Uduru’s Sudan

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Sudan, Khartoum (Photo: Amma Hareib on Pixabay)

 

Uduro held her head high, the wrapped money tucked securely in a fold of her clothing. Only a small amount was in the beaded purse. No need to give pickpockets reason to try and outsmart her. She knew better than most.

The market’s alleys welcomed her, coolly shaded under the roof. The dimmer light was soothing. She inhaled, sated. Shoes. Spices. Food. Clothing. Utensils. Leather goods. Whatever she needed could be hers. She walked slowly as befitting her status, her back straight with pride.

She was back.

No longer the barefooted street urchin, begging for leftovers, scurrying from grabby hands while carrying favors for a scrap and a slap.

She was now the wife of a man who owned three stalls on the Souk’s main road. And a whole house. She was the mother of a boy who was never hungry. Umm Faheem, they called her now, in Uduro’s Sudan.

 

 

 

For the What Pegman Saw challenge: Sudan

 

Unspoken

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Photo: Rosalind Chang on Unsplash

 

It was a thing they would not utter. Ineffable. In their home, at least.

So much that it baffled them to see how others in their own homes — and often without a moment’s hesitation — did.

To them it felt impossible. Dangerous … though they wouldn’t dream admitting fear or conflict.

Those, too, were taboo. As was to contradict.

Their parents’ word was law. Speak “No”, and you would certainly be whipped.

 

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: ineffable in 70 words

 

It Ain’t TMI, Little Guy

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Photo: Pixabay

 

“My face gets all red,” he noted.

“Oh?” I didn’t know where he was going with this little tidbit of self-disclosure, but oftentimes neutral responses worked the best for those.

“Yeah,” he nodded. His hands continued to manipulate a small figurine: twisting, bending, spinning the head around.

I offered a box with a some accessories: a chair, a bike, a car, a bath, a bed, a backpack.

He raised his eyes without really looking at me, and returned his attention to the object in his hands. He wasn’t exactly aggressive as he was persistent. I found myself wondering when he’ll realize the head could come off.

“My face gets all red,” he repeated. “I watched.”

“Hmm?” I responded.

“Yeah.” He looked up, this time meeting my eyes in part-challenge, part-fascination. “In the mirror. Did you know I have ropes in my neck?”

He touched the sides of his neck, then grimaced and twisted his face and torso into a representation of intense muscle tension. Strain or fury or struggle or all.

“See?” he grunted.

The veins in his neck bulged and a small tributary pulsed at his temple, sprouting a delicate delta underneath the almost transparent skin.

“Yes, I do see.”

“It’s what happens every time,” he sighed as he relaxed his face and shoulders. Fierceness gone. Vulnerable.

“It’s what happens, when?” I had some inkling as to what he was describing but I wasn’t fully sure … and not assuming was often the right thing to do, anyhow. Especially with children who’d had so little opportunity to question or discuss or explain or inquire or straighten worries out. This little guy had had almost none, and for a boy who talked with almost no one, it was progress that he could speak about himself at all.

His eyes sought mine and the rising pink in his cheeks competed with the retreating redness from his earlier maneuver. He bent the figurine to sitting position, to a stand, to sitting again.

“When I go,” he muttered. “You know, when I … um … have to, uh, push the poo out.”

“Oh,” I noted blandly. “In the bathroom?”

The boy nodded. The blush spread down to below his chin.

“I think most people strain when they poo. It can make their faces red.”

His eyes widened at that, or perhaps also at my matter-of-fact discussion of matters too many in society render embarrassing even though these are naught but normal body-functions.

“Did you look, too?” he tried.

“At my face? You mean, when I use the bathroom?”

He bit his lower lip and nodded, balancing a tightrope of shame and disclosure and curiosity and possibly worry. Perhaps all. Perhaps more.

“I can’t say I have, but it is just what happens when people move their bowels. It is normal to strain or push a little.”

He thought about it. Continued to play with the figurine in his hands.

I wrestled with whether to say anymore. I wanted to reassure him but also wanted to know if it was hurting him to go to the bathroom, so I would know whether there was a problem that needs to be checked. I wanted to know if anything changed recently … if something happened … Heavens knows plenty had in the past, even if I did not know exactly what. Was this him just being more aware of his own body, or was it an attempt to speak of other things … of other kinds of red-faced strain he might’ve seen? Was it both?

I breathed.

He didn’t look distressed. Then again, Toy-figurine Man had lost his head a few times.

Another moment passed.

“Yeah, Dara does it, too.” He stated, asked.

The new infant at his foster home.

I nodded encouragement.

“Sometimes her face gets really red and funny and then Mama Molly changes her.” He looked at me, shame and blush seeming to recede. “You can smell it,” he giggled, testing.

“I bet,” I smiled.

“It stinks,” he took himself into full-out-laugh zone now. “Mama Molly says Dara’s poo stinks to infinity and beyond.”

I grinned. Mama Molly was a keeper. “Poo sure can.”

“Mine does!” he chortled.

Toy-figurine Man got his head back. Kept it on. Got put onto his bike and taken around the table and into the box.

“So,” the boy raised his chin in the direction of his folder and the games on the chair next to me. “Can we start?”

 

 

 

For Linda Hill’s SoCS prompt: Strain

 

Life Abridged

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Photo: Willie Fineberg via Upsplash, 10th St. Bridge, Pittsburgh, PA

 

She waited.

One more step and she’d have gone more than half-way across, but she found herself unable to move further. She sat on the asphalt, frozen by cemented legs.

So she waited. It was early, but sooner or later something will come by and she’d find out the price of her betrayal.

All her life she’s been bordered by this bridge, the yellow metal rising like a sun in her horizon: untouchable, unapproachable, dangerous.

They were raised to never cross it.

“Evil lives beyond this bridge,” her father had preached in daily sermons in their basement, the family huddled on aching knees and wreathed by incense, fear, and smoking wicks. “Leave here and your soul will be eternally forsaken. Abandon my teachings and you will not be saved.”

Well, she’d had enough. She could tolerate no more of his invasive ‘instruction.’

And she was ready.

To not be saved.

 

 

 

For What Pegman Saw: Pittsburgh, PA

 

Fraud Code

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Photo: Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

She caught her sister’s eye and an unspoken understanding passed between them.

They’d perfected their “Fraud Code” through years spent in the shadow of a charlatan, and it took nothing more than a gaze for them to signal – and validate to each other – recognition of ‘another one.’

Their childhoods’ costs aside, at least they could sniff out similar quacks from afar.

 

 

For the Weekly Writing Prompt: Charlatan in 61 words

 

 

The Toll

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Photo: Alabaster canopic jar (Wikimedia)

 

She was impervious to their taunting.

To the words

That meant to hurt

But found no inlet

No crack

In what seemed her

Flawless control.

 

She was impervious to others’ love

As well.

The doors of her alabaster soul

Had slammed shut

After her spirit had peeked

Out

Only to find more harm

Than she knew she would be able

To endure if she were to

Somehow

Remain whole.

 

She was impervious to much,

But not to beauty.

She could not give up

That

Without crumbling.

And so she lived

In stoic

Understanding

Of the world,

And its toll.

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Impervious in 99 words

 

 

The Critic

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Photo by D. Tong on Pexels.com

 

It was his job to be the critic.

He’d taken it on when he was but a child and there was naught by chaos all around him.

Criticizing was a way to put some order into madness, to have at least the illusion of control.

Not that he’d criticize them openly and risk the switch or belt or backhand or the things that were … well … worse.

But criticize he did.

Mostly himself.

At first as practice.

Then as habit.

Then as something he would do without even a pause to think.

Offer a knifing critic.

Of his actions. Of his wishes. Of his hopes. His thoughts. His dreams.

What had began as coping, turned a prison.

And the jailer was inside him.

The sentencing, his own.

 

 

 

For the SoCS Saturday Challenge: Critic(al)

 

Find a Home

 

 

The prompt for today was just too on point to ignore, when the paperback became available TODAY (!!!) and when so much of this novel is about what a home is, or what may at any moment become a place one is pushed out of or needs to run away from. The connection felt even more apt with how the holidays bring up for so many the very realities and stories of a home (or lack thereof).

“Apples in Applath” is a work of fiction, yet very real children do fall victim to policies and realities not of their choice or making. Also real is that what makes a home or family is not always immediately obvious; and that hope and wariness, need and conscience, often compete inside one’s soul as one seeks a safe space to call home.

I’m very excited for “Apples in Applath” – my fourth book and third novel. I hope you’ll check it out and share it with others who may find an interest. I hope that it may find a home in yours.

Even more so, my wish for you — and for all who are or once were children — is that you’ll always have a safe nest to call home.

 

For The Daily Post

The Childhood Adversity Narratives: Learn. Share. Educate.

ACES

How do childhood adverse events affect development? How do they impact health? How much does it cost society to have children exposed to adverse events? What are the social ramifications? How does childhood adversity reflect in mental-health? In illness? Can we prevent childhood adverse events? Why is it worth it for society to invest in prevention and treatment of childhood trauma?

And other questions: What is more harmful: second hand smoke or childhood maltreatment? How is that reflected in funds or investment in prevention or treatment? Where does asthma come in? What can we do about any of this, anyway?

To find the answers to these questions and more, check out this amazing presentation (also available in PDF and PPT on the site–see links below).

This free resource is available due to the generosity of Frank and Karen Putnam along with their colleagues, who created this presentation in the hope that it will be widely disseminated and that it be used as an education resource for the public as well as for researchers and clinicians. The presentation details the prevalence, impact, treatment, and importance (it is highly possible!) of prevention of child abuse and neglect. The authors encourage everyone to use the presentation and share it.

The slides are available on the website http://www.canarratives.org/

To view the Power Point Show: CAN_Narrative_4-26-15-v2L4

To download the pdf: http://static1.squarespace.com/static/552ec6c7e4b0b098cbafba75/t/553e3673e4b09e094f914b8f/1430140531869/CAN_Narrative_4-26-15-v2L4.pdf