Keeri who loved humans

Keeri who loved humans
Something to say?

Saturday, 8 December 2018

Belonging

Clearly, having been born and grown up in India, leaving it only to go next door to Ceylon when I got married, where everyone looked a little Indian anyway, I am indisputably INDIAN. But then, India is a big place, I don't speak the languages of North India (though I think I should be able to speak Hindi and my bookshelves are littered with books in that direction) and only understand a smattering of Tamil from the South, and my own very precious Malayalam ( no language I know in which  I can swear so effectively) you could safely say I have, in certain respects, more to do with English-speaking countries, Britain, America and many commonwealth nations. Even South (south effrica, God help me?)


   And then I remember something that I always thought when I was young and green, and it delights me: you don't have to be any one thing. You can be all things and own the whole world -- why restrict yourself to one small part of it?
   Going to Nigeria for the first time in 1962, when I was a brash twenty-six year old, changed my entire perspective on the world, on humanity, on my own India. Gradually Africa seeped into me,  rich, untidy, noisy, in-my-face. What a blessing! The world shifted as the screen of a mobile phone being turned around and the kaleidoscope was awe-inspiring.
   In parts of India we pay dowries to the bridegroom's family to walk off with that precious daughter, loved, educated, an earner, to become cook, mother and wife for another family. In Africa they pay bride-price as the woman is considered an asset (though one treated casually in households -- the beast of burden) worth paying for in cows, goats, pots and pans and clothes. I am still reeling from all those different world-views.
   So I know I have to record that growth in my mind, the me that altered beyond retrieval.
   But the shoulder is frozen, the right arm is recalcitrant and doctors advice me to rest my clicking arm. Hence a little diffidence. Stop writing for a while? Not a hope. I can't stop breathing either.
   Happily, a workshop in Sevenoaks for writers comes to mind, and a Spanish woman who could not write to save her life. Not in English anyway.
   They were talking of writers' block and I was telling myself that what I have is writers' diarrhea, not constipation. Never mind the quality of my output.
   This lady said that if you wrote a page a day, a book could get written in a year. So that is what I shall do. Bear with me. All Africa vignettes will have Africa in the title to distinguish them from my other blogs.
  So Africa, here I come...

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