A Pulitzer-winning reporter is writing an in-depth piece – about you. What are the three questions you really hope she doesn’t ask you?
1) The question I would dread most would be: “A swimming pool has 2 inlet pipes. One fills the pool in 4 hours, the other in 6 hours. The outlet pipe empties the pool in 5 hours.
Once the outlet pipe was left open when the pool was being filled. In how many hours was the pool full?”
Firstly, I would stop listening to the reporter as soon as I hear “pool” followed by “two inlets” and secondly, I would start blabbering and giggling, and try to get away with a cute escapist answer, only to inspire the journalist to come up with a possible title for the article: “How smart is she?”
2) What is your zodiac sign?
Oh man, I hate zodiac sings! I am left helpless whenever anyone wants to carry on a conversation about my personality based on which day of the year I was born. I hope she does not ask me that. Do people really get Pulitzer prizes with such questions?
3) Could our photographer take your picture playing football/ basketball/ volleyball?
No!!! I hate team sports and despise any activity involving a ball. Those round bouncy things either land on my head or my bum! I would rather keep the little bit of dignity left from my childhood PE classes, thank you.
I am sure, if the reporter avoids these three questions along with any other queries pertaining to my true personality, I might come across in her article as a charismatic, smart and attractive person.
I love to hug. I am crazy about hugging. Some, by that I mean my partner, may even tend to call me a little clingy, since I tend to spoon all the time… even while walking.
I am lazy. I have my favorite spot in the living room, on the couch we found at the flea market. The best activity I can think of is spending a whole day on the couch, hoping to save the world through surfing the net with occasional snooze intervals.
Sometimes I get extremely aggressive, usually around the mating season of us primates as well as koalas.
From afar, I seem smooth and loving, but from up close, I have been told I have a harsher attitude.
But then, so do many koala people. Everyone my age carries the properties of some animal. There is a perfectly scientific and logical reason behind it.
Years ago, we ran out of space on earth. The number of people populating the earth outnumbered all other species beyond anyone’s expectations. Urbanized spaces spread more and more until all cities became juxtaposed and the whole earth became one huge village…
Naturally, most animals had to yield their habitats to humans. Even maritime life was not spared, since floating cities joined one after another through bridges of various sizes spread throughout the oceans. The new hip travel venture became a round the world trip in a car.
A few others, still hoping to draw attention to what the world was turning into, made the trip on foot. They passed from land to bridge to island to bridge to continent until they reached their starting point.
There was always some concern about the ecosystem, or whatever was left of it. But when even household animals such as cats and dogs became too much of a burden on the overpopulated earth, new regulations and restrictions came into effect. We only heard bits and pieces of these and never thought we would be much affected by them.
But as most centennial elderly died of old age, but very few, almost no babies were born year after year, people came to realize that the rumors were true. Without publicizing their decisions, the governors of every one of the zones around the world had decided to modify our nutrients produced from in the deepest parts of the oceans, the only cultivable places left. Thus, everyone had become sterile.
This went on until a certain decrease was observed in the total population. Then, followed a new announcement:
There was a solution to the sterility but it could only be applied under strict government observation. Citizens who wished to have a child, of course along with certain subventions, had to agree to only one condition.
Although we had almost no animals left, the DNA of most had been preserved. Yet as the atmosphere of the earth as well as oceans and lands had been radically altered over the past few centuries, scientists could not be certain that these animals cloned in laboratories would be able to adapt to these changes. In order to help these potential animals thrive and evolve faster in the new order, an idea had been voted by zone governors as the most feasible solution.
The extinct animal DNAs were to be infused with the DNA of the child to be procreated by parents who were willing to sing a contract with the government. Thus, the child would in a way provide a surrogate body for the animals to facilitate their adaptation until they could survive on their own.
Many thought this was more of a divine intervention, a sort of punishment for the selfish deeds humans had undertaken leading to the demolition of a planet once habitable for thousands of species. By means of the Solution, the title my parents read on their contract, as did many others, they were not only taking part in the salvation of the earth and restoring it to a state where many creatures could once again co-exist, but also learning to empathize with all the animals humans had killed.
Word Count: 689
Written in response to Dailypost Challenge, 28 May:
Mutants and Hybrids: If you were one part human, two parts something else — another animal, a plant, an inanimate object — what would the other two parts be?
When I first got to Montreal in august 2012, the hottest and most humid month (at least it felt so to me) of the whole year, I could not help asking the people we had found through airbnb why they spent all their time on the balcony. They wanted to enjoy the hot summer having spent the whole freezing winter sealed in their apartment. Then I realized that actually, every night, all balconies seemed irresistibly crowded and lively with people, wine, weed and laughter.
But I still could not wrap my mind around this balcony addicted life. I had after all come from a country where we have four seasons and the winters are cool enough. And yes, we enjoy summers out on the balconies but definitely not as much as these Montrealeans…
This year, I realized how this whole deal works out. A Quebecoise friend explained it was as if she had double personalities. In the winter, she became extremely solitaire and anti social, while as soon as spring induced a little warmth into the streets, she became a people’s person. This turned out to be such an accurate diagnosis for me as well. Throughout the winter, with a cold that goes down to -40 degrees, it becomes impossible to move the windows even a cm since they are shut frozen. All you want to do is watch movies or read or do any lonely activity you enjoy, rather than be forced to step out into the energy consuming freezing cold. On some days, a warm bed is so much more attractive than seeing people even on Friday nights…
When the snow melted, a personality change took me over. I am biking everywhere, finding everyone agreeable, adorable, loving and gentle. I am enjoying the courses I registered for and even finding the Quebecois French of the teachers somewhat cute. Drinking and socializing more but cleaning and cooking much less. Feeling less depressed and more hopeful… But also creating less time for this bloggy, which sort of helped me through the winter and in a way added some sense to the senseless job I attend every day.
So, although I am definitely going to enjoy the coming season to the fullest with gatherings in parks and festivals lighting up the city, one thing my summer personality should learn from my winter personality is to write more. That is what writing experts strongly advise, right? Time to heed some wise advice…
PS: I wonder how a conversation between my winter and summer personalities would go… Terribly quiet, I bet. While one would be too sleepy and pensive to talk, the other would be too hyper and a little tipsy to sit still for a meaningful conversation.
On a sunny day, on my way to the shop, I passed by the garden I admired for the lavish green it enclosed. On that day, amidst the leaves and trees, there were sorrowful faces. After so many years, the three orphans were once again gathered under the same roof. Yet this time the woman who had gathered them was in a wooden box they were carrying towards a pit in between the shrubs.
Years ago, the woman in the box had taken them in one by one and offered them a home. Now, after a long time, they were together, thanks to her.
Of the three orphans, especially the girl had left an impact on my memory. I remember clearly the day she was brought to the old woman’s house. Her large dark eyes were shining with fear on her tiny face where tears had made pathways through dried up blotches on her cheeks… on the cheeks that had known nothing but caresses until that day. She looked tired and small in worn out dusty clothes.
I probably remember her so well because of her mother.
Years ago, her mother came to my shop with red puffy eyes. I had seen her around a few times but never had a chance to start a conversation. My shop had been a popular spot the townspeople liked to frequent. They were eager to spend their newly acquired wealth on goods they had never seen before.
Once the war broke out, my customers dwindled. So did the supplies delivered to my shop and I was left with considerable time to listen to stories.
On one such day, she entered my shop with swollen eyes. I asked her if she would like to sit down. She responded with tears and her story that had brought her there. She poured out the string of events one after another with the insatiability of those who are overwhelmed by an accumulation of experiences they cannot quite make out what to do with. She needed to hear them herself by speaking them out loud.
Thus, she began talking. She had moved from her family’s home where she had spent her whole life to our town a few months ago with her husband whom she had met only a month before their wedding. At her new dwelling, in between the alien surroundings, she had to learn to share everything, from her food to her bed, with a complete stranger. So to learn, she watched. She watched this man until all terrifying strangeness about him became a source of comfort. She observed him up to the point where a new life in a new town did not appear so daunting as long as he was present.
Then, a few days ago her husband had left to join the fight and she had lost the only person she knew in this town she had moved to for his sake.
From that day on, I became her confidante for the next three years. I was there when she received news from the front. I held her hand when she found out her home town had been hit by a deadly attack. I was by her side when she came to the realization that she would not be receiving any news from the front anymore. I reassured her as gunfire approached closer day by day.
I was also there when she found out she was going to be a mother. I witnessed her joy when despite everything, she told me about her dreams and hopes for the little bean growing in her.
At a moment when she had no one left, she was eager to embrace her child, to reformulate her existence and grow roots strong enough to hold them upright whatever may strike their little family. I knew, in spite of the war, the dirt, the destruction of everything good, she was ready for her child. Despite the ugliness of fast approaching blood thirst, she wanted to bring her baby up to be aware of others, thoughtful, sensitive and with belief in a safe future.
I knew she was ready to give everything for her little child. I knew it from the way she wrapped her little baby’s hands around her fingers. I knew it from the way she considered tomorrow, and from the way she thought about years to come. I knew it from the way she held her child when her house was destroyed in an air raid and from the way she was holding her little girl when the bullet hit her. I knew it from her dried blood on her daughter’s face when the little girl was rescued from under her lifeless body.
Now, looking at the young strong woman’s sad face in the garden, standing by the grave of another who brought her up to adulthood, I cannot help but think of that friend who felt strongest holding her little daughter.
Her wrinkled hands skillfully whisked the little bit of flour with ground oatmeal and water to prepare the dough for the pizza. We were three kids left at her care, each with the same expectation expressed in a different ingredient.
“I want onions!”
“I prefer carrots!”
“I like beetroot!”
All of us had chosen a different vegetable she grew in the tiny patch on what was left of her once voluptuous garden.
If she mixed all ingredients, none of us would eat anything that day and we would be hungrily whining around her until bedtime.
Were she to choose only one of the ingredients, the other two would definitely sulk complaining they were not loved enough to get the pizza of their choice.
Thus, carefully measuring with a ruler, she divided the dough into three parts, forming the Mercedes logo on the round baking tray.
She meticulously added the exact same amount of each topping, making sure to use the same measuring bowl so that none could have any reason to protest.
The baking tray holding three different ingredients on one pizza was delivered from the oven to the table we had gathered around. The smell of freshly baked dough wafted through the house after so many months watering our mouths and raising a pitch higher the rumbling in our tummies. As soon as we impatiently bit our slices of pizza, our tongues burnt and we were happier than ever.
In a time when rations were hard to get hold of, with the little she could produce, she had created a pizza with ingredients we were free to choose from. With that pizza, she had made us feel equally loved and very much valued by paying particular attention to our choices. Most important of all, by letting us know that despite everything, there was someone to answer our needs, to ensure that our share was duly noted and provided for, she had made us feel secure.
Many years later, I went back to the house. I put a scarf around my head and followed the two middle aged orphans I had shared a patch of my childhood with out of the old house where each of us had eaten a small slice of the thin bread while shards flew through the broken windows and bullets wheezed nearby.
Walking behind the wooden box, I stared at the once barren garden I used to watch with my child’s eyes. New colorful vegetable patches had been added over the years and trees had grown thick and strong yielding fruits under quiet sunny skies. In the middle of the lush foliage, while they lay the white cloth wrapped around her at the bottom of the freshly dug pit, all I could think was a yearning for a potato pizza with the aroma of onions and beetroots mixing in between every bite.