Double The Fun

Today’s twist: We extolled the virtues of brevity back on day five, but now, let’s jump to the other side of the spectrum and turn to longform writing. Let’s celebrate the drawn-out, slowly cooked, wide-shot narrative.

It is the land of thirteen months of sunshine. Why thirteen months, because the calendar used in this land is the Coptic Calendar, which has a thirteenth month with only five or six days depending on leap year. This land is not in the year 2014, in fact it is in the year 2006 today. A gap of seven to eight years exists between the Coptic and Gregorian calendars as a result of an alternate calculation in determining the date of the Annunciation of Jesus. There are more things you may not know about this land. For instance, it had one of the earliest civilisations, called Aksum. It is one of two countries in Africa that was never colonised by the West. It once had a monarchy like the United Kingdom. One of its past emperors is the last prophet to the Rastafarians of Jamaica. This land has unique alphabetic and numeric scripts that are still in use today. This land is the land that I call my motherland. In the past, it was called Abyssinia, today it goes by the name of Ethiopia.

Located in the Horn or East of Africa, Ethiopia is surrounded by countries like Sudan, Eritrea, Somalia, Djibouti and Kenya. It is land-locked. In other words, it has no direct access to the beautiful oceans of the world, which is disappointing. However, Ethiopia has several attractions that tourists from all around the world, flock to visit annually. The main attractions that draw tourism include the rock-hewn church buildings of Lalibela, the castle of Gonder, the Axum obelisks, Semien mountains and the Blue Nile falls, which in river form, travels through to Sudan then finally arrives in Egypt in the Northern part of Africa. The pyramids would not have been built without the help of the Blue Nile river.

The capital city of Ethiopia is called Addis Ababa, in English this translates to new flower. I was born in this city in the year 1982 (Gregorian calendar) or 1974 (Ethiopian calendar), whichever you wish to go by. My childhood was quite ordinary. My parents made sure my brothers and I had the basic necessities and sometimes a bit more while growing up. What I mean by this is that for example, we had Corn Flakes cereal available at the breakfast table. This was not typical in an average Ethiopian household at that time. I know this, because I recall one of my cousins making a passing comment in later years about having his first eating experience of Corn Flakes at our house. I found his comment funny but at the same time, I was surprised that it hadn’t occurred to me until he mentioned it.

We had a bit more exposure to the West than some families in Ethiopia, that is for sure. My mother would encourage us to decorate a Christmas tree with her at Christmas time, which is not done in the Ethiopian culture and is a Western culture. This also led to us celebrating both Western and Ethiopian Christmases. On December 25th, we’d listen to Christmas songs by artists like Dolly Parton and Mariah Carey and on January 7, we’d drive over to my grandparents’ house to celebrate Ethiopian Christmas or Gena with our extended family. Double the fun for us children, we loved it and still do. This doubling action did not stop there. We also celebrated 2 new years. Ethiopian New Year or Addis Amet on September 11 (Gregorian calendar) or Meskerem 1 (Ethiopian calendar) and the Western New Year on January 1. It might look strange to an outsider, but for us, it was the norm.

This tradition of doubling up has now continued in my current household. My Australian husband is accustomed to celebrating two Christmases, New Years and Easters. It is not always a doubling up case with Easter or Fasika. It sometimes aligns with the Western date, which results in us celebrating it on the same day. I’m sure my son will have questions about this when he gets bigger, so I’ll have to either explain it to him or tell him to read this post.

pingback: Writing 101 Day 20 Twist

Baby Shower

Today was my baby shower for my second baby to come. My mothers group arranged it and surprised me. How nice of them!! I feel so lucky that in a country I didn’t grow up in, I’ve got people who care about me enough to throw me a surprise baby shower. It really touches my heart. This is what life is about. The connections and friendships that are created. All this thanks to my first-born. If it wasn’t for him existing, I’d not have met these group of women that I call friends.

We first met through our local maternity centre in 2011. All our babies were about 2 months old. We shared our worries and delights of being first time mothers. We learnt from each other. We laughed at some stories and gasped at others. I remember one particular day when one of the mothers said her son sleeps through the night. I along with the other mothers just “wow”ed! We could not believe that that was actually possible. I was having to wake up at least 3 times in one night to either do a feed, change a nappy or just sooth my gassy little boy. Who knew that there were newborns out there that didn’t require any of these services in the night! What I’d have done for a proper night sleep back then. And now I’m about to do it all over again! Am I crazy? Of course not. I love children and having another one just brings a smile to my face.

I am really looking forward to July with great anticipation. Most people have told me the second child is normally better at sleeping and doesn’t cry as much, so I’m really hoping this will be the case for me. Having my lovely husband who’s amazing also helps in the first month. He’s so attentive to my needs and helps out in whatever way he can, so I guess I am lucky in that area. My parents have also trekked all the way to this side of the world to help me out in this time, which is just great! I don’t have to worry about the cooking, cleaning and watching my first-born all day long. I get to have a bit of me time before I have to immerse myself in being a mother to a newborn again. So July, I await you humbly and excitedly! As my son says, “Let’s do this!!!”

pingback: Writing 101 Day 19 Prompt

The Chocolate Cookies

The neighbourhood has seen better days, but Mrs. Pauley has lived there since before anyone can remember. She raised a family of six boys, who’ve all grown up and moved away. Since Mr. Pauley died three months ago, she’d had no income. She’s fallen behind in the rent. The landlord, accompanied by the police, have come to evict Mrs. Pauley from the house she’s lived in for forty years.

Write this story in first person, told by the twelve-year-old sitting on the stoop across the street.
Today’s twist: Think about more than simply writing in first-person point of view — build this twelve-year-old as a character. Reveal at least one personality quirk, for example, either through spoken dialogue or inner monologue.

I was sitting on the porch and dribbling my basketball against the wooden floor when I saw them. They arrived in a police car. Two men walked up the stairs of Mrs. Pauley’s pink house. She is the neighbour who lives across from our place. She’s lived in that pink house forever. She’s nice to me. She gives me chocolate cookies almost every time she sees me out on this porch. I haven’t seen her lately. She is very old and mom said last week that she was asking her about nursing homes in the area. Mom is a nurse you see, so she would know these things off the top of her head. Mom told her about one that was in the next suburb. I don’t think she liked that suburb because she told Mom so. Maybe these two men came to check if she’s still alive inside that pink house.

One man was dressed in a long black coat, black trousers and had a police hat tucked under his armpit. The other wore blue jeans and a checked shirt. I recognised the second man. I think he owns the pink house. He’s been to our house before, although he doesn’t own it. His name is Jim. He talks a lot. I find most of what he says boring. It’s always about money and buying land. How he lost it or made it. He never pays me any attention even if I’m standing right in front of him. He just looks away towards mom or dad and continues talking. I feel bad for Mrs. Pauley. She has to listen to his jabbering today or maybe not. Nobody came to the door after several knocks, so the policeman tried the door handle and the brown door opened right up. I stood up to see what the two men could see. I couldn’t make out what was in the doorway. I hoped Mrs. Pauley was alive, but something must be wrong if she didn’t come to the door.

They took long to come out of the house, but when they did, I was surprised to see the two men laughing and Mrs. Pauley right behind them with a plate of chocolate cookies. The policeman looked back and said, “You take care now, ma’am!”. Jim did not say anything, but he had cash in his hands, which he quickly stuffed into his jeans pocket. I wondered what had happened. I’d probably find out the next time Jim visited our house. Mrs. Pauley looked in my direction and shouted, “Would you like some of these cookies, dear?” I smiled.

pingback: Writing 101 Day 18 Prompt