Centenary of the Easter Rising: Easter Monday, 24 April 1916

By Bill Keeth
Looking back a hundred years & more, courtesy of half a dozen books and a DVD
If, nowadays, an armed force of determined defenders made a stand against an infinitely stronger army of occupation there would be an almighty furore worldwide. Questions would be asked in the House. Representations would be made to the United Nations.  Presidents Obama and Putin would lose no time at all in despatching trained mediators to the trouble spot. Political pundits would chunter on interminably within the hermetically-sealed newsrooms of Sky, the BBC and ITN.
This is not the way it was in Dublin on the morning of Easter Monday, 1916, when fewer than 900 men and women secured various strategically-located public buildings around the city.  Chief amongst these was the General Post Office, from the roof of which a republican flag was soon flying. Then, at a few minutes past noon, Patrick Pearse (teacher, lawyer, romantically-inclined patriot and poet) strode through the front entrance towards Sackville Street (now O’Connell Street), where he proceeded to read to an audience of bemused onlookers the Proclamation of the Irish Republic.
A troop of lancers bore the brunt of the first fusillade of shots.
With its being a Bank Holiday there were more insurgents than British soldiery at this point, though reinforcements soon arrived. Then the city of Dublin became a war zone for just short of a week, at which point the same Patrick Pearse agreed to British demands for an unconditional surrender.
Retribution was fast and furious.
During the first two weeks in May a total of 15 rebels were executed by firing squad. Patrick Pearse was amongst them (whistling as he went, according to one British source); his brother Willie, too (guilty of being Patrick’s brother); with labour leader James Connolly last of all (propped up on a wooden chair on account of wounds sustained).
Outrage ensued throughout the land – not least amongst the more circumspect elements directing the British war effort. Because 200,000 native Irishmen had already enlisted in the ranks and widespread mutiny was feared. Meanwhile, with Eamon de Valera, Michael Collins and other leading insurgents just temporarily gaoled the stage was set for a more extended conflict.
Sadly, so many aspects of the Easter Rising combine to mar its remembrance – the use of dum dum bullets by some of the insurgents, contrary to the Hague Convention; the British Army’s resort to courts martial of a type illegal under the Geneva Convention; the shameful pro-military pronouncements of Cardinal Logue and the owner of the Irish Independent at a time when James Connolly’s fate still hung in the balance. Worst of all by far, though, is surely the number of civilians who perished – 148 in all, with pensioners and young children amongst them. So, in preference to passing rash judgment on the events of 1916 it might make more sense to consider them as part of a wider overview of Irish history, courtesy of  a half dozen books and one DVD, as follows. (See Amazon and eBay.)
A trilogy of historical fiction by Walter Macken …
Seek the Fair Land (about Cromwell in Ireland in the Seventeenth Century)
The Silent People (about the Great Famine of 1845)
The Scorching Wind (about the Irish War of Independence, 1919-21)
Strumpet City by James Plunkett (fiction about the lock-out of 1913)
Interface: Ireland by Kevin Dowling (fiction about the conflict in Northern Ireland)
Ireland, a History by Robert Kee (non-fiction, a fully illustrated accompaniment to the authoritative BBC/RTE series of the same name)
Finally, the aforementioned DVD is Michael Collins, starring Liam Neeson and Julia Roberts.
There is an undeniably epic quality to this film due in part to its outstanding cast, with Charles Dance as a G Man and recently-deceased Alan Rickman as a sibilantly snakelike Eamon de Valera. Courtesy of director, Neil Jordan, too, Liam Neeson comes into his own here to the extent that it is quite impossible to imagine any other living actor in the title role.
Incidentally, author Anthony Burgess thought well of Kevin Dowling’s novel, Interface: Ireland – and said as much, too. Well do I recall a press photograph of the two Mancunians in Monaco when the book was first published in 1979. Sadly, the partisanship endemic to those troubled times has so far denied Kevin Dowling’s masterpiece its proper place in literary history. Nevertheless, this is one author who was ever appropriately lauded at my family’s Blackley address. Indeed, how could it be otherwise when his mother had served as midwife to mine during pregnancies plural in number?
(18 May 2016)

See Amazon Kindle books recently published by Bill Keeth: Every Street in Manchester, Manchester 9, Write It Self-Publish It Sell It, Boost Your Pocket Money and Pension

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Are You A Writer Who Doesn’t Write?

by Rohi Shetty

Are you afflicted by “writer’s block” or Resistance or procrastination?

And what’s your excuse?

Stuff it!

You know that if you really wanted to write, you would. So what is actually going on here? Why do you often do everything but write?

In a recent interview with Marie Forleo, Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, lists five reasons why you may want to be a writer but don’t write as often or as much as you want to.

  1. Fear of failure

This is the biggest cause of writer’s block. Gilbert says: “Irrespective of what we say, the real reason we don’t move creatively ahead is always and only fear.”

All of us are afraid of criticism and rejection. We feel we don’t have the talent and every time we sit down to write, we feel like an imposter.

Though fear is necessary and protects us from actual physical danger, it is the biggest foe of creativity. That’s because fear is nervy and can’t tell the difference between real danger and pseudo-danger.

The good news is that we don’t need to overcome fear. We only need to acknowledge it and not let it paralyze us when we write.

Fear often takes on the insidious form of the internal critic. When you write, it’s okay to let fear look over your shoulder, but don’t let it stop you or influence your creative choices.

Action step: Start with a “a shitty first draft.” Never stop to think or edit while writing. Write fast as if your creative life depends on it. It does.

  1. Perfectionism paralysis

Perfectionism is fear in disguise, the perfect way to sabotage yourself. Gilbert calls it fear in high heels, a serial killer that kills your dreams and aspirations.

Perfectionism not only stops you from completing your work, it stops you from starting because you know that your work is not going to be perfect. So why bother!

Action step: It’s not your responsibility to be a great or successful writer; your own responsibility is to show up and write and persist in the face of difficulty and doubts. And to have fun along the way.

  1. Lofty Motivation

If your primary motivation for writing is to change the world, that’s too heavy a cross to bear not only for you but also for your readers.

Don’t be the person C.S. Lewis had in mind when he said, “She’s the sort of woman who lives for others—you can always tell the others by their hunted expression.”

In the words of Elizabeth Gilbert: “People would say thank you so much for your book, Eat, Pray, Love; it really helped me. But I didn’t sit down to write that book saying, ‘It’s high time I changed people’s lives.’

“That book was about me just looking for grace, looking for resurrection in my own life, and then accidentally, because I followed my own curiosity, trusted my creativity, made the work I wanted to make, I ended up helping people. That’s a side effect that can happen in the end.

“So if you want to help, just love what you’re doing and bring love to it. Whatever the thing is that you love, you’ll start to radiate this thing that people will want to be near and it will make them better and that’s the very kindest thing you can do for your community.”

Action step: Write because you love to write, because it gives you joy without bothering too much about the rewards or consequences of your work.

  1. Monetization woes

Here’s the biggest reason why you are stressed, depressed and frustrated as a writer. It’s because you feel that you are not a legitimate writer unless and until you earn a living from your writing.

Here’s how Gilbert dealt with this burden: “I made a contract with writing when I was 15 years old. I lit my candle and made my deal with the universe and said, ‘I’m going to be a writer for the rest of my life.’

“One of the promises I made to the work was ‘I’ll never ask you to support me financially; I will support both of us. I am a resourceful person and my parents raised me to be a worker. I’ll do whatever I have to do to pay the rent and you and I will have a love affair on the side of this that is not contingent on monetization.’”

Gilbert worked as a waitress, a bartender, a cook, and so on for the first few years of her writing career before she was published.

Action step: Don’t expect to make a living from your writing. Don’t let material necessity steal the joy you get from your creativity. Don’t quit your job just yet.

  1. Shit sandwich

Here’s the question you must ask yourself regularly, if not daily:

Do I love writing so much that I don’t mind eating the shit sandwich that comes with it?

This shit sandwich comes in different forms. For Gilbert, it was not being published for the first seven years of her writing career. Nowadays, it’s a negative book review in a prominent newspaper or an awful comment on Twitter. She asks herself: “Do you still want to do this thing?” And the answer, as always, is a resounding “Yes!”

Action step: So what’s your biggest shit sandwich?

  • Yet another rejection letter?
  • No comments on your latest blog post?
  • Snarky comments about your latest story?

Ask yourself if writing is still what you want you to do in spite of it all.

The bottom-line is this:

Treat your writing as a journey, an adventure, a love affair. Because it is.


What Elizabeth Gilbert Wants You to Know About Big Magic (video)

By the way:

A few days, I ran a free promotion of all my Kindle books. If you missed it, no worries. You can download all the eight PDF files here for free: Rohi’s Kindle Books.

And if you like any of them, I would really appreciate it if you could post a review on Amazon. Thanks in advance.

Join the conversation:

Which among these five writing blocks is your biggest obstacle?

Let us know in the comments below.

(18 May 2016 2016)

Rohi Shetty has published nine Kindle books and blogs about writing and digital publication at rohishetty.com.

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A to Z Challenge: Reflections

When I signed up for the challenge, I remember taking the word ‘Challenge’ seriously. I wanted to know if I had what my mother calls ‘stick-to-it-tiveness’. Was I ready, able and willing to complete this challenge? Could I do it? Would I flounder half-way? Should I give up even before I’d started? In effect, I challenged myself.

I also knew that preparation was the key here; I started planning things early. Throughout March, I did what I called a ‘trial run’. Each day, I would write out a story about the alphabet. For about 18 stories or so, I could produce new material. Of all the new material I produced, my favourite is still ‘A for Ammachi’. I loved that story and judging by the many comments I received, so did others.

For the rest, however, I struggled and wondered how I was going to cope. I spent much of March worrying about these ‘gaps’. How was I going to come up with material that would fit a particular alphabet?

Having identified this problem, I refused to compound it by fixing a theme to work with. I decided to be free and easy.

As April approached, I fretted. I still didn’t have these ‘gaps’ filled. Then, a few days into the challenge, I realised something when visiting other people’s blogs. They were using material that they’d published elsewhere. This gave me an idea. I dug up some stories that hadn’t seen the light of day in many, many years and worked on them. The story for ‘Y’ was a perfect example. ‘Yamuna’ was not the name of the original character in the story. However, to fit the ‘gap’, I changed the character’s name and made it fit.

In some cases, I had to have courage to share what I’d never shared before. The one for ‘W’ is an example. This was the first time I was sharing any of my paintings of Ladoo.

What I enjoyed was the camaraderie of other people who had taken up this challenge. I enjoyed vising other people’s websites and reading their stories. And I was sad when some of them who had such potential gave up half-way. I’ve made new acquaintances and I hope that we will all continue to keep in contact.

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Four Steps to Self-Publishing Superstardom

by Rohi Shetty

Have you always wanted to publish a book on Amazon but not sure what to write about?

Do you have a good idea for a book but don’t know how to get started.

Or have you started writing your first book but are not sure how and where to publish it?

Digital publishing is a great way to turn your passion for writing into a viable business and make a comfortable living income from it.

Self publishing is a proven business model if you treat it like a business. This means that you have to write, publish and promote your e-books on Amazon Kindle and other platforms such as Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, etc. Once you have published a few e-books, you can sell print on demand books, audio books, online courses, and even membership sites.

The foundation of the self-publication business model is to find an audience who are interested in a specific topic, write books for those readers, and build a platform on serving their needs.

You can do this by using a simple 3Ps framework: passion, personal experience and profit.

Here are the four steps to go from newbie writer to successful digital publisher:

  1. Brainstorm or Mind Map your passions and personal experiences
  1. List everything that interests you including your hobbies, favorite activities, favorite books, favorite movies, favorite TV programs and so on.
  2. List all your experiences and skills. What skills have you used to help others? What problems and challenges have you overcome in the past? What big transitions or upheavals have you experienced?
  3. List some of the interesting stories or inspiring experiences that you could share with others.
  4. What are you eager to learn more about?

Shortlist the best five ideas, which you would enjoy writing about, and select the best among them for the next step.

  1. Match your topic to a mass market

The four biggest markets are:

  1. Money
  2. Health
  3. Relationships
  4. Self-Development

Which among your ideas fit in these major topics and / or their sub-topics?

For example, the self-development niche includes meditation, positive psychology, time management, emotional intelligence, habits, goal-setting, and so on.

Select one or two sub-topics that also fit your three criteria: passion, profit, and personal experience.

  1. The 50 Topic test

Best-selling authors Steve Smith and Barrie Davenport suggest that you set out an hour or longer and brainstorm all the potential book ideas for your selected topic. You can do this exercise as a mind map or in free-writing mode.

You should be able to list at least 50 potential book ideas if you plan to become an authority publisher in your selected topic.

  1. Research the market

This is a crucial step on the path of self-publishing success and it may take a few weeks. Don’t skimp on it because it can make the difference between success and failure.

Make sure you include websites and products related to your selected topic in your research. Your research should include:

  1. Google: besides simple search, also search for “topic” + blog, “topic” + forum, “topic” + e-book, and so on.
  2. Google’s Keyword Planner for keyword research
  3. Facebook groups
  4. Book Promotion sites such as Buck Books, BookBub, etc.
  5. Twitter
  6. YouTube
  7. E-book platforms such as Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, and Apple iBooks
  8. Online learning platforms like Udemy, Teachable, Skillshare, etc.
  9. Other sites such as Quora, Reddit, Alexa, Ask and so on.

Compile and organize all your findings in a spreadsheet or in Evernote.

The final step is to look for books on Amazon with Bestseller Rank of 30,000 or less.

Roughly speaking, books with Amazon Bestseller Rank of 30,000 make about five book sales a day or about $300 per month. The lower the rank number, the greater the book sales. Also read the book reviews, which will give valuable ideas for your books.

Free Resources:

Buck Books

Free promotions, great bargains and a super publication research tool to check out hot new book releases and the best book cover designs.

Breakthrough Bestseller video series

Free three-video training series about the authority self-publishing method used by Steve Scott and Barrie Davenport

My Amazon Author Page

All of my Kindle books are available for free download from 3rd May to 7th May 2016, including How King Goldwish Became King Goldheart: An Illustrated Fairy Tale for Children (which is my personal favorite).

Join the conversation.

How do you plan the above four-step strategy to publish your first book?

Let us know in the comments below.

(4 May 2016 2016)

Rohi Shetty has published nine Kindle books and all his book are available for free download from 3rd to 7th May 2016. To get free review copies of all his books, please sign up here.

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Part 1 of Introduction to Big Pains, Small Pains…LetMyPeopleGo

The Story of Pains – Part 1


Pain is a part of life. Sometimes it’s a big part, and sometimes it isn’t, but either way, it’s a part of the big puzzle, the deep music, the great game. Pain does two things: It teaches you, tells you that you’re alive. Then it passes away and leaves you changed. It leaves you wiser, sometimes. Sometimes it leaves you stronger. Either way, pain leaves its mark, and everything important that will ever happen to you in life is going to involve it in one degree or another.” ― Jim Butcher

What’s your pain?
Brave Boy speaks…‘Corruption must die’

Ago Palace Way
2:15 PM

Two young boys strolled out of home one hot afternoon in search of cold drinks and walked into trouble. Danger was looming nearby but they were unaware of it. The weather was harsh and electric power outage made home uncomfortable. The unbearable heat drove them out to refresh.

As they stepped out, the scorching sun hit them in the face. “My God, it is even hotter outside,” cried Jordan as he cupped his left hand over his eyes to shield it from sun rays. “Most shops in this neighborhood have not had power supply in the last two days. Sure we can get cold drinks around here?” he asked his junior brother walking beside him.

“We just have to search well,” said Jethro. “It’s bad enough to roast under this heat and you can’t chill.”

They checked all the shops in a side street for anything cold but drew blank. No cold drink.

“Let’s go home,” Jordan said weakly, wiping sweat from his forehead. I’m dehydrated and losing strength.”

“You give up easily,” Jethro replied. “Quitters don’t win. Let’s check the other street. I think some shops there chill drinks with ice blocks.”

“Am not going there,” Jordan protested. “That place is a slum infested with junkies and street urchins.”

“Let’s go,” Jethro persisted pulling his senior brother along. “We may just get what we want there. If not we check my friend who lives there. He may surprise us with something cold.”

Jordan walked languidly behind him as they sauntered into an adjoining street, their skins burning under the scorching sun. The area was dotted by junk and refuse heaps that let out pungent smell. Shanties there were crammed with poor people while blocked gutters by the roadside with stagnant water bred mosquitoes. Naked children with protruding tummies at play shrieked as they ran up and down the street.

The sight of the place stunned the boys who reacted to the stench by closing their noses with handkerchiefs. They were feeling hot and dry, pushed by heat and thirst to discover squalor amidst plenty. But they got what they wanted.

They bought cold soft drinks, looked for a shade to relax, spotted an uncompleted bungalow that provided shelter, walked in there and sat down to chill. At last they got something to cool off with though they were burning from another heat, this time not from weather.

As university students, they were forced to stay at home for six months at a stretch by the on-going university teachers strike. There was no end to this siege by the dons and students had become frustrated and bored. They were wearied of staying idle when they should be in school. The two brothers sipped their drinks as they conversed in low tones about their stress and travails out of school.

But danger loomed. Unknown to them, the spot where they sat is a notorious den of hoodlums who attack residents and rape girls at night. They got a hint when a child who passed by alerted them to leave the dangerous place immediately. They were yet to interpret the message when three rough looking men swooped on them menacingly. The young boys fled and attempted to jump over a wall.

“Don’t run,” the intruders cautioned. “We are the local vigilante group who maintain security in this area. We want to know who you are.”

Jordan and Jethro returned to their drinks looking suspiciously at the men.

“We are university students living nearby,” they explained. “We just came here to cool off. The heat is too much.”

The vigilante pounced on the boys. A crushing blow hit Jordan’s jaw knocking him down instantly. A molar tooth fell off as his gum started bleeding. Jethro raised alarm but no one intervened. Three rapid slaps on his cheeks by rough hands shut his mouth.

The men beat the boys up, whipped them into submission with leather canes, and accused them of robbery in the area. They bundled the boys onto two motorbikes and sped off to the area police station. Getting there, they handed them over to cops as robbers terrorizing their area. They dropped a bag of marijuana with the officer on duty as evidence of breach of law.

The cops quickly put the boys behind the counter and forced them to write a statement and admit ownership of the hard drug popularly called weed in Nigeria. Another opportunity had come for them to make quick money. They were obviously pleased with the new catch but masked their excitement with stern faces. The battered boys were stupefied.

“Jet, call Daddy,” Jordan instructed his brother as he wiped off blood dripping from his mouth.

The call came through just as Ozoemena rushed into his office. He was in a hurry to knock out a press release for his client about to launch a new food product. His job as media consultant demanded quick roll out of releases he distributes to media houses same day. He was under pressure to deliver this day for the news to appear following day in newspapers.

But the Tip Sheet about the yoghurt drink did not show its vitamin content. As he reached for his mobile phone to call his client, it rang. Jethro was on the line.

“What’s it Jet?  I can hear your heavy breathing.”

“Dad, me and Jordan are detained at the 2nd Container Police station,” he said in a cool voice.

“What on earth for?” Ozo asked forgetting the press release.

“We went to Babylon Street to take cold drinks. The weather was harsh; no power at home.  After buying, we saw an uncompleted building nearby, walked in there and sat down to drink. In a jiffy, some rough guys parading as local vigilante called us robbers, beat us up, planted hard drugs on us and took us to the police station. Jordan is bleeding. They knocked off a tooth.”

“Take it easy boys. I’m coming there now,” Ozo said and hung up.

The news threw him off balance but he tried to control his grating nerves. He gritted his teeth as he pumped his left palm with his right fist. ‘My JJs are robbers and hard drug smokers? Not possible. They may smoke weed but are certainly not robbers,’ he said to himself. He delegated the PR writing to his manager and made frantic calls to his wife and junior brother. The alarm was out. The two rushed to the police station.

“Why this pain now?” He swore as he sped off to the station. “This is one of the fall outs of students staying at home instead of school.”

Ozo had heard of the police-vigilante collabo in the city to check crime. But it’s been turned into an extortion racket run by greedy vigilante bosses. They collude with police chiefs to sustain inflow of steady cash they spend on alcohol and drugs. They do it this way: Vigilante men on patrol pounce on suspect boys accuse them of petty crimes and robbery, rough-handle them, arrest and hand them over to cops with a demand for their share of cash-for-freedom.

The cops raise the stakes at the station and amplify the supposed offence. They create tension to force anxious parents to part with money for release of their bruised children. Racket members share the booty and search for a new set of victims. It’s a vicious cycle that yields cool cash no questions asked. Extortion rings torment people unchecked Ozo reasoned in pains. He will be forced to pay no doubt about it. He managed to meander through the Lagos traffic jam and thirty minutes later, arrived at the police station, 5pm.

“Who is this vigilante and what right do they have to beat up and arrest my children,” he thundered on arrival.

He could not reach his sons who looked forlorn as they sat behind the police counter. But the police hawks there told him to cool it because the evidence is real. They would charge the boys to court next day. A cop advised him to take it easy as the racket is very active. They bring victims to the station every other day and get returns. It’s a vicious cycle laden with pains for victims and families.

“Go and explain to the Police Chief. He may listen to you,” he told Ozo. That was not to be. …


(4 May 2016)

Eric Okeke is a CSR specialist and strategist in brand marketing and mobilizing support for corporate and social issues. He is the brand storyteller, writer, speaker, author and media consultant, with training in chemistry, marketing and business journalism. As a business writer and speaker, he has recorded a good career in media consulting and journalism which he started at The Guardian, Lagos.

Eric’s communications niche is storytelling which he is now using to empower professionals and improve business returns in Nigeria. Email him at, ericokeke@gmail.com, ericosamba@yahoo.com Tel +234 803 301 4609; +234 817 301 4609.

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Z for Zebra

ZThere was a story in the papers about a runaway zebra that died after a golf course chase. Police chased this runaway zebra from Tokyo zoo across a golf course. It collapsed in water trap on the golf course and died.

It’s such a sad story, but I could not help be amused by one aspect of this story: this failed attempt to recapture the creature came a month after the zoo held a drill practising this very eventuality.

The reporter wrote as follows: ‘Every year, a zookeeper dresses as an animal and stages an escae, giving colleagues the opportunity to hone their techniques. This year’s creature was a zebra which was successfully collared and returned to its pen. But as if to prove that practice does not always make perfect, this week’s real life response did not quite go to plan.’ (Runaway zebra dies)

Whenever I hear the word zebra, I’m always reminded of a couple I knew in University. They were my mother’s friends: Aunty Saras and Uncle Gordon.

It was the summer of 1996 and I was in Aberystwyth visiting some friends. I decided to rent a car and do a cross-country journey to Kent. On the way back, I decided to stop in Ilfracombe, Derbyshire and visit Aunty Saras and Uncle Gordon.

Keep in mind that there was no GPS and the mobile phone wasn’t going to work on some country roads. And Aunty Saras and Uncle Gordon’s house in Ilfracombe wasn’t exactly easily visible on a map. Duly warned, I was prepared to get lost. And being lost was exactly what happened. I’ll never forget driving up a slope in a very small lane and being comforted when I saw a small car in the rear-view mirror. Then, it disappeared and I was alone. Petrified, I reversed all the way down this lane until I had enough space to make a U-Turn.

To this day, I have no idea how I found Aunty Saras’s house, but find it I did. After I’d settled into a very comfortable room, we started talking about their ‘old’ times. Theirs was quite the love story.

From what I can remember, in the 1960s, she was the warden of Malaya Hall in Bryanston Square in London. She came in contact with many Malaysians. As a testament to her popularity, whenever she visited Malaysia, she was always welcomed into the homes of some of the most high-ranking people in the land.

By the time she met Uncle Gordon, she was already in the late 30s and had a child from her first marriage. Nonetheless, they fell in love and, she divorced and they married.

Uncle Gordon was no ordinary Englishman. He had served in Malaya (I have no clue as what, but I presume it had something to do with the war) and was an engineer by profession. He surprised me by being one of the few Englishmen I knew who loved everything about Malaysia.

They had a happy life together and travelled a lot. The thing about Aunty Saras was that there was never a journey where there wasn’t some sort of drama. On their African safari, she was the one who suffered from a rare mosquito bite. When she came one to Malaysia, she fell and injured her leg. There was the time she walked into a department store and something fell on her. Still, they were a jolly couple.

As for zebras, she told me a story that I’ve recalled each time someone deliberately insults me … like in my Xavier Ealy story. Aunty Saras, being Tamil, was, naturally, dark. Uncle Gordon, being English, was very white. I was describing to her some of the racial slurs that I had to endure from time to time in Aberystwyth.

Aunty Saras laughed and said, “You have no idea how close to the family racism can get. When Uncle and I first married, we had some funny things said to us. Then, when I was pregnant, one of his relatives came up to me and asked, ‘Will this baby be like a zebra? Will it have stripes?’”

How does one respond to something like that?

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Y for Yamuna, the Brahmin

Y“Look at her now. Nobody wants to be her friend,” said sixty-year-old Suresh.

Having inherited her father’s strong will, Avanti wasn’t going to back down in this all-day argument father and daughter had been having.

“Nonsense! Everyone wants to be Yamuna’s friend,” Avanti replied. “I just don’t think they are suitable enough to be close to my daughter. They’re half-castes, at best. Yamuna is pure Brahmin. I will not allow a full Brahmin to fraternise with all these …” Avanti made a face to show her disgust.  She then glanced at the wrist watch her husband had presented to her as anniversary gift three months ago. It was 5.35 and she was already an hour late in serving Yamuna’s evening meal. This wouldn’t do.

“How can you say that?” Suresh stared at Avanti, ignoring his wife, Shoba. She had been trying unsuccessfully to get a word in.

“Why not? Until she becomes a full adult, I will choose who she’s friends with. Isn’t that good parenting?” Avanti looked at her father.

Suresh looked at Shoba and said, “See what your daughter is saying. I don’t understand why she’s keeping her daughter, Yamuna, from making friends. Yamuna is our granddaughter and we don’t mind her making friends. Why? Why would you do that?”

“I’m protecting her,” Avanti said in a matter-of-fact manner.

“Protecting her? From what?” Suresh stared at his daughter.

“She could get diseases from all these … these untouchables.”

“You’re becoming just like your friends. You complain that they stifle their children’s growth. Now you’re doing exactly the same. And yours is a little worse.”

Shoba put her hand up, as though she were asking for permission to speak. Her voice was feeble when she said, “But …”

Avanti turned at stared at her mother, too angry to be respectful. “Don’t interrupt, Mummy.” To her father, she said, “I’m protecting Yamuna.”

Suresh scratched his head. Taking a deep breath, he pulled out his smartphone from his trouser pocket and said to his daughter, “You’re fooling yourself. Come. Let me show you this video I took of how Yamuna behaved when her friend came to visit.”

Avanti pulled the chair closer to her father and leaned in to look at the screen. She rolled her eyes when her father said, “Can you see how the friend is putting her hand through the gaps in our gate and calling Yamuna out to play?”

Suresh pressed ‘Pause’ and looked at his daughter, raising his chin, as if to ask, “What do you say to that?”

“That’s what I don’t like,” Avanti replied, nonplussed. “That hand is all grubby and filthy. I don’t know where it’s been. It’ll be full of diseases and infections.”

Shoba leaned against the table and drummed her fingers on the table top. “You know, this doesn’t make sense. You’re fighting with each other for nothing. Yamuna is-”

“You’re such a snob, Avanti” Suresh said, ignoring his wife. “And you’ve passed this on to your child.”

“No-lah. Yamuna is absolutely sweet.”

“Humph! Watch the rest of the video and you’ll see that your baby is also a snob.” They watched the rest of the video and when it ended about a minute later, Avanti was shaking her hands in front of her.

“I never taught her that. I never taught her to lift her head so she could look down on her friend on the other side of the gate, make a U-turn and walk away. Not my fault.”

“Humph!” her father said and picked up his glass of water. He took a sip then said, “Not your fault, it seems. You keep telling her things like she’s Brahmin and pure. You make her feel and think she’s better than all the others and she does this. And you still think it’s not your fault. It’s all your fault. This is not good parenting at all.”

Shoba banged her palm on the table. Father and daughter jumped, then stared at her.

“Stop it! Both of you. You do what Yamuna really is, yes? It doesn’t matter if she’s Brahmin or not. None of it applies to her and you’re arguing for nothing. Whole day, I’ve had to listen to both of you go on and on. Yamuna doesn’t care. That friend of hers doesn’t care.”

“But-” Avanti said, poised to defend her actions with her mother.

Shoba put her hand up. “I’m not hearing another word.” Looking at Suresh, she said, “From either one of you.” Turning her head, she said, “And Avanti, you have to remember that Yamuna is a dog. She’s not human. There’s no such thing as a Brahmin dog.”

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