Grandmother’s Victory by Maya Angelou

“Thou shall not be dirty” and “Thou shall not be impudent” were the two commandments of Grandmother Henderson upon which hung our total salvation. Each night in the bitterest winter we were forced to wash faces, arms, necks, legs, and feet before going to bed. She used to add, with a smirk that unprofane people can’t control when venturing into profanity, “and wash as far as possible, then wash possible.”
We would go to the well and wash in the ice-cold, clear water, grease our legs with the equally cold stiff Vaseline, then tiptoe into the house. We wiped the dust from our toes and settled down for schoolwork, cornbread, clabbered milk, prayers, and bed, always in that order. Momma was famous for pulling the quilts off after we had fallen asleep to examine our feet. If they weren’t clean enough for her, she took the switch (she kept one behind the bedroom door for emergencies) and woke up the offender with a few aptly placed burning reminders.
The area around the well at night was dark and slick, and boys told about how snakes love water, so that anyone who had to draw water at night and then stand there alone and wash knew that moccasins and rattlers, puff adders, and boa constrictors were winding their way to the well and would arrive just as the person washing got soap in her eyes. But Momma convinced us that not only was cleanliness next to Godliness, dirtiness was the inventor of misery. The impudent child was detested by God and a shame to its parents and could bring destruction to its house and line.

All adults had to be addressed as Mister, Missus, Miss, Auntie, Cousin, Unk, Uncle, Buhbah, Sister, Brother, and a thousand other appellations indicating familial relationship and the lowliness of the addressor. Everyone I knew respected these customary laws, except for the powhitetrash children.

Some families of powhitetrash lived on Momma’s farmland behind the school. Sometimes a gaggle of them came to the Store, filling the whole room, chasing out the air, and even changing the well-known scents. The children crawled over the shelves and into the potato and onion bins, twanging all the time in their sharp voices like cigar-box guitars. They took liberties in my Store that I would never dare. Since Momma told us that the less you say to whitefolks (or even powhitetrash) the better, Bailey and I would stand, solemn, quiet, in the displaced air. But if one of the playful apparitions got close to us, I pinched it. Partly out of angry frustration and partly because I didn’t believe in its flesh reality.

They called my uncle by his first name and ordered him around the Store. He, to my crying shame, obeyed them in his limping dip-straightdip fashion. My grandmother, too, followed their orders, except that she didn’t seem to be servile because she anticipated their needs.
“Here’s sugar, Miz Potter, and here’s baking powder. You didn’t buy soda last month, you’ll probably be needing some.”
Momma always directed her statements to the adults, but sometimes, Oh painful sometimes, the grimy, snotty-nosed girls would answer her.
“Naw, Annie . . .”—to Momma? Who owned the land they lived on? Who forgot more than they would ever learn? If there was any justice in the world, God should strike them dumb at once!—“Just give us some extra sody crackers, and some more mackerel.”
At least they never looked in her face, or I never caught them doing so. Nobody with a smidgen of training, not even the worst roustabout, would look right in a grown person’s face. It meant the person was trying to take the words out before they were formed. The dirty little children didn’t do that, but they threw their orders around the Store like lashes from a cat-o’-nine-tails.
When I was around ten years old, those scruffy children caused me the most painful and confusing experience I had ever had with my
grandmother.
One summer morning, after I had swept the dirt yard of leaves, spearmint-gum wrappers and Vienna-sausage labels, I raked the yellowred dirt, and made half-moons carefully, so that the design stood out clearly and mask-like. I put the rake behind the Store and came through the back of the house to find Grandmother on the front porch in her big, wide white apron. The apron was so stiff by virtue of the starch that it could have stood alone. Momma was admiring the yard, so I joined her. It truly looked like a flat redhead that had been raked with a bigtoothed comb. Momma didn’t say anything but I knew she liked it. She looked over toward the school principal’s house and to the right at Mr. McElroy’s. She was hoping one of those community pillars would see the design before the day’s business wiped it out. Then she looked upward to the school. My head had swung with hers, so at just about the same time we saw a troop of powhitetrash kids marching over the hill and down by the side of the school. I looked to Momma for direction. She did an excellent job of sagging from her waist down, but from the waist up she seemed to be pulling for the top of the oak tree across the road. Then she began to moan a hymn. Maybe not to moan, but the tune was so slow and the meter so strange that she could have been moaning. She didn’t look at me again. When the children reached halfway down the hill, halfway to the Store, she said
without turning, “Sister, go on inside.”
I wanted to beg her, “Momma, don’t wait for them. Come on inside with me. If they come in the Store, you go to the bedroom and let me wait on them. They only frighten me if you’re around. Alone I know how to handle them.” But of course I couldn’t say anything, so I went in and stood behind the screen door. Before the girls got to the porch I heard their laughter crackling and popping like pine logs in a cooking stove. I suppose my lifelong paranoia was born in those cold, molasses-slow minutes. They came finally to stand on the ground in front of Momma. At first they pretended seriousness.
Then one of them wrapped her right arm in the crook of her left, pushed out her mouth and started to hum. I realized that she was
aping my grandmother. Another said, “Naw, Helen, you ain’t standing like her. This here’s it.” Then she lifted her chest, folded her arms and mocked that strange carriage that was Annie Henderson. Another laughed, “Naw, you can’t do it. Your mouth ain’t pooched out enough. It’s like this.” I thought about the rifle behind the door, but I knew I’d never be able to hold it straight, and the .410, our sawed-off shotgun, which stayed loaded and was fired every New Year’s night, was locked in the trunk and Uncle Willie had the key on his chain. Through the fly-specked screen door, I could see that the arms of Momma’s apron jiggled from the vibrations
of her humming. But her knees seemed to have locked as if they would never bend again. She sang on. No louder than before, but no softer either. No slower or faster.
The dirt of the girls’ cotton dresses continued on their legs, feet, arms, and faces to make them all of a piece. Their greasy uncolored hair hung down, uncombed, with a grim finality. I knelt to see them better, to remember them for all time. The tears that had slipped down my dress left unsurprising dark spots, and made the front yard blurry and even more unreal. The world had taken a deep breath and was having doubts about continuing to revolve.
The girls had tired of mocking Momma and turned to other means of agitation. One crossed her eyes, stuck her thumbs in both sides of her mouth and said, “Look here, Annie.” Grandmother hummed on and the apron strings trembled. I wanted to throw a handful of black pepper in their faces, to throw lye on them, to scream that they were dirty, scummy peckerwoods, but I knew I was as clearly imprisoned behind the scene as the actors outside were confined to their roles.
One of the smaller girls did a kind of puppet dance while her fellow clowns laughed at her. But the tall one, who was almost a woman,
said something very quietly, which I couldn’t hear. They all moved backward from the porch, still watching Momma. For an awful second I thought they were going to throw a rock at Momma, who seemed (except for the apron strings) to have turned into stone herself. But the big girl turned her back, bent down and put her hands flat on the ground—she didn’t pick up anything. She simply shifted her weight and did a hand stand. Her dirty bare feet and long legs went straight for the sky. Her dress fell down around her shoulders, and she had on no drawers. The slick pubic hair made a brown triangle where her legs came together. She
hung in the vacuum of that lifeless morning for only a few seconds, then wavered and tumbled. The other girls clapped her on the back and slapped their hands.
Momma changed her song to “Bread of Heaven, Bread of Heaven, feed me till I want no more.” I found that I was praying too. How long could Momma hold out? What new indignity would they think of to subject her to? Would I be able to stay out of it? What would Momma really like me to do?
Then they were moving out of the yard, on their way to town. They bobbed their heads and shook their slack behinds and turned, one at a time:
“’Bye, Annie.”
“’Bye, Annie.”
“’Bye, Annie.”
Momma never turned her head or unfolded her arms, but she stopped singing and said,

“’Bye, Miz Helen, ’bye, Miz Ruth, ’bye, Miz Eloise.”

I burst. A firecracker July-the-Fourth burst. How could Momma call them Miz? The mean nasty things. Why couldn’t she have come inside the sweet, cool store when we saw them breasting the hill? What did she prove? And then if they were dirty, mean, and impudent, why did Momma have to call them Miz?
She stood another whole song through and then opened the screen door to look down on me crying in rage. She looked until I looked up. Her face was a brown moon that shone on me. She was beautiful. Something had happened out there, which I couldn’t completely understand, but I could see that she was happy. Then she bent down and touched me as mothers of the church “lay hands on the sick and afflicted” and I quieted.
“Go wash your face, Sister.” And she went behind the candy counter and hummed, “Glory, glory, hallelujah, when I lay my burden down.”
I threw the well water on my face and used the weekday handkerchief to blow my nose. Whatever the contest had been out front, I knew Momma had won. 

I took the rake back to the front yard. The smudged footprints were easy to erase. I worked for a long time on my new design and laid the rake behind the wash pot. When I came back in the Store, I took Momma’s hand and we both walked outside to look at the pattern.

It was a large heart with lots of hearts growing smaller inside, and piercing from the outside rim to the smallest heart was an arrow.
Momma said, “Sister, that’s right pretty.” Then she turned back to the Store and resumed, “Glory, glory, hallelujah, when I lay my burden down.”

Culled from 75 Readings. An anthology.

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I Want a Wife by Judy Syfers

1- I belong to that classification of people known as wives. I am A Wife. And, not altogether incidentally, I am a mother.

2- Not too long ago a male friend of mine appeared on the scene fresh from a recent divorce. He had one child, who is, of course, with his ex-wife. He is looking for another wife. As I thought about him while I was ironing one evening, it suddenly occurred to me that 1, too, would like to have a wife. Why do I want a wife?

3- I would like to go back to school so that I can become economically independent, support myself, and, if need be, support those dependent upon me. I want a wife who will work and send me to school. And while I am going to school, I want a wife to take care of my children. I want a wife to keep track of the children’s doctor and dentist appointments. And to keep track of mine, too. I want a wife to make sure my children eat properly and are kept clean. I want a wife who will wash the children’s clothes and keep them mended. I want a wife who is a good nurturant attendant to my children, who arranges for their schooling, makes sure that they have an adequate social life with their peers, takes them to the park, the zoo, etc. I want a wife who takes care of the children when they are sick, a wife who arranges to be around when the children need special care, because, of course, I cannot miss classes at school. My wife must arrange to lose time at work and not lose the job. It may mean a small cut in my wife’s income from time to time, but I guess I can tolerate that. Needless to say, my wife will arrange and pay for the care of the children while my wife is working.

4- I want a wife who will take care of my physical needs. I want a wife who will keep my house clean. A wife who will pick up after my children, a wife who will pick up after me. I want a wife who will keep my clothes clean, ironed, mended, replaced when need be, and who will see to it that my personal things are kept in their proper place so that I can find what I need the minute I need it. I want a wife who cooks the meals, a wife who is a good cook. I want a wife who will plan the menus, do the necessary grocery shopping, prepare the meals, serve them pleasantly, and then do the cleaning up while I do my studying. I want a wife who will care for me when I am sick and sympathize with my pain and loss of time from school. I want a wife to go along when our family takes a vacation so that someone can continue to care for me and my children when I need a rest and change of scene.

5- I want a wife who will not bother me with rambling complaints about a wife’s duties. But I want a wife who will listen to me when I feel the need to explain a rather difficult point I have come across in my course studies. And I want a wife who will type my papers for me when I have written them.

6- I want a wife who will take care of the details of my social life. When my wife and I are invited out by my friends, I want a wife who will take care of the baby-sitting arrangements. When I meet people at school that I like and want to entertain, I want a wife who will have the house clean, will prepare a special meal, serve it to me and my friends, and not interrupt when I talk about things that interest me and my friends. I want a wife who will have arranged that the children are fed and ready for bed before my guests arrive so that the children do not bother us. I want a wife who takes care of the needs of my guests so that they feel comfortable, who makes sure that they have an ashtray, that they are passed the hors d’oeuvres, that they are offered a second helping of the food, that their wine glasses are replenished when necessary, that their coffee is served to them as they like it. And I want a wife who knows that sometimes I need a night out by myself.

e 7- I want a wife who is sensitive to my sexual needs, a wife who makes love passionately and eagerly when I feel like it, a wife who makes sure that I am satisfied. And, of course, I want a wife who will not demand sexual attention when I am not in the mood for it. I want a wife who assumes the complete responsibility for birth control, because I do not want more children. I want a wife who will remain sexually faithful to me so that I do not have to clutter up my intellectual life with jealousies. And I want a wife who understands that my sexual needs may entail more than strict adherence to monogamy. I must, after all, be able to relate to people as fully as possible.

8- If, by chance, I find another person more suitable as a wife than the wife I already have, I want the liberty to replace my present wife with another one. Naturally, I will expect a fresh, new life; my wife will take the children and be solely responsible for them so that I am left free.

9- When I am through with school and have a job, I want my wife to quit working and remain at home so that my wife can more fully and completely take care of a wife’s duties.

10- My God, who wouldn’t want a wife?

Author: Judy Brady (Syfers)

Literature f

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In Need of Proofreaders 2

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Hi fellow writers!*****

Another period of editing is here. I highly appreciate those that helped in the first section; @drerhumu, @ajalayemi, @daireenonline, @moskedapages, @phemyte, @geebee1807, @jaycax, @il_duce… going by their twitter handles. God bless you all aplenty.

Now, this is another. For this section, the reward is instant.

You’ll get a N1000 recharge card of any network of your choice as soon as you are through with your part of the work. This time, it would be two chapters per person. It’s the usual work as well. Proofreading.

Please note that this isn’t a payment for your priceless effort. Of course, I can’t pay your fees. It’s just a way to appreciate you in my own little way.

You all know as we do it. Two weeks from the day of receipt of the manuscript.

Thanks.

NB; Please take a moment to check out our online store.

 

click the image fashion pics

Sharing of the link would be highly appreciated too.

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In Need Of Proofreaders

Slide2

Good day my good people of God. Umunnem na umunnam…Lol!

Actually, I need your help.

I need the help of fellow writers to proofread a section of my upcoming book.

It’s a plea.

For your help, you get a paper bound copy of the book for free when it’s finally released. Or the equivalent of its cost in whichever form you want.

The section you would work on would be just a chapter.

I also need a poet.

For those that have already earlier indicated their interest in assisting, I still remember and I really appreciate your willingness.

But I still need more hands.

Please, after you have recieved the section you’re to work on, it should not stay with you longer than two weeks. After the stipulated period, it is assumed that you just dumped it aside. It won’t be accepted anymore. You don’t even need to send it.

My twitter handle is babyada_chi. You can mention for a follow back and send me your email address via DM if you do not wish to drop it in the comment box below this post.

Let’s help each other to grow our dreams.

You can also give suggestions and advice that would help. Thank you.

Thank you and God/Ogun/Allah/Jah bless us all.

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Dying

Slowly…

Your fire burning in me dies

Leaving behind acrid fumes

That trigger grave feelings

Of soreness and disappointment

As well, clarifies the mind

Of once impending doubt that

The once bright glow in it

Never was fuelled from beneath

By solid or flowing wax

But instead burnt by itself

Suspended and kept alive

By the air-borne vapour of dispersed self love

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The Yelling Rage 1

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Everyone knows you aren’t mad.

But you think otherwise. You believe it takes more than ‘everyone knowing you aren’t mad’ to convince you that the trait isn’t lodged in some critical part of your faculty judging the way you act at times. Like roaming the whole city without having your bra and pants on despite your loose breasts and buttocks. Or wearing *aso oke* tied over your bare chest to your place of work even when there’s no traditional celebration, or anything of that sort. Or winking and blowing a kiss at your *aboki* watchman. These are just hints of your very weird behaviours.

On this fateful day, you’d travelled eight hectic hours to be with your husband who lived in another state. His birthday was the next day and you’d planned specially for it despite harbouring a grudge for him which you planned to resolve when you meet. In your relationship, grudge was like a piece of shit. You had and flushed that almost every second of the day. But this last one had decided to stay with you longer than usual. And so you’d chosen to carry it to him and end it together. You didn’t want anything to spoil the day for both of you.

The grudge actually had to do with some omission on his part which eventually led to you parting with some substantial sum of money you could never have agreed to do away with on a good day. Your mind had excused him for it but you wouldn’t accept that. You kept blaming it on his omission which you believed was deliberate. Probably for the purpose of keeping some grand plans away from you. About that, you couldn’t be bothered. That wasn’t the first time. You were bothered about your lost money.

On his return from work, you’d laid on the couch in the sittingroom with your head resting on his thighs as you thought of how to end the issue on your mind. You knew settling issues directly with him was like cracking kernel with your teeth. It was either you swallowed it, or found some other cunning way to discard the grudge. But one on one? nah. That was no option. You knew that too well. So whatever it was that made you decide to try it out this time, you were so sure it was that madness trait in you.

‘So, how was your trip?’ He’d finally asked, running his fingers gently through the spaces between your braided hair.

‘That’s not a necessary question,’ The words had fallen from your mouth. At your response, there had been a strange moment of silence between you two.

‘What did you say?’ He’d asked, slowly, as though he actually hadn’t heard. At this time, you’d stopped feeling his finger on your scalp and you imagined his deep set eyes lost in his head. A fierce frown lodged in the middle of it.

‘I said, it’s not a necessary question,’ You’d responded, admitting that it was already late to swallow your words. That there was no chance for retraction.

‘And I ask again, how was your day?’ This time, his tone was curt. He slowly raised your head from his body and you sat up facing him. Pushing some strands of braids off your face, you ignored his question and instead, began yours.

‘So, how did your day go?’ You asked. Fuck up! The next thing that happened surprised you. At first his voice seemed calm. Then, he began to yell at you. He yelled so loudly that the gateman had to come to the door to inquire if things were alright.

‘And what is that supposed to mean? Does it give you some joy seeing me angry, eh, Lucy? Why is it that you always find a way to get me pissed! What the hell is wrong with you this woman?…’ His voice rose several notches with each question. At a point, you had to scurry out of his presence to keep your eardrums from bursting.

That night, you’d felt worse than a loser. As you went in to rest, you expected him to relieve you by at least apologising for shouting at you by some miraculous way since he hardly apologised. But instead, you both had taken an edge of the king size bed you shared and faced the wall before it.

Moments later, you heard him snoring. And even as you did, you still believed that somehow, he would apologise to you before 12:00 midnight. The next day was his birthday and you were so sure he wouldn’t carry a hurt over to that day. You were so confident that the looming feeling of disappointment mixed with that of anger and grudge you bore earlier kept sleep away from you. Being awake, you kept your eyes on the clock.

By the time it was five minutes to midnight and you noticed he wasn’t even moving, you began to feel a surge. Like that of liquid fire running through you. It rose by the minute. At exactly midnight, you exploded. You let out a yell.

‘Lucy, what is it?’ Your husband asked, jumping up from the bed. You’d never seen him so scared. You hid your delight at this.

‘I was having a bad dream,’ You lied, heaving. He came closer to you.

‘Dream?’ he asked, confused. You knew he’d never heard you yell in your sleep before. You nodded.

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A Person Blessed by God

When all is said and done

The truth remains the fact

That

When God has you for him

The heat from pressured life

That’s bound to undo you

Becomes a strengthening base

As well, purificant

To make you hard and glow

Away like precious stones

Placed in a royal ingle

His gift for this uplift

Is life, which you’ve still got

You have no cause to fear

For until you’re set, then shrunk

He’s vowed to watch on you

Himself, all graceful days

***********************

Have a fulfiling day.

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