Sunday, December 9, 2007

A Somewhere Story


Somewhere, in Africa,
a girl scratches out her ABCs with an acacia stick.
Somewhere, in Africa,
a mother wants to share stories poured down to her by another mother.
Somewhere, in Africa,
it is too hard to summon rain with a tongue as parched as the acacia’s bark.

And so the mother choreographs the daughter’s hand in a silent ballet, believing that her daughter’s dust will one day write its own story.

A story to plow abundant soil.
A story to seed a mother’s hope.
A story to sprout a vine so long it swings a daughter’s flight.
A story all green.

A Somewhere Story.

And then,
the mother smiles to this bright-eyed daughter,
the words will flow like the village’s river,
before its tears had all been wept,
before its animals had bleached the stone,
before the sun's teeth had sawed the silt,
before the river was seen
by these Somewhere People
as nowhere
very much
at all.

[I was inspired to write this piece after reading Doris Lessing's Nobel Prize acceptance speech, which is transcribed here. Have a look. You won't regret it. Photo courtesy of WFP/Brenda Barton.]

25 comments:

Abhinav said...

Absolutely lyrical. Strikes a chord.
Have you read Lessing? I wish to soon...

Di said...

Your writing is beautiful. You are very talented and insightful.

Sarah Hina said...

I haven't read Lessing yet either, Abhinav. But I would like to soon!

Di, thank you for stopping by and for your kind words. It was easy to write this one after reading Ms. Lessing's fine speech.

Jaye Wells said...

I feel like it's hard to think of new things to say for each of your entries. This is because at the end of each my first reaction is to say, "Wow." And then I'm a little speechless.

Wayne said...

The water of Africa flows in me and I am crushed that I will never return there to live. Your words remind of that, and I am happy and sad.

Aine said...

I really liked this. Clearly, you are a mother. And, a writer. Thanks for sharing.

Sarah Hina said...

Jaye, you can keep saying, "wow." I promise not to hold it against you. ;)

But thank you. That means a lot to me, especially having read your fine writing.

Wayne, I sense a story there. Treasured memories are usually laced with love and loss, of course. I hope yours reverberate with more of the former than the latter.

I think so many people still view Africa as this Other Place, barely connected to our own whirlwind civilization. That's why I titled this, "A Somewhere Story." It's Somewhere Else. Foreign.

But people's hunger to be educated, and for their children to have better lives than their own, is the same across the planet. Of course. It should be obvious, but not if we don't look beyond the two-dimensional pictures on cable news, and our own lightning fast perceptions.

Anyway, I'm glad you were able to experience the real thing.

Aine, you're right: I don't think I would have written this story before becoming a mother. I wouldn't have understood the depth of a mother's desperation, which is so much bigger than herself, or that kind of hope, either.

Thank you for reading.

Church Lady said...

I felt what Aine did--that clearly this piece of writing taps into your sense of motherhood. It's very powerful.

Her speech is moving, to say the least. Thank you for adding the link to it. I haven't read any of her books. Yet.

Hotwire said...

i'm with jaye. wow. over and over and over...

Sarah Hina said...

I browsed her books on Amazon today, CL, and am considering buying one.

I'm really glad the story resonated with you as a mother.

One of these days, I'll write one that misses the mark for you, Hotwire. And I hope you'll tell me that, too.

But for now, continue with the "wows." Please.

;)

jason evans said...

A story all green.

That's what it felt like. Grown from water carried far, far from the river.

Sarah Hina said...

Roots run long, Jason, and can connect us all.

Thank you.

Ello said...

Sarah, this was so incredibly lovely. I absolutely loved it. When am I going to read a published book of yours? I want to say I was one of her first fans!

Sarah Hina said...

Ello, you're too kind! I do have a book making the rounds right now, so I'll keep you posted.

If that one isn't published, who knows? I've been doing more blogging than novel writing lately.

This is addictive...

;)

Hotwire said...

i'd let you know if i wasn't feeling it...!

quill said...

Simply breath taking.

quill

Sarah Hina said...

Thanks, Hotwire! Just making sure...

;)

quill, you're very kind! Thank you.

Nothingman said...

Africa...just the word conjures up images...

we all need stories i guess :)

N

Shameless said...

Very good example of how to use repetition for good effect. Inspiring. :-)

Sarah Hina said...

Nothingman, we all need to write our own stories, I think.

Thanks for stopping by again! :)

Shameless, I do like using repetition, as it can lend an interesting rhythm to our writing. Looking at this piece now, I feel like it's rhythmically off in a few places, but I'm glad you were still inspired. Thank you!

:)

'soulless' said...

The details provided here (especially at the beginning), and how they are delivered (via the mother-daughter relationship symbolic of nurture), bring the reality closer to home. So touching. Thank you for sharing this. Words bridge lands.

Billy said...

I just discovered your blog, sara. It is filled with wonderful sights and sounds. This story of yours has such a natural yet powerful rhythm. Excellent work. I'd love to put you on my link list.

Sarah Hina said...

Soulless, "words bridge lands." Beautifully said. I'm so glad you came by!

Billy, thank you and link away!

:)

easywriter said...

Your writing steals breath from the body here. Gone now to read your source of inspiration.

Sarah Hina said...

That's an amazing compliment, easywriter. Hope you enjoyed the speech!

:)