Wednesday, 29 May 2013
Tuesday, 28 May 2013
A story of Ahu and Ahuahu and their family in a Maori village in Aotearoa during European settlement of New Zealand. (Click on Ahu in the labels bar for previous posts)
Aotea and Hoku spent most of their time now at Gannet Island in the rebuilt village there. Their whare had a view of Gannet Island through the trees just a short walk from the beach. Hoku loved it there. She had heard all of Ahu’s childhood stories of growing up with the golden sand to walk along and being able to fish from the beach. She respected the great mound of the island with the sea birds constantly circling it. It seemed to her those birds were constantly telling Ahu’s story of going there as a child, losing her parents and despite such a set back had become the most respected wife of the Head man at Black Springs.
Hoku felt that this too was now a really special place for her and Aotea to live with all their family traditions, even the ones about her village of Rocky Outcrop and that of Gannet Island fighting each other. Ahuahu had told her that Rocky Outcrop and Black Sands established a pact to ensure peace between them despite the pakeha trading guns with their neighbours. She knew now that Ahuahu had gained the confidence of her father to stop the fighting between their villages as the pakeha were the threat now not their own people.
Most of all she loved Aotea. She always had to push him reluctantly from her side in the mornings as he was so loathe to leave. They would often hear other villagers moving about outside before they could bear to let go of each other. So it was no surprise that she said to him one evening when he came home “Aotea, I am with child.” He said not a word but took her to their sleeping mat and laid her down and took her clothes off and nuzzled her tummy. As she wrapped her arms around him he said “Who should we tell first. Perhaps it should be your father. Let us hope he will live to see the baby.”
“Why, do you think he is not well?”
“He told me once that he wants to come to live here with us as he is very tired. I think he is worn out from defending the land at Rocky Outcrop from the pakeha. He loves all his family but you are the most precious thing in the world to him.”
Ruaimoko her father was indeed an old man. Hoku thought that he was well over fifty years old. He had a number of sons that had produced large families for him and she alone of her sisters remained in the area. Her father even found it difficult to walk far now.
Ruaimoko took the unusual step in relinquishing his position as head man at Rocky Outcrop and told their village council to choose a successor. Only one of his wives remained alive. Although she was not Hoku’s mother she too wanted to live at Gannet Island as she was frightened of the pakeha settling so close to them.
There were well over fifty villagers from the Rocky Outcrop and Black Sands community living now in the village opposite Gannet Island. The remaining families left from the little settlement at Fern Gully joined them too for safety. They hoped that by banding together they would discourage the pakeha from taking any more land from them.
Already there were white farmers who had camped close to Rocky Outcrop who had started building homes and clearing the land. There were miners there too looking for metal in the ground and especially the highly prized metal gold in the streams. There were travelling traders that came on their pack horses or wheeled wagons selling goods to the white settlers. Some time ago Ruaimoko and Ahuahu wisely decided it would be better to re-establish the village at Gannet Island closer to Black Sands so they were adjoining communities and less likely to have their land stolen from them.
So eventually Ruaimoko came down to Gannet Island with his second wife Mahuika. She came from Ahuriri a coastal settlement many days walk south. Aotea had a whare built for them close to theirs so that they too could see the view of Gannet Island. They were accompanied on their journey down by two men from Rocky Outcrop as Ruaimoko had such difficulty in walking. It took them two days and he was clearly distressed when he arrived.
Hoku even though she was several months pregnant tended him while he recovered with the help of Mahuika. Gradually his energy returned and after that the older couple were often seen walking slowly around the village and even sitting on the beach facing Gannet Island.
In the evenings Mahuika would tell them old stories of the past. Aotea had not heard a storyteller such as this before. Most of the stories he had heard were of the gods that controlled their lives or what his family or ancestors had done but Mahuika would tell the legends of her childhood.
The first story Mahuika’s told was from Ahuriri where she was born. Ruaimoko was lying on his mat with one hand holding her onto Mahuika. Aotea was leaning against a wall post and Hoku was nestled into him and holding his hand on her swelling tummy as Mahuika began her story:
“Pania of the Reef was a beautiful maiden who lived in the sea on the east coast of our land. By daytime she swam about with other creatures in her reef world but after sunset would swim up a freshwater stream that ran into the bay where my family have always lived. She would travel up the stream to an area where she could sit among the flax bushes. She was an adventurous creature that dared to discover the world outside the sea. Karitoki who lived nearby, was the handsome son of a former chief and quenched his thirst every evening with the sweet water from the stream where Pania rested amongst the flax. For many weeks he was unaware that she was watching him until one night she whispered a faint spell. It carried on the wind to Karitoki who then turned around to see Pania emerge naked from her hiding place.”
“Karitoki had never seen someone so beautiful and instantly fell in love. Pania fell in love with him too and they pledged their lives to each other and were secretly married. Pania and Karitoki went to his whare but because it was dark no-one saw them enter. At sunrise, Pania prepared to leave but Karitoki tried to stop her. She explained that she was a creature of the ocean and the sirens of the sea called her to return each morning. She told him she could not survive if she did not go to them. She promised to return every evening and for weeks their marriage continued on that basis.”
“Karitoki boasted to his friends about his beautiful wife, but no one believed him because they had never seen her. Frustrated by this, Karitoki consulted a kaumatua or wise man in the village and told him about Pania. The wise man believed Karitoki as he knew that ocean maidens did exist. The kaumatua told Karitoki that being a sea creature, Pania would not be allowed to return to the sea if she swallowed the cooked food that the Maori themselves ate.”
“That night as Pania slept after making love, Karitoki took a morsel of cooked food and put it in Pania's mouth. As he did so a Ruru owl that was sitting in the branches of a tree outside Karitoki’s whare called a loud warning and it woke Pania from her sleep. She found that some cooked food had been placed in her mouth and spat it out. She was horrified that Karitoki had played a trick on her and put her life in jeopardy. So Pania jumped up and fled from the whare, jumped into the stream and swam back down to the sea. Her own people sensed she was in danger and came to the surface and drew her down into the depths before Karitoki could catch her as he swam frantically about the ocean searching for her in the dark. Karitoki never saw her again.”
“When people now look deep into the water over the reef, some say they can see Pania with arms outstretched, appealing to her former lover. No one knows whether she is imploring him to explain his treachery, or calling for him to join her as she still loved him. Pania bore a child for Karitoki and named him Moremore but he wisely stayed in the ocean.”
“I was born by the sea where Pania lived”, Mahuika said, “It is now protected by Moremore, the son of Pania and Karitoki. He is the kaitiaki or guardian of the area, a taniwha who often disguises himself as a predatory fish such as a shark or stingray or even a large octopus to ensure that no other sea maidens are tempted to visit the land.”
When Mahuika had finished the
story; only she and Aotea were still awake. In the light of fire she smiled and
said to him, “They have both heard the story before, so they knew the end.”
With that Aotea lifted Hoku up
and took her back to their whare and whispered to her as he laid her down on
her mat “You will not go back to ocean
Hoku sleepily shook her head.
Sunday, 26 May 2013
You are my anchor
And I the beam in your eyes
Close even though apart
We’re links that connect
Life’s never ending current
Fertile in our love
Our hearts beat as one
Layers of a joyful life
We range far and wide
Even shifting sands see usAnd yield to our strength
Friday, 24 May 2013
A story of Ahu and Ahuahu and their family in a Maori village in Aotearoa during European settlement of New Zealand. (Click on Ahu in the labels bar for previous posts)
Houhia tried not to think of Tiemi all the time now that he was no longer in the village. She managed this during the day but when she went to sleep at night her dreams were often of the times when they explored the forest together finding the plants for him to list and take samples of. She remembered her time searching for the different trees and pointing out the insects and other creatures with him. When they were alone or if Hinewai was not near he would also ask about the other wildlife there too.
Once he heard a bird call he asked, “Is that a Kaka?”
Houhia laughed, shook her head and said, “No, that is a kokako. The kaka is a parrot lives in the forest where the tall trees are cut and where Moana’s mother lives.” She pointed in the direction that she was referring to even though Tiemi was not sure which way they were facing as he couldn’t see the sun. She then looked about her then spied one the birds that he had seen on a branch. “See there it is. It is smaller than a Kaka and look it has wattles on its cheeks. See how it is looking for the flowers to eat. It loves fruit too but it will also eat insects.”
Tiemi all the time was looking at Houhia, when she noticed this she lowered her eyes and looked away but continued talking. “When they find fruit they will try it but if not satisfied they will try another one until it is ripe enough to eat.”
“The English world is luscious Houhia,” Tiemi said, “You are luscious, your eyes sparkle, and you are bursting with energy and you are a strong and beautiful young woman.”
Houhia lowered her eyes, so she didn’t show that she liked to hear him say those words. She turned around and looked for Hinewai and called out for her. Not far away Hinewai called back. “I am coming”
When Houhia looked back at Tiemi, he was still smiling at her. “Please don’t talk to me this way,” she said.
“Don’t you want to be admired, Houhia?”
“You are only playing with me, Tiemi.” Although she said this she saw the fire in his eyes and that he was desperate to touch her. She was wondering what that would be like when Hinewai returned.
Houhia then said, “Hinewai, Tiemi said that he thought he saw a Kaka but I told him they could only be seen in the forest where Torangi your husband works as wood cutter. Perhaps you could take him there.”
Immediately Tiemi saw that he had been outplayed and interjected. “No it is not so important.”
Houhia remembered this and wished now she had not called Hinewai but instead let Tiemi talk more to her, perhaps touch her and say what he thought of her and how luscious she was. With that she fell asleep.
Wednesday, 22 May 2013
Can I tell about
The girl with the silky hair
And eyes to die for?
Her dangerous looks
Were close to killing of me
All those years ago
Me a wedding guest
As leaves scattered in the fall
One glance was enough
And we talked a lot
But we dare not talk of love
We were too clever
No one saw us kiss
And breathe in each others soul
To taste secret love
Each touch electric
Every word was a poem
Each taste was nectar
Many years later
I see you now on Facebook
The past is silent
I weep for you now
And the winter is so coldDo you weep for me?
Sunday, 19 May 2013
Opaque your intent
When I saw those blazing eyes
Yes, I was entranced
Hover or have her
Will your flaming torch burn me
Or guide me in love?
Let me touch your face
To breathe in that breath of yours
Crush me in your arms
As my vision fades
It’s but a nebulous thought
What did I do wrong?
Cut up on the slab
So my timing was not rightIt’s bleak when eaten
Thursday, 16 May 2013
A story of Ahu and Ahuahu and their family in a Maori village in Aotearoa during European settlement of New Zealand. (Click on Ahu in the labels bar for previous posts)
Houhia had become very close to Hinewai who was like an aunt to her as she was Hatiti’s sister. Houhia still thought of Tiemi the botanist even though she had rebuked him and shown her strength and determination to preserve their land from the pakeha takeover. She still kept the little card he had given her with his name on. She often held it in her hand and placed it on her breast at night when she thought of him. She remembered his eyes when they looked at each other and thought they told her that he desired her and that made her feel very good inside. Then she would hide the card away again.
When Ahu her mother suggested to her that she should be thinking of being married, she could only think of him and would reply “I am not ready yet.” She knew she was lying and even Ahu looked doubtful as all girls Houhia’s age would be hoping that would be asked to marry even though they could refuse.
So she went round to Hinewai’s whare and asked if she could talk with her. Hinewai was very pleased that she asked. Even though she did not have children of her own she was happy to be involved with Hatiti’s and Ahu’s children and be part of the families now that she lived at Black Sands.
They sat together on the porch and chatted about everything except what Houhia wanted to talk about. Finally Houhia asked Hinewai “How far is it to Auckland?”
A broad grin spread over Hinewai’s face, she tried to suppress it but in the end she laughed and said “Houhia, are you still thinking of Tiemi?”
Houhia nodded. “I cannot forget the way he looked at me, Hinewai.”
Hinewai reached forward and hugged Houhia. “I expect he looks that way at all girls as he is not married. He will marry an ugly pakeha woman and then think of you when he makes love to her. Please to not hope for more.”
“What is it like living in a pakeha town Hinewai?”
“Dirty. They do not wash as often as we do. They defecate in the same place in a container in a shed behind their houses, they do not oil they bodies; they lie to each other or have different meaning to their words.” Hinewai paused here and then said “When they speak you do not know if they tell the truth or if they laugh at you.”
“Surely not all of them, Hatiti?”
“Why are you asking this? Do you really want to walk to Auckland to find him only to discover he has a wife and three children?” Here she paused then said “We would have to make some new flax shoes to wear if we went or else our feet would be torn to shreds on the stones on the roadway.” Hinewai paused again as she thought out the problem. “We would be in danger not only from the pakeha but from our own people as we travel though their lands. As everyone is so edgy these days“.
“But you managed before, Hinewai, travelling by yourself.”
“I had something to trade then, you do not.” Again Hinewai was silent as she thought it through. Then she came out with “No, it is wrong, Houhia. Ahu and Ahuahu would never forgive me if I took you there.”
Houhia looked crestfallen, so Hinewai took her hand and said “How do you think that Tiemi feels about you?”
“When he looked at me I could see the stars shine in his eyes, and he always smiled when he talked to me as though he was happy even though we were arguing with him. Why did he do that Hinewai?”
“He did that because he admired the way you were strong and assertive, he probably hadn’t seen that before in a woman.”
“What should I do then?” whispered Houhia.
“Nothing, if he wants you he will return. I think he left that card to tell you he cares for you. He will think more of you and want you more if you do not make the first move. I feel sure now that he will return for you. However the big problem then will be persuading Ahuahu to permit you to be together.”
Houhia thought about this a little then said “Did you ever want someone you shouldn’t have?”
Hinewai nodded, “All the time. Don’t tell anyone else but I flirted with your father when he first came to Black Sands as I wanted to be loved so much.”
“My father Kamaka beat me, I deserved it but but he forgave me eventually."
“Ahuahu too treats you very well now.”
“I would do anything for Ahuahu, Houhia. He respects me.”
Wednesday, 15 May 2013
Helpless in my love
You, the bright star in the night
Beauty in my eyes
We know each other
You trample on my sad glance
And laugh in my face
Though you are wary
Vigilant to my advance
Your eyes show your trust
I will wait until
You take my hand and kiss meHelpless in our love
Sunday, 12 May 2013
The sun at it’s rising
The chants of faithful
The fists in the air
The vows of leaders
The drone of the bombers
The mouths of the hungry
The crook in the backstreet
The space where the schools were
The circling of buzzards
The caves of the homeless
The broken hearts and bodies
The binding of wounds
The burying of the dead
The leer of the victorious
The mourning for loved ones
The loss of humanity
The sun at it’s setting
Saturday, 11 May 2013
I hadn’t begun school when WW2 started but when I did I was a war veteran. OK I didn’t wear a uniform unless you count the Gas Mask in its box that I was required to carry over my shoulder as I caught the bus to school each morning. If the air raid siren sounded its urgent but mournful call during class we were very disciplined. We kept quiet and followed our commander (or teacher) in an orderly fashion outside across the playground and into the air raid shelters that were a few yards from the school buildings. There with hardly a chatter we would sit on the timber benches and quietly did what we were told to like good little soldiers. I don’t remembered being frightened but when we all packed in we were allowed to talk while the teachers would stay near the baffled entrances to listen for the all clear siren that signaled that the danger from the aircraft flying overhead was passed. However the school was never bombed which some boys thought was rather sad.
At home such a warning would be less of a concern. Our house was in a street close by to farmland and we didn’t have a shelter to hide in. If the siren sounded at night we would stay downstairs and sleep there. For small boys this was an adventure that I can hardly remember as I still needed my sleep. I just let my parents worry themselves sick should any bombs fall close by. Some more concerned people had shelters in their back garden where they could escape from the house collapsing around them. My grandfather had put a corrugated iron Anderson shelter in his garden half sunk into the ground and to me it smelled of mould and damp. We were going to get a Morrison shelter for indoors which with a table top over it could be more useful when the bombs weren’t dropping but for some reason that never eventuated so we just slept under our normal dining table or huddled in the space under the stairs. I guess we were just lucky as most of the streets near us escaped any damage. At the end of our garden was a field and copse of trees and at the end of our road was a very large field indeed so no bombers wasted their bombs on us.
War is a terrifying time for parents but a very exciting time for children. This is because the main streets were filled with army vehicles, trucks, Bren gun carriers and most exciting of all tanks that roared menacingly like huge beasts looking for prey which of course they were, or would be once they had crossed the channel and started chasing the enemy.
Man had not yet been flying for forty years but now the skies were full of planes taking off and landing at a myriad of newly constructed airfields to house them and their crews. Boys like us were in their element spotting the planes with sharp eyes and identifying them by wing shape, sound and number of engines. As I was the younger brother my elder sibling had grabbed ownership by choosing the Supermarine Spitfire as his favorite so I was left to attach myself to the Hawker Hurricane which I liked best in any case.
Once or twice at school assembly an announcement would be made that one of our classmates had been killed in an air-raid we were sad for one day but continued fighting the war our way the next. We boasted of what our fathers and uncles were doing and what service they were in or what countries they had visited as war was with us day and night.
On one of the last days of the summer 1940 our family spent the afternoon on the Hampshire downs and in that glorious setting we all watched a dogfight overhead. There high in the sky above us almost out of sight except for young boys’ eyes a battle was being fought by tiny planes droning and firing and circling and falling on that dying day of summer. It was the culmination of the Battle of Britain, a deciding point in the war. The action that day was proof to the British people that we could win the war despite the odds.
Later as the war wore on we were playing cricket in the field adjacent one day and heard the drone of a doodlebug or V1 guided rocket launched from enemy occupied territory. We paused in our game and listened carefully and waited as it flew overhead. The droning of the engine did not stop so we were safe, so like seasoned heroes we continued with our game of cricket as the rocket would fall to ground when the engine stopped. It was all part of the action.
Wednesday, 8 May 2013
I was lanky once
In the springtime of my life
Looking down like you
Now I have been crushed
A poor pathetic being
As you call me home
I have love to give
But none that will receive it
Come on destruction
Will there be soft kisses
And eyes that sparkle at me?
So that is my deal
You restore what I have lostI’ll come willingly
A story of Ahu and Ahuahu and their family in a Maori village in Aotearoa before European settlement of New Zealand. (Click on Ahu in the labels bar for previous posts)
Ahuahu the head man at Black Springs liked Hunapo, Moana’s new husband. He could see so much of himself in the young man who was a fisherman like himself that took on Moana in her need after Moana’s husband Paikea had been killed. He could remember many years ago before he himself had married Ahu that the mischievous Moana was just the sort of child he wanted if ever he was married. She was observant and very funny and so independent and self reliant but a terrible tease. Now she had grown out of her bad habits and was a very useful member of the Black Sands community. In fact she was a lot like both he and Ahu had been as they grew up without parents.
Now she had settled down with Hunapo who was kind and generous and had shown his strength by walking up to speak to Moana’s husband Paikea’s family after his death to say that he would look after her. They had agreed as they could see that by agreeing to this, as Paikea’s brother Tui wanted to marry Hekehoru who was Ahuahu’s daughter.
Moana and Hunapo were a good match and utterly devoted to each other. Hunapo was happy to be a father to Moana’s two children by Paikea and soon another baby was on the way, his. It was a boy and Moana wanted to call him after Ahuahu because he was one person that she loved and trusted above all others as she had known him all her life. Hunapo was not so sure he wanted a more popular name. He was worried that people in the village would talk especially as Moana and Ahuahu were not related. Hunapo thought a lot about the name and after walking through the village in the dark one evening by himself he came back to his whare and said to Moana “We will call the child Huahua”.
Moana looked doubtfully at him trying to work out what the name meant. She could see Hunapo name in there and Ahu’s and there were certainly the sounds of Ahuahu’s name in there too. Her eyes suddenly opened wide “Isn’t that was they call birds that are stuffed to cook and eat?”
Hunapo looked surprised “Is it? I remember it was the name of an old chief way up in the lands to the north. We can’t have Apoapo can we? That means roll together doesn’t it?”
At this Moana laughed and pulled him down on top of her. “No, that is a not a good name but I think I will talk to my mother and see what she says. She will be down to see him soon from the village where the kakas call”.
Hunapo nodded glumly. “Soon there will be no kakas there. Already the pakeha white men have started cutting the trees for themselves and there are great cleared areas in the forests. Hauku should come and live here instead.”
Moana nodded sadly, “Yes you are right. Her husband Torangi is an old man and cannot work in the forest anymore. He must grieve to see the forest destroyed. I will talk to Ahuahu”.
Hunapo shook his head. “Just be the mother you are. I will talk to Ahuahu”. With that he clasped her to him again and breathed in the milkiness of her body. She looked into his eyes and shook her head, “Another few days Hunapo, then it will be the full moon. We will have so many babies.”
The next day Hunapo spoke to Ahuahu and they agreed that Hunapo should visit Torangi and Hauku and ask them to live in Black Sands. Hunapo then asked Ahuahu about Moana’s wish to have the new baby named after him.
Ahuahu looked doubtful and shook his head at first then smiled “My name means something different where I was born, it means healthy and strong; whereas Ahu’s name means to look after or care for or even to build or heap up. There is nothing wrong in calling your new baby Ahuahu. Ahu and I did look after Moana when she fled from Gannet Island we all made sure she would be a good member of our village. When you see Moana’s mother, talk to her too. Do not be concerned Hunapo. It is not the name but the person inside that counts. Your new child will be loved by everyone.
With that Hunapo relaxed a little. However when he went up the village where the kakas call he was met with the news that Torangi had died the day previously after a long illness. He had not worked in the forest for some time although Hauku’s boys did so now under the pakeha timber cutters.
He told Hauku about Moana’s new baby and that if she wanted she could live in his village by the sea now to help with Moana’s children.
Hauku looked at Hunapo’s eyes and touched him gently on his arm. “What you have asked is a great comfort to me Hunapo. I remember this forest as a young girl and now with all the changes it is time for me to move on again. My sons will continue to work here and earn money from the pakeha. They do so even though I see my homeland being destroyed before my eyes. But it is different for them. I will bring my youngest child Hakeke with me after I have buried Torangi here tomorrow.”
Hauku cried a little more and Hunapo waited respectfully allowing her grief to pour out. As he waited there Hakeke came forward with a bowl of water for him to drink. Hunapo was astounded when he saw her for there in front of him was a smaller version of Moana nodding politely at him. He smiled at her and said “Moana your older sister has just given birth to a baby boy. I hope you can come down and see them soon.”
Hakeke smiled sadly, nodded and took the bowl away after he had finished.
“Hauku, the reason I came today is that we wish to call her new baby Ahuahu and we thought it best you should be aware of this before we tell everyone.”
Hauku looked up and said through her tears “For many years Ahuahu has been like a father to her. It is fitting that you have decided this. Certainly he has been a greater help to her that her father my first husband ever was”.
A few days later afterwards Hauku and Hakeke came down to Black Sands to visit and a big gathering of relatives and friends met to welcome the new little Ahuahu into the village. Despite Hunapo’s concern everyone thought that it was the best name for his and Moana’s child. Even though they weren’t related they were still part of Ahuahu’s family.
Sunday, 5 May 2013
Yes, the red dress is sexy
You can count on charming me
Undressing like that
You do have some front
You look like a thousand stars
This message I like
My heart is pulsing
It beats thunderous applause
But wait, slow down please
Are we in the soup
You’re a dish but I must dash
Your man’s at the door
When you are a youngster you dream of growing up, having a bike, running away from home or eating ice cream or cake until you are sick. Most of us will remember collecting the last free card in a set or a plastic toy you really wanted in the cereal packet. In my day we collected cigarette cards.
However as time goes on your dreaming alters to more worldly needs. Such as getting the girl in pigtails sitting in front of you in class to turn round and smile at you or scream because you pulled her hair. Unfortunately this sort of dream often comes at inappropriate moments and the first thing you know is the teacher glaring at you if you are looking at the girl in pigtails.
When I was a child I was a bit of a wimp as I had a bully for a brother. I don’t know what he had been told about my impending arrival but as I was a clingy, hungry, smelly baby that took all of his mother’s attention, I was clearly not welcome. I wasn’t supposed to be a brother, the name chosen some time before my birth was Judith so clearly I was a disappointment all around. Luckily I was born in the morning at home and there was a bird singing outside in the garden, a Robin, so an alternative name sprung my mother’s mind. I am quite pleased about this as they could have been particularly cruel and called me Judith regardless.
So I grew up as a brother, and soon had few boy cousins and sundry other male relatives too but only one girl cousin She was the oldest relative of my generation and completely opposite to me in every way. She was clean, polite, clever, musical, and was an only child. So my dream then was to be a girl. So I liked dolls but didn’t have one of my own. I did have a stuffed toy monkey named Beppo who was my constant loving companion as opposed to my brother who was an inconstant hateful one. I didn’t hate him it is just that as I followed him around he saw me as the enemy that would take all his food, toys, love and attention, which had been his right until I came on the scene, so eventually I tried to keep out his way. His recourse at the meal table was to eat very quickly and then steal the food from my plate when no-one else was looking. This is why I am so thin.
As I wanted a dolly, and I moaned a lot at what I saw was deprivation the message finally sunk in. As there was a little girl that lived at the top of the street my mother was game enough to talk to her mother to ask if she could make my dreams come true and I give me one of the little girl’s cast off dollies that she didn’t need. My guess is that she probably did have a few but when she heard that this dirty, thin, ugly little boy from down the road wanted a dolly suddenly all of her dollies were very precious to her. So I never received one.
So I had to grow up as a boy with just a toy monkey and a few dinky toy cars to play with. The monkey I may add was my constant loving companion for many years and of necessity had a number of replacement faces sewn on when the other ones had worn away with love. Eventually I stopped dreaming of dollies and settled for dreaming about the next best thing…girls.
The problem with girls is that they don’t dream about you. I discovered the opposite sex in class at school. Then as a boy in the between age of being a lovely little chap and an obnoxious teenager I found myself as a new pupil in a new school. At the music lesson everyone had to stand up at the back of a large room all huddled together. As luck would have it a girl of my own age and size stood by my side as I was at the end of the row of boys and she was at the end of the row of girls and the two had to meet somewhere and that was us. So we sang along together. I would say we sang in unison but that would not have been the case with me as I had a voice like a cross cut saw as one music master later said of me. However she did reach out and hold my hand which had never happened to me before. It was something like having ice cream for the first time. I am glad she didn’t look to see how dirty it was.
In those days children were quite independent of parents. We walked to school by ourselves and walked back home afterwards either alone or with friends. That is not true. Girls walked or skipped, boys ran or dawdled, pushed each other in the bushes or tripped each other up. This is just a male thing. So that afternoon when the last bell rang the little girl waited in the playground for me to walk her home. It wasn’t far, so we walked down road turned right into her road and took her to the door where her mother met us and ushered us inside. She gave us a drink and when I had finished that I was ushered to the door and that is the last I time I ever spoke to the little girl. She may have noticed how dirty my hands were.
Another reason may be that I was an unaccomplished liar. When I first attended this school as a new boy I had no standing, no history so I told them that we had just come from Africa where I grew up with the natives. Now you will say this was untrue. Not entirely, for years I had lived in a dream world of looking after a pet monkey and through ill luck had a spear thrown at me by my best friend that went in my calf. So I had an entirely different history in my mind which others saw this as me being a lying little oaf.
My life has been littered with such experiences. Not all of them involving little dark haired girls that wanted to hold my hand; probably like the Good Samaritan that would help even the lowest of the low. And the girl? Sadly I don’t even remember her name as my mind is a little fuzzy these days.