| Great StoryTelling Network Newsletter
Volume 12, Issue 1 – 6 April 2016
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My Cholesterol Journey in Malaysia|Eric Okeke|
Corruption, Stop it!|
200 Humorous Tweetable Quotations |
Hello! We’re back after a very long time. To all those who sent me messages while we were away, thank you.
We’re starting small with this edition – only 2 stories. I will build up our ‘collection’ as we go along.
The first is called ‘A for Ammachi’. This is a story I wrote as part of the ‘A to Z’ challenge which I’ve joined this year. Eric shares the Preface to his new book, ‘Preface to Big Pains, Small Pains…LetMyPeopleGo’
Emma Donoghue’s tightly written offering of fourteen short stories in ‘Astray’, although small in number, should be read as a considerable contribution to the understanding of what many who venture far away from home experience and endure. As Donoghue says in the ‘Afterword’, ‘Emigrants, immigrants, adventurers, and runaways – they fascinate me because they loiter on the margins, stripped of the markers of family and nation; they’re out of place, out of their depth.’
Each story has two parts: the fictitious account of the protagonist and the factual information the story is based on. This factual information is often derived from public records of a time past. For example, ‘The Gift’ is a story about adopting a child and its consequences, but it is based on entries made in a census taken years ago. ‘Counting the Days’ is based on actual letters Henry Johnson and Jane McConnell Johnson published by their great-granddaughter Louise Wyatt. And ‘Daddy’s Girl’ is based on articles published in the newspapers.
Donoghue is an Irish writer who was born in Dublin, lived in London for a time and now calls Canada home. Her previous works include ‘Slammerkin’, ‘Life Mask’, ‘Touchy Subjects’, ‘The Sealed Letter’ and ‘Room’ (shortlisted for the Man Booker and Orange prizes).
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I grew up sharing my birthday with an unforgettable woman, Gomathi Pillay. To me, she was simply ‘Ammachi’ which is Malayalam for Grandmother. We’re not related, but I’ve known her forever. Ammachi was already the widow of Dr. Pillay from Kulim by the time I was born. And she’d moved to lovely house in Butterworth. It was a corner lot facing the beach and had a balcony that went all the way round the first floor. She was known to scold her visitors for ‘popping in’ and not giving her notice as she hadn’t prepared food for them. This was in spite of having at least seven dishes already laid out on her long dining table.
Truth be told, Ammachi overwhelmed many with her love and affection. She didn’t just visit the ill; she stayed with them and nursed them back to health for as long as she could. If you happened to mention that you liked cream cheese, on her next visit, she would bring along bottles of cream cheese of every shape and size. And if you had a child suitable for marriage, just whisper the word to Ammachi. She may force you to move, but, by hook or by crook, a marriage would be arranged in no time at all.
This was precisely what happened with my parents. I imagine that both my grandmothers had a few quiet and worry-filled words with Ammachi. After all, in the 1960s, my parents were already in their mid-thirties and still unmarried. Ammachi set her mind to getting my parents married and, in less than three months, Gomathi Pillay made the Sundararaj family happen. Tomorrow, 2nd April 2016, my parents will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.
This was all very well and good, but when I was a four-year-old spoilt brat, nothing annoyed me more than having to share my birthday with Ammachi. I didn’t understand why I had to hold the knife to cut the birthday cake with her. It was my cake….
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Big Pains, Small Pains. They hurt. And they can hold you captive if you don’t break free. Stop them before they stop you. That depends on what you know and can do. Freedom from pain musters the power to set captives free. When you rescue one she shouts, ‘I’m free!’
Freedom is not free. You pay a price to get it. The drive for it moves people forward. Good leaders express it to make people prosper. Bad leaders suppress it to make people suffer. To move forward people demand it with pain. To be free of pain requires action. Leadership makes it possible. And better life is always the result.
Pain creates the demand for freedom. It hurt’s since the beginning of time and is not in a hurry to leave. At different times in your life it can even make you cry. You can measure blood pressure but you cannot measure pain.
To read more please click here.
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