The Mistress at Christmas…


26 December 2008

Lucienne: When I was Miss Goody Two-Shoes, I wondered how a person who has stolen someone else’s husband could be so blasé and conceited about it.
My father would probably have a heart attack if he found out what I’m doing. Since mum died, 10 years ago, I know he has dated – but he has never brought a woman home…he’s that strait-laced.
It’s an addiction – I cannot live with him, but I cannot live without him. We work in the same building, for different companies, so I was fated to meet him.
People accuse mistresses of breaking up marriages; I’ve actually sellotaped his. He was on the verge of leaving his wife before he met me; she nags and her cooking consists of opening tins and packets. I persuaded him to stay; it suits me better like this.
I have made my own arrangements for the festive period – but I will cancel them if he manages to shake her off for an hour or two.

Katie: Most people picture a mistress as a predator with figure-hugging clothes and perfect make-up. I’m not – but his wife is.
When I’m with him, I feel like a teenager again; he says I’m like a breath of fresh air after her speciousness; to her, a broken manicured fingernail is a tragedy.
Too much is at stake for both of us to go public. But I know I have been his only “other woman” for the last 16 years, because I’ve had him followed by a private detective several times.
They will be having a family meal at a hotel with the rest of her stuck-up family. Me? I’m having snack soup and beans on toast. Who cares?

Maria: He is old enough to be my… uncle. Still, I regret is not being able to flaunt him.
Meeting him was a Sliding Doors meets Benny Hill moment. I had treated my friend’s twins to an outing. They were careening towards the ice-cream compartment of the supermarket and they bumped into him, making him drop a six-pack carton of eggs. “Double trouble!” he said. I stuttered that they weren’t my sons. He said that blushing suits me.

Talk about audacity and duplicity – he was with his wife the next time I saw him there. I was simultaneously spooked, intrigued, and turned on to realise they were following me; she didn’t even notice. He dexterously palmed his business card into my jacket pocket, and I followed through. This was three years ago. He has spoiled me for other men; those of my age-group seem so childish now. They don’t have his manners, charisma, and gentleness. So I sort of understand why this “imperfect gentleman” cannot be mine these days.


Carmen: “The Other Woman” is his wife. I come first in everything, except in his will. But otherwise I’m well looked after – after all, I have to look nice for him, don’t I?
At his insistence, I have told my best friend about him, just in case something happens to me and he won’t be in a position to know. If anything happened to him, I’d know soon enough, because… just because.
As a child I’d always imagined that at my age (30 last birthday) I’d be settled down with six kids, as my mum was. But, frankly, I’m enjoying almost being almost married without being manacled to a husband.
On my birthday (which I share with one of his kids), on Valentine’s Day, and at Christmas, I feel wretched. He always makes up for it, though. I went into this with my eyes wide open but I resent it nonetheless.
I never berate him for not calling, and I am not always available when he wants to meet me. This keeps him keen. He’d be astonished to learn I cry for him most nights. My biological clock is ticking merrily away, and this really hits me when all my siblings come to our house for the Christmas meal, with their kids.
I know his wife. We were in the same class at school.

* Names and some details have been changed.

I Am Not Pregnant…

Thursday, September 15, 2011, 20:34 , by Tanja Cilia

… and frankly, I still haven’t got around to testing for any one of the various types of cancers that may be tested for, which have beset both maternal and paternal sides of my family over the years.
But that is not the reason I shall not be posting the pseudo-lie about how far into the Club I am, and what I am craving….  or where I place my handbag… or which country I will be travelling to  or even what colour my underwear is.
Many memes are supposed to make us aware of breast cancer, a few of them with a feeble attempt at double-entendres.
This statement connected with pregnancy,  for some reason, makes a connection between pregnancy and awareness of breast cancer. Seeing that this condition often leaves women infertile – desperately wishing, in fact, that they were “six months in and craving pickles dipped in hazelnut spread” or some other disgusting concoction of the sort. And desperately wishing that they could have, eventually, breastfed the offspring they will now never have. I find it ‘distasteful’ – on all counts.
It is interesting to note that all these “chain letters”- for that, in effect, is what these things are- concentrate on sexuality. Moreover, they focus on a woman’s sexuality, totally ignoring the fact that males do get breast cancer too.
Would you pass on a message that threatens you with disaster and death of you do not make fifty copies forthwith, and forward them to people, asking them to follow suit? Does it sit well on you to play on people’s emotions and fears, and make them waste time?
Ah, you say, but this is “in jest”… rather as if breast cancer is funny.
It is not awareness of breast cancer that we need; it is education, information, and action about all types of cancers. Not just one of the many types that steal people’s lives when their deaths could have been avoided.
I speak from experience – two members of my immediate family were mis-diagnosed and told there was “nothing to worry about”. By the time someone realised we were not simply “making a fuss about nothing” and picked up all the clues, and thought to investigate further, it was way too late for both of them.
However, silly pass-it-on messages are not the only way that the female body is being exploited in a pathetic way with regards to this notion. Some internet sites have been specifically created for the posting of cleavage – no head, no torso, because “that” is the important part of the female – with the same warped view. And I use the term deliberately, because the captions to these photos are a lame excuse for attention-grabbing photographs. Because just as sites that show child models made up to look like adults pander to a paedophile’s dreams, so do these sites indulge voyeurs. In both cases, the perverts win hands down.
If you ostensibly want to draw attention to an illness, you do not draw attention to ‘perfection’ – despite fetching slogans about ‘protection’ and ‘reminders’.
Women are stricken with many types of cancers – most of which effect men, too. However, since (probably) most of us consider man-boobs unattractive, and it is not necessarily those that get breast cancer, it would not be a good gimmick to include snaps of them in any site purporting to “care” about “awareness”. Six-packs seem to be rather rare in breast awareness campaigns.
A woman who has bone, lung, or ovarian cancer, or metastatic colo-rectal cancer, apparently cannot be “represented” by a series of partial snapshots of her sisters sporting variously bejewelled, frilled, striped, or polka-dotted bikini tops. Let’s face it; a face wracked in pain is not “sexy”. Neither are gel-filled prosthesis in a box.
The equation seems to be that if you say you are boosting awareness of breast cancer, you can sell pink earrings, special edition pink sweets and rubber bracelets, pink cellular telephones… and have an excuse to parade your assets, if you are a ‘consenting adult’, because it’s “all in a good cause”.
If, like me, you do not pass on the e-mail, the social site posting, or the series of photographs, you are labelled an old sourpuss with no sense of humour. Being ‘aware’ of breast cancer does not mean you will never get it. It does not mean you are free to compare and contrast photographs, either.
What it does mean is knowing that there are many other types of cancer. It means cooking a meal for a family that has one member so stricken, and offering to look after the children during those interminable clinic visits or hospital stays…
It means getting the patient – male or female – something nice, which they would not think of getting themselves, or cannot be bothered to do so… because they know they might be going to die soon.

Iss’Mbagħad Narak

Mela, darba waħda, ċemplitli ħabiba tiegħi, u fejn soltu, bla nifs, tgħidli li qed taħseb fija, u mgħaġġla, u jekk irridx niltaqgħu għall-kafe imma mhux il-ġimgħa d-dieħla, ta’ wara, għax għandha affarijiet important (jiġiefri jien fil-kategorija tal-mhux important?) x’tagħmel, din id-darba giet bil-lajma l-lajma, tant li jien ħsibt li ġħandha xi aħabar ħażina u ħa ttiehli bil-mod il-mod.
“Isma’ Tan,” qaltli, allaviolja taf sew kemm niddejjaq min ma jsejjalix b’ismi sħiħ. “Għandi proposta għalik…”
U jien missejt il-lixka.
“Ara, bi ħsiebni noħroġ magazine… mhux website, tafx, għax dik kulħadd jaf jagħmilha… imma online, ta, għax il-karti jiswew il-flus, u insomma, nibżgħu għall-ambjent. Insomma, naf li int tħobb tikteb ħafna, u għedt bejni u bejn ruħi, li din tidħol għaliha żgur. Tkun l-editur int, u tiddeċiedi fuq il-kontenut, u hekk ikollok exposure tajba, għax int s’issa qatt ma kont editor ta xejn, hux, hlief meta tikkoreġi l-kotba…”
Għażilt li ma nikkummentax fuq l-insult… forsi biex iżjed timmaġina li jien baħbuħa li kont ser nibla’ l-lixka.
“Minuta…” għedtilha. “Jiġifieri int qisek qed tgħidli li tiprretendi li ħa nfittex lil min jikteb, jew nikteb kollox jien, u ma tħallasx sold, la lili, u la lill-oħrajn, biex bħal ikolli l-unur li nissejjaħ editur ta’ publikazzjoni online.”
Is-sarkażmu għadda dritt minn fuq rasha. “Iva, mela. Mhux tajjeb, jew? Ara, jien għedt nagħmluh bl-Ingliż biex anki barra minn Malta nxerrduh. Għandi kuntatti l-Kanada u l-Amerika u Brussels u L-Inghilterra. Nies imlaħħqin, tafx. F’pożizzjonijiet li jistgħu jgħinuk jekk ikollok bżonn xi ħaġa…. Naf kemm int tajba, u tħaffef fix-xogħol. Meta nibda’ nagħmel il-qliegħ mir-riklami, forsi nkun nista’ nħallsek xi ħaġa, imma għall-bidu, taf int, kollox iebes… u l-finanzi ma jtunix li għalissa noħroglok allowance…”
Kieku kien l-ewwel t’April, kont ngħidilha kemm ammirajta li ħarġet bi ħlieqa bħal din. Imma din it-telefonata saret iżjed tard matul is-sena. Bl-edukazzjoni kollha, għedtilha li ma kontx interessata. U staqsietni għaliex – jekk kontx marida, jew jekk kellix ħafna xogħol iehor, jew forsi għax qbiżt is-sittin u qed immajna u nitgħażżen.
Kieku dawn is-sentimenti smajthom fuq xi telenovela, insomma f’xi farsa fis-sala tal-Kappillan, kont ngħid li huma esaġerazzjonijiet.
Ma weġibtx, u staqsietni kienx weħilli ilseini, u li qatt ma kienet immaġinat li jien nagħmel għall-flus, u li kont egoista u qammiela, u li ma kontx naf x’qed nitlef. Kollox f’nifs wieħed. Tgħid, kellha script?
Bil-ħlewwa għedtilha li iva, kont naf x’qed nitlef – exposure mad-dinja kollha… u żidt li madanakollu xorta ma kontx interessata. U sabtitli t-telefon. U waslassli li marret tgħid man-nies li “ma nafx kif saret dik, taħtaf lil kulħadd”…
Din il-problema tax-xogħol bla flus hija endemika, b’mod partikolari għal dawk fl-oqsma kreattivi.
Hawn minn jippretendi li għax il-ħabiba taf tpitter, jew tinnaviga bil-kompjuters, jew tħit, jew issajjar… mela allura, is-servizzi tagħha għandhom ikunu pro bono għal ta’ ġewwa, għax wara kollox, riklam tajjeb ser jagħmlulha, u xorta tkun ser iddabbar il-mijiet tal-€wro mix-xogħol li ser jidħlilha meta tiġri l-kelma.
U biex inkunu għedna kollox, l-istess jiġri meta l-ħabiba tiegħek tkun perit, jew tabib, jew skultur. Jekk ifettilha tibgħatlek ir-rati, jew stima, jew allaħares qatt, il-kont…. ħoll xagħrek u ġib il-mantikilja.
Kull min għandu ħila mistenni li mhux talli jgħallem lill-oħrajn, talli jagħti d-doni tiegħu b’xejn, jekk mhux ukoll iħallas, jew almenu jagħti riġal li jiswa’ kemxa, talli xi ħadd bħal qed iħenn għalih u jxandar ismu u xogħolu fuq ir-radju jew fuq il-gazzetta…
U jekk dak li jkun qed jaħdem, kif kien minn ewl id-dinja, biex jaqla’ xi ħaġa? Mitt darba u elf li min jixtieq juzak (għax dik biss hi l-kelma eżatta) dan jafu sew… imma tkun meqjusa b’tosta jekk titlob dak li għandu jkun tagħha bi dritt. Ngħiduha kif inhi – ħafna minna li għanda xi talent, ikun x’ikun, nagħtu ħafna xogħol b’xejn, kemm jekk nagħmlu dan bħala volontarjat, u kemm jekk għax hekk fettlinlna. Iżda l-punt tiegħi hu li rridu nkunu aħna minn jeddna li nagħmlu dan, mhux li jiġri hekk għax iddeċiedilna xiħadd ieħor.
Qabel ma tassumi li ser tiddobba l-pjanta tad-dar b’xejn, u qabel ma timmaġina l-libsa tat-tieġ meħjuta u lesta, u qabel ma jfettillek tippjana mawra għax mingħalik li l-biljetti ser jingħatawlek b’rigal… itlob il-pjan tan-negozju lil min ser jipprovdilek il-ħaġa, jew is-servizz. Il-ħaddiem ħaqqu ħlasu – u dan il-ħlas jista’ jkun tpartit; jien inħitlek il-purtieri sakemm int tbajjadli l-kamra…
Minn-naħa l-oħra, dawk kollha li jkunu mitluba jagħtu xi servizz, tajjeb li jibgħatu r-rati tagħhom lil kulħadd, anki lil dawk li ma jitolbuhomlomx – u speċjalment lil dawk li jgħidulek “imbagħad narak”. Forsi jkollok tiddeċiedi x’tippreferi – li tmur qabda €wro minn taħt, jew li titlef ħbiberija li ilha mill-klassijiet tal-primarja… jew li turta lil xi ħadd li forsi tiġi bżonnu biex iħokklok dahrek iżjed ‘l quddiem.
U, bilħaqq… dan il-magażine li semmejt, baqa’ qatt ma ħareġ.

Fleur u Lee – Fl-Eġittu!


Miss Marija Cutajar, l-għalliema tal-ħames sena, kienet dejjem tara x’tivvinta biex li-tfal iżżommhom attenti u kuntenti.

Meta ġara li fil-vaganzi tal-Għid, hi marret vaganza żgħira fl-Eġittu mal-familja tagħha. U m’għandniex xi ngħidu, rat kif għamel u vvintat xi ħaġa biex taqsam dak li tgħallmet mat-tfal.

“Illum…” qaltilhom, filwaqt limill-basket ħarġet parċmina rrumblata u fetħitha, “…x’tahsbu li hi din?”

Wiċċ Fkeur u le xegħel. Inzertaw li l-lejl ta’ qabel kienu qed jaraw dolumentarju fuq il-Farawni Tutankhamen – u raqdu f’nfsu… iżda almenu ftakru x’kienet dik li wriethom Miss Marija. “Cartouche!” għajjat Lee, bla ma ħasibha darbtejn. “Dik turina kif kienu jiktbu isimhom in-nies, ghax kull stampa tfisser ħoss jew sillabla…”

“Bravu, Lee!” u hawn, l-għalliema uriethom sit:
fejn iżjed tard kull tifel u tifla tal-klassi kiteb ismu biex jara kif kien jidher bil-hieroglyphics, u qaltilhom li meta isem ikun f’kompartimenti ovali, dan ikun isem ta’ Farauni.

M’għandniex xi ngħidu, il-parċmina tal-apiru kienet waħda biss mill-affarojiet sbieħ li Miss Marija għallmet li-tfal dawrhom.

Qaltilhom kif ix-xmara Nil tgħaddi mid-deżert Saħara. Ta’ kull sena, l-borra ta’ fuq il-muntanji tal-Lvant tal-Afrika, meta jdub isir torrent ta’ ilma li jfawwar għal fuq ix-xtut tax-xmara, u wara li jgħarraqhom u jikskula lura għall-wied, jħalli warajh saff tajn fertili li jgħin fl-argrikoltura tal-pajjiz.

Qaltilhom kif is-socjeta’ antika tal-Eġittu kienet maqsuma fi tlieta; ta’ fuq, tan-nofs, u l-baxxi (il-fqar).  Semmitilhom nies bħal Cleopatra, Nefertiti, Akhenaton u Ptolemy, u qaltilhom li kienu l-Eġizjani li ħolqu kalendarju b’365 ġurnata.

Iżda l-iżjed li ħadu gost it-tfal kien meta mill-qiegħtal-basket ħarġet kaxxa mimlija “Ħobż tal-Palazz”. Dan kienet għamlitu awl il-lejl billi xarrbet il-bieba tal-ħobż fil-għasel, u ħmietu fil-forn.

Iżda l-lezzjoni fuq l-Eġittu tal-qedem ma kienetx spiċċat hemm. Uriethom xi stampi tal-hwejjeġ u l-ġirżirani li kienu jilbsu fl-Egittu tal-qedem, u wara li newwlitilhom folji b’siluwetti tal-Egizjani, stednithom jagħmlu kollaxx biex ilibbsuhom u jżejnuhom, bil-mostri tad-drappijiet u zibeġ li kienet ġabet magħha.

Fleur u Lee u l-Mistieden


It-tfal tal-Klassi ta’ Miss Marija rawha tfesfes xi ħaġa fil-wida ta’ Miss Yvonne, Il-Kap tal-Iskola, ftit qabel ma bdiet l-Assembly. Kif tistgħu taħsbu, bdew jagħtu bil-minkeb lil xulxin; għax il-jum ta’ qabel kienet qaltilhom il-famuża frażi “Ara, tfal…qed jgħaddili ħsieb minn moħħi…”

Iżda għalkemm iffittawha kemm felħu, ma qalet xejn iżjed dak il-hin. Joqomsu, igedwdu, fuq ix-xwiek, daħlu fil-klassi. “Kont qed naħseb…” qalet, wara li ħarġu l-kotba tal-matematika u x-xogħol li kellhom jaħdmu minn fuq d-dar.

“Naf, naf!” qabeż Lee.

“X’taf?” staqsietu.

“Int qed tipprepara xi ħaġa speċjali għall-Milied, għax rajnik tkellem lil Miss Yvonne.”

“Aqtagħha!” alulu Sephora u Marla, f’daqqa, qishom ftehmu. Miss Marija tbissmet. Xi ħmistax qabel, waħda mill-ġirien tagħħa kienet introduċietha ma’ Jérémy Willems, xwejjaħ gustuż mill-Belġju… li nzerta qisu is-Santa Claus li naraw fuq il-katolini. Dan il-kuġin ta’ miser il-ġara kien ġie Malta għall-funeral ta’ ħabib tiegħu, u billi kien penzjonant kien bi ħsiebu jqatta’ sa Marzu hawn Malta.

M’għandniex xi ngħidu, Miss Marija faqqset pjan li kien jikludi fih lil da nil-flien, lit-tfal tall-klassi, u l-Milied, li għalih kellha bżonn il-permess ta’ Miss Yvonne. Kollox inħadem bizzilla, u kull ma qaltilhom lit-tfal kien li kien ser iżurhom xiħadd mill-Belġju, li għall-vaganzi tal-Milied soltu kien imur fix-xalett li kellu fir-reġjun tal-muntanji Korvatunturi, fil-Provinċja ta’ Lapland, fil-Finlandja, imma din is-sena kien ġejn Malta minfolk.

Waslet il-ġurnata li fiha kellu jiġi l-mistieden. It-tfal kollha kienu ġabu rigal biex flimkien imorru bihom f’post fejn kienu qegħdin jinġabru laaffarijiet biex jitqassmu lin-nies fil-bżonn. U… wasal! Kien qsajjar u mbaċċaċ, b’xuxa, daqna u baffi bojod, twal, kollhom nokkli. U… kien liebes ilbies rikk, qisu ta’ isqof, iżda mhux bħal ma nafuhom aħna. It-tfal (u l-istaff tal-iskola!) baqgħu iċċassati. Kien hemm għajjat, daqħq, u agħagħ sħih.

Miss Yvonne ċapċpet idejha darbtejn, kif kienet tagħmel meta tridd tiġbed l-attenzjoni. It tfal siktu, u ħarsu lejha. “Issa bil-mod, immorru fuq il-Private; ara ħadd ma jrid jinduna li qegħdin niċċaqalqu…” U telqu.

Is-Sur Jérémy Willems qabad il-mikrofonu, u bl-Ingliz aċċentat u kemmxejn imkisser, beda’ jgħidilhom: Fil-Belġju għandna żewġ figuri li intom kieku ssejħullhom Santa Claus: St Niklaas u Père Noël. St Niklaas jagħmel żewġ żjarat lit-tfal li jitkellmu bil-Fjamming jew bl-Olandiż; fl-4 ta’ Diċembru, biex jara jekk it-tfal ikunux qagħdu sew matul is-sena, u fis-6 tax-xahar, biex min jixraqlu, jieħu rigal, u min le, isib mazz zkuk. Dawn l-affarijiet jitħallew f’ġewlaq ċkejken, jew żarbun, li jkunu tpoġġew apposta wara l-bieb. Père Noël, u l-ħabib tiegħu Père Fouettard, iżuru lit-tfal li jitkellmu bil-Walloon jew bil-Franċiż. It-tfal ‘bravi’ jingħataw ċikkulata u ħelu, u l-oħrajn, jirċievu jew faħam jew zkuk. It-tfal kienu kwieti kwieti, jisimgħu. Jahel, Julia u Jade, ma kienux qed itaqtqu, bħas-soltu, u Gerard u Zak ma kienu qed jinbxu lil ħadd.

Is-Sur Jérémy Willems żammhom attenti b’dak li kien qed jgħid. Tkellem dwar l-ikel, dwar it-tiżjin, u ċ-ċelebrazzjonijiet tal-Knisja. Meta Miss Yvonne qaltlu li dalwaqt kienu ser jaslu fejn kellhom imorru, tbissem u għallimhom kif jgħidu Il-Milied it-Tajjeb bl-Olandix – Vrolijk Kerstfeest, u bil-Walloon – Djoyeus Noyé. Meta waslu ta’ Qali, daħlu taħt it-tinda l-kbira. U meta l-voluntiera u n-nies li kien hemm raw lis-Sur Willems, malajr ħasbu li kien hemm xi stazzjon tat-televixin qiegħed jiġbed xi filmat. Kien hemm atmosfera tassew sabiħa. It-tfal raddew ir-rigali liż-żewġ tfajliet li kien hemm wara mejda mżejna, u flimkien mal-għalliema żaru l-istands li kien hemm. Wara ħarġu fil-beraħ, jieklu l-kolazzjon, u lagħbu ftit.

X’hin sari l-ħin, reġgħet il-private. Żbarazzaw kollox, u bil-kwiet, telgħu, tnejn tnejn, ferħanin u għajjenin, biex imorru lura fil-klassi. U… gergru xi ftit meeta l-għalliema qalulhom biex, kif kienu għadhom moħħom frisk, jiktbu komponiment fuq din l-avventura! Mur sabbarhom li wara li jinġabru l-komponimenti, kienu ser isiru l-fotokopji tagħhom, u kull tifel u tifla jingħataw il-ktieb bil-qoxra mpittra mis-Sinjura Xerri, li kif nafu hija n-nanna ta’ Sabrina.

Fleur u Lee u l-Vaganzi tas-Sajf


Kienet waslet l-aħħar ġimgħa tal-iskola.

Miss Marija bdiet taqla’ l-armarji. Kellha drawwa ħelwa li kull nhar ta’ Ġimgħa, din tagħti ktieb lit-tfal tal-klassi. Kellhom għażla – jew iżommuh, jew iġibuh lura biex jerġa jitqassam. Taċ-Charity Shops u tal-Bażarijiet kienu drawha, u għalkemm ma kienux jgħidulha biex ma tħossiex tistħi, jien naf li kieku jerfgħulha l-isbaħ kotba li jidħlu.

Bir-riħ t’hekk, saħansitra Olivia u Marla kienu saru jħobbu jaqraw – fejn qabel jekk imissu ktieb, dan kien ikun biss biex jaraw l-istampi. M’għandniex xi ngħidu, fl-armarju kien għad hemm ħafna kotba, u Miss Marija, bħas-soltu, kelha pjan f’moħħa.

“Ara tfal…” qalet, kif kienet tagħmel is-soltu. “Tridux intikom ftit ħomework għas-Sajf?”
Inħallikom taħsbu x’pandemonju qam. “Baqax, ukoll!” qal Zak. “Mela s-sajf qiegħed biex niktbu u nistudjaw?” “Jien irrid immur ngħin lin-nanna Doris fil-ħanut!” ġabet skuża Romina.”Jien sejra man-nanna l-Italja…” ftaħret Sabrina.

“…u kieku biss…” qabeż Lee, “sen’oħra ma nkunux f’din il-klassi, allura x’hinu l-iskop li nagħmlulek il-ħomework, Miss Marija?”

“U ajma, mela l-ħomework għall-Miss tagħmlu, kemm int kiesaħ!” widddbitu Josefa.

“Hawn donni qajjimt battalja,” tbissmet l-għalliema. Imma li kelli f’moħħi ma kienx li intm tagħmlu xi pataflun somom, tafux. Jie kont ser inqassam il-kotba li baqa’ – għal minirid, ta’, mhux għal min ma jridx…” u hawn hemżet lil Josefa, “u min irid,jagħmel qisu scrapbook. Iktbu, pinġu, waħħlu l-istampi… insomma, intom tafu. Imbagħad, meta tibdew is-sena, naraw…”

“X’naraw, Miss?” staqsa James, bħas-soltu l-iżjed wieħed kurjuż. “Min jistenna’, jithenna!” Nibitu Fleur, li kienet diġa f’moħħa mliet fajl daqs illum u għada bl-immaġinazzjoni fertili tagħha.”

“Insomma, Miss, jien kieku rrid il-kotba kollha li ngħandhom x’jaqsmu mal-karozzi!” qal Clint. Għax kieku, nieħu r-ritratti u nwaħħalhom fl-iscrapbook ukoll, u…” “Qabeż hu,” interrompih Christian. “Mela aħn’hekk, naqbdu u nikkmandaw x’għandha tagħmel Miss Marija?”

U Miss Marija tbissmet, ġhax wara kollox, hi li riedet kien li tiqajjem diskussjoni.
“Kif kont qed ngħid, intom – insomma, min irid minkom – jagħmel scrapbook. Jew ġurnal, qisu djarju. Fih tiktbu xi storja li tivvintaw, jew dwar xi ktieb li tkunu qrajtu. Forsi tpinġu xi ħaġa. Forsi twaħħlu xi biljett tal-karozza tal-linja, jew xi weraq niexfa li tkunu sibtu barra. Twaħħlux weraq friski għax jimmuffaw. Forsi tiddiskrivu lil xi ħadd li tafu sew, jew xi qattus li taraw fit-triq tagħkom, u tpinġuh ukoll. Qiskom qed tagħmlu magazine, insomma. X’taħsbu? U bilħaqq, jekk hawn min minkom imur xi Summer Club, jew tgħinu f’xi volontarjat ma’ ħutkom il-kbar jew mal-ġenituri, iktbu dwar dan, ukoll…


U għandi nifhem li ser tgħinu iżjed milli tagħmlu bħalissa, fil-faċendi tad-dar… hemm, ħa, għandkom ħafna dwar xiex tiktbu! Anki min isiefer, bħal ma ħa tagħmel Sabrina, jista’ jikteb dwar i-pajjiż fejn ikun mar. Imma jekk ser tużaw xi ritratti, qisu li dejjem tieħdu permess mingħand i-kbar qabel ma twaħħluhom fl-iscrapbook.”

Rosiane, fejn rari kienet titkellem, qqalet li dik kienet tassew ideja tajba, imma Jade tkerrħet xi ftit, għax għliha s-sajf kien jiġi biex titla’ tas-Sannat għand in-nanna Dulcie, u tgħaddi sajf qisha qegħda l-ġenna.

“Issa, min irid xi ktieb jew tnejn, jew anki iżjed, jgħolli jdejh… Naf li dan is-sajf ma tistgħux tmorru għand in-nanna ta’ Sabrina għax ser tkun imseifra, imma forsi għal darba issibu x’imkien ieħor fejn tiltaqgħu… Tafux, tfal, li jien għad għandi l-iscrapbooks li kont nagħmel ta’ kull sajf? Meta tikbru, taf kemm tieħdu gost iġġeddu l-memorji?”
Kważi t-tfal kollha għollew id waħda – u kien hemm min għollihom it-tnejn. Miss Marija stenniet ftit, biex tara x’ser jagħmlu. “Imma Miss…” qalet Georgeanne, “nistgħu nagħmlu scrapbook jekk ma nkunux ħadna kotba?”

“U żgur li iva. Il-kotba toħduhom biex jekk ma jkollkomx fuqhiex tiktbu, itukom xi idejat…” U Georgeanne u Karen għollew idejhom.

Miss Marija sejħet lit-tfal. Għamlu serbut sal-armarju fejn kien hemm il-kotba, u għall-ewwel, kulħadd ħa wieħed, biex jaraw kemm kienu ħa jservu.Li ġara kien li x’ħin dawk li baqgħu bilqegħda raw l-entużjażmu ta’ sħabhom, huma wkoll qamu għal sehmhom.
U bħad-dqiq u ż-żejt tal-armla li temgħet lil Elija, dawn il-kotba qishom bdew joktru, u kien hemm biżżejjed biex kulħadd jieħu milli inqas tnejn.

Miss Marija kienet bi ħsiebha tagħti rigal żgħir lil kull min juriha imqar erba’ karti f’folder… imma għalissa, ma ngħidulhom xejn lit-tfal tal-klassi tagħha, biex jieħdu sorpriża ħelwa.

Kos, hux, min jaf li kieku kelkom tagħmlu scrapbook intom ukoll?

Fleur u Lee u t-Torta

“Għandi ġuħ ta’ nagħma,” qal Lee, filwaqt li għorok żaqqu.

“U ajma, int!” qaltlu n-nanna Kitty. “Għajnejk ikbar minn żaqqek. Kumbinazzjoni il-bieraħ għamilt torta tal-lampuki, u billi kont naf li ġejjin intom, għamiltha fid-dixx il-kbir biex jibqgħali biċċa għalikom.”

“Isma’ imma għadu l-ħin, tafux.Illum suppost sawm.Naf li aħna għadna żgħar, imma billi nagħmlu sagrifiċċju…” qalet Fleur, li dejjem kienet tkun trid kollox kif imiss. “Mela fil-ħdax ta’ filgħodu ħin li tiekol it-torta?”

“Anqas li ser taqa’ d-dinja jekk insaħħanlu biċċa issa, ruħi qalbi!” tbissmet in-nanna. U fis marret fil-kċina biex tħejji l-platt għal Lee.

“Mur ara, billi niekol issa flok f’nofsinhar. Ma nafx għalfejn dejjem tfittex ix-xagħra fl-għaġina int, ajma…” qal lil oħtu, u għajjibha.

Mill-kċina bdiet ġejja riħa taqsam il-qlub. “Trid nagħasrlek żewġ larinġiet?” staqsietu n-nanna, meta qagħad mal-mejda. “Ma ngħidlekx le…” qal it-tifel. Fleur kompliet taparsi taqra, imma xtaqet li kienet gidmet ilsienha u ma qalet xejn dwar il-ħinijiet li fihom suppost isir l-ikel, għax ir-riħa fetħitilha l-aptit.

When I Die

Reach for the stars or cry for the moon?
I’ve raced after memories on the yielding sand.
Later is a lie.
It is not easy to catch a butterfly in a net,
But if I sit still, holding out my hand, palm up,
He will come to rest, folding his wings.
And that is the way I catch dreams bare-handed.
I grasp a handful of sand
And it will flow to flee the force of my pressure.
I cup my hand and it will slowly settle, as always,
In the cusp of my palm.
And that, too, is my way to catch dreams barehanded.
I beat the drums and clash the cymbals;
Making enough noise to thwart my thinking.
Then, I am silent; I take pleasure in the differentiation.
And I catch my dreams bare-handed.
Remember this of me, and smile.

Mirror, Mirror…

“It’s all done with smoke and mirrors, you know. It’s like what Death says – that eating curry is like biting a red hot ice cube…”

“Don’t you begin with the literary references now. I’ve had it up to here already. I wish I’d never signed up for extra classes.”

“The problem with you, kiddo, is that you take too much for granted.  You thought it would be a cinch to earn writing credits rather than attending classes full-time… and oh, how good it feels to say ‘I told you so’!”

Hadrian scratched his scalp. His psoriasis was driving him crazy – he assumed it was the stress of having to write 1,000 words a day on random topics meted out by even more random dons whose mission in life was to make their students miserable.

That morning, Stinky (he was the poster boy for B.O.) had nonchalantly tossed an ‘Oh, by the way, ladies and gentlemen, your topic for tomorrow is The Smell of Mirrors,’ on his way out of the lecture room.

“You can’t write 1,000 words on…”

 “What you mean is that nobody ever bothered to find out what mirrors smell like,” his mother interjected.  “I’m sure Stinky was oh-so-casually informing you all that he knows what his nickname is.  And maybe he wishes you all tried to smell the said mirrors, so that he could thump you in the back of your collective head in one fell swoop, while you did so.”

 “Ma, I did smell the mirror. It smells of …glasses that have been wiped with a smelly dishcloth… and… fear…”

“There you go. You have enough notions there to write a thesis, go figure a mere 1000 words.”

“If I peel the spuds and hose down the driveway…?”

“No.  The essay is yours to write.  But remember that echoes reflect sound.”

“Say what?”

“You heard me first time, kiddo.  You really must pull your socks up. Read between my lines. ”

Hadrian had thought his offer to do the chores while his ma compiled his essay would be greeted with gratitude. After all, his mother was a writer – she could drum up a book in a week if she found a charitable cause to which to donate the proceeds, albeit secretly. Se was constantly on the best-seller lists, and her cast of characters was mentioned in everyday speech by ordinary people… yes, she was that famous.

Indeed, Hadrian had inherited her knack for words.  His secondary school teachers could not quote believe he did his own homework… so they actually tested him at school, to see if the quality of his work would be consistent with that which he brought from home… and it was.  

Yet, he was bone lazy. He wrote essays for his classmates, according to their level of proficiency, just so that he could copy their French and Mathematics homework exercises, on the school bus…

“I would compare and contrast mirrors and smell… but I don’t want to… A mirror does have a smell, however vague… and a smell mirrors something else deep within the primordial memories of a person…”

Yes, once the verbal gymnastics had begun, he could not help himself. Hadrian’s fingers took on a life of their own as they flew across the keyboard. “The mirror is the fundamental entity that mirrors the soul, more deeply than the eyes are said to do. Its smell evokes deep within us the elemental feelings of the womb, taking is back to the time when consciousness was not yet achieved – or, even, achievable…”

This, and more, he composed, as sweat trickled down his forehead and dribbled down his chin.

“The world outside seems to mirror our innermost thoughts – and the smell of the world intrudes on our psyche to make us react in ways we never thought we would, could, or should…”

He remembered reading somewhere that mirrors are actually super-cooled liquids rather than solids, or at least,  amorphous solids… something like pitch… and expanded upon this bit of  thermodynamic fiction into a couple of sentences, and mentioned the reeking dishcloth.

Hadrian was hungry, and sleepy, and had a crick in his neck. He was 400 words short of his word-count… when he suddenly remembered the television trope about how evil twins or other malefactors come out of mirrors. That was good for another 167 words, because he added that the smell of sulphur usually preceded the apparitions.

Hadrian sniffed the air. He sensed, more than saw, movement in the dressing table mirror…