Crevices Of Deliverance

Along with necessity, nooks, crannies and crevices are also the perfect mothers of invention. If hiding something to find it later is the second most delightful pastime of adolescence, finding something that has been hidden – unquestionably – is the first! Aren’t the two acts in question the same? Please allow me to explain why they are not. While the nexus between them is inextricable, the link is neither predictable nor continuous. A cigarette hidden haphazardly and hastily behind a line of rarely perused books, provides a sense of indescribable relief. However, this event, due to the larger hustle and bustle of worldly schemes might be totally forgotten, until one, day either disastrously (if your father finds the cigarette), or thanks to a fortuitous bolt of realization (congratulations! Time to puff away without knowing the art of inhalation), the offending object is accessed for further consumption. The feeling in the latter case, is then one of pure exhilaration!

Replace the cigarette with say, a banned book, a love letter, and substitute the back of the bookshelf for the rusty aluminum briefcase in a cobweb adorned attic, a makeshift pit in the garden, or even the cramped albeit dry space between the float and the flushing mechanism of a Western Commode!

The most memorable secret places are the ones visible in plain sight. Acts of ingenuity and spontaneity contrive to make them caches and vaults!

(Word Count: 233)

#TellTaleThursday with Anshu & Priya

To access all the stories for this week, click HERE

Song of a Wandering Soul

(Songxicun, China | Gao Shian, Google Maps)

Ashita gingerly unslung her back pack and took out her high powered Sony A7 III full frame mirror less camera. With a 3 inch tilting touchscreen this new gadget was her soul mate. For her closest friends this obsession didn’t come as a surprise. Just like every picture produced by the click of shutters knew neither bias nor prejudice, but only narrated consequences, Ashita neither pandered to praise nor was cowed down by threats.

Hence when she set out to Songxicun on a solo soul searching trip, the two most overworked companions were going to be her feet and her eyes. Ambling through a stone paved alley, with dilapidated buildings abutting its sides, Ashita stood staring impassively at the bricks uncovered by peeling paint and worn down cement.

Taking out her notebook, she wrote her first entry of the day, “in material deprivation lies true education and the depths of character.”

This has been an edition of What Pegman Saw

For the complete list of entries, please click HERE

Dante’s Promontory

(Photo Credit: Sue Vincent)

A flaming sky provided an accidentally breathtaking backdrop into which the two silhouetted figures stared fixedly. Seemingly. Resolutely. Inevitably. The magnificent orb that was the setting sun slowly began plunging down but not before lending a marvelous hue to the surrounding sky. But for some random, asymmetric and isolated chirping of birds calling out to their flock, the silence was deafening. The promontory on which the couple was standing sloped up from the ground like the broad back of a humpbacked whale.

“The clichéd flight of time has finally touched us too” said Venky with both hands on his hips.

Without taking her eyes off the sky, Ash replied, “Time stands still only for calamities and celebrations.”

“Isn’t this a calamity for me and a celebration for you?” There was no hiding the stirrings of sarcasm in his soft albeit determined tone.

“Since you claim to be an avid reader, wasn’t it Shakespeare who said ‘One man’s meat is another’s poison?” Ash wondered out loud.

“It was Lucretius, the Roman poet and philosopher. He peddled his intellectual wares in the first Century BC.”

“Good for him. Did anyone end up ‘buying’ what he plied intellectually?” Ash attempted to bring in a hint of misplaced humour.

“This is about neither poems nor proverbs. It is about us.” Tension filled the air. It was so taut one could cut it with a knife.

“It is not about us. It is about me going away to carve out a new future; a new hope (forgive the corny analogy to Princess Leia) & a new beginning. That is it.”  

“That is it? That is just it?” Venky’s voice rose an octave (or two).

“Stop screaming. You are polluting nature”.

” Ok. If this is what you really want, then so be it. But I will wait. Wait for as long as it takes for you to be ready and to be back. For as Nuala O’ Faolain said, ‘The wait is long, my dream of you does not end.’ “By now Venky had more or less reconciled to the fact that there would be no turning back for Ash.

“Waiting is the hobby of an idle mind” responded Ash.

“Was it Mary Gordon?” Venky’s eyebrows were now raised.

“No. It was me just now.”

The hills echoed with their laughter as they slowly treaded their way back down to the small rectangular patch of grass where her even smaller Peugeot was parked.

This is a response to the #writephoto Prompt – New curated over at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo. Click on the link to read other stories inspired by the image.

Invisible Heroes of World War II: Extraordinary Wartime Stories of Ordinary People – Jerry Borrowman

Image result for invisible heroes of world war II

 

In a poignant, penetrating and pertinent work, Jerry Borrowman pays wholesome tribute to some of the indomitable heroes of World War II, heroes whose exploits have either been recognized long after such an act was due or have been acknowledged much later than even the lifetimes of the valiant protagonists.

“Extraordinary Wartime Stories of Ordinary People” is a rousing paean to the will of the common man which rose beyond its own determination and packed punches well beyond its expected weight. The chronicles of these selfless men and women not only induce a smile to the lips of the reader, but also brings forth a tear or two.

Nancy Grace Augusta Wake, known as “The White Mouse of French Resistance” by the Gestapo for her uncanny ability to evade the Axis Forces while wreaking havoc upon their infrastructure in tandem with the French Resistance Forces was forced to endure a harrowing experience of losing her well-do-to husband to torture at the hands of the German Forces. Nancy once “volunteered to ride a bicycle more than 150 miles (250 kilometers) through German occupied lines to ask a radio operator in a different zone to request a new radio and code book for Nancy’s area.” Nancy was, by the end of the war, the most decorated Australian in World War II. Her recognitions and honours resemble a string of pearls. The Companion of the Order of Australia, the George Medal from England, the Officier de Legion d’ Honneur and Croix de Guerre (three times) from France, the Medal of Freedom (with Bronze Palm) from the United States and the Returned and Services Association (RSA) Badge in gold from New Zealand.

If Nancy Grace’s case was one of celebration, the story of Joseph Hyalmar Anderson makes for some heart wrenching reading. Going Missing In Action (“MIA”) after his Lockheed PV-1 Ventural Patrol Bomber went missing whilst on a routine training patrol off Vancouver Island, British Columbia, his family was left waiting for a definitive closure for an inordinately long time before the puzzle of the missing aircraft was finally pieced together. Finally, in 2006 the 101st Squadron ‘erected a permanent marker at the site’ of the crash.

The contribution of indigenous and immigrant populace such as Native Indians and Japanese Americans respectively, to the Allied Cause in World War II have to a great degree gone unnoticed. Borrowman strives to ameliorate this lapse by chronicling the feats of this section of the military component.

Joseph Medicine Crow, the first member of the Crow Nation to receive a master’s degree was a post graduate student in anthropology at the University of South California when he was drafted into the armed forces. Crow distinguished himself admirably well in a few battles while posted in France and Germany. In true Crow Nation fashion, he also managed to stealthily divest from the possession of a band of fleeing SS Officers, their horses, thereby facilitating an easy capture of the officers forming part of one of Hitler’s most venomous and brutal military wings. As Borrowman patiently explains, “more than 25,000 Native American men served in the armed forces in World War II…”

The heroics of the ‘Navajo Code Breakers’, twenty-nine innovative “living code machines whose transmissions were never deciphered by the Japanese” is one for the ages. Rendering yeoman service to the American cause in the Pacific, these code breakers provided a viable and imaginative alternative to the Shackle protocol, a cumbersome method to transmit codes that usually took four hours to send and receive. The Navajo Code, on the other hand, took just two and a half minutes to send and receive messages – a virtually incredulous and exponential improvement over the Shackle method! However, it was not until the year 2000 that the bravery of the Navajo Code breakers was recognized. The Congressional Gold Medal was awarded to the code breakers. However only, five of the courageous men remained in flesh and blood to receive the awards.

Executive Order 9066 issued by then President Franklin D. Roosevelt on the 19th of February (coincidentally 77 years before this very day of reviewing Borrowman’s work), “authorized the relocation and internment of more than 120,000 people of Japanese descent into ten guarded camps deep in the United States interior.”  Ironically, some of the bravest and most decorated armed personnel distinguishing themselves in the Second World War were Japanese Americans. The Purple Heart Battalion or just the 100th Infantry Battalion consisted of 1,432 men who demonstrated exemplary act of courage. The Purple Heart Battalion received the Presidential Unit Citation and sixteen Divisional Citations. The indiscriminate wrongs against this community was finally righted when first President Ronald Reagan announced a compensation of $20,000 to each surviving detainee and later when George H.W. Bush tendered an unconditional apology on behalf of the United States.

Borrowman also chronicles in a painstaking and refreshing manner the contribution of thousands of unsung engineers and African Americans. “For example, one battalion of US combat engineers, the 291st, replaced fourteen German autobahn bridges in forty-eight hours.” Subject to intense isolation and immense racial discrimination, the extraordinary achievements of these patriots warms the very cockles of the heart. Benjamin Davis Jr. the first black American to be honoured with the Brigadier General title had it extremely rough in his initial West Point Cadet dates. “The silent treatment was enforced on Davis for the entire four years he was in the academy. He lived without a roommate, was assigned to his own tent during field exercises, ate by himself at every meal, and was never spoken to by other cadets, except for official communications.” Overcoming such seemingly insurmountable odds, Davis Jr. rose to become a superb tactical airman and an integral part of the famous, Tuskegee Airman, nicknamed, “The Red Tails.” The airmen commanded by Davis Jr, “flew more than 15,000 sorties, shot down 111 enemy planes, and destroyed 273 on the ground. They lost 66 aircraft.”

However, the most stirring and inspiring story in the book is reserved for narrating the exploits of one of the greatest women war photojournalist, Dickey Chapelle. Posted or as the current prevailing military-journalistic terminology would state, embedded with the Marines during the battle of Iwo Jima, Chapelle covered the battle of Okinawa as well. When the dust settled on the greatest slaughter in the history of mankind, Chapelle’s zeal for truth and adventure remained unquenched. Crisscrossing the world, Chapelle was captured and jailed for over seven weeks during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. Chapelle’s inspiring and singularly unique life came to an untimely and cruel end November 4, 1965 while on patrol with a Marine platoon during Operation Black Ferret, a search and destroy operation 16 km south of Chu Lai, Quang Ngai Province. The lieutenant walking in front inadvertently made contact with a tripwire booby-trap with a hand grenade attached to the top of it. Chapelle was struck in the neck by a piece of shrapnel which severed her carotid artery, and she died soon afterwards. Her last moments were captured in a photograph by Henri Huet. Chapelli was thus the first female war correspondent to be killed in Vietnam, as well as the first American female reporter to be killed in action.

Douglas MacArthur’s immortal quotes ring in one’s ears as the covers come down upon Borrowman’s splendid book. “The soldier above all others prays for peace, for it is the soldier who must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.” The soldier who neither relents nor remonstrates; one who neither complains no criticizes.

Gandalf’s Magic

XSPF 12-30-18 Spaulding

(Photo Credit: Susan Spaulding)

They called him Gandalf. With his snow white beard and icy white flowing locks (or whatever was remaining of them) he did look mythical. Years of uncomplaining toil and uncompromising integrity had burdened him with a slight hunch. The once broad and proud shoulders were now a pale shadow of their past. The sinewy limbs and sturdy joints were now complaining and creaking. But the magic had not diminished one bit!

The same magic that had his first – and since then – only employer stupefied, spellbound and shellacked. A magic that had not only made ‘Try Ply and Buy Inc.” the world’s largest vendor of Plywood but one that had catapulted its founder into illustrious pantheons such as the Forbes and Fortune listing. Even when offered a partnership a multitude of times, Gandalf (for none knew his name) had politely demurred

Even today you can find the magician standing atop a lengthy piece of log in a loose fitting long sleeved blue shirt and a faded denim jeans and with an axe, gently tapping away the underside of the log. Once blessed with the ‘Gandalf Touch’ the piece of log never ever rotted or suffered a sell by fate.

(Word Count: 198)

This story was written for Sunday Photo Fiction hosted by Susan Spaulding. For more details visit Here.  To read more of the stories based on this week’s prompt, visit Here.

Perspective

Sun, sand and sky were but accomplices willing

Putting out displays so seraphic and thrilling

An orb, a still mass of water and a canopy of azure blue

Paying paeans to Mother Nature in a manner wonderfully true.

 

Every element of cosmos teaches a lesson while laying out a vision

Entreating humanity to broaden the perspectives of their thinking horizon

Every blazing star unfolds secrets every night

Beseeching us to observe hope taking flight

Courtesy of Sammi Cox Weekend Writing Prompt#92

Words Unspoken & A Story Untold

(Photo Credit: J Hardy Carroll)

A few spindly and elongated branches reflected off a shiny glass window of the stony structure. The invisible rows of books inside narrated a multitude of stories ranging from the asinine to the arcane. Knights in shining armours and damsels in distress; chaste individuals with impure intentions and concubines with pure motives; sensible wars and senseless peace.

However, there was one asymmetric story which no book did narrate. The story of Venky & Ash.

A story with a tentative beginning but without an end;

A story of optimism not based on outcome;

Some stories best remain untold.

(Word Count: 98)

This story was written as part of the FRIDAY FICTIONEERS challenge, more about which may be found HERE

 For the complete list of entries, please click HERE