Not the ones you can sentence for life….

by Michelle

Brilliant sunshine scalding my eyes, the quiet emptiness of the rooms, my misplaced SIM card protecting me from the external world, jacaranda blossoms I hadn’t expected to see in the courtyard of this modest townhouse that I moved into post-settlement, piles of books, all my plants healthy green thanks to Jo and Diane, the bliss it was 2 sleep…zzz… the flapping of the blind against the window frame in the breeze. 

I woke swathed by fine rain thinking I would practise my asanas and then dress for breakfast. I’d read the newspaper and chat to David, a retired neurosurgeon, opera-lover and vegan from Boston. (If you are reading this David, I miss you!) And I’d bump into Paula, a psychologist from Wellington whose husband is in residence for three months with the School of Economics. We’d share our plans for the day, each day. Though Paula’s were invariably more adventurous than my writing. Or maybe not…

I guess I was lulled back home. I tied the prayerflags to two trees. Susan had sent me them after Shade died but in my ignorance I hadn’t let go so the prayerflags were rolled up and put aside. I set up my laptop on books so that I can stand and write like Ernest Hemmingway typed. As I wrote feeling remorseful for things I am powerless to change, things I try to substitute with words, I was in view of the jacaranda, the leafy shadows and the prayerflags stirring in the bright day. Small insects buzzed around me and the fridge droned and inside I more or less hummed with a kind of satisfaction falling short of ecstasy.

My last week in London was kind of hectic with a reading and a discussion that I really enjoyed giving at Kingston, a walk along the canal to Camden to the Wasafiri office to meet editor Nisha Obano who has accepted a poem of mine and a review of two Australian poets; then a book launch at the gorgeous Edwardian-decked Daunt books in Marylebone High St. The launch was abuzz with literati and I was rather fortunate to meet the US-based writer, Gaiutra Bahadur, whose book Coolie Woman (Hurst) is a memoir of her great grandmother’s journey of indentured labour from India to Guiana. The book is a meticulous study of the lives of many outcasts and runaways who encountered appalling living conditions, deprivation and sexual exploitation as they worked the sugar plantations of the New World, their double diaspora.

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And it was awesome to meet the poet, novelist, activist, Facebook Queen and fellow-divorcee, Meena Kandasamy. I’ve followed Meena’s work for several years and count myself as one among her many thousands of readers/admirers. Not only is she sexy, beautiful and brilliant, she is someone who engages in things that matter and makes things happen. I’m not going to write too much about our day together except to say it was exceptional, kind of exquisite, just sitting in view of the grey sky and chimney scapes of Walthamstowe, pigeons in the market as we drank coffee and slowly fingered lunch, our fleetingly intertwining lives. It just so happened that we were both catching the Tube later to Russell Square, to the same street even where Meena’s friend was staying…. here we are: girls who like to break rules and can’t be sentenced for life.

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If you’re not familiar wth Meena’s writing I recommend her reading from the Jaipur Literature Festival 2011.

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