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Tradition
     By Shazar Kanhai
(Based on writing prompt, "If I were to live my live in the traditions and style of a different culture, it would be...")

I am living by the traditions and lifestyle of a different culture.  Different from what you might ask?  Different from the philosophies of contemporary Western Civilization.  A few weeks ago I started a paper on what it was like to become an East Indian, to finally step into a culture that I never recognized, much less accepted, as my own.  Truth?  It was terrifying.  Suddenly the world had never felt more threatening and apocalyptical to the teachings I've both uncovered in ancient words, and nurtured in my self.  The terror  gripped my spirit as I became part of a community I once scorned, once loathed.  Why?  Because I never fit in; my values and thoughts never matched up with those who were "brothers and sisters."  I felt like an outcast.  The most important lesson I've learned in recent times is that I am the Diaspora.  I am that which has no rightful home.  Being born in the Caribbean, I am split between my heritage and my culture.  I am a West-Indian East Indian.  A "man of two worlds," to cite Malidoma Some.  And therein lies the power of who I am.  Wherever my feet take me, that is my home.  I come not to conquer, but to experience.  To understand.  To trace the history that has made me who I am today.  And ever so slowly, it is happening.  The world I live in now - it's almost a dream.  Do you remember your first Love?  The one who promised to protect you from the world, and care for you always?  That emotion, that comfort, that safety: I feel it again.  Through my studies, I've found that inner core, that center from which my Life-lineage has emerged.  I have never felt stronger, more capable, more emotional and understanding of the world in which I actively particpate.

I no longer imagine a tradition.  I AM the tradition.

     Submitted Sept. 19, 2006

Untitled
     By Shazar Kanhai
 
"Crumbling brick walls in dusty alleyways."  Those were her final words to me, scribbled on the back of a photograph that reflected our most intimate moment.  Were I not holding back the tears, I would have smiled; still smiled.  How often we danced with those words, using them to reflect the way time wears us down, the way our past slowly disintergrates into particles, the way we loved one another.  The aroma of chemicals still lingered heavily in the now abandoned darkroom; the scent of her perfume all the more fragile in the stifling atmosphere.  I was again standing in the photograph, walking around the frame, examining the rubble from the wrecking crews.  The workers' laughter no longer tormented me; only the tragedy that was unfolding as the past was being buried.  My fingers were pressed to the decayed surface of the clay brick, tracing the ornate insignia that once adorned it.  Eyes closed, my body on the ground, kneeling before the wall, I inhaled the centuries-old dust.  Sunlight flooded around me, illuminating the shimmering particles now floating away from their long-held resting place.  That was when I heard the "click," and the advance of the film; a melody that stayed with me, elongating its presence over time.  In the space between those two frame I called out to her to come closer; in the space between those two frames, I had fallen in love and never realized it.  Her occupation overrode any hesistancy she might have felt, and she stood above me, never moving her eye from the viewfinder.  I pointed to the markings, and she understood my desperation, and the urgency in my movements.  Click click click.  Each frame captured a story that none could understand, save to be there when all is lost except the memory and the photograph.  I gathered the remnants of stonework, placed them in my satchel, and reaching for her hand, stood up.  Our bodies never left one another's touch from that day; until nightfall we shared our stories, our belongings, our selves; hiding from the construction workers and security guards.  Under the cover of darkness, we made our escape back to the city limits.  One last look behind at the temple showed her my despair.  Click.  She caught me off-guard, in a moment of weakness, in a moment of truth.
 
     Submitted Aug. 16, 2006

Untitled
 
 
People write for something. I carry on for something. Truth would be a beautiful thing to give your life unto, but me - myself, I give up to the insularity that clouds every judgement and call. What I look, sound, appear to be - that is me. The prefabricated image and impact means more than originality.
 
BULLSHIT.
 
These diaries aren’t working. My agent thinks I’m giving off the wrong vibe. The anti-marketing dollar isn’t as strong as when Bill Hicks pioneered it. Conformity is becoming what we should all be, once again. A comic mired by dick jokes and socio-political commentary. How do I shut up when I see injustice?! Heartbreak shrouds the brain, giving into numbing morphine effects. “Hi, I’m Jimmy Jean, I get Elvis’s scarves and water!”.
 
NO - NO FUCKING WAY! Every goddamn show I turn up onstage and talk about one person: a personality that is known throughout the land - fucking John Prescott. “Hi, I’m two jags, I fucked me secretary!” Well done john, have a pat on the back - keep the job that effects millions of lives! “I fucked me secretary in my goddamn office! Hahahahahaa” NICE ONE JOHN, KEEP GOING, YOU FUCKING FARCE OF A MAN - JUST BECOME A JOKE, LAUGH OFF THE OPINION HOPE AND OUTRAGE OF A PEOPLE, OF A FUCKING NATION!
 
“Hey, I’m not going to work anymore, just sit at the head of a committee meeting and shut the fuck up whilst taking backhanders for every motherfucker who owns any type of wealth!”
 
Please tell me someone sees the injustice in all of this - in every ounce.
 
I know why this millionaire got the deal on the dome. Every single day, John got a package from this millionaire, within which was several packets of “milky way magic stars” - john Prescott munched and munched away until his chubby little sweet tooth couldn’t wait for the next day's shipment. And then - oh yes, then, did the millionaire, fuelled by profit and greed say unto our fat fuck of a deputy “you know John, if you let me have the millennium dome - I could turn it upside down and fill it full of milky way magic stars!”
 
"HAVE IT, HAVE IT!” the motherfucker screams.
 
But anyway, back to MEEE. My loneliness and emptiness is destroying everything…
 
 
Not to sound over dramatic. But all the best things happen within the centre of life. A breakdown makes one realise that the screeching birds - and of course accountants - is much needed. Falling apart is unique and human.
 
Uniquely human?
 
Ha!
     Submitted July 18, 2006

Untitled
 
See, the problem with this set-up is the insularity of it all. Here I am shifting uncomfortably in front of my Liquid Crystal Display emitting light at me and I find no objectivity. I need an eye or two (preferably in the same face) over the shoulder correcting my embellishments and outright lies. I have no need to present truth, in-fact here I have no truth - it’s all subjective.
 
Let’s hope not.
 
Well to the matter Joseph, the thing is you left rather a long time ago. And what troubles me is this legacy of yours. It has no name, no form, no real emotion - it just lies around taking up absolutely no space! A constant undertone, or perhaps more eloquently described as the pedal note to our lives. Barely recognised or thanked, you set the notes we must hammer out to stay on-top of this symphony (enough of that comparison I hear someone cry). Well to the point (again), there’s twenty something of your genes making me, and I feel that means something.
 
What do I remember of you then? In the way-back when before all of this. I want to go back to our beginnings, where I feel we first formed a relationship of sorts.  It wasn’t at the birth where anything happened, I was too na´ve and plain stupid to understand anything. But those summers up in Liverpool, how many was it? Two, three? Then of course it stopped because of the incident with that car. These memories grow hazy now, but still in ways pertinent.
 
You lived in a rather run down house, you yourself not run down - but a shabby bearded fellow never to be seen in any sort of shirt or jumper. Of course this comes from the one memory of watching you walk down the street, being surprised how muscular you were for that age. An age which I’ve only recently come to fully realise, was one that had outlived a son. Was his name Carl? I don’t know (I don’t know if I remember correctly or if I have ever known…). I’m not brave enough to enquire properly about him right now, but I know what took him at 21 was not far from what took you.
 
And this is really where we properly begin - those summers a prologue to guesswork that still hasn’t ended. For me, I find you in ways synonymous with Liverpool - the city when I go there breathes your made up essence. Not the art galleries, the tourist docks with some ponce jumping about on some type of floating British isles or the far reaching shops within the centre - but the parts that are alive. The places that hum and buzz after closing time. Real ‘Boys From The Blackstuff’ types roaming home, leaving their luminous orange splashes along the edges of their territory.
 
I pick this paragraph up on a new day. I feel the first realisation of what you are/were is when I saw you in the hospital. Alone on a bed - just a body now. Not a father nor a man - just the shell of that six year olds Daddy. Cold to the touch I remember the squeeze I gave to your hand, this hazy touch, backed by the incessant sobbing of my brother became the moment I realised; I must struggle to remember you.
 
This is all I can say right now.  Because I haven’t struggled enough.
 
     Submitted July 3, 2006

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