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04 August 2011


Babes in such places

by Innerdialect

Babes in such placesSketch of street hula-hooper
© Rayla Noel

1. This kid in the sketch (one of God's own babies in all the wrong places), dear heavens, how many lost kids are there in all? This child in the street came peering into my raised window...not more than 13 and a baby slung across her crumpled shirt. A hula-hooper and contortionist. Body like twisting bronze. Matted hair, black eye, torn lip and fingers like an old womans. Crying,"Didi (older sister), do something for me? Take me home."

2. There was a place on the hill where we were growing up - a home for 'God's own children' as Sister Maria called them. I was seven years old and yet to understand why certain things happened the way they did. Across the kow-towing Asoka Trees in Sister Maria's Home also nested a 'Home for the Aged' and Aunty Jordan, one of its older citizen inmates.

Aunty Jordan was shocking and fun - rouged jowls, violet glare and Scanjammy! A concoction spiked with things form vodka to vinegar, mint leaves and no one dared ask what else. She looked a little like something out of The Chronicles of Narnia. Great white arms, mega-frocks (one was fur lined - she ran by us Labels we could not have recognised back then), ferocious silver curls, jade earrings and tales of romance you wouldn't believe! Yeah, she had lived a life, and lived well. Her nails were always done and she knew things and things about war and silks. Markets and visas. Her son would be home next week. He never came.

We went every Sunday after Chapel. Wild lilies on the walk and pigeons in the stained glass windows. There was an asthmatic little Organ that Susheela the town musician played. It is still the place I visit, inside, when I need to go quiet. Or remember music. Or hushed silences waiting to whisper. Choked giggles and, oh, lunch...ghee rice and salads, red curries and guava jelly...erghghg, even unfinished homework!

I remembered these faces this morning - they provoke and I am wondering why. If this is a good time to ask, may I ask? WHY?

We all have poignant moments we've outgrown, or maybe not. They do not latch on to a value, a cause in our present address, however, maybe tomorrow we will own them. A good thing may come out of it, handled well. I have a few of these and they do not relate to any real (I mean practical/working) part of me except that, wow...yes...they got me sensitive to some issues that I might never have known to look at.

But they're there. Guests that will not leave. Sometimes I want them to just go away...see I cannot help them. And then I want their face to stay because somehow their presence softened me.

Changed me, re-arranged the furniture, opened the blinds, let the sun in. Sometimes laughter. Sometimes pain. They sharpen my pencils and lend me erasers. Ears to listen. Eyes through the glass panes I've built around my life.

That little street girl made me think today. Maybe I'll talk to kids like her if I can. Some of my friends say I shouldn't. I really don't know.

And Aunty Jordan of Narnia? Oh the fun she was! Staring us down if we never drank her brew. My sister swore there was crowfoot and sea weed in it. I am certain as certain can ever be, we gave her the kick she needed, all of us twisting and yelching in her little "parlour" as she called her space, sitting there like a Wild Empress of Romance, spinning tales only she knew were real or not - loving the madness she brought into our existence by the beach.

"...poor lil sinners praying like that every Sunday!" She wept with laughter at my ma's shocked face. "Grace look at your face girl!" (Grace, my Ma loved her!)

Yeah, some amount of madness in a madd-er world out there isn't such a bad idea, huh?

Hey! Today I am going to brew some Scanjammy, as she called it. (Is there such a drink? Aunty Jordan was Jordanian, with a touch of Paris)

Thanks for reading this (and a special thank you to Tracie who inspired me to write again).

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