CARBON.

It’s colourless yet under the fluorescents of my lamp it gleams every colour imaginable. It’s cut, a common Mazal, is understated but at the same time it’s beauty screams as you. It’s amazing how such a small object can possess such history, involve the craft and hard work of so many individuals just to be able to touch my skin.

Two-hundred-and-fifty tonnes of earth would have been sifted through, hours and hours of hard work, drops and drops of sweat all to produce one single carat. Did that miner have any idea how much joy he would one day bring to someone? How much his hard work and time would be worth, not only just in terms of what it sells for, but also the promise it would one stay stand for? A promise of lifelong unity, eternal love and endless commitment, until death do you part.

It would be perfectly reasonable to presume that it was mined from a rock by a man, because mining is often a masculine labour; in fact, I haven’t ever heard of a female miner. The irony is the man who mined this probably couldn’t even afford to buy one for himself with a salary so low, but I try to push that thought to the back of my mind, letting any anger melt away and enjoying the object in front of me in all its glory.

After extraction, the ring would have journeyed its way across the globe to participate in approximately a six-week long sorting process in Antwerp, Johannesburg or Mumbai. In this circumstance, the rock would have been scrutinised but the sharpest of eyes and inspected by the most critical of judges before being sorted according to its ‘Gem Quality.’ It would have been Cut and Graded before receiving an official certificate that declares her beauty, like the prettiest girl in school winning a crown at prom, letting everyone she is the best. This small piece of A5 tells you how this arrangement of Carbon is worth more than Mum’s Gucci purse, or your Aston Martin and, in some special cases, more than your holiday home your Godmother owns in Mykonos. What it can potentially mean to the individual who wears it though can be priceless, despite the pound sign placed in front of it. What is the result of all of this? The most beautiful of diamonds. I twist my hand so that my palm is facing outwards, enabling me to get a better look at the rock sitting on my index. It’s a little large for my scrawny fingers but nothing that a little clenching can’t fix.

This diamond, my diamond, would have passed through a chain of sellers, all putting their own price on it, all equally mesmerised by its magnificence. Eventually it must have reached a small jeweller hiding away in the quiet town of Dudley called John Hollins Finer Jewellery. Despite my efforts to hunt the place down and its owner, I can only assume it is closed. One day a scruffy-looking lad would have walked in, a factory worker during the Second War and now a postman. He would have saved all his pennies up for this purchase; money like this didn’t just sit in his shallow pockets waiting to be spent. Even with his savings he would not have been able to quite cover the cost, but the jeweller took pity on him and admired his ambition. His heart was warmed by the young man’s love for his to-be-wife and consequently, he sold it to the man for what he could offer alongside the gold chain around his neck that his father gave him on his Twenty-First birthday.

A rather nervous man with a shy temperament, he would have thought about how he was going to go about asking for ages before he did it. She wasn’t into clichés you see, not a lady who would like to have been asked over dinner by finding the ring hidden on a breadstick, nor would she appreciate him going down on one knee on top of an impressive skyscraper. She was sincere, easily embarrassed and preferred less extravagant gestures; for her it was all about the finer details. Perhaps he took her to the local park one day when the weather was nice and as they strolled around the park before he popped the question. Or, maybe they were just sat at home one Sunday afternoon and, he didn’t mean to do it there and then, but there she sat in her chair in the corner reading her book, her glasses perched on her nose, but he just couldn’t help himself.  With the ring in one hand he offered her three beautiful baby girls, a roof over her head, food on the table and his complete and utter adoration until he died.

Of-course I don’t know if this is how my Granddad asked my Grandma to marry him, my Grandma is a very private woman and would never dare share such details. Nonetheless, the hopeless romantic in me likes to imagine that the truth is something similar. Some years later my mum was born, the youngest of three children. She grew up under their wing to be a fine woman. She got a job, moved out and fell head over heels, providing them with their first grandchildren. I received this ring from Grandma on my Eighteenth birthday, eight years after my Granddad died and I have since looked at the ring many a time, never daring to wear it out the house for fear of losing it.

Each time the gem bewitches me, each time it shines different hues, feels a different weight and looks a slightly different shape. For me the ring is priceless, it has no value because you cannot put a price on love. My Granddad promised my Grandma he would love her until his heart stopped beating. I believe that although the machine says it did at precisely 7:05am on the 27th December 2009, if you remain silent long enough, and listen close enough, you can hear his heart beat still beating softly in the ring.

LETTERS FROM HIM.

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Her fingertips guided themselves over his name which he’d signed off the letter with, admiring each cursive vowel and the perfectly dotted i’s. She pressed her nose to the paper, desperate to smell his cologne through the potent ink that to her surprise still lingered. He had not written this letter with any intention of saying goodbye but merely as an ‘I miss you’ during his travels in Kuala Lumper.Writing

He had tried his best he said, to convey the sheer beauty of Malaysia’s capital, though he himself admits that his efforts remained flawed as no words exist that could do justice to the picture that presented itself before him.  He told her of the sky high buildings that seemed to go on endlessly beyond the clouds and how these buildings lit up amber and royal blue as of they were fire and water mingling together. He mocked how Malaysian men and women were even smaller than he had anticipated, perhaps the scale of their surroundings making them appear more like figurines in a doll’s house  rather than people.

There was a picture attached to the top right hand corner which he had taken as he laid beneath The Petronas Twin Towers, dreaming of her and wishing with all his might that she might just all of a sudden appear lying next to him if he could shut his eyes and clench his fists tight enough. The towers reminded him of the two of them; proud, protective, purposeful. The buildings, whilst weak and hardly captivating alone, represented a whole great deal more together. They stood for prestige and independence, power and longevity, but most of all they stood for beauty.

She thought of how his travels we not supposed to have stopped there, underneath those towers. He was due out to Beijing just the next day on his sixth month long mission to ‘find himself.’ He had always wanted to explore Asia, become apart of it’s landscape, learn it’s history, live with it’s people. She had never fully understood why . He claimed it was for his latest novella – background research you know? Nonetheless she remained convinced that this was merely a masquerade for the sense to discover some meaning, some understanding.

A tear fell from her cheek onto the paper, smearing the black ink in which he had written that he promised to be home soon. She wept often about how he must have felt in those final seconds. How fast has his heart been beating? Was his vision made blurry by the saltiness of his own tears? Did he show fear or did he keep a brave face for the mother and child who sat terrified in the seat beside him? Selfishly she had hoped that she was the last thing he had thought about in those final moments. She hoped he had tried to remember the sweet smell of her perfume and the softness of her kiss. She hoped he would miss her quick-wit and delicate touch. She hoped.

The most painful part was not the chill that came from the empty space in the bed next to her, it was not the memories that the photos around the house drowned her in. No, it was not the silence that had been swapped for the childish laughter that had  echoed once within these walls. She longed to be suffocated by the smell of him; a harsh mixture of tobacco and whiskey. She yearned for the warmth of his touch, the comfort of his hum, to hear his voice utter her name. Yet, these were not the most painful parts.

She needed answers most of all. What had happened to the man she loved and why? How? Where did his body lie? Was his resting on the ocean bed or had become part of the earth in ash? Sadly, there were no explanations; no justifications. Only the cruel reminders from the media and the emptiness he had left behind was all that reminded her it was real.

She folded the letter that she had read one thousand times over and over, slipping it back into the envelope and taping it up as if she had never even read it. She kissed the seal delicately and desperately, as if she were kissing him for the final time. By the phone with her laptop on the table top and BBC news coverage of the story on repeat would she remain, waiting for explanations… .

 

 

 

 

MATRILINEALITY IN MOSOU.

I watched this short documentary the other day when it popped up in my YouTube subscription box and boy did I find it fascinating. The combination of the unusual and unheard of topic of Mosou women that the video focuses on, compounded by Broadly’s beautiful and heart-warming filmography  led me to spending two hours reading about Mosou, passing the link on to several friends and family members.

The Mosou community are a small population of around 40,000 people living in more remote Chinese provinces, close to the Tibetan border and high in the Himalayas. Many who know of this place know it as the ‘land where women rule.’ Despite living in a society that focuses a lot more on gender equality than it did years ago, the concept of women being ‘more important’ than men is foreign to me. The society can be described as ‘matriarchal’ but this does little to communicate the complexity of their organisation of their community.

In Mosou women are head of the households, they receive any inheritance, they are the ‘breadwinners’ and the grandmother (Ah Mi) is the most respected and important member of the family. It is the role of the women to provide food and income for the family, usually through farming as their culture is mostly agriculturally-based. Women learn the ways of weaving, how to cook and clean, how to feed and look after livestock. They’re allowed several husbands and participate in Tesese, also known as ‘walking marriages.’ They may have one partner in their lifestyle with whom the have a child, or several companions and children with all of them but them men rarely live in the same house as the women. Whilst we Westerners may find this somewhat ‘promiscuous’ the practise is considered the norm within a Mosou society.

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To me, this sexual freedom and dominant position if women in Mosou is completely foreign and bewildering. I have grown up in a society that is still to an extent fighting for gender equality. Whilst by law we are seen as equal, it is not uncommon to still here stories on the news about men being paid more than women for the same jobs. It is not unheard of for women to be approached at bars and despite saying NO being pursued. It is not considered horrific that in debates at school with boys I am told to “go and make them a sandwich” when they cannot come up with a response. In fact the other day I even got told I “throw like a girl” and It made me confused as to why that was being used to insult me? I am a girl!

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MOMA.

On Saturday I went to the Museum of Modern Art Museum in Oxford avec my chum Anna who, being an art teacher in a school in Bristol herself, I thought might enjoy and appreciate a look around the exhibition (also it was free entry and we’re broke!) I’ve been once before but found the project on at the time (that centred around oranges??) rather bizarre and I didn’t ‘get’ it. The itty bitty museum was founded in 1966 and showcases copious amount of interactive and innovative art projects. The museum’s aim is to bring contemporary art to everyone and make it more accessible and enjoyable.

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Currently the museum is showcasing Anne Hardy’s FIELD project which uses a variety of audio, photography and sculptures with the combination of different colours, materials and textures in order to present a variety of ‘landscapes.’ You can read more about the exhibition and the artist herself here.

Not that the bar was set particularly high after the last visit, but this exhibition certainly exceeded expectations and I found it so much more interesting and enjoyable than that revolving around spherical fruit. Provided with a well-explained pamphlet I was actually able to understand the artists intentions behind her work, something that is very rare with exhibitions and I’m often left dumbfounded and headachy in desperate attempts to understand what they truly meant before giving up entirely and left disappointed.

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We had to take our shoes off and walk around this rectangular room covered in bright yellow felt full of weird and quirky sculptures (I confess, I felt a little like the wife in Gilman’s ‘The Yellow Wallpaper!) Whilst completely baffled at the time and thinking that the swirly material on the floor was spaghetti, all was made clear in the next section. The spaghetti sculptures weren’t in fact a form of pasta but rather models of debris that the artist had swept up post the production of her ‘central’ piece (sadly I didn’t manage to get a good picture of this – sorry!) Alongside the bizarre reincarnations of this dust n shiz echoed odd noises which you find out are what Hardy thought the debris would sound like; I promise it was much cooler but just as mad as it sounds!

The exhibition was bright, fun and defiantly worth a little meander around if you’re in the area because it’s unusual, free and there’s something warming about appreciating and supporting ‘smaller’ and local artists.

SLEEPLESS BUT NOT IN SEATTLE.

It’s currently 4:00am and I’ve been awake a whole twenty-two hours-and-something-minutep14843_p_v7_aas. Unfortunately, this have become my norm for the past several weeks whereby I haven’t slept soundly; I’ve hardly slept at all. Being September, whilst the autumn months arise, the sun still has a few hours yet.

The birds however remain chirping; they’re probably one of the only things that are stopping me from going absolutely mad! They’re black birds, one looks no different from the other and yet I can’t help but sit here on my windowsill, imagining what each individual may be thinking, feeling, creating lives for them in my head where the boy blackbirds patrol the streets with briefcases and the girls clean their homes with feather dusters and wear white and pink aprons. How stereotypical of me; I know, I’m sorry. In my head, as the boys waddle down the street they’re whistling the sweet sounds of Simon and Garfunkel and even as I type I smile at this ridiculous, yet endearing imagination of mine.

Even though the sun hasn’t yet got up for the day, I can tell he won’t have his hat on; (is the sun a female or male? I’m more inclined to think male, but correct me if I’m wrong.) Despite the weather woman telling me yesterday that it’d be ‘bright, blue skies and sunshine,’ outside looks as though Susan Hill herself could’ve written the setting. Let’s hope in his case there is no foreboding involved…

Everything outside seems supernatural and I’m almost waiting for the headless horseman to come riding out from the thick fog in the alleyway by my house. Quite frankly, if the headless horseman came with a side of Johnny Depp like the film, I’d have no issue with his arrival, in fact I’d welcome it with open arms and puckered lips.

My hands and toes alike are icicles and although I’m trying to seek warmth in my thick, fluffy blanket, allowing it to engulf me in one giant cove of comfort, my efforts prove disappointing. With no Vitamin D alongside genetics that make me so white I may as well be the daughter to a sheet of paper, the colour has all drained from my face. I make a mental note to up the dosage of blusher and bronzer later as I look into the mirror, mistaking my reflection for Van Helsing himself. The bags under my eyes from the prolonged lack of sleep have begun to develop into the size of the Grand Canyon – despite having never visited, I’m told it’s rather large so the comparison seems reasonable.

I am half tempted to play music in attempt to no longer feel suffocated by the silence and long for the sound of The Lark Ascending to ring through my boudoir. Much to my dismay, I’m aware of the fact that my parents lie soundly sleeping somewhere in LALA Land and do not wish to disturb them. Not for their sake, but more for mine; they’d be like reincarnations of the Grinch at Christmas time if I was to wake them.

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Good things that may or may not occur today if everything goes to plan:

  • I’ll finish my English essay that I’ve been prolonging and letting loom over me rather than having it be done with. (AN: if it’s half decent I may post it on here as it’s about Pride and Prejudice and that is the crap I dig.)
  • I’ll meet an old friend that I haven’t seen for two years and we will have a right ole’ chin wag. The fact that this also means I get to have a coffee that isn’t instant is a bonus.
  • I’ll pick some damsons, a fruit I’ve never tried before, with my parents from the neighbouring fields. IMPORTANT UPDATE: THEY WERE REVOLTING!!!
  • My room will get hovered, sheets washed and windows polished. I know that doesn’t sound like a good thing but I enjoy house work and clean, crisp sheets.

If I get that all done it’ll make me feel like I’ve done something partially productive with my day besides moan about the weather; a recurring theme on this blog. It’s now 4:38am so I’m going to do that essay in order to ‘start’ the day on a positive note. Mr and Mrs Bennet here I come…

*YAWNS*                                                                                                                                                                  Play with this post please: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QFf2Yttrw