This is something a bit different – akin to stream of consciousness.
I am posting this piece to help fill the gap before I get to finish off Paternity properly for you.
It’s unashamedly inspired by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the astonishing Colombian short story writer.
Warning – it’s not a fun yarn!
After 1994 when a military coup ushered in an era of soaring poverty within their native land, Haitians in their thousands attempted to flee the misery, many in small boats making illegally for America They did so with the aid of their faith, Voodoo, a national religious folk cult characterised by a mixture of Roman Catholic ritual elements which date from the period of French colonisation, and the theology and magic of Africa.
The hold is dark and dank and it is filled with eyes and I am twenty-five years old and refuse to live any longer working working in the wretched poverty of Haiti my Caribbean homeland, working so long and so hard and yet still in a boarding house room with thirteen others and little food between us all, and now I am in this boat called ‘Belief in God’ with so many eyes, but on the way to something different and better in the USA even though death may come before we make it however I am prepared for that and I am prepared to face this sour taste and swollen tongue and the parched lips of thirst, and the stench and the crush of these bodies and the stomach pain from hunger and the stiffness because I can’t stretch out my limbs, and the cursing and the bucket with the faeces and the vomit, and the groans and the retching and the yells, followed on other days by the gentle sharing talk of hopes and dreams and of times past, and the stars glimpsed through the trapdoor, open at last, when you know it is all worth while for a change from everything that has gone before, but then the returning doubts that crash in with the roaring of the wind, and the screeching of the timbers, the flapping canvas and the bucking and lurching as this frail little boat groans and screams its way up mountainous waves and into never ending chasms of dark green water when all forty of us would slide as one across the hold, a tangled mass of pain and sweat and cursing only to be tossed with force in the opposite direction to confront other gnarled timbers and tumbled limbs, then the blessed relief when the boat is quiet again and they give you just two mouthfuls of water that taste better than any feast, when you clutch your Good Book closer, thanking Him for Deliverance, while those around finger little flags and chant against the sound of a strangled squawk when the captain on deck slaughters a rooster as sacrifice to our safety, and he scatters perfume among us, a scent that cuts the stench but briefly, and the sun beats down, hotter every hour and the hold is an airless furnace and we sink into ourselves: vessels of fear that takes over from our fading memories and hopes, and a drum beats above, beating … beating … and the naked bodies writhe and the sweating limbs are snakes slithering and ensnaring, and I wonder for my reality, before sinking even further into myself, the drum beating is the beating of my being and the black walls of the hold closer now, and I do not wish to move, even when the opportunity comes, and I cannot move, and the little voodoo flags and the charms drift through the thick black air, and the rooster crows, and the priest captain chants to Agwe, the spirit of the sea, and Christ is on his cross, flesh blooded from the tearing of thorns, and I am escaped from my misery.
I'm past my 70th birthday and undaunted.
So far I can look back on probably a dozen different phases in my life, all producing deeply felt experience:
- A barefoot carefree childhood in an Australian seaside town
- Work as a young journalist in the days of hot metal and male chauvinism
- Dipping my toe into real life in Sydney the big city
- Marriage and precious motherhood
- A second career in corporate public relations management
- Another marriage and disillusion
- Battles for financial justice in the law courts
- Re-jigging a career
- At 60 my first university degree (Creative Writing and Australian History majors)
- Fighting sometimes lost causes
- Sneaky aches and pains of the approach of age
- Living on a pension.
All fodder for writing and a valuable background for the development of what could become one day an incisive point of view.
My blogs may become a way of answering the question: 'What's next?'