ON “LEISURE FOR THE OLD.” — October 30, 2021

ON “LEISURE FOR THE OLD.”

Or as Davies puts it……

“What is this life if full of care

We have no time to stand and stare

No time to stand beneath the boughs

And stare as long as sheep and cows?”

If William Henry Davies were my neighbor, I might see him on my morning walks as he stops to feed the ducks or to see the sand crane do his courting dance, or we might share a conversation on many things because we are both old and time is what we have in abundance.

Have you noticed that in  these times defined by  sheer hustle and bustle, we have lost the  true meaning of leisure? I note with concern that “leisure” days for the young mean a frenetic dash to do things. Move. Get going. Never sit still. Become a  hostage to modern living.

Now, those of us who are retired see leisure in a different way. I see older  people taking long, slow, leisurely walks, hands clasped behind their backs, or holding on to a walker. They stop in the shade  and look. They notice things.  They  greet each other and stop to say things that might have no meaning but  are sincere. I do that too. And why not? We bring years of thought and wisdom into understanding the value of things. We think more deeply on the meaning of life. We don’t want to change the world. We just want to be nice to each other. Time is our “capital” to be used as judiciously or as frivolously as we desire.

I’m retired so I have time.  Time to  look at the birds, time  to  feed the ducks in the pond, time to see perfect  reflections in the still waters of the pond and consider if I should bring a few water lily plants and ask a young person to stop long enough  to plant them in the pond. That will bring a smile to all who can “stand and stare” for a while.

If I do this then there is a bit of beauty for people like me to “stand and stare” and enjoy. 

I bemoan the fact that our culture doesn’t see leisure in a wider sense. Think about it. There are stadiums, ball parks and theme parks, ice rinks and other places  to hold the energetic in thralldom and steal their leisure. But these are for the energetic young.  If you have ever been to a theme park after you retired, you might understand the revulsion with which old people view them. Why would I want to stand in line for two hours waiting to go on a five minute-ride and listen to the young scream in ecstacy  and which might give me a heart attack ?  Heaven forbid. I’m not ready for that.

In the place where I live, there are no parks with shady pathways. No benches and tables to allow for a leisurely walker to sit and think, to sip her coffee, listen to songs from the 50s or  to read a book. No place that says to the elderly “Come bide here awhile”. This might be a dream fulfilled for those who might be put out to grass otherwise. We have become the forgotten. Do you know why? Giving us a foot-path with  a bench, a table in a shady place, might not put money in someone’s pockets. No sarcasm meant. It’s the truth.

I am not a dog walker. I don’t own a dog.  A few weeks ago, I saw (with not a little consternation), that there is a “dog park” not far from where I live. A DOG PARK mind you. Where are the parks for PEOPLE pray?  Is there a bit of irony here?  Or don’t the old deserve? We who have given much to life and to community, must now give way to DOGS. So you see, we are also held hostage to  modern living when dogs become more important than we.

Much of the stresses in our lives might be seen differently if we understood the value of slowing down, but sadly, it is only age that brings this wisdom with it. I do not begrudge the young their energy and their rush to “be” and “do”.  After all, it is the way of things. But  I do not have the energy to be  on a continual rush to be, and to do. I am old.

This is why  I would like for someone to say, “Let’s create a place for the old to enjoy their leisure hours. They too need to enjoy something. It’s time for them to stand or sit  and stare, if they wish to do so.”

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Rural Legends and Stories : # 4 and 5 “Charow-Charow” (An allegory)and “Trial by Water” — August 28, 2021

Rural Legends and Stories : # 4 and 5 “Charow-Charow” (An allegory)and “Trial by Water”


CHAROW- CHAROW: A metaphor for kindness.

Listen and sing if you remember dis song.

🎶🎶🎶🎶p

Charow, charow mere bhaiya

Tum tum mein ya -tum

Bookh mere, mere bacha

Tum tum mein ya-tum

🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶

She was a little bird. She did juss lay she eggs and dem hatch out into lil baby bird.
The baby dem hungry so she fly out the nest fuh go search fuh some food fuh feed them.

She fly to the garden of dis stingy, dutty ole woman. She does pelt them bird when they pick she bird peppah.
So dis day, dis mother bird fly to the tree and pick de peppah dem and fly back to she nest with the peppah and feed she baby them.

Now, this old woman see the bird pick de pepper and she make a plan fuh ketch dis bird. She put some gum on the peppah tree. When de mooma bird fly to the tree fuh get some more peppah, she stick on to the gum. She cant move. She try. How she try. She know dat she baby dem depend on she. She fighting and fluttah she wing. She heart going buddum- buddum, buddum-buddum.

De ole woman come and ketch de bird and lock she up in a cage.
She hear she baby dem crying. she heart beating fast, fast. She begging. Ow, how she crying and begging. De ole woman nat even hearing she. She plan fuh kill and cook de pore bird.

Then the bird see a maan and she start singing she sad song to the maan..

Charow charow mere bhaiya

Tum tum mein ya-tum

Bookh mere, mere bacha

Tum tum mein ya -tum

The maan hear and he know she begging he fuh help fuh she baby dem. So he go up to the old lady and he tell she,

“Ah know wah you plan. Leh me pay you fuh de peppah.”

Fuss ting, she refuse. Then he threaten she. She get friken and she hand ovah de cage and he open it and de bird fly home.

From dat day, whenever de mooma bird see dat man, she does sing she song so he know that she remember he kindness.

🎶🎶🎶🎶
”Listen to me my brother

My babies are hungry

Listen to me”.


TRIAL BY WATA

De mooma cook de food fuh dinnah and leff it over the fireside fuh stay warm till aftahnoon when dem gun eat it.
Mooma gone ah de cane field fuh cut cane.

De pickney dem deh home. Lil bit after midday, one ah dem pickney get hungry. She go to the pot and full up she dress with the rice and she and them oddah wan dem hide and eat.

When mooma come home, she see that the food eat out. De pot empty. She vex so till. She line up dem pickney before she.

“ Who eat dis food out?”

No ansah. All maan friken. Dem head bend down. Dem crying.

“Nah me.”

“Me nah eat nothing.”

“Ow mammy! Me nah know who eat de food out.”

Den she see the guilty one with rice hanging on to the clothes.
“You, you eat out dis rice. Come! Me guh teach you fuh teef.”

She throw de pickney in the rivah. Everybady line up watching.

“Tell me now if you eat de food.”

De chile friken. And she start fuh sing

🎶🎶🎶

Oh me mooma nanny,

Oh me ma

Nah me waan eat ah rice.

Guinea cack and guinea hen fly all about

Wata covah me up to me knee.”

Mooma screaming,

“Tell me if ah YOU eat de rice.”

🎶🎶

Oh me mooma nanny

Oh me ma

Nah me waan eat ah rice

Guinea cack an’ guinea fly all about

Water cover me up to me neck.”

Everybody waiting fuh see wah guh happen.

If you see how dem pickney ah cry.

Mooma scream again.

“ You guh talk now?”

🎶

Oh me mooma nanny

Oh me ma

Ah me waan eat ah rice.

Guinea cack and guinea hen fly all about

wata covah me all ovah.”

Rural Legends and Tales – #3 : The Almost Virgin Bride — July 26, 2021

Rural Legends and Tales – #3 : The Almost Virgin Bride

THE ALMOST VIRGIN BRIDE: True Story

Hear this one.

In the villages, when a girl get married, she got to be a virgin. If you is not a virgin, if you mother-in-law nah see a spot of red virgin blood on the bed sheet on the morning after the wedding night, you just got to go back to you mooma and daadie house. Big scandal. Story done. Wedding bruk up. You nah good. You tek maan before you married. Eh heh!

Well, big wedding plan in dis faamily. Plenty food cook fuh all the people what get invite. Ceremony done, and de bride gone up to she bedroom fuh change into she wedding dress fuh go with the dulha and he baraat to the dulhaa house. They gun have more celebration there too.

Eh! Eh! While she getting dress, she mooma come in the room. She ask everybody in the room fuh go out till she call them in back. She now tek out wan small bottle from she pocket full of something. She tell she daughtah something quiet and easy in the gyal ears. De daughtah tek de bottle and push it in she bra right down, down, nice and tight. Nobady ent gun see dat bottle.

Aarite! De dulhaa come upstairs fuh claim he dulhan and they going down stairs.

Everybody throwing rice and flowah and teasing the dulhan and the dulha and swan. Dulhan bend she head and smile.
Eh! Eh! Mooma smiling up too. If you see she face. She happy. Everything aarite.
Then…..the bride lil niece come fuh get wan lass hug and kiss. De bride bend ovah fuh kiss de lil pickney.

Braddaps! The bottle fall out from the bra and bruk pan de concrete step and red chicken blood pitch up on the white wedding frock.

Dulha – bridegroom

Dulhan – bride

Baraat – bridegroom’s friends accompanying him to the ceremony



Rural Legends and Tales: # 2 – Visit to the Ring-Maan (A true-true story) — July 6, 2021

Rural Legends and Tales: # 2 – Visit to the Ring-Maan (A true-true story)

De ring did get wan big, black stone that fix into it. People seh dat if you gat problem and you look in de stone, you does know wah fuh do. The stone does be like TV. But nah everybady can see ting in de ring, though. The pandit who own dis ring seh dat only young, lil pickney dem can see ting in dis ring.
Pandit RING-MAAN got to get pay fuh leh you see ting in this ring. Pandit is wan business man. Weekend does be busy time.

De people who live in the village got to ketch de bus and go to the stelling and wait fuh de steamah come back from the opposite bank fuh them go over de rivah. Then they gat to ketch wan bus or cyar fuh go to the village weh Pandit RING MAAN live. Laaang trip. Tek whole day fuh go and reach back home. Only important ting guh mek you leff house fuh guh to see Pandit RING MAAN.

Cha-Chee, who live in the village, had wan problem. She did saving money fuh buy wan gold necklace fuh wear to wan wedding. Well now, goldsmith come with de necklace. Cha-Chee go fuh tek out de money from the chess weh she hide it fuh give the goldsmith. Eh! Eh! Money gaan. Cha-Chee search all ovah. No money.

Trouble in the house now. Cha-Chee call husband, pickney, neighbor. All bady seh dem nah know nothing bout no money. Cha-Chee tie up she head-kerchief and put the knot in front over she forehead and she wailin and cryin and beatin she chess till afternoon. By this time, goldsmith gone he way with the necklace cause he know payment nah deh.

Ovah night, Cha-Chee hit on a plan. She gun go to Pandit RING MAAN fuh see is WHO teef she money. She dress she lil daughtah and she self, ketch cyar, cross de rivah with the steamah, ketch wan next cyar and go to Pandit house.

Pandit RING MAAN start asking all kine ah question.
Where dis money did hide. Who and who know bout it. How much people live in the house. Who does come, come in de house. If she see anybady spend money.. And swan, and swan.

Pandit put on de ring on he right index fingah and then he call de pickney in front ah he.
He seh “Tink about wah happen to you mooma and look in this stone and tell me wah you see.”

Cha-Chee lean forward waiting fuh hear who gun get it from she.

Pandit seh, “Talk wah you see.”

De pickney start fuh talk. “Me see ………(she call she bruddah name) open Ma chess and tek out wan ‘kerchief wah tie up. Look he put am in he pants pocket. Look he closing de chess.
Cha-Chee mout open big. Cha-Chee get up. Cha-Chee haul up de pickney and leff RING MAAN house. No money fuh RING-MAAN. Cha-Chee gone fuh deal with the thieving son.

Rural Legends and Tales #1 : Mr. Camoudi — July 4, 2021

Rural Legends and Tales #1 : Mr. Camoudi

Stories – wild and scary, funny and astonishing, sad and tearful – abound in the rural villages of my country. They are calculated to scare, to warn, to teach, and to entertain, and even to mock those who fall from grace.

In these villages where are no libraries, no cinemas, no screens, the people find escape in coming together at weddings, religious festivities, funerals and the rum shops where they share stories.

Some of these stories may be considered allegories, metaphors for living. Many are true.
This is the first of a few I will relate. Each story will be published in a different blog.

Bear with the few instances of Creolese as I consider it the best medium for the telling.

CAMOUDIE COMES A-COURTING: An allegory

Camoudie aka Python


Long time ago, in one of the far flung villages where life proceeded in mindless days of toil and sweat, there lived a family of husband, wife and children. Travel outside of the village, and strangers to the village were rare occurrences. The villages were self contained units. People existed on what they grew, bartered or managed to sell. Marriages were often arranged mainly with people from neighboring villages. Young girls just out of puberty, did not question their parents’ choice of a husband.

In this family, it was the same. However, there was a wild seed in the home. One of the daughters in the home was never pleased with any of the men chosen by her father. Each prospective bridegroom was turned down. This hopeful was too short, that one too illiterate, ugly, poor, not enough well dressed or employed. The father never gave up hope though.

However, one day there appeared in the village a young man – handsome, well dressed, soft spoken.

He was dressed in a suit and tie. He wore leather shoes, a hat, dark glasses. He swaggered.
He caught the eye of the picky-choosy young woman. Oh! she was enchanted. Her eyes and thoughts followed him. She decided that here was the ONE she was waiting for to be her husband for life.

He also looked on her with much favor. So they decided that since her father would never agree to this match with a stranger, they would elope (the villagers referred to it as “ get away”).
They got away and set up house together. They were mostly happy. He set himself out to please her in every way. She smiled and fawned on him and soon forgot her family.

Soon, she began to see strange changes in her husband. His eyes were always red and he changed his shape often – he had fangs and a long tail. His skin grew scales. She asked him about it and he was sorely angry.

To her amazement, and right before her eyes, this love of her life began changing his human shape into that of a camoudie snake. He pounced on her.and wrapped himself around her as is usual with his kind. She then realized that he was going to kill her and swallow her.

Oh! How she screamed and begged. As she was being slowly swallowed, she saw a man she knew from her childhood. She begged him to tell her father that her husband was not human, but a snake and that she was going to die.


As she was being swallowed, she sang this song…

Gentle, gentle gentleman,

when you go home gentleman

Tell my daddy, gentleman

That the man I married

is a camma-camoudie,

Gentleman.

And then she was no more.

On: Being Contrary — June 23, 2021

On: Being Contrary

My daughter’s friend, V. is a wise young woman and a pragmatist. She never hesitates to tell her friend what she thinks. One of her favorite aphorisms to her dear friend is…

“Ting fuh cry, you ah laff.”
or as we Guyanese might put it….

“Why some people stay suh?”

I does think bout this plenty. Now, hear nuh? We got Prezzy Biden sharing out plenty money to dem poor people what cyant pay dem bills. Ow ! he sarry fuh dem. Dem pickney guh get food and gun go back to school. I glad.
Now dis money going to everybady- Democrat and Republican – all two. They gun stretch deh haan and tek it. Most ah dem gun seh “God bless you, Joe-Boy.”
But dem namak-haram Rebuplicans? Eh? Dey gun go and kiss up Trump foot and seh how is HE mek dey get the money.

DAH is contrary.
Why some people stay suh? Eh? Why?

De wuss ting is when you got contrary pickney. When one of my brood was small, she did always contrary. People come to visit. We gyaffin. We laffin. Drinking cold drinks.
I muss tell you that like plenty ah dem Guyanese people, as soon as they gone I gun stuuups up on them.
She now pulling the lady dress. Pullin de lady dress.
“You want hear wha me muddah seh ‘bout you?”

I skin up me eye on she, but she ent see me eye yet. Next time, I shouldda duct tape up she lil koka mout.

Da is pickney turning contrary. Shaming up mankind.

Anodda time I juss leaving the house fuh ketch cyar fuh go to work. One ah dem hollering,

“I got to make ninety- six dhall puri fuh carry to school today.”
Dah is contrary. Why she tellin me NOW? Why she ent say so lass night? I couldda bile the dhall and season it up , get up early and mash the flour and leave she and the maid to do the ress.
Is so pickney does be contrary.

And then again….
Everybady who born in Guyana know that you got to FRY pholourie. Dis odda wan tell he sweet wife fuh bake the pholourie cause he ent like the oil. The bake pholourie hard like cricketball. Cricket ball does do what the bowler tell it fuh do even if is a googly. Not dis pholoutie. It haaaaard.
So come he learn quick, quick how fuh treat pholourie with respek.


Talking bout pickney what contrary, hear dis wan.

V. got two son. Waan day, she look out de window and see one of them haulin a car into the front yard.
She fly to the door.

“__ where are you going with that?”

Hear the boy. “I buy it.”

By dis time,V deh by the cyar inspecting it.
“You buy a stick gear and you cant drive stick gear cyar? Boy is wah wrang wid you?”
“Mummy, I buy a stick gear cause I ent want ___ to drive me cyar.” ( he mean he bruddah)

Dat boy real contrary, you hear.
De moddah juss leff he. Wah she cyan do? She know she got wan contrary son. But he prappa sweet.

Leh we tek a look at some contrary tings people does do and say.

Leh we start with “Ting fuh cry, you ah laff.”

Look nuh! You deh in the cinema watching de movie. How dis movie story mek you cry . You trying fuh hide eye-wata. Den de lady next to you start fuh laff . Wah she laffing fah? She shame fuh leh people know how de story mek she feel?
You see now wah ah mean? Ting fuh cry, she ah laff.

Some people know good how fuh laff when bad ting happen to oddah people .

Some ah dem see wan pickney fall down and bruk he foot and dem ah laff. You ridin’ you bicycle and you fall, them stan up laffing. Big joke. Dis time, you knee well and bruise up.

Some Guyanese people does go to dead-house and dem don’t know how fuh give sympathy. If you see how dem does mek joke with they fren… “kya kya kya” all de time as if they at a party. Nevah mine, the wife and pickney deh inside the house mourning fuh the dead fada.

De wan dem wah does mek me get vex is dem wah ALWAYS finding fault as though them want fuh show you dem know more than you. They gyaffin with you. As soon as you seh something, they open up with NO and BUT.

Contrary. Dah is wah dem is. CON-TRAY-REE

Pickney see old zinc with nail stick out. Wah he do? He walk pan de zinc.. Braddam! He fall and cut he haan to the bone (or almost). Next ting you know …….12 stitches.
He ah de same wan wah put corn in he ears and deh complaining bout ear-ache. The doctah pull out the corn almost growing leaf.
He muddah well-an-tell he how he haad-aze and contrary..


But is this waan wah does crack me up.

Guyanese people see a sign that say “NO FISHING”. Wah hard bout dat?

But, they now, they andastaan dah fuh seh “Plenty hassa deh heh. Come and throw you net.”
Is so we Guyanese people does do. Contrary as the day is long. AND……. when de police come, they saying how they going and carry de fish to LAKE CARAHEE.

I sorry fuh dat policeman, you hear.
He wan American.



On: Defining Yourself — June 16, 2021

On: Defining Yourself

I want to sing like the birds sing, not worrying about who hears or what they think.

Rumi

Too often, we allow ourselves to be seduced by societal norms and laws which circumscribe the ways in which we define ourselves.

I am a doctor, engineer, professor….I am the mother/ wife/ daughter / friend of…..mostly someone who is famous or wealthy. Our position in society defines us. We often use our possessions to gain status among friends. The house/properties we own, the car we drive, or the places we go for vacations give us a certain cache among relatives and friends, which mostly is guaranteed to arouse jealousy which in turn, makes us feel important.

If you were to hear, “I am a beggar. I am homeless.“, what might be your reaction to this? It is not jealousy, surely.
The beggar and the homeless have no status except that of being ignored. Circumstances have driven them to that place. The essence of that homeless man or the bag- lady is hidden. They do not lack intelligence. Yet we see them through the lens colored by our perceptions of the terms “ homeless” and “ beggar”. Those preconceived notions blind us to the fact that they too, but for the tides of fortune, might be like us. Yet , if tomorrow, the homeless man won a fortune, dressed in Saville Row suits, bought a big house, drove an expensive car, how might our perceptions of him change?

My point is that we are so tied to what others think of us and the ways in which others perceive us based on material things that we give no thought to who we really are. The outward appurtenances of possessions is the face we show to society.. The public image we manage to project is formed on externals and so, these become the things that define us. How much of the inner core of ourselves gets to see the light of day?

What happens if we were to lose our jobs, or our possessions? If these are our truths, it stands to reason that we are in danger of becoming non- entities like the beggar and the homeless. If we cease that frenetic search for material things which are erroneously thought to add gloss to that image we have built up for ourselves, we can begin to be who we essentially are. There is no harm in having these material possessions if that is what you want. The danger comes when we allow them to define who we are , when they become a backdrop for our self portrait.

I would like to think that who I am is not tied to possessions. I have very few of those anyhow. I would also like to think that my image is not tied to my family connections, or a position I hold in some company or to a common currency tied to social norms.

Let my image be of how I think, what my philosophy of life is. The extent to which I subscribe to humanity or the the uplift of the human condition but of these things, I must never boast or allow the world to see because they must not be for the consumption of others.

How often we hear conversations in which participants preface each sentence with ”I”? This ego that must be visible or we sink into anonymity. This is the great fear holding us to ransom.

I favor conversations in which the currency of communication is intelligence, in which no one forces the unpleasant ego on others.

To this, I give you Rumi.

“You think of your self

as a citizen of the universe

you think you belong

to this world of dust and matter.

Out of this dust

You have created a personal image,

and have forgotten the essence

of your true origin.”

In Shakespeare’s play HAMLET, Polonius gives advice to his son, Laertes

“This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.”

Act 1 : Sc 3

Do not be afraid to be who you are if you desire to do so. Put wealth and poverty aside and say to the world, “This is who I am. I am proud of it.”

Be at peace with yourself. Be true to yourself. Be you. Find your place in the world and mark it with honesty, hard work, honor, integrity, wisdom and intelligence. Stand tall and above the common herd in the society in which you live. Of course you will be spoken of and maybe mocked. But you will be celebrating YOU, acknowledging  YOU. defining YOU. You will be free.

When you allow others to define you, who you are and how you must act, you become a slave , bound hand and foot, and forever forced to act in ways that confine , ways that are contrary to the real YOU. Why do you want to be forced to be who you are not.? Do not poison yourself by laying this burden on your soul.

I want to sing like the birds sing, not worrying about who hears or what they think. Rumi

Rumi asks us to remember who we were born to be., certainly not an image created out of the dust and the matter of this world. but blessed with the original essence of an individual human soul.

On: Trees — June 3, 2021

On: Trees

Two poems to celebrate beauty of trees, and the oldest living thing on the planet- a Douglas Fir.

It is strange
Standing here
Beneath the whispering trees
Far away from the haunts of men.
Tell me, trees!
What are you whispering?
When I am dead
I shall come and lie
Beneath your fallen leaves…
But tell me, trees!
What are you whispering?
They shall bury me
Beneath your fallen leaves.
My robe shall be
Green, fallen leaves.
My love shall be
Fresh, fallen leaves.
My lips shall be
Sweet, fallen leaves.
I and the leaves shall be together
Never parting…
I and the leaves shall always lie together
And know no parting.
It is so strange
Standing here
Beneath the whispering trees
Tell me, trees!
What are you whispering?

Wilson Harris. (Guyanese poet)

Listen…When the wind and the leaves whisper to each other.

listen and you will hear stories about things you’ve never dreamed of, places you’ve never seen and things unheard of.


Listen and calm your troubled soul.

Listen, there is music there – the music of the spheres, songs with no lyrics, music that soars above all the cares and the clamor of this place.

Just listen.

The Bird that Tried — March 9, 2021

The Bird that Tried

Maybe you have heard the story of the bird who tried to put out a flame.
If you haven’t, then listen as I tell it to you now. The king, Nimrod, had set a huge fire and thrown the Prophet Abraham into the flames to kill him in punishment for his faith. A bird perched on a tree saw the flames and wanted to put out that flame. .It flew to the river and took a few drops of water in its beak and threw them on the flames. Back to the river it went and brought a few more drops, dashing them on the flames, back and forth and then again.
A crow perched on a tree nearby saw the bird flying back and forth with the few drops of water and mocked it saying, “What can a few drops of water do to put out that flame? You are trying to do the impossible.”
The bird replied, “When I die and go before God, He will not ask me if I put out the flame. He will ask me., ‘What did you do?”

There was a period of time in Guyana’s political history when the government chose to place a ban on all imported items. This placed a heavy burden on the people who had to find ways to cope with the new life style of having to make do. Life was a constant battle. I had to learn to make clothes for my children and myself. In addition I made every single item of linen in the home – linens, bed linen, tea towels, cushion covers, curtains with cheap materials bought at exorbitant prices on the black market. Answering to the creative urge that refused to be submerged, I acquired new skills.
As the politics changed, so did the culture. Markets re-opened, resulting in cheap items from China pushing those old skills into oblivion. No one wanted to learn the old fashioned, anachronistic skills anymore. Technology took over and fingers that were extremely facile on the keyboard were useless with needle and thread. Me? I was never any good with the keyboard.

After fifty-seven years and many thousands of students later I retired from teaching, my life-long profession. Retirement never posed a threat as I had dreamed of what I might do to stay occupied. I thought of doing something for charity. Using YouTube, I started making jewelry which I sold. The proceeds ($3,600:00) I donated to an ORPHAN SPONSORSHIP program. The money gave four orphans for a period of time enough for food, clothes, books for school and for their incidentals. However, I had to stop with this as it was affecting my eye sight.

But the creative urge caught up with me again and I taught myself water color painting. The greeting cards which I made, I sold. Under my daughter’s tutelage, I learned to use acrylic paints and painted pictures which I sold to friends and family members. The proceeds from all these efforts were used in a specific charity project which will be described if you read on.

I nave attached a few pictures of the cards and the acrylic paintings that I did.

Now into our lives comes the Covid pandemic and we are in lockdown. I read of people. getting bored, depressed, overweight, fractious, angry, resentful, scared, even divorced. I didn’t want those things for me . With renewed vigor, I started a new project in the year of Covid. . I named it WATER FOR LIFE PROJECT. From the sale of greeting cards, and acrylic pictures, I raised enough funds to complete my project.

It was one of the more enjoyable and productive time periods in my life. I painted for hours at a time answering to the creative urge. My husband would sit on the swing nearby and look on. In May of 2020, I donated $3000.00 to Zakaat Foundation of America to provide clean water to a place where none was accessible. The foundation chose the village of Kulela, Pusiga District in Ghana. They dug a well for the villagers. The women you see in the picture now do not have to walk three or more miles to fetch jars of water for their daily use. This well has freed up time for them to plant, to earn, to look after their children and more importantly, have clean drinking water, which will.prevent water borne diseases.

My new project is to raise enough funds for either another well or to support project “ Education for Women”. The aim of the latter project is to supply the school where they live with sewing machines that will be used to teach women and young girls how to sew. With this skill at their finger tips, they can open their own tailoring and dress making businesses or be employed in a garment factory. They can earn money to raise their standard of living.

I’m now making embroidered items for sale as well as the greeting cards. You see dear reader, those anachronistic skills can now, in some small way, help someone , somewhere. I use the different skills in the card making process- water color, gouache, card crafting, crochet, pressed flowers and beading.
There is also, an element of Islamic belief that motivates me. This kind of charity is known as “Sadaqah Jariyah”.
“Sadaqah Jariyah” is a charity that goes on into perpetuity. The Prophet (SAW said that providing people with water has huge rewards for anyone who does this deed.
Education is also seen as a “sadaqah jariyah” because it will help women to acquire a skill that will go on to help them earn for their families.

It would disturb me if it were to be thought that this blog post is to blow my trumpet. In Islam, the acts we do for charity must be for their own sake only and not to be broadcast. My niece and my daughter have nagged me into sharing this experience. Also, those family members and friends who helped me along the way will know how much their kindness has done.
And most importantly……

Like the bird that tried to douse the flames with a few drops of water, I try too.

I know in my heart that my efforts are like a drop in the ocean of poverty and want and need.
But dear reader, I will know that I tried.

My thanks and gratitude go out to all my family and friends who have supported me in my efforts. You too will share in the blessings.

On: LIGHT (Nur-un-ala-nur) — February 1, 2021

On: LIGHT (Nur-un-ala-nur)

(Light upon light)

A Prayer for Guidance

For my children and their children, and for my siblings and their children and grand children

Allahu nur us samah wati wal ardh
(Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth.)
“Our Lord,
You are Light.
Your face is Light.
Your hijaab is Light.
Your throne is Light.
You are the source of all Light.
Like a candle that lights a million others
And never loses its own brilliance,
You Light up the heavens and the earth.
Without Your Light we are doomed to hopeless darkness
The darkness of blind ignorance (jahl)
The darkness through which we flounder,
like lost souls,
grasping at the impermanence of this world.
Shine Your Light above me, around me
Like the sun at noontide over a column
Dispersing the shadows of ignorance that wait to claim me.

Our Lord!
I am Your vessel.
Fill me with Your blessed nur.
And just as a vessel must pour only what it contains,
Just as a cup gives form only to the water in it,
Let me pour Your Light through everything I do.
My hands to be guided to do Your will,
My intellect to perceive the difference between “ilm” and “ jahl”,
My tongue stayed from lies and backbiting and slander,
Alight only with Your truth,
My feet guided by Your Light
To the “siraat-ul-mustakeen
The path of the believer,
My eyes to perceive that it is Your Light
Which creates the beauty of of this world.
Set my heart aglow
So I can reflect Your love,
Your knowledge,
Your kindness,
Your generosity,
Your mercy.
Let Your light be my Imaan.

Our Lord,
When I have absorbed your Light, I cannot change.
Just as bread cannot go back to being grain.
Neither can silk go back to being a cocoon.

Our Lord,
Be my everlasting source of light.”
Ameen

Note: The word “hijaab” refers to anything that covers or hides or veils.
It is the Quranic term that refers to a curtain that protects one from view.
The Arabic word for a woman’s head covering is “khimar”.