Essays, poems and Stories of an African-American

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Beware how you look !

There is an African saying:The dark hue of a head lice led to its death! The hair lice has a liking for dark shades. Lice are hidden in coiled thick hair. Because furred animals are usually busy ridding themselves of lice during grooming anything of a dark hue is killed.

I enjoy taking long walks in various neighborhoods. One day, I was walking by a house being stripped. There was renovation of some sort going on. As I looked at it intensely, little did I know I was a 'black-man perhaps scouting where to next do a burgle act.'

'Can I help you?' bellowed a white man.

I remembered we had just come out of the Florida Zimmerman/Martin Trayvon case whose outcomes still divide many, especially in America.

'Can I help you?' continued the man. Now this was louder than first call to attention.

I approached the man, in my humble composed way. In my mind I was seeing him reaching for the gun and ...... Talk of paranoia or fear or whatever psychological term you may want to attribute to my state of mind then.

'Sorry, where you saying something?' I replied as he reached me.

'I asked if I could help you. You were staring at me!' blamed the man.

'I am so sorry. But do you see that silver coating on the house? I did not know the houses are like flasks. The silver keeps the heat out or in.' I said defensively but also reasonably.

This disarmed the white man.

'I am sorry if I appeared rude. You see in this neighborhood, Latinos, blacks and Puerto-ricans are "thieves." Just yesterday that house there was broken into.'

'Oh, you have an accent?' he said as an afterthought.

'I was actually getting to understand the structures of these houses. They are made of wood but appear so solid. I do live in one and find it so solid.' I continued.

'You are not from here. What brings you to this USA is a f......up country.' He continued.

'I do not think it is as you put it in your kind of words.' I was being defensive now. Of both country and my being at a wrong place, in a wrong skin and at a wrong time.

I looked into his eyes. Earlier on there was something that struck me as odd about him. Not the tattoos or the physical build. There was something I was trying to place. The eyes again, the disjointed conversation and readiness to blame anything. My bells went off, but I still wanted to remain civil and not judgemental. All humans tend to rely on instincts and apparent perspectives about other humans, nature or experiences. Another bell in me reminded me about who a sloppy professional is: One who reads one book!

Anyway, I do some digging of my own; now that I was known to have an accent and was not from around here.

'What did you mean they are thieves?' I asked like an ignoramus who would be best laughed at than brought into confidence.

'Oh, they do not work, all they do is stay home, wait for their benefit cheques or cards, get home, f...., smoke bhang or do more screwing...... With welfare assured and with nothing to do, all they do is mischief and stealing. You see they are high on drugs.' This from the expert on non-white people in USA.

'May I ask you another very civil question?' I tested the grounds.

'Sure,' he said.

'When you were talking to me with that raised voice, what did you think I was?'

' No, am really sorry.I even did that. Like I told you we Americans are F...up.'

'Any way am glad you did engage in conversation with me. By the way am Thomas.'

'Am George, Iraq Tour 1, 2, & 3 veteran,' he said with pride.

' But am so sorry, that was not the way to behave,' he felt sorry again.

' No do not think I feel wronged in any way. Actually, am learning so many ways about Americans. It is my hope the typical American understands that USA has been the only country where almost the races in the world are living. It is every ones role to exercise understanding and dialogue. Like we are doing. That way we shall know more about each other. For instance you have got to know that am actually not a thief and that am able to discuss science with you. You did not expect that. I have got to know  you are an Iraq vet. We are now on talking terms. We have sort of discovered each other.'

I have never felt like a lecturer in my life. But, I realized those of us who are at lower life ranks need to talk about ourselves before those who enjoy privileges much better than ours. In our long conversation,I got to know he was a bi-polar and suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disease (PTSD).

We left on a good note. I promised to visit him again when the house was finished to celebrate. He promised to keep in touch and make me the number one guest during 'house-warming.' I did go for the party after a week. It was a good experience for both of us.

Oftentimes in life, humans need to think first before they open their mouths.

There are systems and sub-systems as one improves on citizenship status

I was talking with new Americans who had just come to USA. The longest stayed had been here for 15 years and the shortest stayed had been here for two years. Between us we analysed what we engaged in outside the usual formal aspects. By formal aspects we meant: work, prayer, good conduct, neighborly behavior, attitude and interaction. Many of us said we were engaged in activities that enable us survive and interact on a daily basis. When put to task to define survival and interaction on a daily basis I had this to share. I chose one day in my life.

The day was a Monday. On that day,I woke up earlier and went to attend early morning service. After, I went back home for breakfast. I later prepared to go to the Public Library. I am researching for material for my four book fiction novel. I intend to be be a writer.

I ride five miles to get to downtown. This I did and got to the Library. I had my bicycle secured (I have had one stolen!) and went to get a place in the quiet zone. I always like the quiet zone simply because it is quiet. This quiet zone is on the last floor with large windows affording a great view of the City.

I was in library going on about my reading and there and got three calls from friends. One was from a female friend who had to deliver two padlocks to me. The female friend is called Ellen. Ellen works with the Lutheran Social Services. Another call was from a gentleman who wanted to meet and we discuss so many things. The gentleman is an adjunct Professor of  Fire systems Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. The same University where the Robert Goddard ( the 'moon man'- I got to learn this from the Professor himself) studied.  The third was from another friend who wanted to deliver a gift I had won at a community raffle. I made arrangements with all of them. We decided on time and venues. 

The padlocks were delivered to me at the Library because the person works near by. She did this during her lunch-break. The next gentleman agreed we meet the next day at 9.00 am. We met at a cafe on Pleasant Street road-side. We discussed poems and daily experience narratives captured in story form. We discussed how experiences we face every day make for good topics if one were to think about events. We shared croissants, egg and cheese. The Prof. had a bagel and espresso coffee. I had tea ( African tea). The third friend had to come home. He brought me an air-conditioner, a really big unit. The unit is fit into windows. It is the same one with many we see humming away in house-hold windows as they ran. This friend is called Ken. Ken works as a banker and he introduced me to the idea of becoming a member of a cooperative bank. The bank is in Westborough. This idea is a good one for me and hope to fulfill it.

I do share many stories with my Ghanaian, Liberian and Nigerian friends. They also share theirs with me. We agreed that we needed to also explore other ways to assimilate in USA. We needed for example to join: community clean up events, earth day events, joining and attending community meetings and get to interact with American citizens more.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Even as we toil for days, there is a Divine hand in everything: the question is not whether there is a GOD, it is whether GOD works in our midst

Longevity breeds variety. Believers have a tendency to  think divine intervention is equated with fast results.  They want things done for them fast. After all they believe in the steadfast GOD. Mover of things. Decider, arranger, protector and giver. How else would they fail in anything? GOD works in our midst. All His magnificent works were spread out over time. Look at creation, it unfolded one day at a time. All the magnificence we read of is revealed as taking place in a chronology. God's will, will be done in time. Many books allude to the Divine. I choose the Bible once again. This time I want to compare Jacob's story to my argument. I concentrated on Gen 31: 38-41.

Jacob, the son of Isaac lived by God's rules. Jacob accumulated riches in form of: bumper harvests, a long life, animals, assets and even, by twist of events, married Laban's daughters. These riches did not come overnight. In Jacob's own words this took a long time. To get the tents, animals and wives he had to put in 20 years.

It was a long and painful time for me. I am used to writing down notes. Given that I was off-line for over two weeks it made me feel isolated. Isolated in a way that I was getting and not giving. The good side was that I had time to listen more and think harder about what was going on around me.

The mid week of August was an opportunity for me to reflect deeper on prayer, needs, duty and catholic tradition. I woke up earlier, as I always do. Did my mandatory calisthenics and headed off to church. It was the day of Our Lady's assumption. On this day, the church celebrates the assuming of Mary's body to heaven. I dedicated my time and effort from that day on for being more useful and understanding of things Earthly and Divine.

A letter came in the post. In it I was asked to confirm all my details with the USCIS. I am trying to formalize my stay in USA. It took me two days to complete everything to the letter. I sent the form by overnight express. I do hope all was received and someone is working on my documentation.

I listened to the core and fabric of the messages shared through the Martin Luther King Jr.(MLK) 50 year celebration. The celebration marked 50 years after the 1963 March on Washington monument (MOWM). There are media and systems that promoted this to many: symbolism, the creation of conversation over the economic disparity of the lesser privileged American and the positive solemn discourse over electronic and print media. I attended local gatherings to mark this event. I realized the organizers of the marches pointed out the pain but did not cut out other categories that make up America's body. The gist of the message: “ it was not enough to say African-Americans are in a sorry state, but that all less privileged need to have their status looked into.” Now that rings true and there is a true social justice mission.

one day,I walked past a gutted house and had to look. My science background about heat, convection currents and heat conservation was aroused. I looked at the house for a longer time. I did not know that the owner was irritated by “this seemingly reconnaissance person,” “who could be laying strategies for breaking in later at night or when we are not home.”

“Can I help you?” a shocking bellow much like a drill sergeant calling the formation to attention. I pictured 'Beetle Bailey' comic strips. “Can I help you?” A note higher. Angry emotions in the tone. I looked at him again, I did not avert my eyes. Another reason to suspect me. I stopped walking and turned to get back to him. I even put in an ounce of dumbness as I replied him. “Hullo, am so and so....” I said as he came at me in a very threatening way. He reminded me of Alpha males and how they are subdued. I did subdue him by greeting him loudly and asking him how I could help him. I even told him I did not understand what he was saying only that I heard him shout! I later told him I was looking at the silver foil that coats the walls. I talked physical science with him. This seemed to assure him I was not a thief. He then told me of certain races in USA that are known to be made up of thieves and burglars. He said when he saw me he thought I was a thief. I told him subtly that it is difficult to know a person that well unless you get to interact with them more often. After some time talking and him sizing me up, he realized I was a new person in USA. He asked me why we want to come to this..........( expletives, expletives) country. I said I did not understand the words he used. I am not that good in English vocabulary. He smiled for the first time. My acting dumb must have saved me. He knew he was the master of the game now. I was the errant pupil who needed straightening. Bottom line: He was sorry. He even revealed he was a PTSD. He had served in Iraq! I gave my compliments and from then on we became acquaintances.

War or strife can make us  pose questions differently. It can make us miss out on the crucial issues and relevance of things. In Syria, a very beautiful country, someone lobed Sarin gas at civilians. The containment of this material is done in special measures. Its conveyance requires logistics that are very expensive and manipulated by trained people. It is a dangerous weapon. It is even listed at various airports worldwide. My question is: who has the wherewithal to travel with Sarin gas canisters past airport officials? Who can kill over 2,000 civilians including women and children with Sarin gas? Which entity sits by as its people are butchered and massacred? Where was security?  The question is NOT ONLY whether Sarin gas was used in Syria but who is responsible ( for letting off the gas)?

I looked forward to relaxing. a friend who knows the streets far better than I took me to the various shopping malls after we attended a community fare. I moved about various displays of goods and wares. I now know where to shop smarter. No longer will it be on-line! I only managed to know these places after staying longer in USA. Neighborhood convenience stores and groceries are good for swift shopping errands but these malls that are downtown or in the other towns are good for optical nutrition and shopping a variety of things. Longevity breeds variety.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Viral attack, Nerve gas attacks, MOWM.....

I last did something to this blog a few weeks ago.
I could not open my computer.
A virus..'malware' purporting to be FBI originated
had corrupted all my files!
To undo everything, they sent a page on which they were asking for a lot of money to get me back online.
so, for many of you who have missed seeing more blogs, I was blocked for all these days.
But not to worry. Soon...I shall be fully on online.
More blogs on the way...........