Reunion

“The ribs are great here!”

We entered the noisy and dim-lit restaurant. The hum of chatter enveloped us as the server showed us to our table. I was not keen on meeting with the others, the ‘friends’ from high school. I recalled hurtful comments and intentional slights that had battered my self-esteem. Ethan and the others had seen it as fun, gentle teasing but many of their comments had cut to the bone. Ten years later, I still could not believe that I was with Ethan. Back then, he had been my crush and I had been a source for his amusement. Now we spent every moment that we could together.

The group welcomed my boyfriend to the table with cheers and plenty of backslapping. The girls ignored our linked hands and draped themselves over the alpha male. As the moments passed, I felt myself shrinking back into my high school persona. Ethan did not notice the moment my hand slipped away to reside in my jacket pocket. Hunched over at the end of the group, I tried to make myself as small as possible in order to avoid notice and the malicious ribbing that will surely follow.

Once the enthusiastic greetings were over, Ethan’s hand found mine and linked our fingers. He pulled me in to sit next to him, dislodging the ex-cheerleader who had always clung to him in the corridors of our high school. I noticed her disgruntled look and braced myself for the acerbic comment that would follow.

“You all remember Mayah?” Ethan put his arm around my shoulders and tucked me in closer. “Can you believe this beautiful creature has forgiven me and has agreed to be my wife?”

Silence greeted Ethan’s announcement. Years may have passed, but certain facts do not change. I am still of a different race and culture. I am still an oddity with my lisping accent and my dreams of a united world. But some things do change. I am now a well-known figure in the fight for the rights of immigrants. My name is bandied about in courtrooms and on social media. And I am now the love of the alpha male of our teenage group.

I look at Ethan and he winks at me. I realise then that he knew how hard this meeting was for me and, in his own way, he has tried to set things right. As the evening continues, I notice the ‘team’ treating me with a deference that they had not before; especially when Ethan proudly tells them of my work. I see a different side to my love, a side that makes me adore him even more.

Ethan was right. The ribs were good. And as I left the restaurant with my fiance, I knew we would never see our old high school friends again.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This post is linked to Linda G. Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday challenge)

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A Childhood Memory: Break Time

The school bell rang. Break time! The sound of young feet thundered down the stairwell,  accompanied by excited voices. Twenty minutes of freedom to be outside. To play. To run. To be young children unencumbered by responsibility and worry. I clambered down the stairs with my friends, leaving the monotony of standard 3 lessons behind me. Thinking back, I cannot remember who our teacher was. What I do remember, however, is the group of girls I spent time with both at school and after school. I remember the games we played, and the songs we used to dance to in the living room of my best friend. I remember the afternoons after school spent at the swimming pool and in the sauna of one of my buddies.

Break time at school was meant to eat lunch and to spend some time outside in the fresh air. To us it was something more. It meant gobbling down our sandwich on the run and then playing our games. We enjoyed playing elastic with the stash I had begged from my mom’s sewing box. But during the winter days, we  ‘built’ houses with the grasses that had been cut and left to dry in our school field. My group of friends, as well as the group of my sister’s, worked on our task with enthusiasm. We did as much as we could during our free time, knowing that  before school we would continue with our building and our play. Placing the grasses into a sort of circular rondawel  helped with our imaginary play.

When the ringing bells pealed across the large fields, the school children attired in dusty uniforms reluctantly moved towards the brick two-story building that housed our classrooms. The gust of wind stirring the cut grasses and the eddies of dust did little to encourage us to return indoors. We would rather have been playing outside under the African sun than to be seated behind desks listening to the teacher drone on about things I have forgotten.

(The prompt made me think back to when I was at school in standard 3 – or grade 5 as it is now known. The primary school that I attended was newly built and had had no developed fields when I was a student there. We played on grounds that were dusty and in the veld that had been set aside for track fields, cricket and soccer fields. In the winter, the tall grasses were cut to dry in an effort to prevent fire. As children, we loved playing with the grasses and using it for imaginative play. By the time I left the school to go onto high school, the parents had raised enough money to lay down proper grass for a track field.)

img_1654What do you remember when you were 10 years old?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This post is linked to the Tuesday Writing Prompt Challenge . This week the prompt is to think back to when you were 10 years old)

Reunion

The sun gently warmed the garden furniture as I readied the garden for our influx of guests. I enjoy this time of year: the beginning of spring always brings with it hope and a sense of joy. Today my joy was overflowing – I would see all my siblings and their entourage. Already I could hear the women’s murmurings, the men’s political debates, and the children’s noise at play. Food will be abundant and chatter will flow. Memories will be revisited and hopes whispered. Laughter will thread through the day. And, for a moment, we will pause and remember our matriarch.

Do you have positive memories of family gatherings? I do, and it is one of the things I miss living so far away from my siblings. 

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This post was inspired by Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle. The challenge asks for bloggers to write a story in 100 words or less in response to the photo prompt.)

Festive Offerings

PHOTO PROMPT © Björn Rudberg

Needles clicked and hooks moved rhythmically for months. Sons and daughters shopped at local yarn retail stores to provide fodder for the seemingly endless use of aluminium tools. The women’s industry occurred during daytime television and informal chats. Needles and hooks, however, were set aside on Thursday night – bingo was sacrosanct and no-one wanted to miss out on winning a prize. By the time the cold breezes whistled through the trees, the handmade offerings lined the windowsill. A group had been nominated to take the hats and toques to a nearby homeless shelter. A perfect gift for the festive season.

This festive season I am grateful for the warm clothing and home that I have unlike many of those who are homeless. 

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2017

(This post was inspired by Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle. The challenge asks for bloggers to write a story in 100 words or less in response to the photo prompt.)

FMF Day 6: Story

We are fascinated by other people’s stories. Gossip magazines sell because buyers read eagerly about the lives of the Hollywood famous. Biographies and autobiographies of both current personalities as well as well-known players of the past, line the shelves in book stores. We tend to believe that others have stories that are interesting and well worth reading.

And yet, men and women living in modern society have their own stories. Their lives are made up of experiences and choices that determine a unique tale. Life struggles and successes are weaved into the fabric of their adventures on earth. Decisions made cause deviations, which in themselves develop a person’s character and prominence within their own story.

Just like the unknown people of the past experienced their own life stories, so do we in the modern age discover ours. We may not have articles in magazines spreading the word about our lives, or have films and statues created in our name, but snippets of our lives are shared with people we know as well as with those with whom we come into contact. Our stories do matter. They are a part of ourselves and what makes us unique.

Do you often share your story?

(This post is in response to the FMF October challenge in which we write for 5 minutes every day in October. To read any posts you may have missed on my series titled Reflections on Modern Life, click here.)

FMF Day 2: Tell

Modern life tells on our bodies. The lack of exercise shows in our weight and lack of muscle. Our diet shows in our constant fatigue and large bodies. Our stress shows in our haggard and drawn faces.

Modern life allows no time for repose and just being. We rush from point to point and often feel the clock ticking within our minds. Many children experience the same stress as they are shunted from one activity to another. High school students are expected to ‘hit the books’ as a heavy workload is piled onto them.

Modern life is reflected in our faces. In the bleary eyes in the morning as we stagger (sometimes literally) to our workplace or place of learning. The circles under our eyes tell of late nights and over-exposure to screens. (Yes, children show these signs as well).

Magazines and TV shows may show that modern life is great – we have so much more now than they had in the past. Life is shown to be easier. But is it? Our bodies tell that it may not be so.

Does your body show signs of modern life?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2017

(This post is in response to the FMF October challenge in which we write for 5 minutes every day in October. To read any posts you may have missed on my series titled Reflections on Modern Life, click here.)

FMF Day 1: Worship

In the 21st century, our lives are full. We rush from one place to another, cramming as much as we can into our day. Many families are unable to spend quality time together – and often the time that they do spend with one another is limited by the brimming schedule of both parents and children.

In a life shaped by modern values and filled with busyness, where does God fit in? Whom do we worship?

In modern cities and towns, pews in the churches are empty. Church buildings are renovated and used for different purposes – some are even refurbished as homes. God is no longer is part of a person’s life and daily routine. The Lord’s prayer no longer begins the school day, and saying daily prayers is a habit few follow.

Who has replaced God? Knowledge and understanding how the world works. The belief in self and the confidence that a person can control much of their own life. The words ‘spiritualism’ and ‘mindfulness’ are bandied about. A person no longer prays to God, but meditates to calm the spirit. A person no longer believes in God, but is spiritual.

As humanity moves towards worshipping the self, it loses the sense of community and faith that once held it together. Will there be a time when men and women will come to realise that focusing on the self is not gratifying? Will they once again learn to have faith in a Being greater than themselves? Will they once again worship God?

Do you believe there will be a renaissance of worship?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2017

(This post is in response to the FMF October challenge in which we write for 5 minutes every day in October. For the first post on my series titled Reflections on Modern Life, click here.)

31 Days of FMF in October 2017

It has been a number of years since I have participated in the Five Minute Friday (FMF) October challenge in which you write for 5 minutes everyday on a given word. In 2014, I wrote a series of posts on moving from the southern to the northern hemisphere titled Migrating North. In 2015, I wrote about some of my teaching experiences in a series of posts titled Blackboard Scribbles.

This year I have decided to take up the challenge once again to help me get back into my blogging routine. Kate Motaung over at the Five Minute Friday website does not suggest you choose a theme for the 31 days of posts – but I found I enjoyed focusing my writing on a particular topic. This year I have chosen to reflect on our modern lives in a series of posts titled Reflections on Modern Life. The title came to me while walking home yesterday while I was thinking about our habits and stresses in current society.I hope you will enjoy this series of posts and look forward to your contributions to the discussions in the comments.

Will you be participating in the FMF October challenge this year?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2017

Five Minute Friday: Depend

dependThere are so many people who depend on me. I think first of my children who look to me to help them feel secure and to provide them with the essentials they need (including love and support). I give them what they need willingly and with no regret. I love them and am grateful to have them in my life.

The children in my class depend on me and rely on me to guide them in their learning journey. The parents trust that I will look after their children while they are in my care – that I will nurture them and keep them safe. The people who hired me, and the ones who supervise me in my work, depend on me to follow the curriculum and to find ways in which to engage my students in their learning.

This year we have a number of new teachers at our school. In grade 1 we have three teachers who are new to the school board – and two who are fresh out of university. These newbies depend on me to help them with their new teaching experience. As their mentor, I answer any questions that they have, help them plan activities for their room, and support them in any way that I can.

And who do I depend on? My family to help me when I need emotional support. The admin at our school when I have work related questions. And my faith in God when I feel life is overwhelming.

Who do you depend on?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2016

(This post was inspired by the Five Minute Friday prompt: depend)

Five Minute Friday: Accept

acceptLast week I was asked to take another student into my class. New to the neighbourhood, he had become more and more withdrawn in the grade 2/3 class he had been placed in. He was not speaking in class – neither to the teacher, nor to his classmates. Mom was concerned and pleaded for him to be moved. My principal thought he would do well with me because of the way I run my class.

I accepted the challenge.

He is a quiet boy and extremely withdrawn. He does take direction but is hesitant to respond to any questions in French. But what a pleasure it was to see him laugh with the rest of the class when we were being silly during carpet time. And in the morning his smile shines through when Monsieur Zazu, the class puppet,  greets every student.

I have worked with children before who are extremely introverted and, with patience and understanding, I have helped them build their confidence enough to speak in French in front of the class. Seeing him smile and getting him engaged in the classroom activities would be well worth the effort I put in to make him comfortable.

What challenge do you accept this week?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2016

(This post was inspired by the Five Minute Friday prompt: accept)