Tag Archive: fear


 

Since the U.S is planning on building a wall on the U.S-Mexican border, I say we all build one too. Why should they have all the fun? Please see below for instructions. Happy Building!!

Let’s build a wall around ignorance

and pay for it with our pride.

Let’s build a wall around persecution

and trap the hatred inside

Grab hold of Fear and toss ’em in there

right next to greed and corruption

Who really cares what people will say

as we hasten our own destruction?

Let’s build this wall around the lies

that throttled the truth to death

And soaked it with a viscous poison

to smother the righteous’ breath

Raise the bar but lower the standards

it’s all the same to me

What’s money and power and fame

compared to simple integrity?

Let’s build that wall around ourselves

and leave nobody out

For within that bloody wall

we are ALL

Humanity without doubt.

 

You know that saying if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all? I always wondered what made some people so deliberately…..nasty towards others. As an author, in order to have some insight into the world in which I and others live, try as I must I can’t avoid the news. My home page is set to MSN so once I get on the internet, that’s the first page that comes up. Let me be honest from the get-go. I’m a comments reader. I like to see what reaction people are having to what’s going on around them and no, I don’t go lurking on the internet prying into other people’s thoughts. I don’t fancy being one of the “shit stirrers” or being stirred for that matter. I pretty much do the same thing at the cinema. I note the reaction or non reaction of others to certain scenes that may be funny, scary, vexing or sad to me. I know what you’re thinking. I spend too much time paying attention to others. Well, in a way yes. Being observant, as I like to call it, have pretty much helped me to keep my hide safe from predators and the like. Anyway, that’s for another topic.

I’m bringing this up because as our world gets smaller; as lines become blurred; boundaries are erased and walls are knocked down, our penchant for intolerance, fear, prejudice and downright hatred of anything unfamiliar has become more obvious. Don’t get me wrong, the human race has a disgraceful history of what fear and/or hatred of the unfamiliar can bring about. Out of respect for the victims of that dark history, I will not mention them here, but you’d have to be living under a rock to not know to what I’m referring.

You’d think we would have learned from those days and try our damnedest to avoid leaving a stain like that on our species but nope. If I had the power to communicate with every one who posted a snarky, insulting or beastly message on Twitter, Facebook or any social media (YouTube is the prince of them all. You should see what goes on in there), I would ask, “Is it so difficult to present your opinions and thoughts in a respectful manner? Does it hurt to utter words that are not dripping with bile and venom?”

We’re supposed to be creatures of higher intelligence. We’re supposed to be able to present our thoughts and ideas with respect for ourselves and those around us. At school, in English class we learned to write argumentative essays. A good essay was one that presented both sides without demeaning one or the other.  Similarly, in debate competitions, any attempt to make derogatory comments about the opponent would immediately get you and your team and your school disqualified. Politicians are the worst examples at debating. I don’t know about the rest of you who may or may not be reading this, but I wouldn’t trust anyone who spent more time mud-slinging instead or trying to convince me that he/she is the best person to manage the country’s affairs.

I sometimes wonder what it would be like if we were to shut down all social media outlets, barricade the invisible doors, build back those walls between races and cultures. Would we be better off? Would we be nicer to one another if we only  had to deal with that which is familiar? Or is it too late?

The human race has already clocked past 7 billion. The world is getting smaller. I don’t believe we can afford to create conflict when really none is necessary. Imagine two hundred very angry people in a room the size of your bedroom. Care to guess what kind of experience that would be? Of course if your bedroom is the size of a football field then you won’t have a clue what I’m talking about. Those of you who can imagine this, expand your eyes afield a bit. There are 7.2 billion people living on a planet that’s choking and suffocating under our collective weight. Add the weight of our malcontent and you have a disaster waiting to happen. I don’t think we can stop wars by simply being courteous. I’m idealistic, not delusional. But it’s a start. I’d prefer we start somewhere than go nowhere.

We’re a difficult species you know. Complex, brilliant, inspiring and deadly. That’s a lot to deal with.  The hard knocks of human co-existence can be softened by just saying something nice. No need for sonnets and poems and ragas and ghazals. You can keep it simple. And if it hurts to be nice or polite or respectful, just say nothing at all. Trust me, no one will mind.

Her Fury

This weekend, for want of something better to do I sat and watched surfing. I must have skipped past the channel in my quest for something entertaining that wasn’t reality t.v. Honestly, trying to watch television today is like wading through muck with flip-flops. I gave up and finally settled down to watch grown men tackle the one woman they could never really conquer.

I have a pathological fear of the sea. My dreams have been plagued with walls of water approaching, threatening life and limb. I once thought if I learned to swim then I could overcome this fear. Hah! Fat chance! I paid for the lessons but spent most of the class cowering and whimpering in a corner of the pool where I could easily cling to the bars and so keep myself from drowning….in my own fear. I justified my cowardice with the fact that I’m only 5′ 5″ and they put me in water that was five feet deep. Really? I loved the baby pool though. I can swim in three feet of water, start me off that way.

There’s something about water, well any element actually. It’s unconscionable and uncontrollable. There’s also something beguiling and comforting about water. She can be seductive and vindictive all at once. I find myself drawn to her beauty and repelled all at the same time. Recorded images of the 2004 and 2011 tsunamis still haunt me. I could never imagine how it must have felt as that wave came thundering towards them. I fly into a panic whenever I see fast flowing water. Then you see those surfers who frolic amongst walls of water that would give me a heart attack in installments.

This weekend I watched as the surfers tumbled and crashed into the waves. I’d like to know how many millilitres of adrenaline were being released into their bloodstream during that activity. And if that wasn’t enough, I went onto YouTube to hunt down more videos of waves.

You’ve got people who are drawn to fire, those who chase the wind, those who study the earth and then there are people like me who have come too close to being swallowed up and spat out by the sea. As a human being, there are many things in this life to be afraid of, but never have I felt fear such as this. For me there is nothing more terrifying than gasping and clawing for air as your own frantic heartbeats are magnified by the volume of water crashing over you. There’s nothing to grab on to except the very water that slips through your fingers. Salt water burns like hell when it is forced down your throat and nose.

It’s like a game that she plays with you. Each time you gain firm ground she creeps up behind you and pulls you back. If the sea could be painted as woman, I envision her laughing as she tosses the hapless human about, eyes sparkling at the joy of her own power.

People have asked me if I can swim and when I say that I can’t they look confused. “But you lived on an island.” They would say. “Yes, but I lived on land, not in the water.” I would retort.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the sea but only when there are no waves at all. Only when the water is as flat as a table, then and only then will I go near. I was a regular beach bug when I was a kid, water did not frighten me much then.

There’s a poem that I had written when I was younger . Again for want of something better to do, I wrote about an experience at the beach in the hope that I could push past it. But it looks like I haven’t.

 

 

Her Fury

 

I sat upon the shore one day

And looked across at her and

Wondered how it could be

That one with such calm and beauty

Could possess such fury.

 

I sat upon the shore that day

As I watched her foam and fret

Lashing and thrashing away

At the rocky sentinels

Which guarded her.

 

There was once a time when I skipped

Happily into her voluminous midst

Unaware of a treachery beneath

A beguiling surface.

 

She took a deep breath

Sucking me in like paper into

A vortex of rage

And then she let it out,

Wave upon wave of unbridled cruelty

Madness had come over her.

 

Her fury kept me down

And we struggled,

SHE, For supremacy,

I, For what was mine.

 

And then,

Clawing, crawling and gasping,

I coaxed the bruised

And battered shell of myself

Towards firmer ground

Praying that my retreat

Would signal defeat

and she would leave me be.

 

With one last act of

vindictiveness

Her foamy fingers pushed me forward

And like driftwood

I floated towards shore.

 

As I gaze from upon the shore this day,

I wonder,

How one blessed with such beauty

Could be cursed with such fury.

 

Superstition and folklore are part and parcel of any culture. The Irish have their banshees, leprechauns and changelings and their share of superstitions that get them through the day; the Scottish have their kelpies, selkies and their beloved Nessie as well as superstitions that declare that it is unlucky to have a black cat in a room where a wake is taking place or to see a funeral procession on one’s way to a wedding; the English have their boggarts, elves, dwarves, wyverns, dragons, ogres, goblins, witches, wizards and the list goes ever on, however, most of these have been taken from Celtic and Germanic sources.

When I was growing up I heard stories of soucouyants, lagahou, la jablesse, Papa Bois and duennes and duppies. Superstitions and folklore were a part of daily life. There was this one time, I must have been about ten as I hadn’t written my common entrance exams yet and I was at the back of the house brushing my teeth since we didn’t have indoor bathrooms at that time. There were a lot of bushes at the back partially blocking the view of the houses there. It must have been about nine o’clock and I was just washing up before bed time. Normally people burned dried rubbish; leaves and branches that they had piled up after cleaning the yard so seeing fire and smelling smoke wasn’t a novelty – except for this one time.

I was mid brush when there was a large wall of fire amongst the bushes. I say wall, because that’s what it looked like to me. This fire did not burn steadily. It did not lick at the bushes, nor did it set them alight. There was no smoke. The wall turned into a column before it disappeared amongst the bushes again. I dropped my toothbrush in the sink and sped inside. I had never seen fire behave like that before. I waited around in the kitchen as my mother cleaned up and packed away lunches for school next day. Perhaps she didn’t notice remnants of toothpasty spittle still around my mouth. My eyes were fixed on those bushes. The wind rustled them a little and they swayed – nothing unusual. It was only when mum called me from outside, asking why did I leave my toothbrush in the sink – then I went out.

I continued brushing my teeth as I kept one eye on the bushes and one eye on my mother to make sure she didn’t leave me outside. I must have looked like a brown gecko. Now from what I heard tell, this could have been a soucouyant. In Trini folklore, a soucouyant is an old woman who sheds her skin at night and puts it in a mortar, she then turns into a fiery ball and travels around, slipping into houses through cracks and crevices in the house where she will suck the blood of her victims. She is never seen during the day and the only evidence of her presence is a flaming ball of fire.

Well I didn’t see a flaming ball of fire – I saw a wall of fire. It didn’t matter, better be safe than dead. I remembered what my classmates and I talked about at school – well, they talked, I listened with the hair on my skin standing as straight as needles. Apparently if you put enough salt in her path, she would be unable to cross it before counting every single grain. The container of salt was almost empty. There was probably only a handful left for cooking a few times over. Mum would not have liked it if I emptied the rest on the floor. One cannot use salt after it’s been on the floor soucouyant or no soucouyant. So I just used very small pinches and flung it all over the place in the hope that the blood sucker would seek out every last grain, wherever it fell, before she pulled out her champagne glass and her straw and came at me.

I went to bed that night with all my senses tingling like Spider Man. Every time I felt that I was falling asleep, I would jolt myself awake. However, I was only a ten year old human and sleep claimed me for better or for worse. When I woke up I checked myself for blue black marks over my body – supposedly the tell tale signs of her dinner service which you, the poor victim unwittingly provided. I was glad, there were none. Mum made no mention of marks on my sisters or herself and my dad, well, if he had any, he kept them to himself. He was already revving the car before leaving for work.

Just a little note about our car – it could not move without ten to fifteen minutes of revving. Whenever we had to go anywhere, while we were getting dressed, dad would be outside in the car, in the hot sun revving the hell out of that vehicle and once it finally jerked out of place and rolled out of the yard, we knew it was time for us to lock up and meet him outside. This was done wherever we went. It would explain why we stopped driving to the drive in and ‘walked in’ instead. Oh the embarrassment. Still, that car took us from A to B and with a little coaxing and a lot of petrol, it even got us to Z……sometimes.

Anyway, enough about the ghastly car, let’s focus again on the ghastly old bat who was supposed to come and visit us that night. I never heard anything about the fire in the bushes because there was no fire. The bushes were as they had always been, lush and green – a fence provided by nature. They rustled in the wind acting as if nothing had happened, as if everything was as it should be. I thought no more of it until recently.

I don’t know what brought it to mind, perhaps because I never really told anyone. They wouldn’t have believed me anyway. I was ten and I had an imagination that always left me feeling more disconnected from the world in which I lived. There was no reason for anyone to believe me. But, I know what I saw.

You believe me….don’t you?

 

 

Glossary

 

Lagahou – derived from the French le loup garou which means lycanthrope. A lycanthrope is what is commonly called – a werewolf. In Trini speak, a Lagahou (pronounced lagahoo or ligahoo – depending on who tells the story) can take the form of any animal – it is basically a shapeshifter. It roams the night with chains around its neck and has been said to leave a sickly sweet scent behind it which can be smelled for miles away.

La Jablesse – derived from the Spanish La Diablesse which is literally translated as she-devil. She is described as a beautiful woman who lures men to her and once they get near they discover that she has a cloven hoof, by then it’s too late for them.

Papa Bois – A wood spirit. He lures poachers to their deaths by changing up pathways, disorienting them. They either go mad or die first.

Duennes – These are children who died before they were baptised and are thus fated to roam the forests. It is said that one must never call out the names of one’s children who have not yet been baptised for the Duennes will learn their names and lure the children into the forests where they will keep them forever.

Duppies – These are spirits that stay on Earth and haunt those who have wronged them.

Soucouyant – (Pronounced soo-coo-ya) Read the story.

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