Friday, June 13, 2008

A Cache of Jewels

I have recently discovered an intriguing blog which has as its primary goal the artistic exploration of collective nouns. To quote Gracia Haby's introduction to the blog: "I find collective nouns beautiful and evocative both." I was intrigued by this blog's recent exploration of the phrase "a cache of jewels". Featured in the "cache of jewels" post are regular participants Elaine Haby, Louise Jennison, and Gracia Haby, along with guest artist Esti.

I began trying to capture some of my thoughts on the phrase "a cache of jewels" by writing little stories, simply because I was so inspired by these artists' work. Soon, these stories seemed to gather and connect themselves into a series. I have therefore decided to post my cache as a series of daily posts, with the hope that you may be patient and trusting enough to go along on the story journey.


After landing, and collecting their luggage (only two rucksacks, that’s all), they walked out into the muggy heat of the new country, and after a two-hour bus ride they arrived at the refugee camp. A couple of men were waiting for them at the bus-stop, they were embraced and then led to what was to be their new home. It was nothing more than a tent for two, with just enough room for their sleeping-bags, and it was surrounded by a sea of makeshift tents and sheds which were the homes of the others. The two of them had travelled here so as to help these others, and they were full and fresh with hopes and dreams of world peace and love.

Her husband’s eyes sparkled as he grabbed his little black bag of medical supplies and told her that he would return before dark. He went off with the two men, and as she looked after the three figures walking confidently into the mass of tent-people, she (for the very first time) felt that being a woman might effect the way one sees a tent. Maybe the tent meant something different to her, something for which her husband didn’t have a symbol, or a gesture, or a code.

She couldn’t imagine going off with her own little black bag, although that had been the original plan. She could only imagine trying to unpack, then discovering that she couldn’t, looking for a bathroom,and then finding that there wasn’t, and searching for food, and then seeing that it was scarce and difficult. Shelter and food were basic commodities which she had enjoyed her entire life, as had her husband, but he went out for a walk, and she was still at home, in the tent.

Weeks went by. Then months. The oppressive heat of summer made way for for the freezing rains of winter, and needless to say, their flimsy tent-for-two did not hold up very well to these extremes. Having arrived in this strange land under the pollyanna assumption that she would help the poor and needy of the camps, she soon discovered that she was in fact the one who needed, and received, help from the women around her. They started calling her “darling” and “poor little one”, and every day the refugee women taught her something new. They showed her how how to dig a trench around the tent so as to prevent flooding, they shared their flour and spices with her, they taught her how to bake bread on a campfire, and cook soupy beans in a rusty pot overnight on the coals.

When her husband came home he would tell her about the people he met and the places he’d seen and the healing he had done. She showed him her coal-pot, and he laughed and said it was just like her crock-pot at home. She said “I know, I think actually that I am turning into a bit of a crock-pot myself,” and they shared that laugh together and she remembered for a fraction of a moment the way things used to be, before they had decided to journey, before they had started saving the world.


Tuli said...

What a great beginning! Looking forward to more.

blackbird said...

oh, will you post more tomorrow?
do you post on weekends?

Anonymous said...

That couple in the story? That is my older son (starts med school on Monday, is determined to save the world) and his as-yet-undiscovered life mate. Thank you for showing me his future :-)

Anna said...

What a beautiful idea, collective nouns. I'm so looking forward to the serie to continue. It's late here and you're most likely asleep, but I will be back tomorrow to be updated.

Esti said...

This is so good a beginning... I look forward to the whole story :)