Saturday 25 October 2014

There is a Song

The Singer / The Song

There is a Song
I have long forgotten
For-ever free
The Rose 
 In the Heart of Sharinam
The Perfume of Eternity.

I have often said my conscious journey as a singer and eventually as 'voice-animator', began one night,  crouched beside a glowing fire, under that infinitely beautiful African sky, in the Groot Marico. There, in a circle of good friends including a Professor of Music from Hamburg University, a wild-dolphin swim facilitator, a shamanic poet who specialises in the creation of traditional african instruments, we made music again in one of our many spontaneous 'sound-circles'. The music entwined with the song of the crickets, the distant hooting of the owls and song of the nightjars. Digereedoos, drums and uhadi, rattles and seed shakers played and played on, until it seemed that I and the night-sounds were one, my body-edge dissolved and my spirit one with the earth and sky. In this exquisite vibration, where all of time stood still and space expanding I found myself in what could be called the Eternal Now. It was there, from spaceless space and timeless time, my voice emerged. The experience almost does not bear the telling. I can say I found myself expressing a song that I could only call ''primal.'' The song spanned octaves beyond my imagining and tones I had never dreamed of. But most importantly, the song and i were one, and I found myself free at last, in truth and fearlessness and joy, to express what longed to sing into form.

Thinking back on that night, the gift I received was one of 'undoing'. I left behind all that I had learned from various teachers and institutions, all that had shaped an inner-critic which had caused me much pain over the years, listening too critically, never satisfied.

 On that night, I embarked upon a road from which there has been no turning back. 
Along it I would be given the understanding of what is The Natural Voice. The Voice that both you and I, all of us, were born with; a channel for the always present longing that seeks to express itself, in all its colours, from the centre of our hearts.

I am still on that road, toward the place where one needs do nothing, where all has been done, and where all is still possible.

when roses drown the eyes with red

Being here, in Sweden, I've had to learn to master the wild mare that used to ride me.

She still runs in her wild, but I can bring her in easier and we can move really softly, so no one can hear.
And then we can break free, for a while, again.

I've learned to love the silence.
And clarity.
The lakes here give space for reflection.
The forests befriend the solitude..the wind answers your questions if you choose to listen.

In Africa,colonialism has raped people of their sense of dignity and created a complex mesh of duplicitous lies and deceit. 
It's so hard to read the signals.
There are short-circuits everywhere.
I try to act from the integrity of heart, but still I get trapped in the cross wires of our historically separated realities.
I will never truly know what it's like to be seen as black.

But my sister's child, perhaps, will. 
And her child.
And her child's children.

My cousins' child, like my cousin, was born with an undiagnosed intellectual challenge. 
Her little body was abused at the daycare centre when she was all of two.
We knew about it, because her brother, Clint,  who was then only 11 months old, came home with bruises around his anus.
Later on, my cousin said, she never knew why Jolene always had infections.
It must have been from that asshole, that son of the daycare mother who it came out, was abusing all of the kids, all ages, all of the time.
When my cousin called to tell my mother the story, we told her to lay charges against this son immediately.
'No, she said, it wasn't necessary, because he had had an accident on his motorbike a few days after the story cam out. he was paralysed from the waist down.
'Shame,'' she said. ''he's already been punished.''
We always say 'Shame' about everything.
The comfort of common guilt.

My cousin was not so convinced that therapy was necessary for the children.
'It's our kids. Don't tell us what to do. ' You don't own them'.
Later on I managed to get her to a clinic that gave free homeopathic consultation and medication for trauma.
That night her otherwise mute husband took the little bottles of pills and threw then down the toilet saying;
 'Tell that interfering bitch to fuck off. They are not her children. ''

Jolene was always very quiet. Almost not quite, invisible.
When you asked her how she was, or how it was at school she would blush and withdraw and murmur something inaudible.
She cringed if you hugged her, and looked away.
It was as if she was afraid of the sound of her own voice.
Maybe it had got lost from the earliest imprints of the chaos and carelessness, and she had forgotten that she needed to look for it.

Later on, when Jolene was seventeen, her mostly mute father ran off to England with the money paid out to her by the Road Accident Fund, after her mother rolled the car off the road and Jolene flew out into the air. They were on the way to meet another of her mom's trashy internet-dates, in the Vaal.
Jolene's back almost snapped in two and she lay in traction for many months after that.
It was lot of money then, the pay-out. Almost R350 thousand.
It could have bought her a year or two at a college. She once said she wanted to be a beautician

She made it through the hell of a School For Problem Kids from equally horrific backgrounds.
Then she was raped by a fellow student when she was seventeen except her mother didn't believe it was rape. When I asked what had happened, she said her daughter had been ''sleeping with k----s.'
After that she got very sick. it turned out she had contracted HIVAids.
Then she met and fell in love with a parking attendant from Tembisa. He already had a child and another on the way, but he was kind to her. She moved in with him and lived with him in a one-roomed backyard shack. Soon she stopped taking her medication. She got very, very thin.
it wasn't long after moving into the townships that she phoned her mother to say she thinks she is pregnant. 
Seven months later she gave birth to a little boy born HIV positive and with a heart defect.
Maybe it was the act of giving birth, or the river of love that flooded her afterward, for this little baby that she was able to hold, and care for, but her

After a while she had to move back into her mother's complex, as they were starving. Still she says, even as she has moved back into the more comfortable but so claustrophobic stranglehold of a low-income white suburban townhouse, that, 'It was much better in the township. People are much more friendly here. i don't feel so lonely.''

She survived having two self-absorbed and mute parents who could not, would not protect her. 

At home the earth is marked with blood.
Where I walk, the roses drown my eyes with red.

Tuesday 14 October 2014

Alone / Together.

The days are growing shorter. 
The green leaves, overnight it feels, are gracefully bowing into the gold of their exit. We wake early in the darkness, now the sun, too, like the birds, is leaving. The expanded plenty of the summer is pulsing to the work ethic of the autumn. There is much to be done. 
My morning conversation with Johanna, as she prepares for school, has to do with the online chat-site she discovered last night.
The Wiki-community. I am in full alert when she wakes and immediately asks to go online. We all recognise those early signs, when the dopamine kick of a thrill has set in and we want more.
'But it's so easy mom, they're my friends!!!'
'They are virtual friends sweetheart, not real'.
'But it's the only friends I have got!' She is in tears and very emphatic.
These words cut into my soul.
The many moves we have made, not only across the world, but in Sweden itself, have been uprooting for the children in the past. Johanna especially has found it very hard to let the memory of her Stockholm friendship circle go. The Waldorf school with all its gentle creativity met her soul needs, and when she hit the brutal and bullying reality of the new Falun school, it was a shock. Small attempts at friendships had sometimes horrible outcomes and we have had to work hard to heal her sense of trust.
Now, a few years later and at Gymnasium in the neighbouring town of Borlänge, she has taken on a 'tough-gal' image, and often says- 'I don't need friends. I'm a lone wolf.' The teachers are concerned that she prefers her own company at lunch, sitting by herself.
The world of the 'Special school' is not a simple one. Many kids of varying abilities and disabilities jammed together to meed the previous conservative governments hierarchical division of schools. Johanna is at the 'bottom' level now. This pains me as I write this. However, she sees herself as normal, with normal dreams and aspirations.
On Wiki last night, she had what was probably the first 'normal' conversations, with people that were cool, and responded to her comments in a positive way.
I am wary though.
'Sweetheart, if I see that you are open to making friends in the 'real world', then its ok to spend some time online chatting. But I don't see that happening.'
'But mom, how can I let my old friends go?? Wiki is my new friends.'
Here we hit the rock.
'My love, in the real world, sometimes if you really want something, you have to learn to give what you really want, in order to get what you want. And it is like that, with making friends...You have to be open to the possibility'
There is a long silence.
She is listening.
'It's like this, See my hand, it's closed. Like a fist. I am holding onto something. It could be the past, it could be a friendship from long ago, that maybe isnt there anymore. It could be a way of seeing something that I don't want to let go.
Then I open my hand....
I've let go what I was holding now I can receive.'
Her face is intent.
'But I don't want to let go, Mom.'
'I understand that angel. It's not easy to let go something that meant a lot to you. But if your thoughts of yesterday are stopping you from receiving the gifts of today, and its causing you pain, then you need to let go.
I know your friendships were important. But it seems your friends have moved on. They haven't responded to your messages for a long time now.''
There is a long silence, as we rest in this truth.
'You see, in life', I say, ' we are in what we could call Sacred Hoops of friendships, of relationships.
Right in the centre Sacred Hoop of One: there is you, and the relationship, the friendship you have with yourself.''
Her face is concentrated with listening.
''Then, the next Sacred Hoop is the one you have with another, the Sacred Hoop of Two
You could say that for now, that is you and me, 'cos we are so close, we are teaching each other very important lessons about life...and that could change when you meet someone you want to spend your life with. Just like me and Paps.'
She smiles. She is both fascinated by our romance and also possessive over my attentions.
'The next Sacred Hoop could be you and Pappa and Ralph and Gabriel. Your close family who really love you and are there for you, come what may. who are there to teach and learn from each other, sometimes really hard lessons on loving and accepting.
And then it grows into a Hoop of those that will be there for you, just next to your close family; like Farmor, your aunts and uncles, Katrin, Lydi, Temma...'
There follows a list of good people who love this girl born with an extra chromosome.
''And then there's a big, wide Sacred Hoop of people you know, who may not be so close, but whom you like and who like you, maybe only for a while...they can change and move on..and that big circle spins around and around...
And then a really, really big circle, that is the world out there. And that can be the Wiki friends, the people in our concerts, the people we meet in passing, but that can also make a difference to our lives., that we can also help.''
'Mom,' she says, 'You see, no one in my life talks to me like you do. No one. '
Her gaze is so fierce and direct it pierces to my heart.
In the silence, I know she has followed the lesson and deeply absorbed it, as much as she is able.
I let her go online as she is waiting for the taxi to fetch her for school.
'I just want to message my friends. You're the best, mom!'
The taxi pulls up just before she can get the internet switched on.
I watch for a reaction. No problem.
She closes the computer, swings her rucksack onto her back and walks out of the door with a happy gait. She is singing softly to herself.