Susie Gharib is a graduate of the University of Strathclyde with aPh.D. on the work of D.H. Lawrence. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in multiple venues including Adelaide Literary Magazine, TheCurlew, The Ink Pantry, A New Ulster, Down in the Dirt, the PLJ, andMad Swirl.
In my bleakest hour, when I ponder over the status quo, and try to fathom what led to this vacuum, my eyes dissociate themselves from my thoughts and randomly roam in my one-existence-room. Vacant as my stare may be, it is gradually stimulated by the marine blue of my quilt cover whose nautical elements have become monuments, the compass pointing north to where I should be living, the lighthouse no longer beckoning to ships, and a lateen sail patiently waiting to be wind-driven.
My desk cover has a tartan design. I always meant to check whose clan it was but I never found the time. When I was a child, I had a tartan skirt, a replica of a kilt, with a beautiful silver pin attached to it. I wish my mother had kept my clothes for my grown-up years. They would have animated my adulthood. That Galloway green skirt has clung to my memory for over fifty years.
I drape my TV screen with an exotic piece of cotton cloth, on which colorful representations of elephants, trees, and other creatures are sewn. In the middle stands a king ceremoniously below an arch. The scene instantly transports me to a happy jungle, a very primitive scene, ritualistic but with no apparent cult, like a child’s world. My eyes veer next to my left where sits a small table cover fringed with three five-petalled flowers. I always end up buying things with floral prints, towels, bed sheets, pillow covers, and trousers. I must have a forest in my brain with every type of wild flower.
After this survey of aesthetic covers, my eyes blink because of the weight of events. The war has liquidated my humble savings. Retirement is impending with a frugal pension on which to subsist. I have to sell our apartment and with my modest share purchase a less spacious dwelling, in a less privileged street. I try to visualize my future life and my loneliness, but the flowers in my brain ripple with a breeze of optimism. There must be some beautiful flowers to view even in old age.
An Early Snowdrop
At twenty-eight, I had neither the look nor the grace of an ossified Lecturer in English. My hair was neither grey at the temples nor curled as a judge’s wig, my eyes, spared a pharaoh’s look. I wore no suit or owlish specs, looked neither donnish nor trendy. With no high heels to raise my stature and an absolute absence of hauteur, I walked into the auditorium, an early snowdrop, stood on the platform to face bewildered eyes, some cries of astonishment as I held a bar of chalk, too young to face eight hundred eyes.
It took me a while to weed out the belief that only older men could spread learning; however many male students more or less my age remained inclined to disparage the lips that were articulate without lipstick. I conceived tenderness for those wild flowers, for thorns and hawthorn, for ivy and briar. I began to water regardless of pricks, cultivated a soil that teemed with bricks and with a sledgehammer noiselessly began to smash the wall that stood between me and my buds. I tore at the veil that shrouded a text, solved the puzzle of a writer’s chest, unburdened each student of that which vexed and changed the culture of a labyrinthine test.
I soon became more popular than a footballer. Photographs and autographs are frequent demands. My name resonates in street cafes as I pass by the gentlemen of the age. The friction between teacher and student that Pink Floyd preponderantly exposed changed into an equilibrium of love and respect. Each year I enlighten my students with streams of thoughts, with a passion that makes them crave for more.