Ditty.

First published here: https://corellavirusstories.com/2020/07/14/ditty/

Tweet

(to the tune of Rockin’ Robin)

He stomps in his Tree House all day long
Praising all the birds who sing along to his song
But many other birds can’t stand his beat
They’re sick of Cockatoo going tweet tweet tweet

Stop your tweeting (tweet, tweet, tweet)
It’s irritating! (TWEET, TWEEDLE-LEE-DEE)
Hey, Cockatoo, are you ever gonna get it right?

Ev’ry little sparrow’s got a song to share
The forest can’t be GREAT if you don’t truly care
Disease is among us, nothing’s under control
Your lyrics are poisonous, they’re taking a toll

Stop your tweeting (tweet, tweet, tweet)
It’s irritating!! (TWEET, TWEEDLE-LEE-DEE)
Hey, Cockatoo, are you ever gonna get it right?

©2020 Seetha Nambiar Dodd

To see a world in a single word

The Japanese word komorebi does not have a direct English equivalent. It refers to the interplay between light and leaves when sunlight filters through trees. 

komorebi2

Magical komorebi in Otford, NSW

komorebiHow beautifully specific and eloquent.
The closest we have in English is perhaps ‘dappled sunlight’ but isn’t it wonderful to have one word that holds so much within itself? 

Komorebi is made up of three characters –
tree + escape/leaking through + light/sun.

So:
♥ light, leaking through the trees
♥ the sun, escaping from a tree
♥ sunshine playing with leaves

There is so much poetry in nature.

 

©2020 Seetha Nambiar Dodd
Ps. New header image for 3 little birds created by Nikhita Dodd. 

Race/Humanity — Corella

Quote

FreeVector-Black-And-White-Bird-Wings

“I can’t breathe,” said the mockingbird
but the bluejay didn’t care.
And the other birds wept bloody tears
for yet another cross to bear.
There are two deadly viruses
floating in our air –
One doesn’t discriminate,
the other’s always been there.

©2020 Seetha Nambiar Dodd

via Race/Humanity — Corella

Thanks to Richard Holt for inviting ‘flights of fancy’ to his Corella Virus Stories, and the opportunity to reflect on what was, what is, and what should be.

Microflix Festival!

microflix-Deadline_2020-Aug1-768x338

A couple of months ago, a little story I wrote on the theme of ‘Image’ was selected to be part of the Microflix Writers Award.

Filmakers are invited to choose a story from the selected texts for adaptation into a microfilm (maximum 3 minutes in length) to be entered into the 2020 Microflix Awards.

“The Microflix Awards offered each year aim to reward and value the roles of both the author and the filmmaker in the adaptation process.”

If you would like to read my microlit, Hope is an inanimate object, it is here.

Thanks to Australian short story publisher, Spineless Wonders, for including my story in this very exciting project.

Fingers firmly crossed that someone turns it into a film. Watch this space!

Literature in the time of Quarantine

kintsugi-bowls-9

Kintsugi, the ancient Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer mixed with powdered gold.

“The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.” – Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms

The following sentences were not written for the Coronavirus pandemic (and therefore have been taken completely out of context), but seem to fit our current condition.

I’ve been struggling to write. But reading helps. So today, other people’s words.

On waiting

“Now all you can do is wait. It must be hard for you, but there is a right time for everything. Like the ebb and flow of tides. No one can do anything to change them. When it is time to wait, you must wait.” – Haruki Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

On loneliness

“There is a loneliness that only exists in one’s mind. The loneliest moment in someone’s life is when they are watching their whole world fall apart and all they can do is stare blankly.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

On confusion

“I am besieged by such strange thoughts, such dark sensations, such obscure questions, which still crowd my mind and somehow I have neither the strength nor the desire to resolve them. It is not for me to resolve all this!” – Fyodor Dostoevsky, White Nights.

On peace

“Isolation offered its own form of companionship: the reliable silence of her rooms.” – Jhumpa Lahiri, The Lowland

On hope

“The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.” – Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.” – Roald Dahl, The Minpins

“The taste of things recovered is the sweetest honey we will ever know.” – Paulo Coelho, The Zahir

©2020 Seetha Nambiar Dodd, well, curated by

 

 

Furious Fiction: The Funhouse Illusion

I’ve been entering this competition by the Australian Writers’ Centre faithfully every month, and even got to be part of the Fan Club of writers who are regular participants. It’s a fun challenge. 55 hours, 500 words, and the criteria for March 2020:

  • Each story had to include a PERSON IN DISGUISE.
  • Each story had to take place in a PARK.
  • Each story had to include a MIRROR.

In a month of madness, where reality sometimes feels like fantasy, I’m happy that this story made it to the shortlist:

LunaPark4mp-600x300

The Funhouse Illusion

Step right up!
The Clown is on stilts. He wears colourful polka dots and a bright, green wig. The painted smile and lone, fake tear are incongruous, and oddly, make him appear devoid of emotion. He looks both silly and grotesque at once. Maya is hesitant. She has seen the darkness behind these disguises. There are no polka dots on the other side. Everything in her body tells her to turn and run. Yet, she knows that if she doesn’t face her fear, she will never truly be free. So, Maya walks through the arches of the amusement park and braces herself for the assault on her senses. The vibrant colours are laser beams to her eyeballs, the loud music roars through her eardrums into her skull, and the scent of danger makes her stomach lurch.

Take a look at this!
The Clown ushers Maya to the funhouse mirrors and takes his payment. She can see herself reflected in many ways, and not all are pleasant. Despite knowing the mirrors are rigged to distort, Maya does not like what she sees. The clown nods encouragingly. “This is how the world sees you,” he declares, towering over her. “This is who you are.” His oversized smile spreads to reveal gleaming teeth. Maya closes her eyes. This is not how she sees herself, but she does not know how to argue her reality here in the world of Clowns.

Candy floss, only three dollars!
Clowns present tricks disguised as treats. Maya pays to taste the fleeting sweetness on her tongue. It is familiar. She recognises this transient pleasure. A moment of bliss, just a moment, and then disintegration into nothingness, and she is left wanting. A recurring pattern. There are many Clowns, all with different tricks. All eager to show her who she is. All taking pieces of her as payment for the privilege.

Last call for the Ferris Wheel!
The Clown grabs Maya’s hand and leads her to the wheel. Maya knows the ride is exhilarating but she is not prepared to keep giving up pieces of herself. “No,” she says, and tries to pull her hand away. The Clown is still smiling, but his grip tightens. “How will you know who you are if I don’t show you?” he sneers. Maya shakes her head. It is time to leave the park for good. The Clowns will just have to amuse themselves from now on.

“I’ll take my chances,” she tells him, turning on her heel and running out of the park with the lightness of freedom in her step. The Clown gazes at her. He tries to force a tear out, but it doesn’t come.

©2020 Seetha Nambiar Dodd

The judges said….
What we liked:
Cleverly written and engrossing, this dreamlike sequence presents a metaphoric assault on the senses – a wonderland of colour and description. Maya has had enough of forced fun, empty promises and instant gratification in her life. Perhaps of social media and consumerism that looks bright and shiny but leaves her unfulfilled and misunderstood. Perhaps failed relationships or friendships? Like a funhouse mirror, the more you explore this story, the more angles and interpretations present themselves – not an easy thing to do in such a small word count. Dizzying, disturbing and deftly described – as stories go, it’s a step right up…

Notes on a pandemic

1. When something becomes scarce, or when it is taken away, it suddenly becomes more precious and desirable. Toilet paper. Hugging. The freedom to travel. The freedom to go anywhere without masks, suspicion or anxiety.

2. Epi- or Pan-?
Demic from the Greek word demos meaning people.
Epi means upon or among, therefore an epidemic is among the people.
Pan means all so a pandemic affects all the people

3. I know there are facts and statistics and science and reports. But when faced with scenes from what looks like an apocalyptic world, where the worst of humanity surfaces, it also feels like a message from the universe.

4. Maybe this is supposed to be an awakening. A harsh lesson on the fragility of everything we take for granted. A reminder to value what is sacred. A reminder of the privilege of having loved ones to hold close. A reminder to stay calm in the face of chaos and to look out for one another. Australian poet Mark Tredinnick, in an Instagram post yesterday said, “Perhaps the natural world is trying, through this virus, to tell us we’ve been ill, we human animals, for quite some time. Here’s a chance to wake – to grow more truly well.”

5. Fifty years ago, in 1970, Joni Mitchell sang, “Don’t it always seem to go/ That you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.” Seems so relevant today. How many paradises have we paved over? And are the “pink hotels, boutiques and swinging hotspots” worth the price we paid?

6. When we have the luxury of soap and clean water, do we really need sky-writing to remind us to wash our hands? Apparently so.

washhands

It’s written in the Sydney sky

7. Then there is also this realisation: when we suddenly find ourselves without some of our usual comforts and privileges, maybe we should spare a thought, actually more than just a thought, for those for whom such comforts are not the norm.

8. The Australian government today advised against mass gatherings of more than 500 people. We may soon be in lockdown. The ‘Flatten the Curve’ image below has been called the ‘defining graphic of the coronavirus’, and highlights the need for collective common sense so we can give our healthcare systems the best chance for success. If you want to read more about the figures, in-depth analysis and reasons why we should be ‘social distancing’ today, read Tomas Pueyo’s article on Medium.

flatten-the-curve

Flatten The Curve

 

9. If this pandemic affects all the people, then all the people need to be responsible. That means staying home if you’re unwell, buying only what you need, and leaving enough ‘desirable’ products on the shelves for other people. We cannot clap with one hand, whether or not it is sanitised. 

©2020 Seetha Nambiar Dodd

How do you walk into a room?

Here’s my latest LinkedIn article:
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“There are two types of people,” said Frederick L. Collins. “Those who come into a room and say, ‘Well, here I am!’ and those who come in and say, ‘Ah, there you are.'”

 

There may not always be a clear divide; things aren’t always black or white, but there are many types of rooms, some literal, some metaphorical, and we all know someone who bursts into these rooms like Kramer from Seinfeld, without any thought for what they are bursting into, or how it may affect other people. They are driven by their need for attention; they enjoy making a big entrance. Meet the Narcissist. They will holler, with words, actions or demeanour: Here I am!

In contrast, some people walk into the room and begin searching for ‘the other’. The thought, idea, feeling, vibe that is different to their own, that could, perhaps, enhance the outcome. Their desired result is not based on ego. They are self-aware without being self-absorbed. They convey, with humility, the message: There you are. And with this, they leave a positive impact on the room, and on themselves.

These two types of people also exist in the workplace. You can recognise a good leader because they champion others. They don’t need to be centre of attention. They are keen to find out what other people bring to the table, not to constantly highlight their own offering. And most importantly, they are willing to learn.

There are many papers on why leaders should speak last in meetings. Simon Sinek, leadership expert says, “It gives everybody else the feeling that they have been heard.” (There you are) “..and you get the benefit of hearing what everybody else has to think before you render your opinion.” (eventually, here’s where I am.)

Here’s a real example: I had the pleasure of listening to the very successful former Facebook CEO for Australia & New Zealand, Stephen Scheeler, speak at the 2018 TEDx event in Sydney. He described his experience of being one of the oldest hires at Facebook in 2013 – he was 47. Rather than burst into the room and declare his expertise, Scheeler adapted his leadership approach and embarked on what he later called his ‘Ignorance Tour.’ He sent meeting invites to his colleagues (average age=25) asking, ‘Can you help me learn?’ There you are.

This theory can also be applied to friendships. Dale Carnegie, author of best-selling self-help book How To Win Friends and Influence People says, “You can make more friends in two months by being interested in other people..” (There you are) “..than in two years of trying to get people interested in you.” (Here I am.)

Some people focus on making an entrance, and others on making an impact.

The next time you walk into a room, which type of person will you be?

©2020 Seetha Nambiar Dodd

be.

mol 3

Flashback to 2011. Conversations with my daughter, then 3 years old.

“What would you like to be when you grow up?”
“A vet,” she says. “Or maybe a teacher.”
And then she looks at me earnestly and asks:

“What about you, Mummy? What do you want to be when you grow up?”

My first thought is this: How adorable.

My second thought is this: Wait, does she think I’m still a child?? Am I failing at this parenting business?

Then I get it. She is a wise soul who knows it is never too late to be what you want to be; never too late (as George Eliot said) “to be what you might have been.”

A new decade is upon us, full of opportunities and possibilities. Along with striving to reach goals and creating a future self to be proud of, here are two present-moment ideas I want to practise in 2020:

276355797278db47010925c32ad8b7c0--kindness-matters-kindness-quotes   peanuts.jpg

©2020 Seetha Nambiar Dodd

 

 

The Four People You Meet in the Club

I don’t know about you, but lately I’ve noticed that going out dancing has become increasingly bothersome. Maybe it’s  the lower threshold of tolerance that comes with age and wisdom. Maybe it’s just age. Or maybe, it’s these four people who never fail to turn up:

metro-trains-packed-like-sardinesThe space-invader – I know the dancefloor is crowded. I understand it is not reasonable to draw an imaginary circle around myself and call it my ‘personal space’ when there is barely enough room to wave your hands in the air like you don’t care. But there is a limit to how much uninvited bodily contact is considered acceptable. Especially when you’re hindering my dance moves and barging into my girl gang. I get grumpy if I have to body-roll and eye-roll simultaneously – it’s too much coordination for me. So be warned, I have unusually pointy elbows and I’m not afraid to use them.

glass-splashing-whisky-drink-14579681The drink-slosher – If you struggle to hold a drink while busting a move, please could you sip Bacardi like it’s your birthday away from the dancefloor? Regardless of whether you believe it is half full or half empty, your glass contains liquid that is sloshing all over me while you attempt to get jiggy wit your pals. I like rum, but not down my back, or in my shoes. I find it not only uncomfortable but also wasteful. So for the love of Will Smith, slosh somewhere else.

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The hair-flicker – Your tousled locks are so magnificently bouncy that I have a serious case of hair-envy. Yes, I love your hair, but not so much that I want strands of it in my drink, or in my mouth. Please save your slow-motion, Pantene shampoo commercial-esque head gyration for when you have at least a 3-foot radius to operate within. (Tip: you won’t find this by the bar or on the dancefloor.) PS. how on earth are your waves still perfect after 4 hours of flicking + drink-dipping?

hillary-clinton-epic-group-selfie.jpgThe selfie/wefie queen – If there is no documented, immediately-shared evidence of your night out, did it really happen? It’s understandable that you want to photograph your gorgeous selves, but do you really need twenty-three thousand shots of every possible permutation of solo/duo/trio/group from every available angle? Enjoy the moment, people, it is passing us by! Also, your iPhone triple camera flash is interrupting my vibe.

So there you have it, the four people who can turn a night out into a soul-searching exercise with one key question: Why am I here? And yet, I persist. Most of the time, it’s a fun night out despite all evidence (whinging) to the contrary. On one occasion I even found myself next to a Sir Mix-a-Lot soulmate who (also) knew all the words to Baby Got Back and was happy to temporarily share her personal space for an impromptu performance. I didn’t take a photo, though, so I can’t prove it.

Still, if you have a favourite place that plays a little Blackstreet and a lot of soul, let me know. Against all odds, I’ll be on the dancefloor. In a waterproof onesie, elbows at the ready.

©2019 Seetha Nambiar Dodd