dark sky

The Refugee Mother

I wake to another day of anguish. Not knowing where my child is. The last touch of her fingers on mine as her grip slipped away from me off the side of the boat. Too crowded to manage to leap after her – the last I saw of her little red jacket being borne away by the burly man who was trying to rescue us all.
By the time I fell out of the boat into the churning waves, fighting to avoid being caught in the jagged rocks I had lost sight of her. Finally I reached the beach – where was my child? Frantic running hampered by my long black robe, wet and dragging around me. Up and down the beach – calling, pleading with each person I met – to no avail – no one understands me – no words the same, my language from another land, my cries for my baby not understood.

Now panting with fright and fear – trying desperately to hold back the panic which is bubbling from within – the days the hours, the weeks of struggle to reach this haven.. what haven?.. . A rocky beach, discarded life jackets littering the shore – wet bedraggled distraught companions most in shock struggling with the reality which faces them now.
And my reality – my baby – she is lost … me – also lost. Cold seeping into my bones and my awareness, wet and sodden, and now a figure moving toward me holding out a blanket. She moves in next to me.. murmuring words I don’t understand but which bring with them comfort and warmth. She wraps me in the dry blanket – and leads me further up the beach toward a small group huddled now around a fire the flames reflecting off faces worn and bleak.

Days pass – merge into each other – tears drain away – as the possibility of finding my baby appears more and more distant. I am shuffled along with the group first met by that fireside on the beach – into a makeshift hut – still unable to communicate until finally here is someone who speaks a little of my tongue.
She is dark skinned – no burkha but she is respectful – she takes my hands in hers – weather worn hands – hands used to hard work – but hands that speak to mine. Haltingly she asks me – “What do you need – how can I help you?”
Relief floods my being but in the rush of the possibility my words tumble out fast and incomprehensible to this woman. Slow .. slow .. be slow, I breathe and begin again –

“My baby – my girl, my baby – I have lost her .. red jacket – so high – black curls, black dancing eyes, my baby – lost – from the boat – 5 days ago.”

My baby.

“Ah…” the eyes of the woman of the kind hands fill with tears and understanding. “Ah – the orphans – they are in another camp – some way away – perhaps she is there – but we must get a permit to move there to search for her.” And the waiting began again.

The hope – the wait – again the hope and the sense of deep never ending loss. Two days – three days – where is she the woman of the kind hands? Has she forgotten me? Is all again lost?

And on the fourth day she returns – seeking me out, finding me huddled in the corner of the tent – waiting.
She has the paper – we can go together – “Are you strong enough to walk?” she asks as she helps me up and down the road past the old olive trees entwined together on the rocky hillsides. “It is far but we can be there by sunset.”

We walk – my heart is lifting again – in hope – not quite daring to imagine that at the end of this road I might yet again feel my daughter’s hand in mine. Her heart beating next to my heart – but as we come closer to the ‘orphans camp’ I begin to sense that the nightmare is coming near to the dawn.

There is a makeshift gate and a ‘guard’, a rough fellow in worn clothes – and beyond tents, and children – and children .. and children. Where is my girl? Is she here? Can I dare to hope for her being – please – please- oh Allah be merciful.. then a glimpse – a flash of red in the arms of a tall and ragged figure of a young man.. her jacket .. is it? .. Can I hope this time?

Oh my God .. the rush the anguish of gratitude deep cutting into my heart.. it is Zanubiya – my princess, my beloved, my joy of my heart .. it is she.. no words now possible – my baby in my arms, my beloved one. The tears stream unchecked – the waves wash once more over me but waves of love and gratitude and joy.

All else is fallen behind .. all else matters not –
Zanubiya is found.


Photography – inspiration – and procrastination

Two years ago I was really beginning to get into water harvesting and I had my focus set on making a documentary about the subject. This way I thought I could raise awareness and funds for the projects I was supporting. So I invested in a really great camera.. the best I could find in a price range I could manage that would fit what I wanted to acheive.

But the best plans change – I headed back to India and there I found my direction moving.. no longer focused on creating a documentary I simply started writing and taking photos. Well frankly it was easier than learning a whole new skill of making a movie.. something I had never done in my life.

Does that usually stop me? Not necessarily I am pretty able to get into stuff I never did before but this time making a movie just felt a wee bit over the top for me.

So with a sigh of relief underneath it all, I chose to move into a different direction.
The legacy of that is I have an excellent and beautiful camera – but I have to say, a half hearted attempt ar being a good photographer!

“Learning Shazar learning”… it comes around to bite me each and every day… things I need to learn – Hindi, photography, css, that new app I just got, iphone photograpy, sketch app, Hindi again, and on top of all that – how to wend my way through the intricacies of Indian political speak and rules and regulations to help my water harvesting friends.

Now back in Australia – for my winter break – and so many things get in the way – Writers Group, walks in the park, cooking, sleeping in, meeting friends for coffee, the Hilton Bowling Club and dancing on Friday nights, movies, sitting around in the winter sunshine, more cooking, wandering around the shops, playing.

Learning?.. oh where did that get to?
And the time is creeping up till I head back to India in early August – and still I procrastinate over my Hindi lessons!

Its an interesting thing seeking the aspects of procrastination and its offshoot – that of berating myself for ‘not doing’ – ah to simply relax and accept the day to day flow – and allow the understanding that I am in the right place and the right time and that its ok not to get everything done on my list.

One thing at a time – the cake smells good, the dinner is cooked, the family gathers. And that beautiful sun rises each and every day. I shall simply have to communicate the way I do best – with a smile.

Its not all about me!

What are the learnings of family relationships?
In fact of all relationships.

Most of the time number one would be “It’s not all about me!”  Its is a refrain that should be imprinted on my brain.

I could delete yesterday’s post – I could say: “Ah this was unkind of me” – or perhaps “Ah this was incorrect and could be hurtful to another”.. and yes that’s true – but once again who is it really about?

Or should I take it down because it shows me in a poor light? That the ‘spiritual me’ that I like to protray is also sometimes very ‘unspiritual’ and stuck in her own mind, unable to confront what is real.

I don’t even know who reads my ‘stuff’ as yesterday’s post was certainly ‘stuff’ dressed up to resemble an exercise in writing. Ha! Caught out Shazar – you who thought of being clever. When there is unresolved angst underneath the words, however plain and undecorated they are – it takes no effort to see the real picture beneath that I was feeling  pissed off and hurt.

But in the ultimate scheme of things it is simply not about me. I hear:  “How often is it not about you?” Always – 99.9% of the time. Its time to wake up and look at what is real, not the surface. Time to let go of the mish mash of emotional charge and ask: “What is really going on here. Whose stuff is this?” – and once it gets a little more clear then do something about it. My stuff, my responsibility, and ultimately my choice about how I feel about my life and what happens in it.
With apologies to my regular readers – I won’t take the post down because that too is a part of who I am and deleting does not change the learning.  I shall leave it there as a reminder.

What was that – the learning?

“Shazar it is not all about you!!”


What do dogs have to do with writing?

Reading James Altucher today he talked about writing – that when he has a problem he explores it – by writing about it – . He says: “Don’t even give me a description – not how you feel about it – just what happened, no flowers or clouds – just tell me.”

So here is my problem of today – it’s my problem .. no one else’s – here is the scraping around to explore it,  here is the telling:

I looked after my sister’s dog for two weeks – it was hard work – the dog was a puppy and needed heaps of attention and a minimum of two long walks a day.. when it wasn’t walking it was sometimes sleeping and otherwise was asking for attention.

dogs playing

‘Pat me, stroke me throw something for me, feed me’.. well you get the picture. I didn’t get much else done in that two weeks while I took care of her dog.
When they came home – I was at her house waiting for them with the dog – which got all the hello when they arrived. I had made soup for them – it was bubbling on the stove – something decent to eat after plane food all day.

There was thank you and hugs and bye bye. I went home – to my other sister’s house – it was dark by then – dinner time – no fire going so a bit cold. Nobody there.
I lit the fire, heated up some soup I left for myself and ate it on my own.

I hadn’t seen my sister – the one with the dog much for a long time – I had been overseas. She didn’t ask me to stay to eat soup with them. She didn’t ask me if I had any food made at home. She didn’t ask me if I was on my own. She just came home to her house and went back to her life in her world.

She sent me a text – to thank me and to say the soup was delicious. I didn’t answer her. Some days later she asked if I had received the text. I said yes.

Now we haven’t really spoken for almost two months. I have invited her for dinner – but she didn’t come – I have seen her at breakfast with my other sister but we didn’t speak much.

Yesterday she asked me if I would still house and dog sit for 5 days while they go to Bali. I said no this time – I am leaving for India the day after they come back and it didn’t suit me.

There is a gap now between her and me – today I am asking how to close that gap and if it is really needed.

Family is important. If I was to die tomorrow would the gap become more important?

wet dog

Dark pine trees in the forest

The Family of Tree

Tonight I am tree
lashed by winds
rain beating through branches
leaves flying
limbs tossed
roots standing firm.

Fortune smiles on me
I live in the forest
the community of trees
grasses, bushes, roots entwined
I am strong in my community

I live
I bend I flow with the storm
My brothers and sisters who stand alone
they stand alone and often fall
no longer in the arms and entanglement of family
falling breaking tearing from the earth

Oh forest hold me dear
roots bound to the earth
wind in my branches and leaves
the friend the storm simply is
no stranger to the tempest
no threat to the lands
winds blow all you might
for in my family I stand upright.

Trees standing in a forest