This meme was started by Delores a long time ago. Troubles led her
to bow out, but the meme was too much fun to let go, and now Words for Wednesday is provided by a number of people and has become a movable feast with Elephant's Child as our coordinator.
Essentially the aim of this meme is to encourage us to write. Each
week we are given some prompts. These prompts can be words, phrases,
music or images.
What we do with those prompts is up to us: a short story, prose, a song, a poem, or treating them with ignore...
We can use some or all of the prompts, and mixing and matching is encouraged.
Some of us put our creation in comments on the post, and others post on their own blog. This fun meme includes cheering on the other participants.
And the more the merrier
goes here as well, so if you are posting on your own blog then please
tell us in the comments, so that all other participants, can come along
The words appear on Elephant's Child's blog every Wednesday in September. The words come to us from the head of David M. Gascoigne
The Words are:
Joke These words allow me to tell a story that has been running around my brain the last week, blocking all writing.
A short preamble. In July 2011 I sat in a train homewards bound after a long day of meetings in Copenhagen. At that time the news screens in the tube was mercifully silenced, but the flickering pictures caught my weary eyes, and I looked at the screen without really seeing. But suddenly a photo made me sit up. I knew that place! ... impossible, I chided myself; it is somewhere in Africa, you have not been there! Then a man was interviewed in front of a building, the camera showed off the large square once again, and then a text ran over the bottom of the screen announcing some delay, hiding where this took place. Luckily the newsreel repeated itself, and the journey was long. Next time around I read: Juba, the capitol of the new republic of Southern Sudan. Yes I had been there, I had been to Juba. And I felt happy for the people there.
This all happened on my travels. Earlier I told about my brush with a bear. Later on that same journey, we went to Egypt. We sailed down the Nile, and some of us wanted to go to the southern part of Sudan.
We were adventurous, we were curious, we wanted to see a jungle, and we wanted to help. We knew there was an experimental farm outside Juba. We didn't bring much stuff, a small bag with a change of clothes and a sleeping bag. In my bag I had a few pencils, a pen, a diary, a Russian Pepsi-cola bottle with a flip top cap and a "treasure chest" a blue tobacco tin with pretty coins from the whole trip, a scarab from the pyramids in Cairo and pretty stones (it was unfortunately stolen from me on the way home), and of course our passports and papers in a pouch around our necks.
We arrived on a Friday morning by jeep - having flown from Khartoum to Juba, the rainy season that had just ended had washed away the main road.
Four of us didn't like the "discrimination in reverse" on the farm. We were treated like royalty, not allowed to go barefoot, not allowed to carry anything, we worked maybe an hour on Friday and two hours all day Saturday, the rest of the time we were shown around and had to admire the farm and everything on it. Among the sights were test crops, papaya trees where the fruits grew directly from the trunk of the tree, and pineapples where the pineapple fruits grew in the middle of something looking like giant green pineapple tops. We were sure it was the nice gardener making a practical joke, but both crops do grow just like this. But most of the time we were allowed to feed the chicken or just walk around and look pretty. Sunday was Epiphany and we went to mass at the local church (in Loa) where Father Bill resided - and where we stayed overnight. At the party afterwards we told him we wanted to get off the farm, go to work, and see the country. He told us that this was a great idea. The country had a lack of people understanding the way people thought and worked there. He told us of a development initiative that could have been really smart, but turned out stupid - he used the word 'daffy', which made us laugh and think of Daffy Duck. The initiative was a grain mill built by linking a stationary bike and a small mill together, so that instead of turning the millstones by hand - a very hot, tedious and tiring process we had already tried in Egypt - the millstones were turned by biking. Only in that tribe, women were forbidden to ride a bike, and men not allowed to grind flour. The bike-mills stood in a corner and rusted. We talked long into the night.
The next morning he pointed out a trail and handed us a letter, telling us to follow the trail to the river. It was a long walk and hot (probably 35-40 degrees), but eventually we reached a small village of round huts in an enclosure where an old, smiling man with bad legs sat by a hut. He welcomed us warmly, and sent his grandson, who had stayed in the village to help him, down to the river for some water for us. We could barely see through the glass, but after walking about 5 km in the heat, we drank it without hesitation.
The first day we were guests, everyone came and touched us, pulled at our hair, and rubbed or pinched our arms and legs to make sure our strange fair complexion stuck and was not some sort of make-up. We ended the day by being given a bath under the supervision of all the village women and girls. We were stood in a round metal tray and doused with water and washed with soap from head to toe by a very old lady. The boys were treated in the same way at the other end of the village. But after the head of the village read Fr Bill's letter, and saw that our blood was just as red when we cut ourselves, we were allocated a hut and put on a work shift - along with the half-grown children ;)
We got up at sunrise 6 am as we were very close to the Equator, and ate bean-filled bread triangles, washed down with big glasses of bittersweet tea it was sweetened with sugar-cane juice squeezed from the hollow reeds by a contraption looking for all the world like an old mangle. The boys were put to making bricks, going round and round in the clay and straw, later stamping it together into square moulds, which then dried in the sun. We girls walked - far away - and picked beans, tomatoes and some weird grains (durra?) until it got too hot. At noon we sat under a big mango tree and played with a string (apparently something known among children all over the world) or drew - I brought my two worn pencils - or we swam in a tributary to the Nile with a strong current to keep away some parasite. One day we heard a strange clapping noise, and the other girls pulled us quickly away from the shore - crocodiles. Lunch was another bread triangle with bean filling and water, lots of water.
The afternoon was spent hoeing another field, or picking more of the tall grains. Then we walked back carrying the filled baskets and the young girls laughed heartily at our attempts to carry the baskets on our heads. They ended up in our arms! For dinner we ate sim-sim, shelled sesame seeds, crushed with a stone grinder, and mixed with some other toasted seeds. With it a thin chicken or fish soup, with beans and green leaves, fried giant bananas, and the ruptured tomatoes from the day's harvest - they were unsellable. We had black coffee with sugar cane juice to drink in the evening. We were dizzy and tired the next day in the heat, despite all the water we drank. Then I got wise and asked for salt. One of the girls took me by the hand and we wandered to a small market under the biggest mango tree I have ever seen. There I bought a palm leaf cone of salt, which we sprinkled liberally on our next meals - we were sweating so much we were desalinated, not dehydrated. It helped.
At 6 pm the sun set and it got dark in less than ten minutes. Then we gathered in a big hut and took corn off the cobs while people sang, talked and laughed. There was a lot of laughter, and we were annoyed at not being able to understand anything.
The women in the village amused themselves by putting us to all sorts of jobs we couldn't manage, like washing clothes. Then when we were messing around with a tub and a washboard, the women, laughing and teasing, pushed us away and, gesticulating and talking loudly, showed how to do it. The boys experienced the same thing, being set to weave cages from palm leaf stems. It looked easy when one of the men did it. With a knife, he split the stem into four, drilled a few holes here and there, split another stem, folded and bent, and poof, he had made a small box with a lid that could be opened able hold 3-4 kg of tomatoes. The boys' first attempt was not good, to put it mildly, and there was much laughter.
One evening, while we were decobbing corn, the police arrived. They said that white people were not allowed in the villages after sunset, and drove us to a "town" nearby. There weren't many more houses than in the village, but they were square and two-storey, They dropped us off at a cheap hotel. We were told to report to the police the next morning. It seemed very deserted. There we had to sleep and stay for a few days before the transport Fr Bill had arranged for us went back to Juba again. We probably should have just given them some money, but we weren't that clever.
After two dreary days at the "hotel" where we had to turn up every day, morning and evening and get a paper stamped by the police, the transport arrived. It was a UN relief truck, bound for the refugee camps on the Ugandan border near Nimule, before returning to Juba. We rode along and sat on the edge of the rear end. The load consisted of hoes, paper-sacks of lentils, beans and grain. Every time the truck stopped at a new refugee camp, everyone got off, unloaded all the sacks, axes, hoes, etc. from the truck, dropped off the number that needed to be dropped off, and threw the rest back on board. The result - of course - was that several of the sacks were ruptured and the bottom of the truck's hold was flooded by spilled grains.
The refugees in the camps were from Uganda. Some had fled from the regime of Idi Amin and had been in the camps for years, others had arrived after his fall and had just recently arrived. Most of them were educated people. Many of them spoke perfect English, French and/or German. They told us that they had stuffed their cars with family and valuables like jewellery and just driven northwards until they went out of gas, then they walked on, carrying what they could. Now they sat here, doctors, professors, for and against Idi Amin, weaving palm leaf mats to survive. Many had fine suitcases, now empty and used only to sit on, for they had sold the contents for food. A cloud of hopelessness hung over the camps.
We ate biscuits and tinned food from the load morning, noon and night. The biscuits were full of small beetles, and we cracked the biscuits open and banged them against something hard before eating them.
At night we slept on the load while two men took turns driving - we were not allowed to, though we volunteered. One late night we drove through a forest fire. A small antelope jumped out into the road and was run over. The man driving the truck jumped out with a big knife and slaughtered the animal, a pregnant female. Then we helped hoist it up a tree and tie its hind legs, and while the rest of us slept, he roasted the deer over a fire. Then in the middle of the night we were awakened to venison and more beetle-ridden biscuits.
There were beetles in all the flour and bread. Normally they were baked - and therefore dead - but in those biscuits they were alive. At the bakery in Juba we were allowed to see the bakery, there were beetles and worms everywhere, and the apprentice baker walked around in a big through to knead the dough with his feet ... The bread was baked over an open fire in a big oven at the back of the bakery. They were cheap and tasted good!
Juba was a city of contrasts. Square houses in the centre, and round huts in the outskirts. Arabs sat on their chairs at small tables, playing cards and drinking tea all day long, just as the Turkish men had done in their villages. They wore jellabiya, a foot-long robe of light fabric, with long sleeves and embroidery - they were rich. They owned the cars, the sewing machines ... anything of value or that could create value, and came from the north. Then there were the ordinary Sudanese, the Nuur and Loa, they were, well, ordinary. Generally they were very dark, very smiling and laughing. We couldn't go shopping without being laughed at several times a trip. Probably mostly because of our atrocious language skills - we spoke very primitive Cairo Arabic. They were the bakers, postmen, bus drivers, teachers, tailors, tea sellers ... in short, all the tradesmen and other people we came into contact with.
And then there were the Dinka. Tall, handsome men and women who were cattle nomads. We had met 3 Dinka men on the train in southern Egypt, where they got off at a halt in the middle of the desert and just wandered off across the sand, westwards. Now we met some Dinka warriors. The biggest problem we had was frankly not to stare. For they were, as I said, tall, handsome, self-confident men. And they arrived there at the market, in the middle of a town, wearing shields, spears, armrings and neckrings, money bags around their necks ... and nothing else! The contrast to the shrouded, furtive Arabs was striking.
Next morning we met with the other students at the post office and flew back to Khartoum.
- - - - - September 7 question
- What genre would be the worst one for you to tackle and why?My answer
: Romance! I never read much of this, two of my sister's magazines to ascertain that the blonde man and the dark haired girl found one another in the end - the determining factor being their hair colour.
I never really liked this genre, and I felt - and still feel - that anything more than a chaste kiss and "they lived happily ever after" have no place in a book I want to read.