I would go to the Garden often after class
to leave messages beside our rocket moon on the wall and
sit under that protective Banyan tree,
waiting for him to show up maybe, or myself.
I never saw him again but I remember him,
the first boy who made me feel lovely.
8 May is Mother’s Day in my part of the world so I want to celebrate my mum.
We have a complicated relationship. But I’m grateful for her. Happy Mother’s Day to all mums out there – what a tough and beautiful job you have.
I learned from my mother how to draw cats with 2 circles, 2 tiny triangles, 4 lines for whiskers and 1 curly one for the tail. She drew those cats and a table to teach me the concepts of “under” and “above”, knowing I would pay attention if cats were involved.
I learned from my mother what pretty looked like, carefully drawn eyes and red lips, the biggest, shiniest jewels and perfume that floated upon everything that dared to come near.
I learned from my mother how to love to read, to always be surrounded by books, drift off to sleep with a story dancing in my head, savouring the worlds from carefully crafted words.
I learned from my mother how to count calories, eat broiled everything from beans to chicken breast, to hate that and eat whatever I want, to coat stress or hurt with chocolates and puffs, to wheel and deal emotions through spoonfuls of soup.
I learnt from my mother how to let go of very bad things that could sometimes happen to ingenuous people and find respite in beaded bookmarks, pickled ginger or winning this afternoon’s Rummy-o.
A few months ago, I did a raw, fascinating writing workshop by Laurie Wagner. One of our assignments was to write a piece from the jump-off point “I learned from my mother how to” which is being shared here.