Posts Tagged ‘#questions’
I love cartoons and comic books. Always have. These days, if I come across these New Age cartoons on telly or in a publication, I give them a chance if the characters look half-way decent (I’m sorry Chowder, you and your lot look far too scary.) She-Ra, He-Man, Captain Planet, Gargoyles, Popeye, Archie & Veronica, Beano, Pingu, Dennis the Menace (both the sweet blonde and the dark shaggy-haired lads), Andy Capp, Ninja Turtles, Desperate Dan are some of the names that peppered my childhood.
In the innocent way of children, I enjoyed the antics of these diverse cross-sections of fictional characters at face value. That is, until a friend on Twitter (@potentash) raised the issue of how female superheroes are stereotyped and how this influences how girls see themselves. Apparently this discussion was had earlier in my absence but the general consensus (presumably) was that, “Superheroes like Batman and Superman etc have their own series [while] women like Wonder Woman and Catwoman play supporting roles.”
Last month when the world was saddened by the death of Gill Scott-Heron I was unmoved. His name was unfamiliar. I thought he was just another American artist who, though obviously much loved, was only relevant to Americans.
In hindsight, I realize that he played a pivotal role in developing spoken word poetry and social consciousness through his music from the early 70s to date. Shame on me for not recognizing the name of the man who wrote the famous poem, ‘THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE TELEVISED.’
According to his page on Wikipedia, Gil Scott-Heron was a writer as well. He published ‘The Vulture’ and ‘The Nigger Factory’, the former was published in 1970 and was well received. Although he never received his undergraduate degree, he did get a Master’s degree in Creative Writing in 1972 from Johns Hopkins University. His 1972 masters thesis was titled ‘Circle of Stone’.
So this morning when I heard the story of Abdul Malik Al Nasir, a man whose life was touched in a very special way by the bard, I was nearly moved to tears. It made me think about what legacy I would like to leave behind and how the ‘world’ would remember me.
We are lucky to have the ability to forever capture both still and moving images as well as text. The Internet is the elephant who never forgets. That said, I see myself foremost as a writer happily ‘published’ on my blog. Should I make that lovely hop-skip-jump from post to page I shall be humbled, excited and even more reflective.
P.S I’m very proud of dear friends Wanjiku Mwaurah, Jacque Ndinda and Claudette Odour who will have their works published in ‘Fresh Paint: Literary Vignettes by Kenyan Women’, an anthology of poems and short stories published by AMKA-Space for Women’s Creativity and Goethe-Institut.
Once you define yourself as any sort of professional and are validated by having your thoughts and ideas shared outside of your immediate community, you have a big responsibility. Think about how sad and disappointed we get when we hear what scandals a person in the limelight gets into. Sure, no one is perfect, but you cant shrink away from the expectations that come with your position.
When friends ask me for professional advice or to share my thoughts on certain things, for a second the world freezes and I think about the implications of my words. He/She will probably take my word as ‘Gospel’ truth in a sense, because in that moment, anything I say will be accepted as is.
As someone who is in a life-long affair with words, I know how they have the ability to make, break or mend. And, more importantly, if it by my utterances that I will be remembered by, what will they say of me? Eek!
Of course it is futile to predict how things will eventually play out but what I take away from Abdul’s story is how he spoke kindly of Gil. How we learn about Gil’s character, passion and sense of self through the eyes of another, and that is a beautiful thing.
“It’s going to be alright, yaah…Surgery might reverse the process. I’m sure the…” I shifted my focus from his mouth to his hands as they folded, bent and cut across the air.
His brown hands, like lightly toasted samosas, were firm but soft and always gentle whenever he examined me. I remember how he’d walked across the room to shake my hand but instead banged against my handbag as I turned to shut the door. Later after I sat down I saw that the face of his watch had a crack. I frowned. I’m sure it wasn’t there two days ago. I was always doing things like that. I suppose I hadn’t adjusted yet.
He was trying to catch my attention. “ Susan?” “Hmmm?” Old habits die hard. Plus I liked the vibrations formed in my throat. I wish I could pull the mmmms a little longer. “ I think we’ll just wait for your parents then.” I nodded. Dr. Patel was sweet. He had the airs of a nice-uncle-who-doesn’t-visit-much-but-always-gives-you-pocket-money. He reminded me of Papa Smurf. He wore a brilliant white turban, had a soft lush salt and pepper beard and kind sparkly eyes.
I didn’t blame him. I wish he knew that. But I suppose it was time to stop blaming HIM. You know, the Big Guy, The Alpha and Omega, Nyasae Papa, He with the incredibly warped sense of humor? How else would one explain an accident starring a girl who ‘never listens’ to her parents, said parents and an otologist? Fact is stranger than fiction. Really.
Now after months of recuperation, therapy and the subtle introduction of hand gestures with more deliberate meaning other than ‘come’, ‘go’, ‘stop’, it was pretty obvious that I would never hear again.
I’d also never hear him grunting, panting then shouting my name in ecstasy again and again and again. Papa, not Nyasae Papa, had deadened my senses long ago. He’d conditioned me to feel invisible; swallow my words; wilt at any touch and have the stench of his skin pervade my being. I was deaf long before I couldn’t hear the sound of freedom.
Now it would be his turn.
Dr. Patel stood up to welcome my parents. Papa set his huge frame on the empty seat next to me. Warm smile for the doctor, cold eyes for the daughter. Mother sat across from me, her eyes fervently fixed on the doctor. I wasn’t surprised. Fifteen years and not a day had my mother acknowledged my pain. Not since I was six years old and Papa had began his late night excursions.
But now it was I who acknowledged hers. I didn’t blame her either, Papa was the connoisseur of conditioning, he had taught her to see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil. So when I took out the letter opener and stuck it deep into Papa’s right ear all I heard was her sweet happy laugh ringing inside mine.