Mama’s Letter of Regret

I seal this letter with prayer

Knees rooted to this alter

Digging the hard earth

Searching for forgiveness

 

Years apart draw deep fissures

I can hardly remember the colour

Of your name

Or the song of your heart

The wind in your lungs

Or the summer in your eyes

 

You left your skin behind

Your footsteps faded

Until I could hardly read

The trail to where you lead

 

I’m at the edge of the edge

Where one argues with finality

Begging for a second after another

For wrongs to be unbent

Until peace pretends to near

 

I’ve committed my corruptions

Bribing demons in hell

As I placed my wager on the table

A child’s love and an umbilical cord

And walked away with a loss

 

I’m at the end of the end

Swimming in grey clouds

Seeking your forgiveness

I thought I did all a mother could

But deep within I know

I chose myself over you

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Book Review: The Godfather by Mario Puzo

Originally Published: G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Date: 1969

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If you don’t imitate Don Vito Corleone when reading his dialogue in the book then you need help, and by help I mean watching the film. Yes, the whole trilogy. You will not regret it. I am a firm believer in books being better than the film adaptations but in this case I make an exception.

The Corleones are a powerful Mafia family in New York who are at war with four other Mafia families. When Don Vito Corleone is shot by men sent by the drug dealer Sollozzo, the two sons out of the five children, Sonny and Michael have to run the business with the help of Vito’s adopted son Tom Hagen who’s also his adviser. At first Michael has no desire but after the tragedy of his father things take a wild turn.

War escalates when the amateur Michael kills Sollozzo and the police officer on his payroll, Michael McCluskey. Don Vito eventually dies and Sonny’s volcanic eruptions end up getting him killed when he becomes involved in his sister’s marital affairs by teaching his brother-in-law a lesson for abusing her. After Sonny’s death Michael becomes the head of the family empire despite his desires to live a normal life with his girlfriend Kay, who then becomes his wife and mother of his children.

At first Michael wants to legitimize the family business but as the story progresses he becomes more ruthless and brutal than his father. He choreographs the murders of his enemies and has his brother-in-law killed for his involvement in the death of his brother, Sonny. His marriage takes a toll and the life of a Mafia proves to be a chain of plotting, killing, threatening, gambling with lives, and never-ending revenge and war. In the end he pays a heavy price when his enemies reach his family and kill someone very close to his heart.

The title of the book The Godfather refers to Don Vito Corleone but the central character is his son Michael Corleone whom most of the events of the story revolve around. The novel portrays the brutal world of the Mafia. It is a story of man and his power and the all that rises and falls with this power. It portrays the influence that The Don (a title that passes on from Vito, to Michael and at the end to Vincent, Sonny’s son) has on people from ground level to people sitting high up.

Mario Puzo did a good job in reflecting the true history of the Mafia world in America in a fictionalized world. The story makes for an intriguing read and at the same time offers insight into what took place in that world.

Mario Puzo

(Photo: http://www.mariopuzo.com/photoalbum/4thKcigar.jpg)

Mario Puzo was born in Hell’s Kitchen on 15 October 1920 and was an author, journalist and screenwriter. He graduated from the City College of New York and joined the United States Army Air Forces in World War II. His first two novels were The Dark Arena and The Fortunate Pilgrim, followed by The Godfather, which became his best-known novel and adapted into film. Some of his many works include Fools Die, The Sicilian, The Fourth K, The Last Don and The Family, which was completed by his long-term girlfriend. Apart from novels, Mario Puzo wrote and published many other works – short stories, non-fiction, screenplays and also had video adaptations of The Godfather. He died on 2 July 1999.

 

Your Moments

Unwritten stories

The ones in your heart

But you fail to see the chapters

As you wait for someone to pick up the pen

 

The greatest moments

You triumph with oblivion to your fight

You blindly toil and break

And just before the ground hits your face

Favours return from the universe

And the fall becomes worth it

 

The little miracles you don’t believe

That couldn’t be happening to you

Because you don’t deserve them

The honey that trickles into your mouth

You think is meant others to taste

 

The ones you recreate until they fit

Until they become the lens through which

You wish to see the glories of your life

The choices that make you one of a kind

 

The flowers you pick

In a garden of weeds

The rays of the sun you see

Through the drops of rain

The colours of a growing rainbow

You see piercing the grey clouds

Book Review: Maru by Bessie Head

Heinemann, African Writers Series

Date published: 1971

Maru photo

Margaret Cadmore is orphaned when her mother dies after giving birth. A white, British woman, a wife of a missionary and a teacher takes her home and raises her. The woman, Margaret Cadmore, who names the child after her takes the child as an experiment and their relationship is not that of mother and child, although there are the occasional bed-time stories and kisses. She grows up without being spared by other children a reminder of her being a Bushman. These remarks are rooted in the belief that Bushmen are lower than animals and should be treated accordingly, this includes actions such as spitting at her.

Seventeen years later, at the end of her teacher’s experiment, they part ways as the senior retires to England. The young girl gets a teaching post in a village called Dilepe. This new journey brings with it changes in her own life and in the lives of the people around her. Two men, Moleka and Maru, who have been the closest of friends find themselves in locked horns over who will get her. Both are in love with her; Moleka who has been changing women and whose heart never belonged to any of them finds himself a changed man with a changed heart because of his feelings for Margaret. Maru is more aggressive and possessive, he finds himself sharing the same visions and dreams as Margaret, hers translating into her drawings.

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(Photo: Mawande ‘Manez’ Sobethwa. https://www.facebook.com/manez134)

Her friendship with one of the teachers, Dikeledi who’s Maru’s sister strengthens. Through the social prejudices and frowns that she gets because she is a Masarwa, Dikeledi sees her as a person and continues to have a good relationship with her. The village of Dilepe is no different from the children that used to torment her in school. This is a place where her people are slaves and her being a teacher brings a stir. Margaret feels the same way about Moleka but nothing is done about it. It is when Dikeledi confides in her about something significant that happened between her and Moleka that Margaret’s feels the world completely shattering beneath her and that allows Maru’s engineered ways to have her to take place successfully.

This novel reveals the depth of discrimination that took place in Botswana and how black people were treating the Masarwa people the same way white people treated blacks. It is a story of friendships formed through seeing humanness before race and at the same time friendships lost because of love.

bessie

(Photo: http://study.com/academy/lesson/bessie-head-biography-short-stories-books.html)

Bessies Head was born in South Africa in 1937, a mixed race child from a white mother and a black father. Her own life experiences bled into her novels. She trained as a teacher and four years after teaching she worked as a journalist for Drum magazine. Circumstances in her life set her off to teach in Botswana where she took refuge for fifteen years until her refugee status was changed and she was granted citizenship.

She has written When Rain Clouds Gather, A Question of Power, The Collector of Treasures, Serowe; Village of The Rain Wind, A Woman Alone, Tales of Tenderness, Power and The Cardinals.  She passed away in 1986 at the age of 49. A master of literature, with her work still holding a significant place in African literature.

When Heavens Laugh

It’s in the sweet laughter of children

Giggles wrapped in sheets of mirth

Skipping to no particular song, but that

Played by golden harps

Unheard by ears of ones too old to hear

 

It’s the smell of rain in the morn

When drops nestle in the arms of the soil

Waking scents unfold buds of nostalgia

Blossom into flowers of charming memories

Curving unconscious smiles on your face

As drops fall slowly on a window’s cheek

 

It’s the interlocked hands of the aged

Glossy eyes with wrinkled corners

Brackets on the skin formed by laughter

Waking to the rising and falling sun

They still chuckle and blush

As she thaws like an infatuated lass

 

It’s the burst of air in amateur lungs

A rich cry of human wonder

The smile of its untrained mouth

The light that meets its squinting eyes

The curve of its mother’s warm arms

We’re Survivors

We’re trees crying tears of leaves

For the birth of a red autumn child

We stand grand in summer’s embrace

Fresh green mane on elegant shoulders

 

We’re reptiles slithering in dust of woes

Skins dulled by drains of troubles

We shed the old, crawl out of our burdens

Clad in new scales we glisten and grow

 

We’re heated waters, faults boil our cores

Sorrows rise in temporary vapours

Cold airs aerate our thoughts

A rain of redemption falls

 

We’re open wounds oozing pain

Thick clots lull our bleeding

They’re horrid scabs but when we settle,

Our scars curve into heroic stories

 

We’re botanical wonders, fruits of existence

Devoured by unpredicted mouths and spit

Our seeds find fertile earths to revive us

We re-emerge, bursting with sweetness

 

We’re darlings greeting lucent unknowns of birth

We’re grey-haired wisdoms retiring to death

Born to survive the erratic weathers of life

Our medals are that which we leave behind

The Poor Grandmother

Dawn dances on her sagging flesh

Rewriting wounded stories

The rays scribble on her face

Digging worrying furrows

 

Memories sail off to her cubs

Lives poured into mortal cups

Drunk by that which ailed them

The orphans are their lives’ sediments

 

She digs into barren pockets

Pursuing infertile dreams

Combing the cobwebs of its frayed belly

Her defeated palms return empty

 

Sunset promises another loss

The end pulls them across

Into darkness, each breath follows

All she hears are crying shadows