Category Archives: writing

Keeping Promises

I wake at 5.45 – it is just getting light, the grandfather of the house has begun his day, unlocking the gates and putting the dog, Olive back into her house – her guarding job over for another night.  It is time to get up, time to don loose clothes and light walking shoes and leave my safe haven.

I had been promising myself for days to begin walking again in the morning.  A very easy thing to do in my home place of Perth – places to walk to the beach, to the coffee shop, in the park – around the quiet morning streets.  But here?  In India where always I stick out as the foreigner.  I have to again gather my spirit to move outside my comfort zone and find out how it is to join the rest of the healthy folks who also ‘walk’ in the morning.

I live very close to a ‘ground’ the place where cricket and other games are played, and sometimes even concerts are held.  It is in the huge compound of the BVB College – where our offices are .. and the locked night gates open at 5 am.

“No, you don’t need to take anything with you – just have a big drink now and leave the bottle at home.   Mobile phone – forget it.. just your keys slipped in the pocket and off you go.”

The street outside is quiet – a couple of early morning dogs prowling near the rubbish bins on the corner – a young man cleaning his motorbike.  I walk to the gate and enter – picking up speed as I go.  It’s cool this morning – the air still fresh from the evening’s rain. There are lots of people around the ground – jogging, walking, striding it out – I too stride along – starting to feel the warmth of the exercise coursing through my sleep soaked body.

The trees here are special – some – the ‘sky jasmine’ having strewn their prolific night blossoms as a carpet below them.  I walk the path through the campus buildings and do a ’round’ then head down to the ‘ground’ to join the morning enthusiasts.  One lap is enough for me now and I head back to my place… the body feels good – a little stiff in my right hip but that will easily pass. I have walked for a good half hour. Ahh, time for a meditation – this time in front of the fan as I am sweating and hot.

And then my morning coffee.  Thankfully the power is on this morning so there is no wait for my ‘coffee fix’ so I sip the hot strong black brew and write.

What did I learn on my walk?  That in keeping my promise to myself, there are far-reaching consequences that go way beyond ‘exercise’.

My ‘being’ rejoices – it ‘gets’ that I stand by my values for myself – for no one else.. simply for myself.

And as I do this – my values hold and are reaffirmed, I have put another building block of integrity in my life – just by the simple act of going for a morning walk.

My Mother Left a Scar on My Soul

My mother left a scar on my soul. Can you see it? If you look closely – you may.  If you knew her you might hear her in my laugh – or glimpse a shadow of her being in the turn of my head. The scarring was oh so painful as it was made but now this scar is simply a beautiful mark on my soul.

Her being was special.. yes I hear you say.. ‘all mother’s beings are special’.  But no – you did not know mine. She was my mother.. and then she was gone.
A short time we spent together – only a few years – almost 14 in total – but the blink of an eye compared to a lifetime.

In that 14 years she shared so much. Her love of beauty, her eye for photography, her hand in baking .. she cooked.. oh how how she cooked – while multitasking the day through – she washed and baked and made bread and cooked roasts and quartered the mutton to a tee.

The ‘killer’ (meat in the form of a dead sheep) was brought in by my father every few days depending on the number of ‘men’ she was feeding at the time.
On the Murchison River – some would say the outback – this was not your lamb chops all neatly packaged, your roast leg – already for baking and carving.. no the whole sheep simply stripped of its insides and its wooly hide.

The rest was up to Mum – to get it suitably divided and ready for the kero fridge. Every last piece of that sheep was prepared with a loving hand and provided to the family and the workers in as many different ways as she could dream up that they would accept and eat. Soups, stews, brains, liver fry, shanks – roast on Sunday .. the list went on.

Amy Gweneth Robinson

But let it not be thought that my Mother was just a cook. For she was a stalwart woman – bearer of five children, the backbone of a sheep station – without her my father would never have survived the ‘bush’.

And who was she to me that she has left this exquisite scar on my soul. When I remember her – the first thing that comes to my mind is her fragrance.. the smell of her – that smell that was the last thing that was tangible after she left. I would bury my face into her night clothes and her dressing gown still behind the bedroom door .. and the memory of her would wash over me with the strength of a huge wave ..

but now .. as time has passed – I think of her infrequently – she is around that I know – I feel her laughter at times – and I feel her hand in my own as I too understand the art of the cooking pots and the fire. This she taught me along with the ‘correspondence schooling’ she gave – me perched on the kitchen cupboards reciting my times table while she beat the loaves of bread into submission with her floury arms.

‘Seven eights are fifty six’ I recited time and time again as the loaves and buns were formed on the bench beside me.

And then there was the day when the long black snake slithered into the kitchen .. wove its way into the cupboard and disappeared behind the huge old AGA cooker we had. Mum was not faint of heart .. a snake of any kind in the bush meant watch out.. she took a kettle of boiling water and poured it down the back of the stove.. the snake was not seen again.. we breathed and went back to the times table.

Women in those days in the outback were a special breed. They had to be. Mum was one of the best. She could turn her hand to all things household, she understood how to stitch up a gash in a bleeding dog caught on the barb wired fence, she knew how to grow a vegetable garden that flourished in the harsh land – her chickens gave eggs, she managed the weekly mail truck and the delivery of perishables that otherwise we would never see.

There were I am sure, many things she did that I never knew of – but I always remember her hand soothing my head as she applied calomine lotion to my chicken pox spots in the middle of the night – all those small things that told me how much I was loved.

I don’t know if she knew she would be only with us for a short while – but it seems she did because she gave herself so fully and completely to loving us kids – like she had to supply us with enough to go on with once she was gone.

And now.. what of the scar?  It was raw and unbelievably tearing of my soul for a very long time.   Scars are like that .. they hurt .. and then they heal.   Sometimes breaking open again until one day they are simply a mark – a remembrance – something we will never lose.

I don’t want to lose that scar for in the scar is the sweetness and the depth and the understanding that I was loved. and through that love I myself learned to love.

Thank you my wonderful and beautiful Mother ..
for you gave me life and you gave me love and in that love you gave me the continuation of the understanding of love..
so I too can pass that on..
this is your legacy –
a legacy of the infinity of love.

In Love I Fly

Fortune smiles upon me

The wings of my being lift and fly and I am embraced
Deep touching of heart – bodies melting into each other.

Boundaries disappear, hearts beating as one.

IMG_9878-smallI did not see it coming like a bird on the wing
Flying into my world
Lifting my heart and my song.

Oh let me dissolve into the depths of my being
touching you as one
surrender, letting go, disappearing into the gift of your loving.

I know not why or how or when, time has flown away

It is now in your heart
now in my life
all else has left and gone
Joy remains

Love remains
Love is
Beloved is

Gratititude flows
from my heart to yours and is returned in the light of your eyes.

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.


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