Turning Blue

The day dawned to the sound of birdsong and with a clear blue sky. Mandy stepped out of the house filled with hope. This was the day! Nothing could stop her from achieving her goals. The brisk walk to the subway energised her and she smiled at the strangers around her, positive energy glowing in her eyes.

Descending into the subterranean space, she saw the neon lights flicker. She pushed ahead regardless, knowing that the ride to her destination would be crowded and airless. As always, she hoped it would be quick. The morning transit experience was not one she enjoyed: the pushing. the smells, the crush of bodies packed into the car like glassy-eyed sardines. The soulless journey was endured, not relished, every workday.

Then her worst nightmare!

The train ground to halt, the lights flickered and died. Crushed within the sea of humans, Mandy heard a woman scream. An echoing scream lay dormant in her throat. Forcing herself to breathe, Mandy tried hard not to panic. Closing her eyes against the dark, she focused on what the day was to bring. Positivity. Good news. A chance at promotion.

The ten minutes until the generator kicked in felt the longest she had experienced in her life. And then the wait and the escalating body odours of her forced companions. She really needed to find another way to get to work!

Finally arriving at her destination, Mandy shoved open the door to her office building. She was late and her smile had slowly drowned under the tapping irritation of her foot. Entering the sales floor, her manager cheerily greeted her with the information that she had lost the opportunity she had hoped would be hers. Her hard work had been ignored because she’d been late for the presentation. No one cared about accidents on train tracks or fatal injuries of other humans. After all, leaders are never late.

The day had started with blue skies and birdsong. It ended with darkness and a sense of surrender to the Fates.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

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

Advertisements

The Way To Our Heart

They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.

I say the way to my heart is for the man to cook.

They say if you want to win a man’s affections, cook for him. Daily.

I say if he wants to please me, he should spend the time in the kitchen.

They say women are cooks, men are chefs.

I say I am tired of daily meal planning. Let him have a turn.

Why is it that women are expected to be the ones who shop for groceries, plan the week’s menu, cook the meals. In modern society, women are also working at full-time jobs and bringing in the money. Our second job (raising children, running a home, and cooking) should be shared with the husband/partner.

I say the way to a women’s heart is through her stomach.

I say women are the true chefs, putting together meals on a budget and what is found in the fridge.

I say our reign of the home kitchen is over. We want to pass the sceptre to someone else.

What do you say?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

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

A Living Room Couch

The living room couch was like Grand Central Station: a flurry of daytime activity surrounded it.

Quick early morning cups of coffee were spilt on on the sofa before resting purses and briefcases were hurriedly grabbed from its centre. Once the early morning bustle was over, a sigh was heard and feet were placed on the overstuffed cushions. The lull in activity was welcomed before the beige couch was surrounded by the whoosh of the vacuum and the scent of polish.

Around noon either the twitter of book-club ladies, the rowdiness of the bingo group, or the tranquil chatter of the knitting club as preemie blankets were created was heard. Even though the space was busy, there was a calmness in the activity.

The afternoon lull was short before the plump seats were jumped on by energetic feet happy to be home. Snacks were eaten in the deep recesses of the cushions while in the next room the unmistakable sound of oil sizzled in a pan.

Bathtime.

Dinnertime.

The couch was unused, but the sounds nearby did not bring serenity.

Then a favourite part of the day: storytime and the snuggles between parents and children.

The lull before the quiet.

Bedtime.

Parent time while the television buzzes softly in the background.

Then the living room turns dark and the sounds of the night encroach.

The house sleeps as does the couch; resting fully and preparing itself for the repetition of the early morning routine mayhem.

A couch’s work is never done.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

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

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)

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.)