Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Happy Holidays!

Hello all you sparkly, wonderful souls out there!

I hope this year has been amazing for you, and with kisses and best wishes, I hope 2014 is even better.

Happy holidays lovely ones, and a brilliant New Year! Enjoy, laugh, love!

All the best for 2014!

Love xxx

Monday, 23 December 2013

Things Could Get Better

Rock Bottom Risers

Firstly, we are still waiting for the 'Risers to play London. We would quite like it.

Secondly, our lovely boys from the North have dropped their new song, Things Could Get Better, over various parts of the internet. It's kind of sexy, trippy, and it features close-ups and reflections of their gorgeous faces. Could it get better?

Listen, sway, pretend you're a starfish, or whatever you like, but make sure you check out the official video. Just click here.

Friday, 18 October 2013

A Band Called: Rock Bottom Risers

Music and Musicians.

In the 60s, bands like The Rolling Stones, The Who and The Beatles highlighted the musical talent born in Britain to the world, and they set the bar pretty damn high for all British rockers to come. As a late-eighties child, I was lucky enough to have some decent Rock and Indie bands to listen to (thank God for Radiohead), and we, as a nation, still manage to produce some talented souls today in the midst of a pre-pubescent boyband revolution. Hell, we even recognised Kings of Leon early on, and would gladly claim them as honorary Brits. But music gets diluted, guys start using way more product than women in there hair, and sing pop-songs made to be jingles in fast-food adverts. So, when a band is discovered - a real band, a true band, whose members can play instruments, and voices have cracked already - we must celebrate and honour their talent.


With that in mind, let me introduce to you, the wonderfully sexy, incredibly senstaional, and immensley talented, Rock Bottom Risers. They're kind of great.


Think Rock. Think Indie. Think British festivals, and a sexy Strokes-Kings of Leon mix. The sound is pretty much high quality Indie Rock, with little nods to psychedelia and blues, and riffs worthy of RHCP. Already making waves in and around the North of England, the Rock Bottom Risers mix the different styles to create and emotional experience for their audience.


The music is original, without being watered down or commercialised. The four-piece band show that Rock is well and alive, and hiding up north.


The four-piece are made up of Civ James Clegg (Vocals/Guitar), Kane Scott (Guitar/Backing Vocals), Greg Kirby (Bass/Backing Vocals), and John Butcher (Drums). But don't be taken in by the photos* and the hair, or the simple fact that they are musicians, and we like musicians. Go listen!


The band are already receiving fantastic press and exposure, acquiring fans with every one of their sell-out gigs. It's expected.


So go listen (which you should), and to explore a little more, follow on here...





*There are a few more photos if you insist on being distracted.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Clint Michaellson: Young, American, Raw.

Music and Musicians.


The twenty-year old singer from Lawrence, Kansas, originally reminded me of Radiohead - or what they would be in a more acoustic, young, state-side sort of way. I first listened to Tricks and Charms Lullaby - a painful melody, introducing an unpolished, raw talent, that welcomed listeners to soft drums and gentle guitar. It's addictive, it's fresh, it's untainted in a way, and invites listeners to explore his earlier work: first album, My Dearest Love.

Sure enough the love songs make believe that you are star of a coming-of-age summer movie, "running through the fields... getting lost, [you] don't know what to do..."

There is a beautiful innocence in his music, and the young artist manages to effortlessly combine the notion of pure, young love with the little sad realities of life - birds flying, the seasons changing, growing older - in some very genuine-feeling tracks.

Young though he is, Michaellson is accomplished on drums, guitar and keyboard. Paired with Kansas behind the boy, and a soft-spoken tone, is it a wonder how he produces such wonderful end of summer-autumn sunset type, gentle music?

It's warm, and familiar, but at the same time, fresh and untouched. Listen to his first album, My Dearest Love, get a taste of his second album, To Be Free, and, to paraphrase Michaellson, be left needing more of his tricks and his charms.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

After a break...

After a (near) two month break, thewonderwound is back!

We have some fantastic new musicians and artists that will be featured here on thewonderwound soon, so get ready for some incredible talent, beautiful lyrics, and vocals that will send you into dream like states of wonder...

Friday, 26 July 2013

Fourteen years

Fourteen years
Gone
In one
Sip,
Shot,
Bottle.

Fourteen years
Of pent-up shakes
Reserved
For remission
Arrive,
Thrive,
Drive the addiction.

Fourteen years
Saving myself
Thrown in balance
As I try
Try
Try not to die.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Calling all Writers! Flash Fiction International: Submissions

Calling all writers of flash fiction! 

Below are the details of a fantastic new anthology being put together by W. W. Norton. So get ready to submit some wonderfully short stories!


Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Salidaa: Against the Grain

Why hello, wonderful London-based and bound readers! There is an incredibly arty, cultural, and generally brilliant event being held at the West Wing Arts Centre in Slough this weekend. So, if you find yourselves free this Saturday (6th July), why not head down to the fabulous Salidaa event in showcasing the works of the Asian Women Writers Collective?

The event will mark the re-launch of the South Asian Diaspora Literature and Arts Archive with the talented women of the AWWC and National Lottery Heritage Fund, so come along and have some fun!


To find out more about Salidaa, head over to Visual Arts Data Service (VADS) website here.



Friday, 14 June 2013

A Dark Light: Part 3


***
Over the last three years, he’s worked to undo me. I never ask him to love me, and I never ask him for his time, so he buys me an apartment, and furnishes it. I continue to work and dance, and show a glimpse of human when I slip of my Mata Hari bra, so he buys me a cell, and asks to take me away. The clientele is exclusive, all city, and they have a thing for the exotic. Being Indian works, and I play it well.

They buy us drinks, so he takes me for walks along Southbank. They want to take us to dinner, so he invests more time. He asks about how I know the book market, and, engrossed in a copy of Evolution of Ethnicity I let slip that I visited it a lot whilst at university. He asks what I did, and why I dropped out. I tell him about trying to get back, and the loopholes that kept me away. I don’t tell him about threatening the administrator with a gender-race lawsuit, Because I wonder, if I was male, or even white, would you make an effort let me back?

He tells me I look sad, and that I don’t have to this anymore.

It takes him three years to undo me, to pick apart a cold and calculated actress, playing the only part that gives her power, and to say, I’ve got money, you can go back to uni, or whatever. We can go away. You don’t have to do this.


I don’t tell him that it’s in my blood, to reject everything that is normal because it damages me. I don’t tell him I’m too far gone, having inherited a world of inequality and powerlessness since years before I was born – since my grandmother was burnt alive for being a woman whose husband had died. I tell him that I will meet him at his home, and I head towards the airport, mapping out a life in a place where money and sex trump everything else.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

A Dark Light: Part 2


I asked my mother if she remembers how her mother died, but she is blank. She is happy. All the stories of her childhood start from her teen years. She tells me how Dadima had brought her here and how she had never been back home since.

It was like some strange parable – Dadima had escaped a secluded village community to a big foreign city where her and Maya where alone. She’d kept her old clothes, because she couldn’t afford anything else, and left everything else behind her. She forced my mother into an education, working fourteen hour cleaning shifts at the airport to put her through school.

Maya went to all the afterschool clubs – she learnt French and Latin, and played girls basketball. She went on ski trips to the next city over and sang in the school choir. She wasn’t allowed to learn stitching, so she taught herself in secret while Dadima slept or was at work.

Dadima paid for her driving lessons, and moved into a room in a house so she could pay for Maya’s university housing. She was studying to be a doctor.

Dadima never married.

Maya told me about her summer breaks. After her end of year exams, Dadima would give her a little money – whatever she could afford – and send her away for a few days. She’d tell me these stories whilst I was still at school, telling me about the importance of education, and experiencing life, and about how Dadima’s parentage was so modern and how she hadn’t met many Asians until she had started medicine.

Dadima admitted in one of her shaky nights that she had tried to force Maya away from anything Indian, away from any of the traditions that led to the old practice that had murdered her sister. She wanted to give Maya the whitest life possible.

She married an Indian guy, and they had me. Dadima never spoke against the marriage, but I grew up with her switching the Indian TV shows to BBC news every time my father walked out of the room. My paternal grandparents spoke to me in the old language, but she never did. I loved my culture, my father submerging me in Asian-ness he grew up around, ensuring I wasn’t as much as a ‘coconut’ as my mother. She would laugh at this, and agree.

So did I.

Up until the age of eighteen, I never thought about why I spoke English with Dadima, and ate European food, and did things like go to theatre or festivals. It was just a right that came with being the offspring of two educated and successful doctors. It was normality.

At eighteen, I had my own medical school interview. At eighteen, I was told, A lot of Indians apply for medicine, so why should we offer you a spot?

At twenty, they made jokes about all the good doctors being either Indian or Jewish, so I would be okay, even though I was female. Ha ha, I said sarcastically, but secretly I knew this would give me an edge over the female competition.

At twenty-one, Dadima began to lose it, and I had to re-sit my exams.

Dadima went in to the college hospital, and they took blood and ran tests. The minimum was done to confirm her liver was shot. A forty-something doctor spoke to her in Hindi – privacy in a shared room perhaps – but it made me angry. And when said in her low, doctor-like tones, that at her age they don’t consider transplants, I said, She speaks English. So she said it again, this time for everyone to here.

She got worse, I got worse. Her eyes went jaundice, and I took the year away from university. Maya went ballistic. My father called in favours with his colleagues – Make her as comfortable as you can. I screamed at my mother, Why didn’t you do something? Why didn’t you try?!

I stayed away from home when Dadima was as hospital, and took a part-time job as a bank cashier to pay for rent along with the rest of my student grant.

There, they’d joke about women working, and about sexual violence. I would say nothing – don’t cause trouble; you will be back at university next year. They’d joke about colonies and slavery, and how it should be bought back. I said nothing and kept my head down. They would complain about customers with benefits, and how they were messing up our country. They’d look at me, and say, You’re okay though, ‘cause you were born here.

My head went up, Nothing to do with the thousands of Empire soldiers that made it so you’re not speaking German? They’d change the tone, joking again, about how Hitler had the right idea, and how all of us around that desk were out for the count – me the only ethnicity, but all of us, dark haired and dark eyed.

Dadima passed away, in pain. Maya had her cremated, and asked if I’d like to go back home to scatter her ashes. Yeah, I said, and went back to South London and left her to get on a plane to India.

***

Saturday, 18 May 2013

A Dark Light: Part 1


Walk out. The fluorescent lights warm the stage in green, blue, red, pink. A little roar, a little raucous. There’s a thing for Indian girls here. So I play the role well.

It was four years ago, I had used eyelash glue to stick bindi’s over my brow, slipped off my dress robe, and slipped on a Mata Hari bra. It was exotic enough. It was awkward, purposeful in the slow reveal. He’d once said to me that my face only glimpsed a different expression when I tried to take it off. He’d asked why. I answered money. He tried to steer the conversation back, psychoanalyse me. He told me, sometime after, that it had revealed the girl in me that needed saving – the girl in me that was ashamed of what was coming. I’d stared at him, pressed my lips together, and swallowed. My eyes glistened, and filled up as I got up and retreated to the bathroom. It was the power.

Dadima was my mother’s aunt. She started to lose it near the end. She’d begin to shake, grab me, cover my eyes, start talking fast in the old language. This was twelve years ago.

She was a small woman, with thin hair scraped back and tied into a long plait. You could see her skull. She wore sarees with trainers, and walked with a wooden walking stick. Still, people cut in front of her in the bus queue, and no-one ever helped her with her grocery bags.

She was fifteen when she picked up my mother in her arms, and covered her eyes and spoke to her in the old language. She was fifteen when her sister was burnt alive.

She had been living with the other Dadima – the one that burnt – and that one’s husband. He had never resented her, or hurt her. He loved her as if she was his own little sister. He was different, and she’d loved her new brother back. She’d fallen into tears with an old Hindi film playing in the background, when I was a teenager and spilt a lot.

The men had clothed his body in white out in the open village, and the women had invaded their home to rub off her sister’s tika. She had taken a five year old Maya and hidden in the closet. The women waited and ripped her sister’s clothes, and then they tried to take her outside. She resisted.

The women held the widow down, pulling her hair back, holding her nostrils closed, forcing her to swallow the thick drink they’d bought with them. She’d gotten delirious, and they had led her out with ease.

Dadima kept Maya’s head close to her chest as she left their home, smelling of the pressed cannabis juice, followed them discreetly out to the village and down to the river. The men had moved the body down already and enclosed it in a pyre of wood.

Her sister had begun to scream as the torch was passed along the men. The women held onto her tight. Dadima had begun to shake.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Mishkin Fitzgerald

The stunning lead-singer of Birdeatsbaby who wowed us with her hauntingly beautiful voice, will now entrap us in a realm of mystery and eerily wonderful piano with her new album, Present Company, out May 1st. Produced by Forbes Coleman (Stereophonics, Clare Maguire), with Dead Round Eyes Records, the first single of the album is ready to listen below, or at:
Youtube (here)
and on Soundcloud (here)

The aptly named I Want This  marks Mishkin Fitzgerald's pursual of a solo album, breaking away from the Birdeatsbaby sound.

video
Listen, re-listen, and listen again, and share with all your wonderful music lover friends!

Follow Mishkin on twitter:  @mishkinbird

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Jenna Kass: Illustrator

Being about appreciating all types of art, and promoting creative license, we have come across a wonderful New York illustrator, Jenna Kass.

First being attracted by Tristan and Isolde, a work building on the operatic drama of the same name by Richard Wagner, Kass' demonstrates a technique that allows her work to be reminiscent of pre-20th century art, with a modern twist: a focus on fantasy. She is, by all means, the embodiment of classic and neo-classic, as demonstrated in her work.

However, it was Kass' blog that really highlighted her skill, as she speaks about her six-month drawing-a-day project, her process, the progress she makes, her anger and frustrations, and drive. It is inspiring, and truthful, and a wonderful read for any young aspiring artist finding it hard to get going.

To browse, please see Arty Visual Stuff.

To learn more about Kass and her blog, read here.




Saturday, 16 March 2013

Dark Hearts and Sophie James

"The sun, as so often happens in the Congo, flicked a last orange sneer to the jungle it prepared to leave.

It was typical, thought Burton, glancing again at his watch in the gathering gloom, that a meeting which had taken months to plan, should go wrong in the last minutes. It was his master plan, his inspiration.

‘Come on…’ he muttered, checking the pygmy natives as they hovered in the dark bush murmuring a foreign chorus. Was he going mad after all?

And then suddenly they were there - his friends, bursting through the jungle into the clearing where the pygmies had promised all the action would be. Cornelius greeted him first, a slim man though never handsome, for years his skin pocked by eczema, soft spoken but a sting in every sentence.

‘You’re a crazy fucker Burton Alexander,’ he said, ‘I’ll shake your hand but I’m not staying long. I've been asking my own questions. It’s a myth, a legend, a tall story on legs. A lizard at best…’ "


Sophie James, documenting life in India
Travelling the world and penning articles for The Independent on Sunday, such as Wanton Seduction in Paradise and Love Among the Ruins, writer, Sophie James launches the much awaited website sophiejames.com, archiving her articles and allowing readers the chance to explore her novels and short stories. James - daughter of broadcaster and journalist, Walter James - calls on her experience travelling and living in India in her exotic shorts stories, and the magically wound words of her novels, Susan, Love Hate Jaipur, and The Tea Jungle.

The incredibly talented James also demonstrates her photography skills - the gallery online captures the colours, politics and life in India with a clarity that is somewhat lost in today's more easily accessible images.


Flick through the gallery here.

And, learn more about the writer through her biography and interviews here.

Thursday, 28 February 2013

A Band called Birdeatsbaby

Music and Musicians.


They've been called "dark, sexual, vulnerable yet strong..." (Ben Graham, The Quietus), their music labelled "hauntingly original and delicate..."

Well, I must say, I agree. Something about this rock-orchestral-quartet screams a dark kind of magic, whilst whispering in your ear at the same time - imagine red lips, red wine, and red bloodstains dripping down your mouth, down your chest, hitting the floor, slow. Imagine you are hand-in-hand with the person of your dreams, suited and dressed in black tulle, the both of you, running from an unknown terror, through some large stately home. Well, Birdeatsbaby make it extremely easy.

Their music is a unique blend of theatrical, extravagant, rock, classical, with a pinch of pop, amongst other styles, and one may find themselves playing certain songs in their minds as the soundtrack to their day, making a normal moment exciting and electrically charged.

Perhaps you would care to listen and create Tim Burton-esque scenes of your day by downloading the band's free two-track EP here.

Learn more about the Brighton quartet here.


Friday, 8 February 2013

A Conspiracy of Alchemists. A Review.

With a name like ‘Chance’ expect magic to happen. 

A Conspiracy of Alchemists: Chronicles of Light and Shadow marks the first of Liesel Schwarz’ steampunk trilogy, set to take the world by storm. Schwarz’ debut novel, set in 1903, as the very first line imposes, immediately transports the reader to the Victorian era. Yet, there is something magical in the air: that strange kind of uncanny that is both familiar and excitingly new. This isn’t just the turn of the century we read about in History, but a world that we wish existed, where supernatural creatures walk among us.

As the title suggests, there is a split between Light and Shadow, good and evil. Scientific and technological advance takes society into a new golden age through utilizing magical energy. However, this light threatens the supernatural, and, out of the dark rises the Alchemists and the Nightwalkers, preparing to take back control and submerge the world, once again, into darkness.

Original and refreshing, the story is a wonderful combination of the nineteenth century novel and quirky twenty-first century humour and language. The protagonist is a female lead to be admired: she is inventive, strong and intelligent, yet has a vulnerability about her – the perfect modern day woman who does not allow a male-dominated society to limit her potential or constrict her. Opposite her stands Marsh, and immediately women swoon. He is the Rochester-like male lead that every good novel should have: he is, at times, condescending and somewhat arrogant, but, like a force of nature, is irresistible and appealing. Like getting to know the love of your life, the more his character evolves, the more the readers take a shine to him. Inevitably, Marsh will be the first literary love of female readers of younger generations, just as Darcy and Rochester have been the first love of many female readers today.

Despite, two wonderfully created leads, the author does not fall into the trap of two-dimensional secondary characters. The ‘supporting cast’ are equally as thought-out, and original. Still, the author does not give away all secrets to supernatural creatures, but allows us to see they are something complex, and we will have to discover them the same way we do with other characters. However, many readers will be happy to know that Vampires are not portrayed in the same way as recent popular fiction/television/film would have us believe, and the author does not deviate back to the original Bram Stoker-style Vamp either. Instead, she creates, what seems natural and logical for Vampires to be. And faeries too.

Schwarz does not over-do the world she has created, but allows us to be pulled in, and excited by the opportunity of exploring. She is subtle in building up characters and the Shadow, but keeps something back to amaze us with as the series continues. The novel is accessible, and appealing. The use of language is good, and should be a pointer to some other popular writers: you can be original and compelling, without lowering standards of language. The author is humorous, and forces the reader to keep re-reading until the next installment is published.

Five stars.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

One to Watch

Being an arts and fiction blog, we don't spend as much time talking about television and film as we should, so let me re-direct you to someone who does...

Not only is he a talented young London writer, but Alex Straker's reviews have reached further than his blog, and graced the netty-webby pages of The Independent arts blog. But this is not the only reason we should be watching this one. Straker's commentary on popular culture, television and film is digestible and fresh, and the twenty-something scribe spends his time penning screenplays and working on his debut novel. Already making his name known to those in the industry, he will be a household name in the years to come, so why not start following the works of this scribe now?

Plus, he was the wonderful Wonder Wounder who coined the fan term of thewonderwound blog, so we kind of love him! Check out www.snakeskinscribe.blogspot.com for a contemporary commentary of all thing popular.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

A Band called the Bedroom Hour


They're called the Bedroom Hour, and damn, they're sexy.

With the mission statement, "Putting credible into incredible music" the five-piece band, self-styled as psychedelic guitar-meets-synth, match up beautifully moving melodies with their longing voices to create something nostalgic and wonderful.

For more information on the band, members, gigs and where you can find them...

video

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

The Great Parade of Our Exalted Uncle Ashong


by Tim Young


The men sweated and groaned in the heat while the coffins on their shoulders ground into their skin, tore the collars from their shirts, shed more blood for Uncle Ashong into the long dusty street. Dede Nunu shuffled alongside the great train, his smile falling down his sparkling face as weariness from months of woodworking overtook him. But then a tall girl with peacock feathers twisted into her hair swept past, pulling him forward and laughing at the suddenly famous coffin maker stopping to catch his breath. Auntie would still be somewhere along the road, but maybe it would not be so bad to be known. He imagined the old woman dressed in her blistering red like the rest of the ancients, frowning at the Khpanlogo music and suddenly he laughed with the dancer and pressed his hand down the damp skin of her back. What was an old woman who could not see the new way?
Auntie watched the procession’s throbbing centipede creep closer, shifting from foot to foot to ease the pain in her back. Nunu had put Ashong inside a great black train engine that bobbed and whistled above the quaking legs of its bearers. A cherry-red Lamborghini followed, Ashong’s ridiculous folly on Ghana’s mud roads, then a coffin version of the enormous warehouse he’d built in Accra to house every scrap of wood that he stole from the villages and sold to the British for so much more.            
Children rushed up and pulled at her hands to dance but she clamped her arms together and said “No children, no. This funeral is not for celebrating.”
                “But Auntie Uncle Ashong built the first train in Ghana!”
                “We’ve had trains before.”
                “Where did they go?”
                From beside her Paa Joe spit a kiwano seed into the rising dirt.
                “Railroads are for taking,” he said and rustled back into the thick shade of their house.
“He’s a sore loser.”
“Sore loser! Sore loser!!”
“You hush up children. You shoo.”
                They squirted off to dance between the kaleidoscope coffins, the bottoms of their feet lighting their backsides through the great cloud of dust that sheathed the parade. The procession drew even with her and she studied each glistening face but could not find the thief she boiled for.
                “You don’t want to look?” Auntie called into the house after ten coffins had passed.
                “I already know.”
Nunu stayed on the opposite side of the procession from Auntie’s blue-bricked house, hiding his face behind a giant coca-cola bottleneck that had taken him two days to shape and sand and paint. Had it been his fault that Ashong loved him more than his own son? What was a son worth, accused his father, that never wanted to see a village progress?
                “He tells me I should be respectful of tradition!” Ashong had railed from a bench in Nunu’s workshop. The flesh at his throat quaked like a bullfrog when he slapped at the mosquitoes circling his ears. “Should I have stayed barefoot and poor as the British made us when they ran their railroad?”
Nunu worked at a piece of stiff pepiase wood with his awl. With great men, he’d learned long ago never to speak, only to listen and do.
“You offer me one coffin for each of my businesses. Twenty coffins, when Paa Joe tells me a man of my position should have only one!” Ashong bellowed. “One!” Then he’d leaned over his round stomach and whispered while akpeteshie dribbled from his mug. “If I give you all the wood you’ll win the contest. He’ll have none for my coffin or anyone else’s. Maybe with his pockets turned out my eldest will realize all that I’ve done for him and come down a peg or two.”
With that Ashong had rolled upright and stomped into the evening and that had been the last Nunu had seen of the big man alive. One of Ashong’s wives brought the payment when the Uncle had died and Nunu was richer than he’d been in his whole life but in the heat of the day’s march he felt bone weary and drained and missed that Auntie had seen him.
                “Dede Nunu!” She clamped down on his arm, jerking him from his reverie. Gray had shot through her hair since he’d last seen her and she stood quivering in her faded red dress while the dancers spun faster and faster around them.
                “Auntie Shora,” he answered and remembered to pull his smile up his face. “You look fine.”
                “I don’t need courtesy from a thief Nunu.”
                He licked his lips, watching his dancing girl skip farther ahead and curl around four men laboring under a green and white wingtip shoe that bore flowers and a portrait of Ashong on his first wedding day.
                “Auntie will you come up the hill with me?” he asked.
                “I’m old and I don’t walk. You stand here in the sun and explain yourself. ”
                “Auntie I won the contest. Ashong chose my coffins.”
                “Because you took Joe’s wood! A carpenter all his life and when the time came to carve he found only scraps? I’d like you to explain that to me, right now.”
A gleaming cigar lumbered behind Auntie, its bearers tired and shuffling. Nunu reached for her arm to pull her from the road but she flung his hand away.
“Please Auntie, step to the side. You’ll be hurt.”
“You don’t tell me to move! Two months now and Joe’s had no wood, while everyone who needs a coffin comes to you. You strike at your cousin’s livelihood like some whoring serpent!”
She’d never talked like this to him before. Never to anyone. Nunu’s head swam with the smell of hot lacquer while Auntie ’s torn eyes cut at him through the dust. The cigar passed, two months of hard work smeared by the palms of bearers who the Uncle’s wives had paid extra to celebrate the big man’s spirit because they knew no one would come of their own free will. It had been Joe’s choice to try and stand in the way of his father. And now Nunu marched miles in the heat because Joe had never understood the disappointment in the old bastard’s eye.
“It’s much harder to be a good man,” Nunu  finally said.
“Joe needs no pity from swine! You’re just a bone picker, a liar and a thief and the whole village will know about it!”
“Then tell them the truth that Joe will not!” Nunu shot back. “Did he tell you I offered him wood after his own father loved Joe so little that he took every last board? Because Paa Joe knows the same truth that I do, but I wonder what his pride tells you while he sits in the heat and chokes on it.”
Drums beat the air and the dancers whirled higher and higher. Nunu swabbed at his neck and Auntie stood like a rock as the procession’s river broke against her. But then her face crumbled and she turned to shuffle through the sea of marchers. Nunu followed, but many in the parade recognized him from the contest day and they smiled and clapped his shoulders and slowed him until he could only call after her.
“Everything changes Auntie! Everyone and everything!”
                Then he stalked forward and caught the dancer where her feet twirled in the grass. She smiled when he swept her up and they climbed the hill together while the sun grew hotter and the bearers groaned in time to the music.
From her threshold, Auntie shaded her face to watch the great man’s train struggle up the hill. Her arm shook with the strain and behind her she could hear Joe shifting in his chair. She hated the shack and the plastic sheet they used for a door and the peeling blue Joe had painted it the day he’d laughed and told her that the color of the sky would be good enough for them. She wiped the dust of the village from her face and had nearly gathered herself to go inside when a warning cry from the top of the hill caught her attention.
On the steepest part of the hill, the engine’s gleaming boiler tottered, wobbled. Brown hands scrabbled to control the weight but black paint simmering for hours in the sun burned their palms. The first coffin crashed to the ground, turning over once, twice. Train wheels flew from their wooden spokes and the smokestack cracked and splintered. Gathering speed, the coffin rolled downhill into the Lamborghini, spilling bearers and offerings and bloodied screams. Then other coffins began to fall in great thuds as men’s legs were swept from them.
                “What’s happening?” Paa Joe called from inside their hut. He worked a piece of melon free from his gum with a toothpick he’d carved himself, an expert little tool.
                “They’re falling,” she said, “they’re too heavy.”
                “Are they breaking?”
                “Yes. Oh yes Joe they’re breaking. It’s horrible.”
The heavy wood tossed men aside like dolls when it flew against them. Where coffins hit rock they shattered, scattering dancers and children like bowling pins. The dirt ran red while she watched men jerk and die in miniature, imagining Ashong’s body stabbed dozens of times with great splinters, already starting to bloat from the heat. None of it would be enough for the man that did this. None of it.
And then the hill fell silent.
Survivors staggered upright, holding hands over their wounds and wailing. And one among them ran from coffin to coffin, throwing his shoulder against the split logs and colorful paint. It was Dede Nunu, lifting one panel after another, searching for the dancing girl he’d always known but had talked to for the first time today. He lifted up board after board and then tossed them aside until finally he fell to his knees and let out a shriek that squeezed at Auntie’s roiling heart.
                “Of course those things would break,” Joe explained from inside their dark house. “Nunu builds from bad wood.” Then he sucked on his toothpick and spat into the corner, waiting for Auntie to come back into the shadows.

Happy New Year!

By Bayasaa


To all the readers of thewonderwound,
Bonne annee, S novim godom, Buon anno!
Prosit Neujahr, Gott nytt ar, Gelukkig nieuwjaar...
La multi ani, feliz ano novo, feliz ano Nuevo!
Selamat tahun baru, Subho nababarsho, Kia hari te tau hou...
Nav varsh ki subhkamna, Nava saal deeyan vadhaiyan, Xin nian kuai le, and, Iniya puthandy nal Vazthukkal!

Thank you for all your support with the launch of thewonderwound in 2012. Let's keep spreading the word, and make me learn "Happy New Year" in many more languages! Best wishes and kisses x