Writing

How difficult is for a woman to keep up with everything happening around her! In my opinion, most housewives should be truly subversive. They should be so defiant as… Che Guevara.

The other day I heard on TV about such kind of a woman. She is a poor Brasilian, half illiterate, doing the usual housewife routines and also keeping a small laundry business to maintain her family. She used to spend her spare time watching TV soaps; however, when she returned to her sink, her head was not playing around the love scenes she had just witnessed. She was creating scenes of her own! Sometimes she was so moved by her own stories that tears would fell over the items she was scrubbing.

Ideas kept coming and she started recognizing the good ones. She took some coins of her precious monthly income to buy a pen and paper. She never stopped writing since then. Currently one of her novels is being adapted to theatre, still her dream is to see her stories end up as TV soaps. Isn’t it incredible? Isn’t it marvelous the way such simple woman elevated herself from such an humble condition and turned the tide?

Seabell has a friend who also likes to write. Her name is Lisa and she has a curious story, worth to know. She learned to read and write very little and today she still writes, even though she doesn’t want to become a writer. She just likes to express herself through writing. Most of the time she writes and erases everything shortly after. Reading her story is a step to understand her motives.

Lisa went to boarding-school with Seabell. One day, when she was eleven years old, she told her colleagues what had happened to her at nine. She was staying at her grandmother’s house for holidays. She wrote about a teenage girl who slowly was becoming blind, mixing poetry and prose. The words talked of her despair and how she dealt with the situation. She sent her writing to a newspaper and waited.

During the next days she raised very early due to expectation. The room was very still and pitch black when she started to read old books in the darkness, because she didn’t want to disturb her aunt sleeping in the next bed. She could read two hours in a row before proper light.

One day she went out with her family and at a certain point she fainted. When she regained conscience she couldn’t see a thing. She was blind like her character! She was rushed to the doctor for exam and diagnose of a strange kind of blindness. The doctor also gave her good advice and medication before she returned home.

That same afternoon someone brought home a newspaper with her story printed. Everybody could read it except for her. She sat silently and cried a lot in a mix of perplexity and joy. She still remembers the pleasure of listening to her aunt reading the words she had designed in her own mind.

Days later she could read by herself again. Her temporary blindness disappeared and left her with a slight case of shortsightedness. Even today Lisa can recite passages of her first published work by heart and she recalls things like the size of the characters used for the title or the position occupied on the page.

After this first try she went again on a period of disperse writing and destroying. At seventeen she moved to a new place with her parents, brothers and sisters, to start a new life. This was a major set back for her, because she was leaving behind good friends and a fiancé.

For a couple of months she and her family lived in a small hotel, before they could move to a proper house and start school. As she had time for herself, she decided to write a book. During days she played with a couple of ideas in her mind. Suddenly, the words came with ease and she started to write feverishly. Her story was about love, inspired by her romantic ideas and the fate of a very young maid Lisa had when she was a child. She disappeared from Lisa’s life because her father sold her to a man.

Her female character had 13 years old and belonged to a very poor family working the fields from the first lights of dawn to sunset. One day her father called and presented her to a young man.

“Here is your future husband!” her father said.

She soon moved to her new house. In exchange her father would receive cattle and the protection of her father-in-law, an important farmer of the region. Her new family was composed of a forty something widower and two sons: one with 16 and her husband to be with 19.

Her misfortune started the day she first entered the big farmhouse and saw her father-in-law. She immediately fell in love with him, though she didn’t know it at the beginning. While she was waiting for the wedding, she was learning that she loved everything about that man: his strength, his loyalty, his love for the land and for his family.

She realized her feelings the moment the priest pronounced the final words. She felt such sadness that the true surfaced like a deep sigh. From then on she started a strange period of her life: loving the father and running away from the son. However, her husband had other ideas in mind. Being a strong young man, used to the roughness of country life, he had waited far too long. That night he would have her, with or without her consent.

Well, one good afternoon my friend Lisa found herself on the hotel balcony writing a painful, difficult rape scene, still undecided about the girl’s fate. Should father-in-law save her from the agony or should it happen? Suddenly, she was interrupted by a male’s voice. “What are you always writing?” he asked. “A book,” she answered.”How interesting! Can I read it?” “I shalll think about,” she answered in a carefree manner.

The man asking to read the first pages of Lisa’s book was a middle age man she knew from the hotel where she and her family provisory stayed. He was married to a beautiful woman and they formed such a nice couple that everybody loved them, including Lisa’s parents. Due to all this, she didn’t feel very surprised with his familiarity when he just took the pages and promptly told her: “You don’t have to think about. I’ll read it in a couple of days and I swear that I’ll give you my honest opinion. It is not the first time that an author asks me to read his work.”

The next few days my friend used to enter in the dinning room and ask that man about her book. He always answered with a subterfuge. One day he approached the table where she was having lunch with her family and gave her the pages she had written, explaining that he would comment later. Very happy to have her book back, my friend asked permission to put it in the room she shared with one of her sisters.

She went quickly upstairs. As it was only a matter of leaving the pages over the table, she didn’t even close the door behind her. The moment she was putting down the pages she was violently pushed to one of the beds. Lisa could perfectly see his face because he wasn’t hiding it. She told me that she remembered her distant fiancé and she fought like hell to escape from her aggressor. I think it was the first time she fought for something so hard.

The fact that she fought saved her from being raped, not because she was strong enough but because it gave her time and time can be, sometimes, the most precious thing. In her case, the fight allowed her sister to come up after her and arrive at a crucial moment.

“What the hell is happening here?” she asked. “I suspected of something when I saw you leaving your table so shortly after my sister went up!” Then happened a marvellous thing: Lisa’s youngest sister gave two big slaps on his face and he left without a word. Even though my friend had escaped from a terrible fate, her relief was only partial. “Once again,” she emphasized, “I was experiencing the same fate of a character I had created!”

It was at this moment that she turned to me and asked, almost pathetically: “In my place, would you write again?”

I don’t remember what my answer was but even today her question still deserves a thought. If you were on her shoes, would you write again?

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2 thoughts on “Writing

  1. Hello Seabell

    I have enjoyed reading your writings. Your stories of the sea and your family’s association with the sea evoke such wonderful images for me as I live in Australia and I love the ocean but it has not, thus far, been a part of my life. I hope one day to meet you and your family.

    I will be in Germany in December visiting my son and daughter-in-law and I am very much looking forward to this journey.

    Keep writing!!

    Denise

  2. Hi Denise
    Thanks for your nice words. They are particularly welcomed, since English was just one of the languages I learned in a school where speaking Latin was far more important than any other subject. In fact, Eastern Africa has a lot of similarities with Australia. I don’t know you, but I have the feeling that we are not strangers at all. I hope you will enjoy Germany, as we have. The country is wonderful and the people very friendly. Seabell

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