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This blog contains a mixture of creative writing and a few declarative statements. I hope you enjoy reading these. Grown up comments are welcome.

All Text Copyright © 2011-2017 Philip Wilson
http://returntothemarketplace.blogspot.com/. All Rights Reserved

Friday, 29 July 2011

Ancestors

I have a rubber duck radio with it's tail permanently tuned to Radio 4 that I listen to in the bath. Recently, as I lay among the bubbles I heard part of a programme from Africa selected for 'Pick of the Week'. I got out, towelled myself dry, and wrote this as part of my OU Start Writing Fiction coursework.  

Every time I hear the drums I start to sweat and get stomach cramps. I hear my ancestors calling me. Our tradition requires a representative from each generation to become a Sangoma, a spiritual healer. Now I feel it is my obligation. My ancestors want me to take the place my mother refused. I feel my past clawing at me. But I do not want this. My name is Normazo, which means struggle in Zulu, and I am true to my name.
‘Mother,” I asked, just before she died. ‘Why did you not become a healer?’
‘Take care daughter,’ she said. ‘Some dreams are not true dreams. If the spirit that gives you your dreams is a roaming spirit, and not a family spirit, that spirit can lead you astray. Healing is not for me. I refuse.’
Who can help me now? Who can I turn to? Perhaps only another Sangoma will have the answers.
So today I’ve come to see Makosi Gugu, our village’s chief healer. She is full of energy. She has big breasts and wears beads and unspeakable things to braid her hair. These jingle every time she moves her head.
‘I help you,’ she says, all loud and confident. ‘We ask the ancestors. They will tell us. They will show us.’
As we approach Makosi Gugui’s sacred healing hut there is drumming and singing from her followers. These rhythms help summon the ancestors; their song is about the bad luck you bring on yourself if you do not accept them. The drums have a strong affect on me. I feel sick and sweaty. Makosi Gugu’s granddaughter joins us; she is training to become a Sangoma. She stares at me with cold eyes as if we are starting a race that she wants to win.
Inside, the hut is hot and dark, and I taste power. The Makosi sits on a large chair with her granddaughter on the floor beside her.  I sit on a stool in front of them. As my eyes adjust to the dark I see lined up behind them many bottles containing medicinal Muti; herbs, seeds, oats, soil, pieces of bone, and the feet of chickens. The air is dry and smells of earth. I feel faint.
Makosi Gugu talks loudly to her granddaughter but I can barely hear her.
‘She’s not herself,’ I hear her say. ‘It’s the ancestors coming to her. Somebody in her family, her mother, or grandmother, or somebody, is supposed to take this job. Now she has to take the ancestors, but she don’t let them in.’
Then I pass out and don’t remember anything until I wake up being cradled by Makosi Gugu in the bright daylight outside the hut.
‘What happened,’ I ask.
‘The spirits,’ she says. ‘Your ancestors came. They give you a good hiding. This is no joke Normazo. You become healer or you get sick like your mother.’
I hear the drums and feel their rhythm. I feel my ancestors winning.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Canada

I'm just back from two weeks visiting family and friends in Ontario. I've returned with a tan and some peeling skin, and a dead camera containing water from Hailstorm Creek at Lake Ogeongo, and minus a credit card, a debit card and an iPhone 4 (32GB) and some C$. The subtractions follow a theft of my property from the Delta Chelsea Hotel in Toronto, and I won't be going there again - ever. Fortunately the positive side more than balances the negatives.

It was great to meet up with our extended family again (last visit 2008). We stayed in Sharon, near Newmarket. We were part of an 84th birthday celebration. We drove around in a hired Lincoln MKS. We spent a few restful days at the Fairy Bay Guest House near Huntsville. We went canoeing in Algonquin Provincial Park. We saw the musical Camelot in Stratford. We visited the McMichael Collection at Kleinberg, where we were introduced to the work of Marc-Aurèle Fortin for the first time. We visited the Art Gallery of Ontario and saw some wonderful work of William Kurelek (among others). We had dinner at the Lobster Trap in Toronto. We were in Toronto on its hotest day on record (37.9c) and we kept our cool on an open-top double-decker bus tour and a ferry ride on Lake Ontario.

Back home our 17 year old cat remains miffed that we dared to go off without him, but I think he will forgive us in time.