Thursday, March 20, 2014

'The Calloused Hands' written for Basadi Balefatshe - An International Journey of a Woman

It's been a while since I wrote in this cavern.
I just got back from South Africa. Its been an enriching and wonderful experience. I've learnt so much and been blessed over and over by the places I visited and especially by the amazing souls that have touched my life while I am there. I've got a million stories to tell and a lot more to weave into stories that I know I will use someday.
I went there to perform in a musical play and also to engage in cultural exchange.

Here is a poem-story that I presented/performed for a musical play entitled ‘Basadi Balefatshe’ (World Women) – ‘An International Journey of a Woman’ at Joburg Theatre, Johannesburg, South Africa in conjunction with International Women’s Day. This poem-story was also told during an International Storytelling Festival at Pretoria, South Africa.

The story is a fiction inspired by the lives of some Asian women. However, the photo below is a real picture of me and my popo’s hands J

Me and Popo's hands

The Calloused Hands

Popo!!!! I call out in high pitch glee
Her wrinkles curve and smile at me
Happiness awakened from distrait
Finally after all those years of wait

I rush to her side, she coughs out blood
Lying on her deathbed without a word
Her body lays motionless but her eyes
Twinkle with whispers of love and cries

Tiny and frail hardly explains her body
More fragile than a new-born baby
She lifts up her bony shaky fingers
Cupping my face and let one lingers

Rough and dry her old skin against mine
Worse than burns from acid and alkaline
Her teary eyes pierces deep into my soul
Bringing me back to great times of old

Mama died when she gave birth to me
Papa sits in jail for raping her repeatedly
Popo brought me up with love and care
She took me in which was an act so rare

She woke up at five every morning
Chicken porridge was her best cooking
Alternating with butter buns and bread
There was nothing my taste truly dread

I was a noisy and naughty little girl
Always caught with my feet awhirl
She never spared me from the rod
Never to spoil but instil fear of God

When I behaved well, she would fry
Banana fritters so good you would cry
She would hug me and laugh out loud
Chasing rain from the hovering cloud

Popo’s hair was always in a small bun
Neat and tidy not a hair seen in front
Wraparound sarong tied with a knot
Her lips wearing a shade of red hot

Day and night she worked hard
Tending to vegetables in her yard
A kind soul, still sharing a fruit or two
Turning away the needy was a taboo

A storyteller at night with her hair down
Filled with tales to enchant and astound
Memoirs of her younger self and ah kong
My grandpa who had died forty years long

I once asked “Popo, are you not tired?”
Pointing upwards, her secret transpired
“My strength comes from high above”
“All is made possible in the name of love”

I continued, “Why did you choose to keep me?”
She held me tight and said, “Why would I flee?”
“God gave you to me, one of his greatest gifts”
“You’re innocent no matter who your papa is”

Time passed, I had to leave for university
Popo would come to see me in the city
Each time she grew shorter and shorter
While the hunch on her back grew bigger

Work began to eat away all my time
I strived to pay back every single dime
Popo was far from my heart and mind
I was exhausted after a long day’s grind

One day a phone call made my heart broke
Popo fell down the stairs and had a stroke
Panicking I prayed it was not too late
I had promised to bring Popo on a date

Her mouth opens wide gasping for air
I keep muttering that it is so unfair
She holds my gaze in blinking tears
Am I facing one of my biggest fears?

Popo softly moans “I’m going home”
“I am not leaving you alone to roam”
“Do not cry my cucu, I know you care”
“I will watch over you from up there”

Her calloused hands clasp mine tightly
Not letting go I grip them to me closely
“I love you” springs from her watery eyes
Breathes her last and to heaven she flies

p/s: If you like poetry, feel free to browse my poems at my previous posts labelled 'My Poems'.  

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