.....ing, debonair, like Cary and Harry (Belafonte). Noel and Larry. All allure, sliding round their stages, sleek with black bowties and impeccably creased trousers that match their manners and marry the innuendo of their shy-sly glances.
Below the scales is a row of stacked, ill-fitting casseroles, all proclaiming their age. None is less than twenty years old. Generally speaking, it’s better to be vague, as in Joe is a teenager; Mary is in her forties; my casseroles are seasoned. Depending on the company they keep, my plates and pots and pans may be youthful or ancient. Mountains understand this, as do nomads who carry their lives with them and, I imagine, have little desire to keep score. However, the day comes when count we must— but not today. The putting off of the census is an important element in taking stock. Stealth is an ally as is poor eyesight; deafness too. If anyone really wants to know how old the scales are, for instance, they would have to understand a past life wherein the careful weighing of sugar, butter or nuts was essential to putting palatable food on the table, especially important when guests were coming. However, I have always found that the less guests know about the kitchen, and the age of its cookware, the better.
A consignment of eleven hand-knotted Persian carpets
appeared one day at our home in the country. My parents had bought the
lot off the wharf. It was the ‘sixties, a ship laden with carpets had
escaped Iran and found no port to dock until it reached Georgetown. This
boon flooded the house with colour. The largest was a
thick garnet-red pile Iran Tabriz Shuhai Bat desert carpet, ten by
thirteen feet with intricate diamond-shaped geometric patterns in
petroleum blue and russet, laid out in the living room and out of bounds
to us children. We were allowed to walk around the edges and admire the
motifs, and only step into the mystical quadrangle when invited. There,
my mother would teach us their names and show us how to work out the
knot density and value the imperfections as authenticity. The tribal
craftsmen believed that God was the only perfect being, hence the
Persian saying that “a Persian carpet is perfectly imperfect, and
precisely imprecise.” Two other carpets were hung on the walls, the
small Mori in the dining room a dark, blood-red prayer rug with an
arched gold minaret design, and the creamy silk-inlaid Keshan in the
living room with its pale rose and gold pattern of trellised flowers and
birds, not unlike an oriental garden. The Kharak Mosul with its huge
central medallion lay in the dining room, the delicate Russian Bokharas
(my favourites) of warm ruby, topaz and sapphire with their octagonal
patterns were scattered around like gleaming jewels on the polished
floors. It was like travelling the ancient Silk Road
to Samarkand when we had to skirt around the carpeted landscape to get
to the piano and playroom beyond, a corner behind the front staircase
just below the steep tower stairs (that were also out of bounds). That
tower room gave a magnificent panoramic view of the ocean, cane fields,
village cricket ground, canals and back dams, making you lord of all you
surveyed, looking down on nature’s carpet of lush greens and mud
browns. It was our dream house, complete with the ghost of the previous
owner, who walked the corridors at twilight trailing a scent of liniment
behind him, to the chimes and chants of the Hare Krishna monks across
the canal. We children were certain he lived in the tower room. My
mother had the Swami, Father and the Minister over to exorcise him. He
never came back. I wondered what his restless spirit had been seeking. I
was glad he at least got to see our carpets.
Yesterday we recieved an exciting email from our own Charmaine Pauls: Hi ladies,
I recently participated in a short story challenge in a live, online workshop where we had to write a story in a weekend, in under 36 hours, and the anthology titled 36 Hours (I love this title) is the result. It is available as from today. Thought I'd share this exciting concept with you. Wasn't easy, but it was a lot of fun! How about we challenge that and bring out 24 Hours? :-)
Clutching his camera, world famous detective Dick Bright, pressed himself further back into the plastic bags between the rubbish bins. Holding his breath, he sucked in every inch of excess flesh, praying he’d pass unnoticed. The rotting stench enveloped him. But the woman did not look up as she emerged from the green-shuttered house opposite. Manipulating her phone with one hand, she rummaged in her bag with her the other. Then, snapping her phone shut, she gave her full attention to her bag and presently dug out a set of keys. A car? Dick Bright hadn’t considered that possibility. He had Jones waiting at the bus stop, and Szymanski and Petersen on either end of the high street, in case she decided to walk. But it was a white Citroen. She beeped the lock, pulled the door open and introduced herself with one smooth sweeping movement - last in - the tail of her cobalt Pashmina and a crimson high-heeled pump. The engine came to life. Too late to call Jones. He’d have to follow. Carefully maneuvering his wheel-chair out from behind the bins, he rolled slowly forward. The car pulled out ahead of him and set off in the direction of the business district. As it reached the first intersection, Dick heaved hard on the chair wheels, using the full strength that his arms had accumulated in three years of wheel-chair pushing. Forty yards on, the road started its steep descent into town. Dick pulled harder and felt himself hurtling past the intersection, faster, faster, catching her up. Only fifty yards separated them now. Abruptly, as they reached a bend, she slowed and pulled into the curb. Dick slammed on his brakes, but they were not built for heavy duty. He careened on, past the corner, past the car, down, down the hill towards the village. Then suddenly, from out of nowhere, Jones materialized in front of him on a bicycle. “Back there!” yelled Dick. “On the right!” He felt his wheel-chair swerve and totter. “Not her!” Jones voice floated back to him. “She got the train! Come back man!” But there was no stopping the chair. Wildly, he scanned the road ahead for a soft spot to crash. The station wall, or the back of the furniture removal lorry? Why didn’t he just listen to his wife and retire to Brighton?
You sit on the ground shaping mud pies, squeezing the damp, gooey slush between your plump fingers. Mom chides, “Look how dirty you are!” Dirt is now undesirable, shameful. Dirty face, ears, hands and feet provoke frowns. Dirt under the fingernails belongs in a mechanics’ shop. Wash, scrub, scour, brush, sanitize, cleanse, disinfect, dust, vacuum. Imagine a world without dirt. No fragrant soil. Ah, this soil is so rich. You imagine the sighs of the sow bug, the earthworm, the centipede, the ant and the bumble bee. Dirt is our ‘home sweet home’ declare the snake, the rabbit, the mole and the fox, the prairie dog and the penguin and burrowing owls. We, too, cry the potato and the carrot, the radish, the celery. Our roots dig deep declare the lettuce, the squash, the corn and the tomato. And what about us proclaim the trees: lemon and apricot, cherry and avocado, the apple and the pear. Soil feeds and hydrates us and holds us upright. Without soil, says the river, where could I flow, what canyons and valleys could I carve? The horse asks: where could I roll? Rover whines: where will I bury this bone? The squirrels: and my acorns? And the sparrows sing: where could we bathe? Wild lupine wonders where she could spread her seeds. Autumn leaves ponder where to lie and decompose. And you, who’d hoped for a loamy, soft forest floor, wonder where your final resting place will be.
Benjamin wrapped in a blanket Weighing 4lbs. Silky packages, suspended in corners, Picnics for spiders People on planes, pod-packed all night Solitary in company. Two coconut confections, on a pla… Oops, that’s Marooned macaroons!