Sunday, 22 May 2022

Stop and smell the magnolias.

Dear Friends and Lovely People passing through,

Sunday morning in Florider, and the leaves sparkling after the thunda and lightning and rain perform big drama Friday and Saturday yesterday. How the trees and plants and grass love the show! You can see them shimmering with gladness.

I know exactly how they feel.

The very same way when I go pon the road for afternoon walks.

I does feel in love. I want to jump and click me heels.

Up this road, the twenty-foot or mo' tall pine-cone tree wearing a jasmine gown. The vine o' the jasmine weave a wide green skirt and loose bodice and sleeves on the branches o' the pine tree. Thousand o' white-star flowers dot the gown from top to bottom. 

Ow me Lawd, I could just lay meself right there pon de road with delight, stay there and close me eyes and live. 

You would see what I mean if you inhale the perfume from jasmine and magnolia and gardenia. It gon lift you to a space that you never been to before; you ain't need no ticket on a rocket. Trust me when I tell you, you ain't gon need no gee-gaw, designer perfume, dress, handbag, trinket, electronics to lift you up and out o' youself.

Oww, the fabulous things you gon see if you only slow you' pace, oh wow.

Magnolias in almost every yard blooming in the warm sunshine. I never in me whole born-life see flowers so big pon a tree. Like plate. White like the smile in me heart. Every day, I walk up to them and examine they new bloom-freshness, they tender age-ing brown. I does put me face close and inhale lemon and secret blends o' fragrance from the land of exotica. 

And don't forget them flowers in the grass. Not because they small, at you' feet, and don't have perfume. Them is the li'l colours, li'l details we ain't see now, but gon notice if they gone. 

I stop to say hello to them too.

White petals with purple centers, mo' small than pin-head, congosetting...gathering in groups, chatting; bright yellow daisies spreading like carpet; butter-colour flowers with delicate petals; small, hard white knots; lantana in bunches; all o' them is worthy of adoration and gratitude. 

If you's one o' them who walk with speed, I feel sorry for you. Oh, the wonderful things you ain't gon see, and if I tell you slow down to look, you gon think I boring. I might be boring to you, but I gon never be bored.

Next week, I gon share some photos.

Ta-ta for now. I promise Ma we gon sit on the front porch and gyaff...chat.

Have a lovely week, plenty love, neena xx.

Monday, 9 May 2022

De Hole.

Dear Friends,

Picture this, you driving by in you' up-to-date car in this out-of-town Florider settlement...that is to say, suburbia but I call it settlement because it so quiet, it feel like every scrap o' life settle down to silence. Next thing you know, you spy a pretty gyal with long tan-legs standing on a white wicker chair on de porch of a house. She hollering as if she money leaving she. 

That was Cousin Lis.

(These immigrant people, I tell you, going to good-good foreign people land and behaving like this!)

She and she family been visiting one bright sunny day, birdies choiping, boiping, eating doity woims, and so on.

Cousin Lis too tall for de chair, wobbling like teen-gyal trying out high heels for the first time. 

Me and she brother, Cousin T., stroll out to the front door.

Me sister out dey arguing. "Is not a big snake. Is only a smallll snake."

Cousin Lis insisting, "It big. It! Big! What is wrong with you?"

She point to the plants, hands quivering.

After a year and a day, she calm down, step down from she stage and enter the home, walking bend, like a ole-ole, frail ole man. 

Food pass around and we dig in (which remind me of de hole, I getting to that soon). Without fail, de conversation circle around snakes.

I announce, "N., the next door neighbour, say that de snake been hanging out on a wall and drop on de shoulders of de husband, de former owner."

Honey-chile, lemme pause here to tell y'all.

Where I come from, in South America, we got several cultures blending together, African, Indian, Amerindian, Chinese. None o' these cultures ain't got white-folks stoic attitude towards snake. We don't hug-up and kiss-up snake and ker them to bed with we. Okay, well, some men and women seem like the human-variety kind.

Anyway, all in all, as far as we's concerned, Snake Symbolise Something Strange. (See what I do there with the Ss sounds?) We-the-blended-citizens pool we resources and together we believe that when you dream about snake, it mean you got enemies. I ain't doubting this. I prove it to meself couple times well.

In other words, we got a healthy fear of snake. 

Many weeks later, after the Incident with Cousin Lis, me sister announce, "Look! A hole in de garden. Must be de snake."

Dear Lovely Friends and those passing by here, I am asking you in Proper English: can snakes dig holes? 

Until you reply, I gon be avoiding this garden in this here foreign land for a while.

I got another theory as to how de hole appear but I got to fix lunch, my mother feeling hungry. No, no roasted snake.

Stay safe and have a lovely week. Dance up and eat good food. Plenty love, neena. xxx

Sunday, 1 May 2022

Toleration.

My dear lovely friends,

I rushing baaad today. Me sister having guests over, and I want to help she in the kitchen.

I barely scrape some time and post the "every other Sunday" thing on Substack.

I gon be back soon to tell you about the hole in the garden and so on.

In the meantime, here is what I been writing about toleration ain't a botheration.

Happy Labour Day. Eat good food, take care o' you. Plenty love, neena. xx

Sunday, 24 April 2022

Moon gazing.

My lovely friends and visitors trekking through, 

Ever been moon gazing?

No, I don't mean like Moon Gazer, the mythical creature tall like two coconut trees, who straddle the road on a full moon night, staring at the moon, and when you pass between he legs, he squeeze the living life outta you.

I mean regular height human-you, going outside on a full moon night, and letting the moonlight bathe you, and you stare at the moon until delight is the riddim of you' heart beat.

(Come to think of it, maybe that is what does happen to Moon Gazer...he does get so ecstatic when he see the moon, that when you pass between he legs straddling the road, he squeeze you because he can't contain he happiness. Something like me first nephew when he been about two or three years old. He used to get so full o' gladness when he see people he love, he would bite them.)

Anyway, back to moongazing. A friend tell me how foreigners in Guyana does sit at the back of a cane field on a full moon night just to watch the full moon rising.

So...

...put moongazing on the list of things that I incorporate into me life to make me feel good.

I would go out on we road near the neem tree (that I manage to save from the teef...thief...but that is another story for another day), and I would stare at the moon. I would feel a mighty longing to release a howl of pure joy. The only reason I never bother to howl was because o' them security guards who was manning the properties of Important Neighbours. They mighta call the Berbice Mad House staff to come for me.

They probably already thought I was mad and they only been waiting for the chance to send me away.

According to them, based on what me friend, married to a diplomat tell me, ladies in fine neighbourhood don't sweep yards like me and she. 

I sweep the yard.

I pick fruit and eat straight from the tree.

I hop up on the garden wall and let the sea breeze wild-up me hair.

I weed, plant, grow worms (they had names), stand on the road on a Sunday morning in the sunlight and salt breeze.

I sew.

I listen to music and sing.

I dance.

And I accept invitations from friends.

I tune into nature, I listen and feel and I let nature soothe me.

That, me dear friends, is what I got to do again in this here foreign land. I got to tune into nature fully, every day, and work on me list of things that I do to feel good.

I going for a Sunday afternoon walk. Remind me to share the photos with you, okay? Have a wonderful week. Plenty love, neena.

Monday, 18 April 2022

Chanelling Ms. Pollyanna.

Dear Friends,

Maaan, that sure was a mighty monster of a pothole that I fall into in this here foreign land recently. Oh me Lawd-oh Gawd-oh.

In there, I see ning-ning...you know, terrible troubles. It was murky and glumpy down dey. But good thing...it had a li'l bit o' water. I shine some light, and was able to see me self in the reflection. I wasn't too keen on what I see. 

Frien'-o, if you see how I defy graffity and fly out mo' fast than salipenter runnin' on the surface of Abary Creek.

Outside, I stop to breathe in slow, breathe out slow. I ketch me senses. And I remember...

...that time when I return home to Guyana for good, how lonely and miserable I been. Then I remember how I decide to start liking where me was, instead o' looking for what I miss about The Island that I remigrate from. 

I make up me mind. I gon channel some o' Pollyanna attitude. Now, I know many out there think that she is unreasonably optimistic. I wasn't planning to be like that. I was only going to take some o' she vibes and work it into me lifestyle.

I begin to do a set o' things that make me feel I was in a good place.

So here me is, in this here foreign land, being carer for Ma, remembering all the things I do back home to recover from falling into potholes.

I gon make that list and share with you soon.

Cheerio for now. Do something nice for you today. Plenty love, neena.

P.S. If you want a li'l peek into what I write about returning home...check it out here:

Singin' n walin' n laughin' n eatin'.

Thursday, 7 April 2022

Relearning.

 My dearest friends, all who visit here, all who read silently and tiptoe away,

Recently, I been dealing with a big heartache. Because o' that, I had to dig deep down in me to figure out what been causing problems in me soul. I didn't have to go too far. Instinct, and joining the dots, been telling me what I need to know. Telling me why I been so scratchety...cross. 

I got to forgive meself plenty.

I got to stop fussing about, sit down in silence, write in me notebook, pin down thoughts and insights, to learn again, how to be me true self again.

Li'l bit, I reach out to friends and they help me to clear the clutter. 

I learning again, relearning again.

I read somewhere: there are no mistakes, there are only lessons, and the lessons are repeated until they're learnt. I like to think I does learn fast-fast.

Anyway, I been writing on me newsletter too, the one at neenamaiya.substack.com.

This is what I write. I hope you like. xxx

Happiness in a place of nothingness.

April 3.22.

Howdy, as Auntie M., my mother’s cousin would say. Howdy! Life good? (Hope you don’t mind if I drop in a li’l bit of local lingua now and then. I will email you my thoughts about this local dialect another day.)

Question: how do you find your happy self in a situation that’s breaking your heart?

After I returned home, I eventually found a way, though I must confess, it wasn’t without some struggle. 

The journey home was Hawrrible. I shamed myself. On the plane, I was sitting next to the most handsome cricketer from the English team. (No, I ain’t naming names). He tried to chat with me. Stupidee me start bawling like I been planning to be de next big waterfall of Guyana. 

My father had died a few months ago, and I was going back home because my mother would be alone. All our family -  siblings, cousins, aunties , uncles, had migrated to the lands of hope and glory, maple syrup, deer and antelope. I felt as though I were rewinding my life. 

Scenes flashed by in my mind as the plane flew away from the jewel of the Caribbean, bye-bye blue ocean, beaches, caf├ęs, breathtaking views from restaurants on cool, mist-draped mountainsides, friends, a job in the creative field. 

Hello broke-up, mash-up, peel-up country, the second poorest in the Caribbean. I’ve heard it was The Poorest at one time. 

I was returning just after elections. The second election after almost 30 years of no democracy. Over the phone, my mother had told me what to expect. Political turmoil, burning, looting. I was terrified of the drive home from the airport. It was a long, dark, lonely drive. Every type of “what if” spiraled within me. 

Yet, I learned to love home again. 

Years later, a Nigerian medical student in Guyana told me that the first time she scouted around town, she thought a disaster had hit the nation and the people were just recovering. I laughed. As I’ve said, my conversation with her was years later; by then I had discovered many delights. 

Lawd. What did it say about me, learning to find joy in a place like this? Did it mean that I had learnt to settle for less? That apathy had sunk her claws in me; that achievement was for those who had gone to green pastures?

Ooops. 

I smell lunch burning, I’d better go have a look. I will email again another Sunday. Remember, you’ll hear from me every other Sunday.

Mean time, tell me, nah? How do you find a way to be happy in a place that offers nothing?

See you soon, plenty love, neena maiya. 

Monday, 21 March 2022

Caregiver role.

Dear Friends,

If you ever find you'self in the role of caregiver, me heart go out to you.

Nobody...noooooooobody don't understand the soul-breaking, emotional trauma, the toll it can take on the personality, until they in it. Nice-nice ladies who always laughing tell me how it affect them and make them into grumpy ole men.

On to a li'l good news.

I start a newsletter, yay!

neenamaiya.substack.com

This is what I write there:

Coming soon...

Emails about life on the edge of South America.

Every other Sunday, I will take you exploring a landscape, a dreamscape, where even the mundane can be intriguing.

I will show you the stunning and the ordinary. The ludicrous, the lyrical. A raindrop, a waterfall. The amazing human being, the boring.

They all fascinate me in equal measure.

See you soon!!

Plenty love, neena maiya.

Sunday, 13 March 2022

What should my elf-name be?

Dear Friends, 

Confession time!! 

Books write theyself! 

Seriously! 

Honest truth!

I ain't lying!

Writers don't work. 

They surf the internet, smile, listen to music and occasionally tap they pooter and... 

...wallah!!

The book done write all by itself. (Actually, it was the little elves who been writing away whilst the writer sleep.)

Gosh! I feel guilty pretending that writing is work. Oh! The dreadful shame of trying to make people understand that writers fall into a deep slump sometimes, and they struggle to crawl out.

All ain't lost though. I know of at least one chap who acknowledge this and benefit from this truth, that writing ain't work. What a lucky chap.

Let me start at the very beginning, a very good place, etc.

Once upon a time, a charity organisation back home useta pressure me to edit they newsletter and to write they annual general report. 

I didn't waaaant to do it. But family pressure me too. 

Aiyeee. I would work meself up into froff and fury. But  then I would think, if I didn't do it, I gon go straight to damnation.

One day though Somebody tell me Something.

Listen, I ain't calling names. I ain't saying who tell me:

The organisation had, as employee, a chap who was supposed to do the writing that I get pressured into doing for free.

Whilst the chap collect the pay.

As I say, the chap did well know that writing wasn't work. He busy heself with uni studies. He all over the town making heself important with speeches.

Whilst I, the elf, edit and write, worrying that I gon fly to damnation if I didn't "help out".

So, anyways, like I say, I quit.

Want to hear the next story?

The organisation would, when giving speeches, talk about the value of women, and how "we must respect and treasure them."

How I wish I was a woman and not a' elf.

Sunday, 27 February 2022

Woman, scream: no more violence!

My dear friends,

MARCH 5.

Write this date in your diary!

Here's why:

This unique event features women speaking, rhyming, screaming to be heard in our current climate of discrimination, subtle and obvious violence towards women. This event features local women poets. Funds raised from WS go to Starick.

 
Through this event, the audience will have an increased understanding of the lives of women in our community and the daily issues they both grapple and overcome. Further, this event is one link in a chain of international arts-based events that mark International Women’s Day and demand an end in violence towards women.

Feature poets include: 
 
Taonga Sendama
SoulReserve
Chaucer Cameron
Manveen Kaur Kohli
Joni Boyd
Saoirse Nash 
 


Bye for now.

I have some exciting news coming soon. Watch this space. Have a great week. Plenty love, neena. xx

Sunday, 20 February 2022

Soap, snake and roses.

My dear friends,

Ya ever been struggling away at a mundane task but, instead of worrying as usual, you find you' mind travelling to places of bliss?

Yeaaaah. 

Friday morning gone, I been scrubbing the bathroom when I notice that Ma need more bath soap. She ain't like soap in a plastic bottle! Give she bars and bars o' soap, and she gon want to bathe 2, 3 times a day, and she take so long, you believe she writing a book in there.


And that is how me mind start to drift.

Back to the book that I write, the first in the Guyana series. Got a short story about a duck and snake that fall in love by the giant water vat where the sweet smelling rose bush did grow.

Don't know if it is that same vat that grow old, or if a new one appear in we childhood when we the grandchildren go to spend holidays with grandparents, Nanee and Pa. It was countryside, and they didn't have running water in they home. I think it was the same rose bush.

As soon as dusk come down, the older cousins would bathe the little ones by the vat, filling the enamel bowl from a spout in the vat, washing we with the coldest rainwater and the sweetest smelling soap. 

Up in the house, we would put on pyjamas, Pa would light the lamp and tell we the best stories, then off to bed we go.

Back to regular life, cleaning the bathroom, no fresh air, no rose bush blossoming. I must make a note that Ma need mo' soap... 

...how to make life sweet again, dear friends?

I gone to take a nap.

Have a lovely week, neena xxx.

Friday, 11 February 2022

Characters.

My dear Friends, y'know what I miss not being in my lovely native land?

Characters!

I am walking to the market, and a scraggly man tripsing past me, pause, look 'pon me and shout out, "Hello Fren. How you do? You doin' okay?"

Now, to be honest, I ain't know this man from Adam or Eve. I suspect he would spot me going regularly to the market. He would probably be sitting over the road, in front the old building where them druggies-chaps hang out.

How to answer he? 

Proper ladies would walk past he with they nose turn away, like they didn't hear or see he. Or they would give a very polite nod.

I give he a pretend-shy, genuine-friendly smile and say, "Yeah man."

And I keep walking. That is enough. The man go 'long he way. 

Every time since then, whenever I walking to the market, he would greet me, "Hi friend."

And I smile and say, "Hi," and keep walking.

Characters all over the city streets of my homeland. You got to develop the instinct to know which ones to reply to, and how to respond. Not snobbish. And most certainly not palsy-walsy.

The ones I reply to easily, and gyaff...chat...with, is the pen-man who convince me to buy a pen from he every time I pass he. The pine-man who pine does be sour like lime sometimes, and I take it home and cook faux-Chinese food with it. Mango-lady. 

But you see them bus conductors who shout for passengers to take they bus? Walk past like you don't see or hear them. Because, if you ain't careful, they gon haul you into they bus, and the next thing you know, you heading off for the inner parts of countryside even though you only been going to the lawyer office across the road.

And them chaps with cutlass under they arms...cross the road if you see one coming. No, I don't miss them and bus conductors.

I must say though, they add to the sounds and sights and drama of small sea-side town life.

What is your city like, Friends? (I mean, out of covid-times). What sounds and sights and people you enjoy?

I should go for a walk in this tranquil suburb. I really should. But I might read a book instead, or write email.

Have a loverly weekend. Plenty, plenty love, neena. xxx

Saturday, 5 February 2022

Once upon a girl-child...

My Dear Friends,

Le' we gyaff...let we chat. Grab some snacks and le' we sit down and gyaff.

Weeeeeeeee!!!

All-body welcome, all ages, everybody.

Y'all like being around young people? 

Had a 13  / 14 year old girl I useta tutor in English. This child got the most-est ability to enjoy life by sheself. Climb tree and stare into bird nest. Save caterpillars to be butterflies. Make bubbles in the bathroom and giggle.

Play.

How and why so many people forget to play when they grow up? Culture put spokes in we?

Nah me.

Somehow...I manage to keep the child in me dancing, curious, fixing me gaze into the grass on the roadside, into the sky, and seeing daily, routine things in a different way. 


Pregnant bed.
(I stuck  pillows between  blankets to stay warm at nights in this cold, foreign weather.)

Could be a skill I learn when I been in tv, and something I inherit from me mother...she a li'l odd, the way she does see things. (I gon tell y'all about this another day).

I got this theory:

If you can keep that child inside alive and dancin', you got a better chance to bounce back from troubles. That child is the one who chase 'way boredom, and keep you' mind from getting so hard it keep out new ideas and solutions. That child don't need cafes, restaurants, travels to fancy destinations. Even the mundane at home gon be something of interest.

Friends, I got to go cook lunch. Chomp on some snacks, stare at the ceiling and tell me 'bout them people you see dancin' up there to Afrobeats.

Plenty love, neena xxx

Friday, 28 January 2022

Teething pains.

My dear Friends and new Visitors,

Welcome.

How y'all doing?

I been listening to The Experts who say that writers must have newsletter, webpage, landing page, to promote writing business. 

So, this week, after a li'l teething pain with this new bit of tech thing, this is what I create for a landing page:

Neena Maiya, author.

And yesterday, guess where I been!

More about this later!

I got to go and cook lunch.

I dunno what to cook!

Cheerio.

Have a lovely weekend. Plenty love, neena xxx.

Friday, 21 January 2022

When the chips are done!

My dear Friends,

It look like the whole world gone dramatical. 

I don't think it is because of covid itself. Disasters generally bring out the worst in many people, and some just plain love drama. Who need Hollywood, Bollywood, Nollywood, Pollywood? Real life is one big soap opera and everybody trying to steal the show. 

You know what the problem is?

All them dramatical people never had plantain chips. Or those who love it, run out of it.

I am telling you the good, hornest truth! This is what happen for sure.

Plantain chips does smooth the furrowed brow. It calm the heaving breast, soothe the sorry spirit, make the haggledy-paggledy traffic in my lovely native land seem like a nice, fuzzy-wuzzy trip. You stop at the red light and snack on P.C. and! No mo' woes! That minibus driver going vrooom vrooom, paste-ing-up on you' car bumper? Two crunches on a mouthful o' P.C. and you suddenly feel as if the oasis of tranquility flood into you' being, and you begin to believe that that wild beast behind you only want to be bestie.

The other day, I tell my plantain chips loving friends that we should form a club. If other folks can have wine tasting clubs, and whine fiestas, why not a plantain chips club?

Friends, I am now craving P.C.

I can taste it in me mouth, feel it in me belly.

When I get rich and buy me yacht (look, I know to spell it now), I gon have a room devoted to plantain chips from all over the world. Every type and flavour. (Except P.C. sweetened with sugar. I never in me whole born life hear of such a' aberration 'til I visit America. My first big brother complain bitterly about it too. "Who the hell would put sugar on plantain chips?")

All are welcome to join in my salty P.C. fiesta. But not if you want sugar added. If that is you' preference, we gon tell you, very nicely, to go back to where you come from, let the rest of we enjoy we P.C. in peace.

Wishing you peace and love and plenty P.C., my beloved friends. Stay safe, neena xx.

Wednesday, 12 January 2022

Feeling thankful that I wasn't no snack for the 'gator.

My dear friends and lovers of sunshine, 

I did make a promise to my mother that, if I did only break, woulda cause she heart to bruks more bad than the promise.

"We gon go to SoFlo for Christmas and New Year."

South Florider, where she son, me second big brother, live with he family.

Where sun flow, and alligators crawl. 

I don't know what I woulda do if we did encounter any 'gator on we walks. My mother does travel with...that is to say, suffer from...chronic pain, and I can't see she tackling that creature with the fervour of Irwin or Dundee to save me, she precious child. I woulda have to pile she on to she roller-stroller like she in a wheel barrow, and bolt outta there mo' fast than Usain.

In the mornings, while everybody been at work, I sit with Ma in the living-room, she watching tv, me doing creative work, soaking up the sun that pour like warm wine, crunching on the best snack in the whole wide world.

Plantain chips!!!

Ow, me belly bawling, I better cook lunch. No, it ain't 'gator burger.

Have a great day, love, neena xx.