Saturday, October 16, 2010

Learning to read - an excerpt

It was my favorite present, a book, and not just an ordinary book. With a boy and a girl sitting on an origami animal, smiling and waving at me from the hard sky-blue cover, this was my first book in color. “My First Encyclopedia,” grandma read the letters on the cover, and I delved in.

A picture of a tall gray skyscraper in New York; an Eskimo wearing white fur and holding a spear standing by his Igloo; an English double-decker riding the streets of London, and a rickshaw pulled through the alleys of India. Each page was a treasure of hand-drawn pictures, and under each picture, a caption, which grandma kept reading to me until I’d memorized them all.

I sat with my book on the black and red sofa in the heated library room, listening to the wind blowing outside. It was a stormy night, as stormy as in the black and yellow picture of a horse hanging on the wall. The horse, carrying an empty cart, was waiting patiently in the storm for an old man, who was collecting seaweed in knee-high water far in the background. “I hope he makes it safely to his horse,” I thought when grandma told me that the storm outside was so fierce that I’ll need to stay the night.

As night fell, lightning was flashing, thunder roaring, rain was drumming on the window shutters, and I remained lying on my stomach memorizing the pictures and their captions. I was oblivious to the smell of eggs frying in olive oil rising from the kitchen, where grandpa was preparing my dinner. I ignored my favorite treat: a glass of hot chocolate and a plate of fresh coconut cookies that grandpa had laid on a tray next to me. I was surrounded by thousands of books, but aware of one only, which now I knew by heart.

The following day, street glittering clean and sporadic patches of cumulus clouds drifting eastwards in the blue were all that was left from the storm. On our way home, I read everything along our path. I read ‘Police’ on a blue and white police car and ‘Taxi’ on a taxi. I read ‘Grocer’ and ‘Barber. ’ I read the black letters on a ‘Beware, Enemy Area Ahead’ sign, and the street names in white letters on navy background on every house entrance. Climbing the staircase to our apartment, I read every neighbor’s nameplate. By the time we reached our door on the fourth floor I could read. And the first person I wanted to share my new skill with was Michelle.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Heading for the Demonstration - an excerpt

From the court behind the clock-tower a few hundred yards away, I slowly became aware of an unintelligible, yet clearly orchestrated rising and falling chant. It sounded like yet another demonstration, I smiled, heading for the uproar.

The medieval fountain-court at the foot of the tower was a favored venue for heated demonstrations. The stone-paved yard could accommodate several hundred people, and the circular wall that had once surrounded the village fountain, which had not seen water flowing in decades, was regularly used as a podium, from which passionate speeches and pleas were delivered. It was a popular place for many unauthorized protests, as the ragged stone pavers and the freshly-painted blue iron-poles surrounding the court made the place inaccessible to police cars. Whenever trouble erupted, the many roofed alleyways that once led to the old gaol, too narrow for horse-mounted police, provided easy escape routes. A demonstration here was something I could not resist.

It didn’t matter that I had no idea what the demonstration was about. Seldom did I identify with the protestors; rarely could I find an event that didn’t tingle my cynicism. 

My last demonstration had been in the height of the autumn duck-hunting season, when I found myself marching amongst a vocal group holding anti-hunting banners. I felt I could support their cause. But when they started bragging how they’d covered a popular hunting pond with diesel to stop hunters, I couldn’t resist asking if ducks preferred to be shot or poisoned.  They were quick to introduce me to their entire collection of verbal abuse, and although I managed to diffuse the tension and prevent the situation from evolving into a fist fight, the fast heart beat, the clenching fists, and the clarity of the ready-to-fight mind empowered and excited me for many days.

Fights were not the only reason I was attracted to demonstrations. In protests, especially unauthorized, I found the drama and fervor that were missing from my everyday life in England, where the only heated arguments I witnessed, outside pub quarrels, were about sports and weather – neither could I care about.  I missed vibrant colorful characters; eccentrics who loved to express their unconventional ideas and were not afraid to let raw emotions clash. I craved heated debates and the intensity of feelings they created. All this I found in demonstrations. And of course, it was a great place for seduction.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Memoirs - an excerpt

My mother tells me that the first snow of the year started covering the city as she was leaving the birthing ward to walk back home, carrying me in her arms, still wrapped in a blanket she’d borrowed from the hospital.  A nurse, horrified by the sight of my mother stepping into the storm with a baby, called my grandpa, who drove the streets, seeking us through the falling snow in his big white Opel car – a rare sight those days where walking and buses were the means of moving about.  My father, who was studying for his university degree, could not make himself available that day.

My grandpa would swear that no sooner had I entered the heated car I opened my eyes and smiled when I saw him. That was the moment he knew that I’d be the son he’d never had, and insisted that my mother and I would live with him and my grandma until my father finished his exams.  Their apartment became my second home, and for years my mother would drop me there a few times a week, on her way to work.

My very first memory is from their living room. Clenching the crib’s bars, barely standing, I’m rocking my crib backward and forward. It has metal hinges that squeak when the crib slides, inch by inch along the smooth stone-tiled floor towards the window. This is my favorite spot in the house. Through the glass, I see the monastery in the valley beneath me. Shadow-like bearded figures, wearing black from head to toe, are walking on the monastery’s roof; others are strolling amongst the olive trees that surround its fortified walls.

It was a fortress of mystery where talking bears and wolves, witches and bandits, kings and princesses lived their adventures; adventures that grandma fed me at meal time, while I was sitting in my highchair facing the window.  Whenever I got excited and begged to hear more, she’d pause her story and force a few more spoonfuls into my open mouth. Because for her, having grown up hungry, there was nothing more sacred than not leaving any food on the plate.

At the end of the day, before taking me back home, grandma would place a large crystal bowl of fresh fruit and some smaller serving plates piled with nuts and pretzels on Batten-lace mats on the living room table. “You never know who might visit when we are away, and how far they’ve walked.” She’d say, leaning a welcome card against the fruit bowl. Under the big printed golden ‘Welcome’ she wrote, ‘We are sorry we were not home to greet you. Please take some refreshments and come again soon.’  Then she checked that the door did not accidently lock and pushed me in my stroller back home, half the city away. 

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The morning after

(image credit)

They drunk together.
They played together.
They couldn’t not touch each other.

The night was warm.
They both were hot.
Your place or mine, she asked.
They chose hers.

They both liked it.
The following day, her boyfriend didn't like it.
She regretted it.
Now he is in jail.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Many a face
on the net he assumes.
A soldier, a teacher
a child and a groom.
He can be any person
he’s wanted to be.
There are no limitations,
the net set him free.

Friendships, affairs,
they are all within reach.
Discussions, new feelings,
his life is so rich.

One day she appeared,
just like that on his screen.
The fairest of women,
avatar of a queen.
So funny and smart
and they always agreed.
The cyber was great
He was lucky indeed.

Now she’s broken his heart,
and he tends to forget
that it’s his own creation
that's made him so sad.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Merciful God has Mercy Only on Those Who Mercy Others

Blinded by hate
crusaders can’t tell
the gates of heaven
from those of hell.

It’s not with blind hate,
it'sclear heart and mind
that shows us the way
and lets us see God.


Friday, April 16, 2010

The Cock and the Pearl

A cock strutting in the yard
Found a pearl in the hay
It’s only mine, he called the hens
Everyone here away!

He pecked it once, he pecked it twice
Before taking into beak
He tasted, chewed and then spat out
It’s not a thing to eat.

It’s stupid, useless piece of junk!
He called in great dismay
Why does man adore it much?
It’s not as good as hay.

While some would claim ignorant cock
Missed treasure he could have
What value is a pearl to you
If hay is what you crave?

A free interpretation of a Aesop's fable with the same name

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Monkey and the Glasses

Chimp the monkey felt one day
his eyes were getting dimmer,
and if banana was too ripe
became so hard to tell,
so off to the magician went he
in quest of cure or spell.

It’s easy cure the wizard told him
not even need for spell.
Glasses is all I’ll give
easy to use as well.

I never heard of such a magic
The monkey said in owe.
Please can you give me just a dozen
I’ll take with me to go.

A dozen pairs the monkey took
and off he went on trail.
He tried them on his head and also
balanced them on his tail.
But even though he made big effort
His eyesight stayed as frail.

Do I really look that dense
the monkey cried annoyed.
This magic thing just makes no sense
it’s nothing but a fraud.
And in fury he threw and shuttered
the cure he thought was flawed.

A free interpretation of a Aesop's fable with the same name

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


Happy children
Cheerfully playing
On a sunny day
Turning bluebell carpets
Into purple pulp

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The dog and the horse

The dog argued with the horse
who was important the most.

“Look at you carry log”
“Is this work?” said the dog
“You’re such a useless beast
If tomorrow you’re gone,
I won’t miss you the least!”

“All day you plow
slowly walk with the mule,
and at nights you just sleep.
Call it work?
What a bull!”

“Look at me,” said the dog,
“I am always alert.
In the day I guard fields
and the house in the night
Never sleep, never rest
and I’m always on guard.
That’s real job, such a stress
I’m working so hard!”

“It’s all true,” said the horse,
“I would never dismiss,
You’re so brave, you work hard,
and you’re so good at this.

But my friend, stop and think
if it were not for my act,
You’d have nothing to guard
and this it as fact.”

A free interpretation of a Aesop's fable with the same name

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Old habits die hard

(image by lonelypierot)

What an amazing place he chose for their first date, she can barely hear her thoughts rising above the thumping of her heartbeat. With sweaty palms she dials his number from her hiding place behind the heavy curtain; the number she she now knows by heart. Not that it’s her first blind date of course; not at all. But this time she has no doubt that he is The One. 

For months they've been talking. She can see him as a child climbing trees; as an adolescence kissing his first love; as a restless adult who could never fulfill his hidden passions. She can still feel her curled sobbing body under the blanket, when her choking words told him her secret – the words she never thought she'd utter. She also remembers lying in bed for, with the telephone in one hand, laughing for hours. Even now she can barely stand when thinking of the near violent shaking or her body releasing her desire when he played with her mind, release that nobody in flesh has ever lead her to. There was nothing she didn’t know about him. Nothing he didn’t know about her. Nothing but one. 

She had always fallen for looks, always for the wrong man, so this time she insisted their looks would remain secret, and he accepted. Until today it was their only secret. But from the moment they agreed on this meeting, she could only think of their lips meeting; of their first touch. Today she’ll see him for the first time. 

She pushes the wrong button, and with trembling fingers dials again. The sound of a phone ringing in the tranquil restaurant cannot be mistaken. It’s her favorite melody, the one she taught him to love. In the shimmering candle light a man lifts the phone to his face. Hello he says with a gentle smile. But he is not the man in her mind; not the man she saw their lips touching; not the man who brought her all the pleasure, the man who made her laugh. He is not the man who, for the first time, will explore her body with his. On her way out she knows she’ll never speak with him again. She knows that it’ll be the man who sent her the photos she’ll be meeting next. He will not be the man she wants, but the man she responds to, whose looks pushes her buttons. Next time, it will be the wrong man again.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

I feared

I feared failure
Until I realized that if I don’t try I don’t fail.

I feared the truth
Until I learnt that I can’t tell it from a lie.

I feared people's opinions
But now I know that most people don’t think.

I feared ridicule
But I was ridiculous with my fear.

I feared rejection
Until no one was left to reject me.

I feared love
But it was just an illusion.

I feared being alone
Until then I discovered porn
Thank God for the internet.

I feared pain
But now I learnt to enjoy it.

I feared my destiny
Until it dawned on me that I,
Just like everyone else,
Know my future from the beginning.

There is nothing I fear any more.

Friday, March 19, 2010


Words I had not heard for years
Shuttered the latch
And Flooded me with images I had not seen
Feelings I had not felt
Places I could not remember
And ghosts long gone.

Will the flood drain?
Will the gates ever shut?

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Tomorrow, Inshallah
we should be grateful that tomorrow came at all, 
because it’s not us who make it be. 
But we forget.

Tomorrow, Inshallah 
we’ll play again on the stage. 
A stage we did not make. 
But we forget.

Karma, fate, Inshallah. 
We took their words but left their minds behind
So we can forget.

Privileged to forget, 
haughty amoebas in a drop of water taking over the world. 
Tomorrow they’ll play again. 

Friday, March 12, 2010

Lite Love

Not the common beauty that sells magazines, but whenever she floats by, her scent awakens dreams of forgotten legends. No man can resist turning his head for a look of admiration.  If you are among the lucky with whom she exchanged some words, you will not remember them, but only your own yearning to see her smiling at you, for a flash of fantasy that fades into a short sigh of realization that she is beyond your reach.

Yet, nearly every night you’ll find her in the corner pub on her own. Only when she drinks can she care to hear those whose drinking instilled confidence in their hearts to approach her. Only when she drinks can she find them alluring for a night of lonely passion, from which she hopes to wake up on her own. She never does.

A woman of talent and beauty; tonight you will find her in the little pub, hoping that this will be her last night. 

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Beginning and end

This masterpiece is not mine. It's T. S. Eliot's - a true genius. I just couldn't resist including it in my blog

What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from.

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Desert Rain

It’s a good day for the little teashop owners, who provide the only shelter from the downpour. Impassable puddles, filled directly from a low grey sky, can only be crossed by the green carriages pulled by the old tired horses. Teenage motorcyclists, who dare each other to cross the deep dark puddles, yield angry incomprehensible words and fist waving from the occasional passerby splashed with the brown murky mud.

It’s a bad day for those whose livelihood depends on visitors: the snake charmers with their black cobras and vipers, crawled back to their baskets; the acrobats performing aerial somersaults in waitress-like white uniforms; the story tellers, teeth pullers and fortune tellers. None of them will make ends meet today. Yet, the air is filled with smiles, drumming music and excited chats. 

When did they last see rain? 

It’s only the visitors, many of whom came to escape from the grayness of their own places, who complain to each other while sipping slowly their mint tea served in minute glasses. Occasionally they would stand up and move to the next teashop to have a new view of the rain, hoping for something to happen; anything at all that will break the routine of the day, and give them the touch of excitement they crave so much.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


The language I can’t remember hearing
The foods I don’t remember eating
Are all around me. 

No, please don’t.
I beg you.
I will do as you say.
As if the black bruises
Have never left me. 

Saturday, February 27, 2010


(Picture by  somedayxTakara)

It was my project on display.
I won the award.
Everybody saw it.
A great future awaits you, the teacher said.
Her words still echo in my mind.

The future was mine,
so it was hard to believe
that at the final test
when the bell rang
I was sitting in front of a blank sheet.
There was no second chance.

I remember the big match.
Standing in front of the empty goal.
Cheering crowed
and I missed.
I never played again.

Yet, at work I was given a chance.
But when I turned the switch on
It went dark.
My settings were wrong.
It was an expensive mistake.

So after so many years
When I ran into my teacher she said
I always knew you’d reach far,
What are you doing these days?

Without a word
Hiding a tear
I smiled
Turned my back
and walked away

Friday, February 26, 2010

License to Kill

Did Jesus own his t-shirt
was of a consequence.
It lead for heads to roll off
and hell to live on earth.

It was no minor question,
unlike the one about
the angels pushing needles
to heads who couldn’t count.

Oh, such crucial questions,
for which so many souls
were massacred for answers
in search of higher goals.

And yet today nobody
cares or thinks about
those most important questions
man couldn’t live without.

But even now we’re holding
a very strong belief
that we possess some knowledge
without which we can’t live.

Oh, such crucial matters,
Essential, higher goals
has lead us, like our fathers
to sacrifice more souls.

Undoubtedly in future
man is sure to think
how trivial matters lead us
to kill without a blink.

But that’s no end of story,
as future man sure will
ask modern, better questions
for which he’ll also kill.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Winning a poetry competition, what a scam!

As a beginner poet, I took the opportunity to enter my very first poetry competition at So just imagine my delight when a few months later I got this email: 
The votes are in, and we are proud to congratulate you for your outstanding literary achievement. The editors of The International Library of Poetry were thrilled to inform you that your poem was honored with the prestigious Editor’s Choice Award because of your artistic accomplishments and unique perspective--characteristics found in the most noteworthy poetic works. To further commemorate this prestigious achievement, we have elected you to receive the 2007 Editor’s Published Poet Ribbon Award Pin. 
This stunning pin proudly displays your elevated status in our poetic community. Since only an elite group of published poets were selected to receive this special honor, imagine the sense of pride you will feel when others see you wearing the 2007 Editor’s Choice Published Poet Award Pin. What an impressive way to show off your status as an honored poet for the year 2007! 

I went back to the competition site but found no mentioning of my name or my poem. On the other hand, what I did find was: 

To take advantage of this special offer to commemorate your exceptional poetic talents, simply go here. This exclusive pin is only $19.95, plus shipping & handling. If you wish to send us your order by mail, please include a copy of this email and your completed order form to receive this special offer. 

So let me get it straight. Is it because I try to write poetry you take me for a total moron? 

Is the competition simply a away to collect email addresses of would-be poets, who are willing to pay to see their name in print, and to have a pin to stick to their pinhead? 

If I was interested in paying for fake awards, I would not have wasted my time writing poetry (well trying to write poetry). Instead, I would have ordered my own pin with whatever title I wanted for only $3.99. 

I may be a crap poet, but I’m not a complete fool. So count me out!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The commuter

Unable to disobey the tyranny of the alarm clock, she wakes up. She unreasonably believes that her long working hours will be noticed. Na├»ve she is, and doesn’t realize that the promotion has already been given to another. Devotion had nothing to do with it. 

It’s dark outside, and miserably cold. She runs to catch the train. In the station, she buys her usual cup of coffee. It’s lukewarm and tasteless. She tries to follow her latest self-improvement advice: it’s all in your mind. She tries to imagine the drink to be somewhat like a real coffee: hot, aromatic, full of flavour. It still isn’t. She looks at the coffee with disgust. The coffee seems to be looking back at her with the same lack of enthusiasm. She throws it to the bin and misses. 

In the train she pushes her way in, winning over her daily nemesis – the pushy elderly lady. This time she gets the seat and feels lucky. She fights to get her umbrella shut, dripping water on everyone around her. They do the same to her in hostile politeness. She ignores them; after all she already had her first win for the day. She feels even luckier when she finds herself sitting next to a gorgeous young man. He too is dripping. 

She thinks how nice it would be to spend a night of passion with him. But only on Friday nights, after a few drinks, might she find herself chatting to people on the train; never on a week day; never in the morning. She opens her book. 

What she doesn’t realize about the young man that he too is not enjoying his ride. He too would be happy to chat. He too would love to meet with her tonight. They both sit in silence. 

In the evening, they stay late at work. They leave their offices, each to his apartment, each to have a leftover pizza. She puts hers in the microwave, he eats his cold. Then each goes to sleep in a big, cold bed, alone.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Once was a woman

Once was a woman, wife of doctor,
who was known to be most proper.
She always wore the latest fashion,
and was the best at conversation.
Her words were kind with no aggression,
even when she felt depression.

She never gave the wrong impression,
not even at the heights of passion.
Did she feel it? No one knew,
this wasn't issue to review.
Unlike the charity donation,
it's not her type of conversation.

She didn’t think nor did she dare
to ask herself if she did care,
or what her partner thought of it,
not having seen her naked bit.
Respect she got, was often flattered,
but not from those who really mattered.

She kept on smiling when her partner,
for lack of passion, left for other.
She was respected, but alone
craving some touch.
She was no stone.

But will she learn to get it right
to touch, to feel, to follow heart?
Or will she age with great regret,
of putting life on losing bet?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A flashback from childhood

A stormy Friday winter night.
Soft yellow light illuminates the green walls.
The room is warm. Two cups of hot chocolate
and a plate of cookies on the table.

It’s my grandparents’ place. Shelves full of books.
A big drawing on the wall in black and yellow.
A man collecting seaweeds in the storm
His horse and cart are waiting.

My grandmother is sitting in her couch
Watching family drama on TV
My grandfather is in the kitchen
Delicious smells of cooking hang in the air.

I’m lying on the sofa bed
Reading old magazines
bound together to keep history alive.
Dozens of volumes. I know them all by heart.

A stormy Friday winter night.
Soft yellow light illuminates the green walls.
The room is warm. Two cups of hot chocolate
and a plate of cookies on the table

The Path of Freedom

Freedom is only bestowed upon
those who see the bars
of their own cage.

Friday, February 19, 2010


Cogito ergo sum
He said.
I think therefore I am
I stopped thinking
What am I?

Deafening Silence

Climbing up the dune
Protected by my robe
From that which cannot be felt
The moonlight hides the invisible.
Climbing up the dune
In deafening stillness
Until the roar of the night breeze
Brings silence.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Gypsy

A wild music he played
On the violin
Most paid him to go
I paid him to stay
And bought a moment of kinship
For a fiver.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Ten houses I lived in

On top of the mountain facing the sea, where winter wind blew roofs and cars away … 1965
Amongst the fish ponds, where in summer nights clouds of mosquitoes attracted to the light-bulbs turned them dark … 1983
The room in the basement in which two of us would sleep so comfortably in a tiny single bed … 1985
A tin house so cold in the winter that the water in the bathtub turned into a block of ice … 1989
A tiny square room without a window, bath or shower, which I shared with three. Did I enjoy the public bath … 1991
Hideaway in the rainforest where the screeching bats on the mango trees kept us awake all night; and so did our baby … 1996
A massive condominium with lifeguards who could not swim, but were concerned with babies floating petals in the water …1999
An English village, so English that even the English themselves could not believe that such Englishness still existed. It was the house where I passed the change of the Millennium
A white castle with a living room the size of a basketball field. We turned it into a kids’ gym, but the neighbors  did not approve … 2003
A blue house where my son found lizards bigger than him in the backyard. We never kept them for long … 2005
It’s these ten houses and the many others I have lived in that made me realise that it’s who I am and not where I am that matters.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Once upon a city

A city
Once so grand
Glorified past

Just another city
Like any other.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Please don’t send me eCards anymore

I love to know you think of me
I love to know you care.
I’m happy when you chat with me
In Messenger or mail.
But please don’t send me eCards anymore.

I love to hear about your deeds
I always want to know.
An SMS brighten my day
Even if just Hello.
But please don’t send me eCards anymore

Cause when I get eCard from you
I wasn’t on your mind.
You have a mailing list, I know
And URL you found.


Send me single line to say
That you are fine and care.
But please,
Yes Please
I mean it
Don’t send me eCards anymore.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Tower of London

The beauty of the blood-soaked jewellery
Cannot distract the young couple on the travellator
From gazing into each other’s eyes
Not even the screams of the ghosts
Whose organs are burnt
In front of their not-yet-dying eyes
Can stop their passionate kissing.
It was a flicker of a dress
A glimpse
And an argument
That sent them to never see each other again.
While the ravens, feasting on their ancestors stories
Are still waiting
For the return of the days
When warm flesh is served
With every meal.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Night Market

When night falls and day-stalls fade away, the night crowd appears and the place is reborn into second life. The smoke rising from torches and open-fires smears the electric lights into aromatic illuminated haze. The hungry crowd get trapped, on their way to reaching the food, by night magicians and story tellers, who, to the sound of drums and other instruments, tell their stories and show their magic.

The night is also the time when women come to life. Some with their families, others as beggars with toddlers trained to cry at will, whenever a tourist comes near. Young women emerge to find love, hiding from preying eyes in the safety of the crowd.

Imagine away the electric lights, and you’d find yourself back at time when the forefather of these very story tellers were telling the very same stories; time when the ancestors of the food hawkers were making the very same food in the very same way. As this place has attracted locals and tourist alike, and made them leave their money behind for generations.

The call of muezzin is heard from a nearby minaret. The crowed kneel on their knees to pray. Boys are pilfering from the food stalls, just as they have done for a thousand years.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


At the edge of the daffodil garden
Two lone daffodils
Facing each other
Thinking they are the only daffodils
In the world

Monday, February 1, 2010

A Dozen Snapshots

My six years old brother, who makes money returning glass bottles to the shop, brings home a donkey he’s bought for a fiver. He wants to keep it, but mother says that the third floor in the middle of town is not a good place for a donkey. My brother takes the donkey round to see if his friend would buy it off him.

At dinner my father tells me not put my elbows on the table. I ask him why, and he brings to the table a book called ‘Table Manners’. I promise to read it if he washes the dishes in my stead..

I hear my mother screaming: “Either the snakes go or I go,” when she finds the snake boxes under my bed. She hates snakes. I tell her that the snakes stay. But she wouldn’t listen. She sends me to set them free, and locks me in my room for the rest of the day.

My girlfriend and I swim in the deep sea. I suggest that we swapped swimmers, and we do. It’s a silly idea, as we laugh so much that we nearly drown.

A dog, as big as I am, runs wildly round our backyard. Everyone is watching from the balcony. When I go up red and breathless, they ask me if I was afraid.

After every dinner one of us boys washes the dishes. When it’s my turn I stand on a chair to reach the sink. I ask my mother why my sister doesn’t take turns too. She said that it’s because she’s a girl.

Every night in the summer I take the jeep and drive on the sand to see if the sea turtles come out to lay eggs.

In my late twenties I am asked if I am gay. He gives me his telephone number in case I change my mind.

I wake up and I don’t know if it’s day or night. There are guests talking in the living room. My mother lifts me from the cot and wishes me happy birthday. She gives me a puzzle of two swans on a lake.

My brother and I keep fighting until my mother locks us in our room. We jump from one balcony to the next all the way down, and then run up the stairs to ring the bell. I never saw my mother so confused as when she opens the door and sees both of us. After that we make sure we give her plenty of reasons to lock us in our room.

A beggar tells me he is hungry and I ignore him. But when I realize that he didn’t ask for money I chase him and ask if it’s food that he wants. He says he is hungry, and I buy him a hotdog and a pizza. He kisses my hand. Ever since whenever a beggar tells me he or she is hungry I offer to buy him food. Mostly they want money.

Only in my twenties after a big explosion I found out why I shouldn’t put metal spoons in the microwave.