MC's Whispers

Whispering Silences

Archive for the month “January, 2013”

That tip-tap in the roof

listening3The other night I heard it again. A tip-tap in the roof. I had heard it before but it was about 1-2 months ago and although it did freak me out, I soon forgot about it. But now it seems its back. It sounds like something is tiptoeing in the roof. In the space between the tiles and the ceiling. I don’t know what it is. And I’m not sure if I want to find out either!

I do wonder what it is though. And it is at times like this when your imagination truly goes wild. Hey, as long as your dreams don’t get affected, turning into nightmares from which you wake up screaming in the middle of the night, covering up over the top with your bed sheets in the hope that nothing will actually come crashing through the ceiling on to you. Like those weird creatures from The Golden Compass, or something similar…

I wonder if it’s The Borrowers living up there…Ok maybe just one. But still, I haven’t noticed anything missing so I’m not sure…Perhaps they actually do borrow stuff and then bring it back before I even notice its absence? Could happen.

Maybe it’s a pigeon trapped. Shouldn’t we help it out? But would you really risk going up there and being surprised by what it is? I don’t think I have either the suitable clothes or the necessary psychological power to face that challenge…I still remember the scare I had when my beloved cat discovered something under the oven and we thought it was a dead mouse, until my mum swept out a raw meatball. How it got under there at that condition no one knows…

I still wonder what it is…Thing is, I’m sure my curiosity will be swiped away by everything else that I should do or actually should be doing for that matter. In fact, I think I should get back to work. As long as I don’t hear a patter on the roof, I think it’ll be fine. But, one last question: what could it be??


Also part of Daily Prompt: A Source of Anxiety


A puzzling storm

SHIP-IN-STORMY-WEATHER-AT-SEAI was on a ship in the middle of nowhere as it seemed. The wooden mast creaked in the wind, as the waves clashed and gripped the sides of the boat, rocking it side to side as if it was deliberately trying to throw something out. I was holding on as tightly as I could but the rope was wet and starting to tear bit by bit. I felt my eyesight zoom onto it, onto the very part that was ripping up slowly. With every new thread that was breaking loose I felt my pulse liven by another beat. Was this what Coyote felt like when he lost control of the rocks and bombs he was preparing for the Road Runner? The only difference was I wasn’t aiming at anyone. All I wanted to do was…wait…what did I want to do? And why on earth was I in the middle of the ocean in a storm? Was this my punishment for having fallen asleep during The Perfect Storm? It wasn’t my fault! I was tired (probably) and the movie seemed a bit boring (I think).

I crawled on all fours on the wet wooden boards as the wind was howling against my face, spitting out at me and pushing me back. My hair, all wet and loose was sticking onto my face, and at instants I could hardly see. I wanted to reach out and pull it back but all I could think of was…all the money spent in vain at the hairdresser’s the previous afternoon. Wait…what?

I reached that trap door that now seemed better known as a ‘rescue door’ instead. Opening it was a real challenge. Pulling the handle against what felt like a tonne of a blustering current pushing against my frozen hand. Clack! Oops! The handle came off and I was left staring at that in my one hand, while at the same time desperately trying to hold on to…well basically anything! I used the side of the handle to pull open the door. Hey, at least at times like this I was innovative. But where was everyone else? Shouldn’t a ship have a whole crew of sailors and cabin boys, and perhaps even that occasional dog that would be running around in everyone’s way? Where was everybody? And most importantly, who was driving?

I wanted to go and check. But under that slit of a door everything seemed so much calmer. If only I could find the light switch. Suddenly light appeared as of nowhere. Was this the “and then there was light” moment of the movie version of whatever it is that I am living?

I looked around. I was in a cheese cellar. I don’t know where that fit into anything. But I actually found myself looking for the barrel of wine to crack open to go with the small piece of cheese I had managed to cut off. Mmm. It was smoked too. French or Italian, I couldn’t quite tell yet. Either way, where was the wine?

The box next to me smelled weird. I hoped there wouldn’t be a dead rat inside, and as every strange thing that actually draws you in rather than out, I opened it with one eye half-closed. It was prosciutto. I think it was cotto too, ‘cause I’d prefer that to the crudo type. Evidently I didn’t have enough for dinner. And all this made me thirsty. I extended my hand and reached over, grabbed the small plastic bottle of mineral water that stood beside me and nearly drank it all down in one gulp. Wait. Plastic bottle of water in a cheese cellar with traces of ham, entered through a trap door on a ship found in the midst of a storm somewhere? What was going on??

I thought I was going to have a heart-attack. That damn buzzer! Why couldn’t they make alarm clocks wake you up with a soothing, subtle melody? Does it really have to be so abrupt?  It did explain more or less everything though. The subconscious really is a mystery that takes over your dreams in the most awkward of ways!


 Also part of Daily Prompt: Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)

The Hidden Book

2_bookArchaeology was her passion. Digging out things you never even knew existed. And discovering ancient civilisations and evidence that would change everything you knew until today. History was hidden deep beneath the very ground we walk on. That’s what Susan Archer believed. She was passionate about her job. She found it thrilling. And she was great at it.

Her current mission had to do with an ancient tribe from Latin America. Their name was too difficult to pronounce and no-one knew exactly neither how it was spelled nor how it was written. There was hardly any record of them in any history books or any book in history for that matter. Except for one. And she was on a quest to find it.

This hidden book had become her latest obsession. It would shine light on where this tribe had existed, where they lived, perhaps even how and more importantly why they never survived. It would let mankind know what went wrong. Perhaps it would tell of what they failed to accomplish. Something that we could pay attention to and ensure the survival of the human race instead. Perhaps it would even finally spell out their name.

Her team had reached the insides of the cave where they all suspected the book to be. They had found a path leading up to it. Hidden from sight and as if it simply appeared out of nowhere. The torches were lit and Susan headed the team. They pushed the rocks aside and silence swept across the room. Then a breeze rushed in and blew out her torch. She could feel her heart pounding but somehow knew they were close. The answer lay ahead. All it took was a few more steps. And she was determined to take them. Peter handed her another lit torch. They all raised their torches high and light spread before them, to the edges of the cave room, revealing the sand and stones that lay ahead. But there was something more….

At the other end of the room there was a raised upside-down cone that sparkled in the light. And on it there balanced a square. A blue square that seemed very much like…

Susan inclined her head to the side.

It was the book! They had found it. Cautiously the five-member team quickly paced towards it. They had found it and the mystery would soon be solved. They surrounded the book like aliens trying to understand the riddle of human form. They had to make sure there were no traps when the book would be touched. It seemed like hours had passed before Susan finally caressed the hard blue cover and opened the book.

So many thoughts, questions, expectations whizzed through her mind during those nanoseconds.

The book was finally there. Before them. And they would now know all they so longed for.

She turned the page.

It was empty.

So was the next.

And the next.

Was this a joke?

She flicked through the creased pages.

One page before the end. She found a word spelled out in English. Just one word. And nothing else.


Help in need and in deed

charity1It is often said that you never truly appreciate something until you no longer have it. And that is true for a range of things: from material possessions to life itself. It is only when you are found at the needy end of the circle of life when you really even begin to understand the importance of having, of giving and of helping each other. Charities understand that well. And acknowledge it for that matter. And it is why people should learn to appreciate them more, to help them and to contribute in whatever way possible. Because they not only need donors but also volunteers. People who have the courage to deal with these situations on a daily basis. And who will assist such operations. To help them help others. Because that is what they do. Usually without bureaucracy or administration. No added burden. Just aid. In some way, it is like something Lincoln said (in a different context but still applicable): help from the people, by the people, for the people.

It is stunning and quite tragic at how countries that for so long projected to the outer world an image of prosperity, affluence and plenty have now resorted to charities, appeals and pleas for help in order to feed and clothe their people. And when you witness the poverty, deprivation and hardships that exist, you consider yourself lucky you have clothes in your closet and food in your fridge. When people go ashamed, with tears in their eyes to ask for help, when they feel their pride being trampled over by a state that doesn’t seem to care, you consider yourself fortunate for all you have.

Help is needed much more than it is given. And those in need greatly outnumber those that offer help. Not those that can, but those that will. For the rich that would donate to the poor are often few and usually for their own selfish gains. But there are some that do go out and buy things simply to give them away to the less fortunate. With no gains and no self-interest in mind. Just the satisfaction of offering a helping hand. It is people like these the world needs. People who will help their fellow citizens no matter what the cost. Who acknowledge what it means to have nothing and to alleviate the suffering caused by factors beyond their control. To see the faces of children light up as they receive a toy, even if it is used. After all, isn’t that what the world should be striving to save? The future? Our children? Our hope?

Bubbly press

journIt was raining outside. That pitter patter that isn’t worthy of even opening up an umbrella. He put on his suit, wrestled with his professional conscience for a couple of minutes over whether he should wear a tie or not (the “proper” side of him won) and hurried off for the underground.

He was there in less than 15 minutes. It was still raining thinly but there was a lot more people around here and they all seemed to be transmitting their anxiety to get somewhere. It was as if all this stress was diffusing into the atmosphere and penetrating his very pores. He began to feel an adrenaline rush. Looked left and right. Everyone seemed to know where they were going. He wasn’t sure. Actually, he was lost. He thought about asking someone but no one would even slow down a pace, let alone turn around and look at him. He stepped aside and pulled out his A4 map. After a couple of minutes he figured the building he needed was 100metres in front of him. He felt silly. He followed the crowd and entered what was to be a 10 minute airport security check before he was allowed access to the press room.

He stood astounded for what seemed like forever. He gazed gulping all around him, devouring every inch of the ambience of this room. So this was what it was like. The press room at the European Council. With reporters from all over the world. So many ethnicities. And so many languages. Where did he fit in? From across the Atlantic for an online news source. And he only spoke (the) one language.

He parked his laptop and bag next to a group of people who were acting as if they were at a cocktail reception. They seemed to know what they were doing and at least they had left spaces next to them empty for other people to use.

“Ciao!” said one of them. They all seemed relatively young.

“Oh, hello” he responded.

“Ah, é un Americano!” the chirpy one replied.

They soon got to talking and he discovered basically all he needed to know about finding his way around the place. The Italians were “frequent flyers” you see. And they knew the inner dwellings of covering news at such a summit. For the “yankee”, as they called him, it was all new. This was his first big international mission. And he had to deliver outstanding results. He had high hopes for his journalistic career.

He decided to take notes on everything he saw. After all, publishing the decisions of the Council was easy. Everyone would do that. It was issued as a press release anyway. The juice of the story was behind the scenes. And that was what he was after.

How journalists scavenged for news, barking at every suit that made the mistake of coming into the room for a statement. Laptops, smartphones and tablets were all on fire. It was amazing the power and internet system could actually hold on to so many connections.

And the most interesting of all: the journalists themselves. Their priorities. And knowing where to draw the line.

“No. Absolutely not,” he heard a Brit say. “That is simply unacceptable. A low cost airline is out of the question”. He was obviously negotiated his flight arrangements for his next mission.

Further down, another reporter was trying to decide whether to attend a conference the next day or not. It was a serious issue.

“Yes, but what kind of sandwiches?” he enquired. Lunch, especially that free-of-charge, is you see an important part of these meetings.

A French photographer next to him was anxiously going through the photos he had taken during the day. The more extraordinary ones would gain him more money and greater publicity in the long run.

“Ehi Americano, vieni prendere il caffé!”. The Italians were going for coffee. Again, he thought to himself. Ah, the life of a journalist. If only everything in life was really that simple, he pondered, as he put away his tablet and mingled with the rest of his “hard-working” colleagues.

N.B. The descriptions here are simply examples. Not all journalists are like this and none can be stereotyped. Just making sure it is clear!

Truth found from a kid…or a nut

mafalda-with-friends-21814It is actually funny how there is a saying that you will only learn the truth from a crazy person and a child. After all it is no coincidence that the best comic or satire strips have kids as their protagonists: Peanuts and Charlie Brown by Charles M. Schulz, Mafalda by Joaquín Salvador Lavado (Quino), Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson, and even the Scooby Doo characters, to name but a few. And it is indeed amazing how the creators of all these use the innocence, sometimes even naivety, of kids to tackle issues that concern us all, in the most honest and truthful way possible. And that is what basically makes it funny – the fact that it is so true you don’t know whether to laugh or to cry! But it is always better to laugh!

People usually think they can move the world if they so wish. That is how strong everyone wants to feel. So confident and cocksure.  That is until something comes along and breaks them. Like a tonne-weighing elephant before the sight of a tiny little mouse (at least that is how cartoons depict it!). It is when a virus, or an illness of some sort, gets you down that you lose all that certainty in yourself and become vulnerable again. Helpless and in need of care and support. It is when you are shattered, almost collapsed, crawling from bed to couch to chair, even Roman wrestling the dog for his fuzzy pillow in his little dog house that you realise all it takes is a moment of feeling unwell. And that is when you understand that nothing is more precious than life itself. Like the moments when you were a kid and you lavished in all new things you discovered. And were so blunt about asking questions about the world simply because your innocence and inexperience allowed you to.

People revert to being kids not just in the bad times but also in the good. I don’t think any adult in Disneyland doesn’t enjoy the fun that awakens the child inside of him/her. Especially if they’ve never been there before. And something that excites you or makes you extremely happy seems to revitalise that inner child. Full of excitement, and lust for life. Just like it should be. Not caring about what anyone else thinks.

So I guess it is true that honesty is best learnt from a child. As for the crazy person, well, the way the world is going, I suppose we will all find out soon enough!

Is it really greener on the other side?

Greener grassThe great thing about going away on a holiday is that you get to forget about everything that annoys you in the place where you reside and go on to experience a different lifestyle, with possibly a different culture and mentality. However, a comparison between what you routinely endure every day and what you see for only a short period is unavoidable. And it seems that every time what you conclude is that the grass always seems to be greener on the other side of the fence. That this “neighbour’s lawn” is indeed better looking, healthier and overall greener than your own. Even though in reality you may be just ignoring anything negative about it and downplaying everything positive about your own.

But sometimes it is in fact greener on the other side. When you view and live in a routine different than the one you are acquainted to, it often simply serves to highlight everything wrong about the latter. The better manners, more efficient organisation, and work ethics of the host nation, simply underline the inadequacy, rudeness and corruption that may prevail in your own. And that is when you decide that things need to change.

Perhaps it is true that one person alone cannot change the world. But change starts from within. And an alteration in your own lifestyle may at least help you reach the satisfaction you so desire. If everything around you seems so negative, and everything elsewhere so positive, then perhaps the grass is truly greener on the other side. But how do you penetrate into that “greener” lawn? How do you enter a system which seems to value contacts, rank and background, much more than knowledge, skills and experience? How do you manage to persuade a director to let you in or at least give you an opportunity when you don’t even know anyone who can open the door? Some trends are universal. And the lack of meritocracy appears to be one of them.

It is like the fight between two wolves that an old Cherokee man told his grandson about. It was about a terrible fight occurring inside of him, between two wolves. One was evil – he represented anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other was good – he was joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. “The same fight”, the man said, “is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too”. The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?” The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

That is true for every aspect of our lives. If we simply look at the negative in everything, that is all we will know. For as long as you feed your mind with the belief that the grass is greener on the other side, that is what you will forever see. In Greek there is a saying that every obstacle is there for a good reason. Perhaps to make you stronger and better prepared when you finally do cross over to the greener lawn. For when you do, you might finally see its own inadequacies and fading colour…


Also part of Daily Prompt: Good Fences?

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