Tales from the Diaspora

I’ll admit it, I hung my parents out to dry long ago. However, I am not immune to the occasional glimmer of compassion brought on by insights into the complexity of their lives and factors that contributed to making them the people I know. A recent glimmer can be traced to a late onset appreciation of The Weeknd’s I Feel it Coming. One minute I was grooving to my new favourite song, switching from the original to alternate versions including an 80s version complete with hair and outfit of that era. I also came across a cool trick to edit the url of the original to be transported to an ambient verison but I can’t remember how to do it- please let me know if you know what I’m talking about.

While I was wading in the sink hole of ProcrastYounationTube™, a video by Eritrean-American Bethlehem Awate, titled When Habesha Parents Discover the Weeknd…caught my eye, ‘Habesha’ being a loose term for people from the highlands of the Horn of Africa. For the sake of simplicity, and because I am not a scholar in the area, let’s say it is a loose umbrella term for Ethiopians and Eritreans. Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, better known as The Weeknd is Canadian of Ethiopian descent. I was born in Ethiopia, moving to Australia at the age of six where I have since spent most of my life, save for a four year stint in Europe. Continue reading

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A Seat at the Table

Image by Annie Spratt, Sonya's three line tales week fifty, flash fiction / microfiction prompt
Photo by Annie Spratt

Not for the first time, I approached the table that had been set for eleven, my mother’s best plates out for the occasion and a sense of abundance and joie de vivre conjoured on the surface by a decadent floral burst and fruit too waxy to tempt a bite. I stood at the head of the table, guests paused in a still life for my perusal, waiting for their cue. I noted they were all there- my three brothers, mother, father; their faces, clothes, expressions and mannerisms reflected by their mirrored selves across the table; my role as hostess was to select the ‘right’ version of each family member to take a seat, at which point I’d wake to the clammy anxiety of the pre-emptive consequence of getting it wrong, leaving the cold bone china plates empty, my appetite suppressed.

 

Inspired by Sonya’s 3 Line Tales, Week Fifty.

Toddler Q&A

Some questions require phoning a friend.

When I imagined life as a mother, it wasn’t tending to a two month old at 3am or changing a protesting one year old’s nappy that I pictured, but rather, long conversations with a verbose toddler questioning everything around him…and that time has come! At the age of 2 years, 4 months, 5 days, 14 hours (approximately) my boy has reached a significant milestone. Today he uttered his very first “why?” and with the release of that one syllable, changed the course of our lives forever, asserting his mind and sharing its wondrous workings. The momentous occasion was in response to his daddy telling him I had gone to work. Why? Oh, if only he knew I ask myself that very question four days a week. From now on, I am going to have to in turn question myself and the ‘truths’ I share, as well as expectations I have on everything from the need to say please and thank you, to the reason he must get up off a supermarket floor that he is glued to with the formidable adhesive formulation that is will power, snot, and tears.

Aside from the inevitable instances where I will likely wish he’d get on with what I ask and not question things, I am excited about conversations to come; the broad range of topics I will have to research and learn alongside him; and, the fresh take on things I have taken for granted, waking up my comparatively dulled sense of curiosity and wonder.

Why doesn’t the moon fall down? Why is it called a zipper? Why do some camels have one hump and some have two?  Why did the chicken cross the road? Even thinking up hypothetical creative questions is hard work!

I expect there to be plenty of questions I will not have neat answers for, but will encourage his interest nonetheless: questions about our very existence, death, bigotry, inequality, the nature of time, the future. So let the fun begin- I have no prepared answers and will have to take it one question at a time. Actually, I do have one prepared answer- if he ever asks:

Why do birds suddenly appear every time you are near?

 I’ll break out in sudden song like they do in musicals and respond with:

Why do stars fall down from the sky, every time you walk by?

Depending on where we are and whether he is at the age of being embarrassed by me, that may be the last “why?” I ever get.

 

Has a child every stumped you with ‘Why?’ Please share the question and your response, to help me compile a FAQ list that I will carry on me at all times for reference in the event of no internet service.

Childhood

Painting of siblings used as microfiction prompt
Portrait der Geschwister Fromknecht, Alwin Arnegger 1915

She’d resigned herself to her fate. It hurts knowing she was younger than my two children are now. Carefree and with a resolute sense of entitlement, they claim stakes on all their wants and needs. There I was, eager to please and do my best to negotiate a better outcome. It was hard to balance the joy I felt with the sadness at what it could mean for her. That day shaped me. Yet another piece of baggage I’ve hauled from one year to the next. I have never stopped feeling the guilt.

With time, I’ve been able to rationalise and know it was no fault of mine, but there is always the little boy inside saying maybe I could have told them how clever she was, how kind, how good she was at drawing. Maybe I should have said that if they don’t take her too, then I wouldn’t go. But how could I say no to the one thing we all wished for? Praying like the sisters taught us, hands pressed together tight, as thought that would make a difference, asking for nothing more than a family. Except family for me meant Adelais and a mum and dad.

 

Exactly 200 words for Jane Dougherty’s Microfiction Challenge #1. What does the image say to you? This was the first train of thought I had, seeing the expressions on the subjects faces. Join in and share your take on the prompt (follow link to Jane’s challenge for details).

Luminosity

Image of the Bubble Nebula, Three Line Tale prompt for flash fiction
Photo by NASA

“Mission control, do you read me? The nebula is burning at a greater intensity than previous recordings, just concerned the hubble is drifting since yesterday’s calibration.”

“Mission control here, Captain- news just in suggests the increased luminosity coincides with a terrestrial event in the Southern Hemisphere of Planet Earth at roughly 03:00 GMT, little boy blowing out his birthday candle, a lunch time celebration in his local time.”

The astronaut breathed a sigh of relief, first mission nerves had made her question her judgements, but it seemed it was the instrument’s range that required adjustment in this instance- the kid is a force to be reckoned with.

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Happy 2nd birthday to my little boy – my constant source of love and inspiration, combined here with image prompt from Sonya’s Three Line Tales Week 19. Fittingly, the NASA image is an anniversary pic celebrating the Hubble Telescope’s 26th year in orbit. The fiery object is a Bubble Nebula, cloud and hot gases released by the brilliant star at its core. Other pics capture the birthday boy and the moment that threw NASA’s measurements off, and his observation of a sound/light/bubble installation in Melbourne, taken yesterday by Richard Baxter, also known as Daddy.

Splitting Heirs

Frayed oraange rope, writing prompt for flash fiction
Photo by Wynand van Poortvliet

She always said family is strengthened by sticking together through life’s twists and turns.

As the matriarch, she’d kept us close with her stories, recipes that could not be recreated by anyone else, and hugs that spoke volumes where words failed to capture the nuances of shared joys, sorrows, or more often, everyday moments that would have otherwise gone forgotten if not infused with her love.

Now her home spun twine is unraveling, edges frayed from the tug-o-war over everything she’s left behind.

a life quest of love

ties woven in her heart’s loom

pulse of the bloodline

cardiac arrests the rein

a legacy unravels

 

Prose inspired by Sonya’s Three Line Tales, Week 17, tanka inspired by RonovanWrites’ Weekly Haiku Poetry Prompt Challenge #98 (quest, rein).

After coming up with the title, I looked it up to see if one of the other 7billion people on the planet had thought up that combination. Yes, apparently not much original thought remains (I’m kidding), there is a film of the same name that has received an 8% rating on rotten tomatoes, ouch! Have you seen it?  Would that rating stop you from watching it, or would you happily put aside 1 hour and 27 minutes of your life for a little Rick Moranis?

House Sitting Ducks

Week 4 already? Bringing a little creative non-fiction into the 10 week series, I invite you to jump into the world that was mine many moons ago, at the age of 12. Click on the pic to be transported. Watch for road works, flammables and eye rolls!

This week’s edition is a response to one of WordPress’ Writing 101 prompts. The course encouraged me to explore personal stories (which until then, I’d shied away from on this blog) and experiment with different writing styles and narrative voices. I feel I stumbled onto something good with this post, and hope to one day build on it for a longer story.

Want to check out what else you can find among the tumbleweed? Click on the menu item “travel through the tumbleweed’ at your leisure!