The Deviant Trumpet

It was probably past midnight now, for she had been walking for a long time. The music swirling around in her head had quietened her down a little. She could barely remember what had caused her to stomp out of home vowing never to come back. But even as she had run down the front steps, calling upon the heavens to help her, the trumpet had played its first blast, continuing on to ripple music through her nerves and transporting her into another world. It had always kept her sane and safe. The trumpet in her head.

She had oftetrumpet story ice_phoenix_by_ausanna-d41ihcgn tried to write down this music which played in her head, but it defied transcription. None of her own compositions matched what she heard either. Very often she would feel disgusted that through all her years of learning, practising, writing music, she had never learnt to put down on paper, nor play, the music that filled her non musical hours. It crashed around inside her, or enveloped her in a playful embrace, or soothed her into a trance, always just a note beyond what she could bring forth into the daily world she inhabited.

Now that she felt calmer, she realised that walking for so long had made her thirsty. She dug her hands inside her pants and found, luckily, a couple of coins which would add up to buy her a drink. Very luckily, she realised, as she hunted in her other pockets and found that she neither had her phone nor her wallet. She was used to such small bits of luck. A coin in a pocket where she couldn’t remember ever having put anything. A sudden gap in traffic when she was almost late for rehearsal. Just enough charge left in her phone to ring her mum and let her know that the show was over and she was waiting at the appointed corner. The music had slowed to a lilting waltz, and she slowed down further looking around for a late night petrol station, or convenience store.
Before long she saw the garish lights of a petrol station declaring its pledge to remain open all day and night. She quickened her steps again and went in, straight to the fridge at the rear end of the shop, which had been laid out identically to all the others others of the same franchise. She found her sparkling water, and walked over to the counter, her eyes lowered to bring her coins out again. She lifted her eyes and froze.

She had just walked into a tableau of horror. The young immigrant male who had drawn the graveyard shift standing behind the counter with a small roll of cash in one arm, tears slid to a standstill on his stubble. The balaclava on one male drawn half way up revealing a pale, thunderstruck face with swollen red rimmed eyes. The balaclava on the other male firm in place, but a gun whic
h had been pointing towards the unhappy young man now swung towards her, directed at her head.

The scene unfroze, and several things seemed to happen at once.

She let out a startled yelp “Tony!”

The man behind the counter cried out, “Please, I have kids! There is no more cash!”

Tony yelled out, “Shut UP! I am NOT Tony, you idiot!”

The man with the gun pounced on her, pushed her onto the floor and stuck it into her throat. “Do not even think of reaching for your phone”! He barked at her, and then flung over his shoulder, “Put your balaclava back on properly, you …!!!!”

Expletives hit the walls and disintegrated all around her. The jumble of words thrown maniacally amongst the men mashed into one repeated thought in her head. “Zero-Zero-Zero”. “Zero-Zero-Zero”. It was all she could think of, curled up on the ground her hands flailing at the man’s hand trying to get him to point the gun away from her. “Zero-Zero-Zero”. “Zero-Zero-Zero”.

Tony had lunged on top of them, too, yelling out madly about her being his best friend’s little sister. The gun was no longer visible but there was a knife flashing around. She grit her teeth and tried to keep out of its way, heart bumping against her chattering teeth. Tony and the balaclava guy were swaying above her, their knees, legs and elbows tripping over her, jabbing her as she tried to roll out of their way. She had to stop trying. All she could do was curl up tight and scream “Zero-Zero-Zero… HELLLLPPPPP”.

She felt the trumpets pound in her head like a thousand cymbals, or a thousand organs. The air around her exploded into white and blue flames, and in that heat the two fighting figures parted and fell away from each other. They fell onto the shelves behind each one of them, still screaming abuse at each other about insanity, stupidity, incest, and worse. She scrambled to her feet, dry sobs racking her chest,
miraculously still in one piece, and seemingly unhurt. The two would be robbers were still on their backs, apparently unable to get up. She spotted the door closing behind the man who had been behind the counter and made a bolt for it. The blue and white flame still enveloped her. It felt warm, not hot, but before she could find time to wonder about it, she had fallen out of the door into the arms of a policeman who was running to the scene.

She became dimly aware of a number of police cars with lights flashing, sirens blaring. A woman in uniform came up to her and wrapped a blanket around her. They led her to a waiting ambulance and then there were a hundred people around her talking to her softly, giving her coffee, telling her to settle, that there would be questions but later, and congratulating her on having the nerve to dial the emergency number and keep the phone on for as long as it took for the police and other emergency services to get here. There was a fallacy there somewhere but she was too drained to identify it.

Then she was home, her mother was hugging her. Her brother was bringing her more coffee. Her father was telling the police how worried they had been because she had left her phone at home. Her mother was saying that she often took walks at night but they were about to call the police, since they had noticed that her phone was at home.

“Are you sure, sir, ma’am”? The police looked startled. “We got a call from her phone, and we were able to pinpoint where she was, because the GPS on it was turned on, and she left the call live, even though she could not speak. We could hear the altercation.”

Her brother got up and went out of the room. He came back with a white phone with blue flowers on its case. “Here, it was on her bed the whole time.”

She watched as a look of awe mixed with puzzlement came over the face of the police woman. “Look, sir, the number “000” was dialled at eleven minutes after midnight, and the phone was hung up at around 23 minutes after midnight, which is when your daughter came out of the petrol station.”

“But it was here, how would it have been dialled? How on earth would you get the location of a petrol station more than five kilometres away?”

Everyone turned around to look at her, as if expecting her to answer. The trumpets were playing a lullaby. She got up, yawned and said, “Goodnight. I will see you in the morning”, and trailed away.

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Fore Warned

Apparently, Young Adorablescent will never have children. But, if he does, Ninja boyhe would want to know the gender from before they are born.

Bemused Mother: But why? I mean, yah okay, if you want to, but why?

Young Adorablesecent: (Facepalm) You have to know, Ma. It is what a good parent does! 

BM: Wuh? A good parent needs to know the gender of their child since before the child is born? 

YA: Sure! You have to prepare. You know. Girls are different to boys…

His voice trails off, he waves his hand and stares off into mid space.

BM: Sure they are different, but not in infancy.

YA: (not listening) Girls and Boys learn differently, have different psyches. They have different needs.

(His expensive education has taught him something. BM still has to figure out what, though.)

BM: So? One does not need to prepare from the time the baby is in the womb!

YA: Ma, you’re not listening!. The parents need to know. To mentally prepare, prepare the rooms and the furniture. 

BM: You mean the colours?

YA: That’s there as well. (nodding and looking pensive). But from their birth, each gender is different.

BM: You can’t compartmentalise. Gender differences are fluid.

YA: (Two palms on face) Ma, that is different. Even a gender fluid boy is different to a gender fluid girl.

BM: (calculating in her head how much money she can claim back from said expensive school for mis education) Wuh? Firstly you cannot tell gender fluidity from a sonogram. Secondly, a child’s needs are not different from birth. 

YA: They aaaare!! Listen!

BM: (Shuts up and waits) 

YA: See. You need to be prepared. A boy thinks and behaves differently to a girl. A boy will need different things, a girl will need different things. Furniture, toys, books, music.

BM: I never made such differences between the two of you. I dressed my infant girl in blue and my infant boy in pink – indiscriminately with other colours.  I don’t think it made any difference to either of you. People were confused, but neither of you were. Furniture? Décor can be in any neutral colour. Any needs can be met as they arise. One does not buy 18 years worth of stuff before birth. 

YA: You have to be mentally prepared. Those extra few weeks will fore arm you.

BM: Why would you need to be mentally prepared from before birth? Unless it is just a preference. If you just want to know, fine. There is no need to rationalise your curiosity. Parenting evolves over time, and knowing a child’s sex or gender from before birth is not a mandatory requirement of its quality. 

YA keeps staring into mid-space, trying to formulate his thoughts.

Suddenly grasping that this was really not a lesson which YA needed to learn in his mid teens, BM assumes the role of Confident Mother. “Go shower. Dinner is ready”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Educated Selling

He had lain in bed all day, a sick adorablescent, rolling around, waiting for the headache to slowly go, dealing with being a teenager, immersed in thoughts about which only teenagers know. When the door bell buzzed loud and long his first thought was that mum had come back from work, then he realised that she was probably still on her way. Besides, she had her keys with her. Mindful of her strict instructions to never open the door to any unknown and unexpected visitor when home on his own, he lay down again. The buzzer went again. Paused, and started again, insistently piercing his thoughts.

Bzzzzzzzzz. Bzz. Bzzzzzzz. Bzzzzz. Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Apparently someone was leaning on it.

“Awrigh’, keep your shirt on! I’ngcoming”! he grumbled and lounged off to the balcony. He leaned over to see who it was before he decided whether to open the door. He saw a golden haired little human with his arm stretched up to the doorbell he was leaning on. There was a basket next to him on the ground, and he seemed like he had no intention of letting the buzzer go. He came back in and pressed the button to let the little adorablescent in. As he turned back to the door, he saw that LA had already run up half the stairs, chattering away about chocolate eggs, four dollars and school fund raisers. LA sprinted up the last couple of flights words tripping off his tongue. He just wanted to sell some Easter eggs.

SA felt charmed. He looked over LA with indulgence, taking in his tousled golden hair, smudgy face and bright blue eyes. “How much are they”? he asked smiling down at the eager face.

“Four dollars”.

“Sure, wait.”

He went to his Mum’s room hunted out a twenty dollar bill. He came back. “Do you have change for twenty dollars” he asked.

LA looked up at the note, considering. There were wheels turning behind his eyes. “You mean you want five bags of eggs”? he asked with an intelligent cock of his head.

“Whoa… man… relax…” said SA partly taken aback, but mostly amused at the brashness of the little boy.

He went away again. After digging around some more he found coins adding up to four dollars and brought those back.

LA was leaning against the door frame, one foot hitched up behind the other, looking up at the ceiling, world weary boredom etching his little man face. He shook his head, exchanged the coins for a bag of Easter eggs and went away. There were more shakes of his head as he grunted his way down the stairs. “It’s only four dollars, two gold coins… Jeez!”

Thankfully he did not turn back to see the older and wiser adorablescent, doubled up in laughter, his morning’s sickness completely forgotten.

A few minutes later, when his mum walked in, she saw with relief that her adorablescent was up and waiting for her, eager to relate his adventures with a golden haired little salesman.

“At least these eggs are a reputable brand”’ she said, opening the bag, giving him one and popping one into her own mouth.

Come on! Effortless Life? You have to be kidding!

Recently, I have been having discussions with my adorablescent. How much does one push one self? How far does one leap in faith, in order to better oneself? When does one go with the flow, and when does one push for more? In his wisdom, he pushed me, further and further, to prove my point of how one did not need to break barriers by “striving”, or “doing the hard yards”. Now, I am by no means advocating that one does not learn, practice, and do. What I am questioning is the philosophy of “no pain no gain” that has become the truism that everyone bows to all around me. These discussions with my adorablescent have petered out each time I have felt my ire rising, and I have shut up, not wanting to pursue a conversation in which I was unable to hold my own. My irritation was not at his persistence of the “you need to push yourself over the edge in order to improve” philosophy. Rather, I was facing my own demons, as my ingrained belief struggled with my learned understanding.puzzled young man

Multiple papers have been written about how learning has to be “fun” in order to occur, and the research today continues to strengthen the theory. Yet, I still do struggle to convert my yogic understanding of “let the asana do the work for you” (Thank you Yoga Adam for putting the words to my idea) to allowing the adorablescent to have a day off right in the face of exams, if he is too tired to study. He was not arguing with me, he was regurgitating what I had taught him, through my actions. As had the world around him.

I so need to read my own article. 

Thank you, my dear one, for another chapter well taught.

Image credit: http://msxats.blogspot.com.au/2013_07_01_archive.html

Laying down the non law

Question1-300x300She was confused. She knew what she believed. But she could not say why she believed and hence stuttered when she tried to lay down the law. Which invitation should one honour? The one that Mum has promised to go to months ago, on the tacit understanding that Son would go as well? The one that was a family party, in celebration of a family milestone? Or the one that has suddenly appeared on the horizon, the one which has the appeal of youth and adventure?

She was clear on what she wanted. The promise had been made, and one did not draw back from one’s promise. He was equally clear. The promise may have been made, but it had not been made by him, and his absence would barely be noticed. On the other hand, his presence at the do of his own choice would be of great note, to him and to his buddies.

In the process of laying down the law, she was bothered by her own lack of clarity on why she wanted her adorablescent to do as she bid. What was the reasoning she could give which would make it as inescapable to him as it was to her? Why did one have to honour a choice one had not made, and sacrifice a choice one would love to make?

It is the done thing to accept and adhere to the invitation that has come to one first, a law accepted by one and all. The only reasoning behind this being that this is the code of the gentleman. But such codes change over time, do they not? Does this mean that the time has come to revisit this code as well, just as many other codes are being re examined and realigned in the swiftly changing dynamics of the twenty first century? This is the era where self love is the proclaimed new religion, and selfishness is still anathema; the juxtaposition of the two causing much anguish over shifting frontiers of socially acceptable behaviour.

Where does selfishness end and self love begin? If it is true that above all, to one’s own self one must be true, then the code of honouring one commitment over another because it was made earlier, may not always end up being true to oneself. What, then, takes precedence, one’s sense of one’s dignity, or one’s commitment to oneself? But then, is not even dignity a product of times, cultures, and current philosophy? And is not one’s commitment to oneself the true determinant of one’s code?

Which is it?

image credit: http://www.gpccolorado.com/writing-research-question-social-sector/

His and hers, individually connected journeys

They have been to classes together , learning Karate first, and now yoga. She considers herself further along the yoga journey than him, but perhaps she is not. Perhaps there is much she can learn.. from him. One of the things she has striven is to not interfere with his learning in the class. So if he has been doing something incorrectly, having not paid attention to, or misconstrued the teacher, she has let the teacher correct him. This, because in her experience as a teacher she had found it really difficult to connect o the student, if the mother stood by shouting instructions while she tried to teach.

Even so, occasionally, she would mouth at him, “Straighten your legs”, “Take a block” etc during the yoga classes. He would frown and shake his head at her, proceeding to ignore her, and the teacher, as they suggested that using a block to support those postures that needed it was a good idea. For was he not a strong and supple young man? He did not need the support that a weaker and lesser dude would need. He always attempted  the most challenging option, the coolest variation, straining into the postures in his wobbly and curly fashion. She learnt to bite her tongue and allow the teacher to come to him and gently guide him to the level that he was rightly at. Most of the time.

Then one day, she noticed that he was taking a few breaks once in a while, curling down into Balasana when the flow was demanding just that much more energy than he had right then. He was pulling the block to him to support those asanas that he needed them for and when, in spite of herself she said “psst, straighten your head”, he did so, without a frown.

As she turned back to her own posture and her journey, she smiled in joyous realisation that as her journey had progressed in its own way, so had his. He seemed to now have a different measure of cool.

Love is… Letting go

She had noticed that all the cross training and other sports he did at school was making him stiff and round around the shoulders. Even though still a skinny adorablescent, his shoulders were getting hunched like body builders she had seen. He was so proud of his 6 pack, he could almost ignore that for the most part he still looked scrawny. But she thought that his suppleness and flexibility seemed to be on the way out. Not that he noticed, or cared. 

She  wanted him to develop flexibility and strength, strong bones and muscle, strong lungs. Teach him to relax, focus and flow.  What better answer than to introduce him to yoga? 

A few sessions at home highlighted the need for taking the class to an outside teacher. She was too invested in his success and he was too invested in being angry about it. She was not used to giving up easily. She dragged him to her teachers, and they embraced his presence wholeheartedly. So began the weekly dragging sessions. Drag him out of bed, drag him to the car, drag him into the studio. 

Once there he was fine, he made a good enough effort. He would not really chant “Aum” but she could live with that. She knew enough about yoga to be sure that with persistence, his practice would develop. 

Circumstances and months later, she found she was tired of the dragging drama. She knew how much he could benefit from yoga, but he did not. He still went reluctantly, and she could sense the wall of unwillingness that he surrounded himself with each weekend. Her persistence was not going to develop his yoga practice.

They had chats, and it always ended harshly for her. He is not really given to irritability, but she saw that he really disliked it. She found she could not bring herself to step back, and say to him, “This is making you unhappy. You do not have to attend any more yoga classes.” It felt like giving up. She knew that he thought he understood why she was taking him to yoga, but maybe he did not really know? How could she explain this to him, in a way that would appeal to him? 

It was not really him. It was her. She wanted him to go, she wanted him to reap certain benefits, she wanted certain results for him. On a certain level he wanted those results, too, which was why he allowed himself to be dragged along, but there was no joy in his decision. As other life events worked themselves around the mother and the son, a little pebble fell into a vast pool and found its place in the bottom.

She realised  that it was not her life. Not really. She might be his mother, and his friend, but she was not him. If it turned out that he would not practice yoga, then so be it. So be it. It had to be his way, or no way. It took her a while to swallow and accept this, but she did, in the end. She also knew that in order to be true to herself, she could not just go to him and say, “It’s okay, you do not have to go to yoga anymore.” It was not okay to her. 

Instead, one day, she asked him to attend to her closely, and explained all the different benefits yoga brought. She also added that many body builders, athletes and sports stars also followed a strong regimen of yoga practice, because of its manifold benefits to them as well. She then explained, that just as he woke himself up, and prepared himself and went to school, sport and music timely, he could take the responsibility of going to yoga as well. She would not longer force him to go, but he could go away and think about it, and let her know whether he wanted to continue or not. He did start mumbling the usual platitudes, but stopped. Still staying true to herself, she told him that it would be tough for her if he decided not to go, but she would respect his decision, because she understood that he needed to decide things for himself now that he was getting older. He stood by her for a while. And then went away quietly.

Since then she honoured his decision to skip a class or two in order to watch FIFA. He in turn came to all the classes he could, quietly,  and without building a wall of resistance and rebelliousness around himself. He even looked like he enjoyed himself.

She had learnt to love enough to let go. To let go of him, and to let go of her need to do what was good for him.

A lesson from Mother Duck