Tuesday, February 28, 2012

TALES FROM DADDIMA

TALES FROM DADDIMA  
                                             1907 - 1968  
© Farouk Asvat

In the early morning air
Grapevine shadows traipse
On the sunbeam polished yard:
I saw her death
Through youth
Through the distance of a windowpane
Understanding only what she said:
     Allah, O Merciful One,
     Call me into Your arms
     Before the Group Areas
     Take me away
To a veld, a hill of waving grass,
And prickly pears that stay with me
Like memories of mulberry stains
Stolen from the churchyard,
While the burning grass of a veldfire
Gives rise to a bleak township
Of white mansions
With opulent faces.

My earth is broken.
This red loam I have come to feel
Through running fingers
(From the distance
 Of a misty shore,
 Another desert by the sea)
Has dispelled the piss of my youth
Covered it with the pane
And mortar of a new age:

The mielies I planted
Growing like I grew,
Mudponds that kept goldfish for a day,
Clingpeach blossoms I waited for,
The evening cool of granadilla vines,
The soothing call of the azaan
As I broke my fast with dates and fahluda,
Fowls I played with in their coops
That clamped my jaws at maghrib
And brought godzilla into my bed
Wet with fear,
The admonishments of my father,
The boomslang that came to play
Out of the rotting brickwork
And flaking lime
Because I liked whistling at night,
The apricots that fell with silence in the night
While the alley cats howled
Like children crying,
The quinces I climbed
Playing on silver zinc roofs,
Socks I wore to sleep,
Pulling my hair when ambulances sirened:
- They're not coming to take me away? -
Covering my head with a knotted hanky
So the bats won't stick to my hair

Or the impunity of monkeys
Stealing roti straight off the tavvah,
Hot and ready;
And the peasants living in banyan trees
Eating leaves like paan
For the monsoon season,
And mambas long as rivers;
Hot clammy nights on the stoep
With mosquitoes and rats for company
In the village in India

That my grandmother left
On the SS Karanja
That brought her with a trunkload of memories
To meet a lanky man on a bicycle
Hawking from the sea of Natal
That looked like Mumbai
(Marak par Takoli via Delguba Bay)
To build a house of sandbricks
Near the banks of the Schoonspruit

These are all gone.
In one final breath:

The time my father and I
Tried to rescue a turtle dove
With a handkerchief at the end of a stick
From an abandoned mineshaft,
The time we lay our heads down
On eiderdowns behind the shopcounter
In prayers that smelled of incense
And the more mundane tastes
Of tobacco, soap and malt
Asking Allah to bring my Daddima back
Through another diabetic coma
Through another amputation
(this time above the knee)
That left her with an assertive dignity:
A proud woman in a silk sari
Who walked the city streets with impunity
Hand in hand with her favourite grandson:
Taking me to the best sweetmeat shop
Run by a dirty-grey-overalled man,
For the best haircut in town
By a cripple with a crutch and stump,
Long John Silver minus his parrot,
On Seventeen Street, Fietas,
Where else?

But all this is nostalgia.
In the end
She no longer moved from her bed
Holding a life together;
All ended in sleep,
Without fuss or bother,
As a serene pigeon comes
To rest on her face

As she lies on a cold cement floor:
The butcher's freezer
The bedroom of my youth
Used surreptitiously
Because of the Law
Because it was once rented
To a white man from Lithuania;
Covered in a plain cotton shroud
Smelling of camphor
Meant to keep the rot at bay;
As I think of my destiny:
Born in the embrace of a mosque
Birdshit growing from my forehead
An aunt prophesying
A destiny of anguish;

As visitors come sobbing with red eyes,
My father's eyes swollen
For he said he cared for her
While I comfort him;
Neighbours and aunties come
In business suits and white robes
To wail a last performance,
As I look with the dignity of my youth
Into her face,
Quiet forever.

No more stories.
There will be no more stories
No cheerful blasphemies against friends
No more curses
No more the laughter of visitors

After her last journey
Across the railway line
There is only the cold earth,
The cold earth will take her forever
As it received her amputated leg
Without ceremony,
Only prayers muttered
Devoured by oblivion
Or the unwelcome fires
And the crushing of the ribs

But still
A headstone
Will proclaim a place for her
After the first rains have collapsed her earth
And buried her flowers
Near a travelling Turk
Resting since the turn of the century
Until the awakening by the trumpets

We raise our hands
White kufiyas covering our heads
Offering prayers
To my grandmother
Who loved life
And left a gift
I cherish forever


© farouk asvat

composed: 21.06.1985 [Joubert Park, Johannesburg, South Africa under apartheid].

[] Acknowledgements:

Tales From Daddima was previously published in:

     Screens And Tasted Parallels (Palo Alto, USA, # 2, p8-11, 1990);
     New Contrast (Cape Town, # 74 & 75, p78-82, 1991);
     A Celebration Of Flames (piquant publications, p38-44, 2007);
     www.faroukasvat-poems.blogspot.com (28.02.2012);
     A Celebration Of Flames (kindle, 2014);
     A Celebration Of Flames (paperback, p40-45, 2014).

     "Your grandmother is lucky to have someone like you."
           Basil Davidson, personal correspondence

     "Beautiful.  My words fall very short of what you deserve."
           Jill Townsend, personal correspondence

[][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]
the NOVEL Sadness In The House Of Love by Farouk Asvat
is now available on amazon: paperback @ $15 & kindle @ only $5
[][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]

[][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]
the NOVEL The Gathering Of The Storm by Farouk Asvat
is now available on amazon: paperback @ $10 & kindle @ only $5
[][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]

[][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]
the anthology I Dream In Long Sentences by Farouk Asvat
is now available on amazon: paperback @ $10 & kindle @ only $5
[][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]

[][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]
the anthology The Wind Still Sings Sad Songs by Farouk Asvat
is now available on amazon: paperback @ $10 & kindle @ only $5
[][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]

[][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]
the anthology A Celebration Of Flames by Farouk Asvat
is now available on amazon: paperback @ $10 & kindle @ only $5
[][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]

[][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]
the anthology The Time Of Our Lives by Farouk Asvat
is now available on amazon: paperback @ $10 & kindle @ only $5
[][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]

[][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]
the anthology Bra Frooks … by Farouk Asvat
is now available on amazon: paperback @ $7.50 & kindle @ only $5
[][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]

[][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]
the collection of literary essays Weapons of Words by Farouk Asvat
is now available on amazon: paperback @ $10 & kindle @ only $5
[][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]

© farouk asvat.  All rights reserved.

Farouk Asvat asserts his moral right to be identified as the author of this work.
No part of this publication may be reproduced by any means whatsoever, or transmitted in any form or any means whatsoever, mechanical or electronic, including recording, printing, photocopying, or via any computerised means or media, including the internet.  This publication shall also not be stored in a retrieval system.  And the writing shall not be sold, lent, hired, resold or circulated in any form or binding or cover other than that in which it is published,
without the prior permission of the author in writing.
Permission to publish or reproduce the writings in any format can be obtained from the author.
Reproduction of this work without permission, except for scholarly & nonprofit purposes,
is liable to a payment of 10, 000 ren men bi or US$ 1,500.

farouk asvat can be contacted at: farouk.asvat@gmail.com

[] please check out my blogs @:





books by farouk asvat: www.faroukasvat-books.blogspot.com

[] also link up on:






amazon kindle author @ www.amazon.com/author/faroukasvat

[][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]
the NOVEL Sadness In The House Of Love by Farouk Asvat
is now available on amazon: paperback @ $15 & kindle @ only $5
[][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]

#love #literature #fiction #novel #poetry #southafrica #apartheid #books #classics
#faroukasvat #weapons of words  #comparative literature #literary criticism
#a celebration of flames #tales from daddima #tales #daddima #grandmother

          www.amazon.com/author/faroukasvat 

2 comments:

  1. Your grandmother is lucky to have someone like you.
    [] Basil Davidson (personal correspondence)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Beautiful. My words fall very short of what you deserve.
    Jill Townsend, Council of Grandmothers (28.02.2012)

    ReplyDelete