Wednesday, July 29, 2009

On the News....

Some time back I decided to surround myself with positive things, thoughts and people. I also become selective with the information I read or watch, the same way I choose what to eat or not to eat. Therefore, I stopped reading newspapers or watching the news on TV, as they basically concentrate on the bad and negative things of life. When something good happens it is usually ignored or given a very small space.

A few months ago, while on a business trip in Kampala, I was going through the local newspapers killing some free time, when the headline on the front page of one of them really stunned me, as I read: “Army’s wives complaining of sexual starvation” That was something different for sure! I eagerly started going through the promising article. It seemed that the wives of the army soldiers went to court to complaint on the poor and substandard housing facilities provided by the Army to the soldiers. While making their case, one of them explained that the situation actually affected her marriage. She further elaborated that they could not have any intimacy while sharing the one single room house with their 5 children…. I had to stop reading in order to check the headline once more, since I couldn’t believe the way the news was actually maneuvered! But my surprise did not end there… the following day the same newspaper put a cartoon with a soldier and his wife sneaking into the bush to have some sex while their children were crawly sleeping!

Then I remembered a time in Spain when we were in a bar enjoying some cold sangria and the news headlines on the TV got our full attention. It said: The Fall of Fidel Castro! Gosh, after reading that, we definitely stayed behind to watch the news, expecting to see images of a Cuban revolution! I laughed out and loud when they showed the real story … actually Fidel had tripped and fell to the floor while walking away after delivering a public speech. I really felt sorry for the old man´s accident, but what made me laugh was the way we were tricked into watching the news! How they could make such a fuss out of nothing!

Along the same line, the other day a headline on the Yahoo’s news caught my interest. It said: They saved Michael Jackson’s brain”. While clicking on the link I bet to myself that this was by sure another reporter’s trick, which at the end proved to be true. Michael’s brain was only kept for forensic purpose and not for the same reasons than the Albert Einstein’s one, as the first lines of the article were implying!

Samples of news being commercially twisted are many. Actually a whole book can be written on it. This fact makes me wonder what the real reasons behind are. If they are doing it that way all around the globe, does it mean that this is what we are asking for?

Why do we prefer to read about sex than housing problems? Why do we only read and watch violence, war, plagues, pandemics, abuse, etc?

Why is there a need to disguise the facts? What will actually happen if the news were reported factually? Would people stop buying magazines, newspapers or watching the news? What is more important to sell or to tell?

Why do we enjoy so much negative and sad information? Is it because it is easy to look at others than to look at ourselves or because we are secretly happy to know there are people who are doing worse than us?

I wonder!

Do you?

© 2009 Gabriela Abalo – Author

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Tired of being alone...

The gun is in his hand, they are all looking at him, anxiously laughing... pretending, waiting to see if he will have the guts or not. He has nothing to lose and nothing to live for… he is by himself. But he’s still hesitating… The room smells of alcohol, drugs and smoke; some minutes ago everybody was sitting, relaxing and enjoying themselves. But it all abruptly changed when someone came up with the stupid idea of playing the “Russian Roulette” and then he, Richard foolishly decided to show off and proposed to go first! Why he has to?
All his life has been an emotional rollercoaster with more downs than ups; the drugs are the only friend he has in this life. When he is under the influence he is a “happy man”, transported to a world of unconsciousness and full of weird dreams, where he is the hero that saves them all!

He empties the glass of whisky at once; the alcohol burns his throat and warms up his body, reminding him he is still alive. That is something he has problems understanding! Why is God sparing him? What for? What will his mother say if he kills himself? Will she be sad or relieved? Annoyed with himself he tries to erase these thoughts. If he is going to die the last thing he wants to do is to spend the last minutes of his life thinking about that woman.
He is tired of being alone, of having nobody to relate to or a place to call home. He has been on the streets or living with friends since the age of twelve; from the very day his mother kicked him out of her life, the family and the house.

He is not afraid of the very high possibility of shooting himself as he is aware that sooner or later everybody is going to die. Besides he has faced death hundred times! Gradually a mischievous smile illuminates his face, he loves playing with people’s minds and feelings. He will really enjoy seeing the scared faces of all the fools that are sitting here with him. If he triggers the gun and the only bullet on it is not fired… then he will really cackle out and loud, as it will be their turn. He is sure they will all chicken out! But he will not allow them to do so… or maybe he will as this will ensure their highest respect for him, something he never had before.

Richard places the gun on his left temple, he looks at the others one by one, undressing their souls with a frizzing cold smile, and then he fires the gun…BANG!

He wakes up trying to figure out where the hell is he, took him a while to realize he is in hospital. Richard cannot contain his impulse to laugh and cry when he finally figures out that he shot himself…. and he is still alive!
Later on the nurse informed him that he was found lying on the streets and a Good Samaritan called for help. They immediately informed his mother about the incident. He has been in a comma for one week and so far nobody did visit or ask for his wellbeing. Richard thanks the nurse, then he pretends to fall asleep, he is crying deeply very deeply, he is tired, very tired of being alone… he never got the chance to know what to be loved is. Is this the reason why God is spearing his life?

© 2009 Gabriela Abalo – Author

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A walk in the Wild

The knock at the door woke us up; it was time to go on our walking safari. The tent was freezing cold so it took massive willpower to get out of bed and dress. I made sure I did it appropriately with the right clothes, colors and shoes. I also applied repellent and sun cream then finished the whole process by putting on my safari hat and shades. I was finally ready for the adventure…

The safari guides were there waiting for us, cleaning and checking their guns, looking intentionally serious. Seeing all that made me reconsider if this was a good idea after all: “What if a lion decides to have me for breakfast? Will the two looking-serious guys face it on time or will they run faster than me?”

Then one of the safari guides said: “Time to go, everybody on board”. It was already late to come up with a credible excuse that will not show that I was afraid and regretting the whole plan; hence, I put my best “I can do it” face and climbed into the boat. After crossing the river and before starting the walk the guide in charge explained to us the rules we must follow to ensure our safety: “You should walk in line. You can’t leave the group. You must follow at all times the guide’s orders – here he is the boss! If we come across lions, leopards, elephants, buffaloes, rhinos, snakes or any other dangerous animal – DO NOT RUN, freeze still and wait for the guide to tell you what to do. Remember this is the wild!”

Of course after hearing all that I felt a knot on my throat and my legs started shaking. But then I thought: “So what, we all have to die one day and if today is my day at least I will die with style. I could see the newspaper headlines in my mind: “South American woman eaten by Lions!” I could even make it to CNN and BBC news!

With strong determination I started following the group, ready to face the wild and the unexpected. My whole body and mind switched into survival mode, my eyes were all over the place and my ears were growing longer trying to catch any noise that will alert me on time… I was walking carefully, trying not to make any disturbing noise that could upset the dangerous animals surrounding us.

All of a sudden, the guide makes the stop signal therefore we all stopped walking and breathing. We could hear each other’s heart beating faster and faster. I turned pale, my blood stopped circulating while a cold sweat covered my body. My scared eyes followed the guide pointing finger, expecting to see a big black mamba at the end of it or perhaps something more dangerous…

At first I thought: “He must be joking!’ as all I saw was a big dark green and smelling fresh elephant poop, in which the guide was busy investigating with a stick as if looking for something thrilling! Then he asked all of us to come closer to notice the dung beetles that fed from it and also examine the “interesting composition” of the poop. In total shock I heard for ten long minutes a dissertation on “elephant poop and its properties”…

When he finally gave the signal to continue walking I did it at once, ready to move on to the “real adventure”. During the walk, the guide was busy showing us the different trees and flowers, their characteristics and medicinal properties, telling us: “If one day you get lost in the bush you will find in it all you need to survive” To which I silently answer: “Certainly, so we make sure we are healthy enough to be eaten! Come on! How long do you think we will last over here? This is the wild full of dangerous creatures! The minute I said that to myself my body switched again to the survival mode, ready to give a good fight before I die…

I followed the guide for almost an hour paying very little attention to what he was explaining with such enthusiasm and passion. I could not understand him as I was sure that dangerous animals were viciously following us, hunting us, waiting for the right moment for the perfect kill… And there I was stuck with a poop expert!

All I wanted was to face danger and to have something great to tell my family and friends at home. There was no chance I was going to tell them the exciting life cycle of the wild animals’ digestive system! Give me a break please! I was getting annoyed and feeling cheated, this was nothing close to what I had expected!

Then it all came to me! Once again I have set expectations to what I was doing. I didn’t go to the walking safari open to learn and see the wonders of the bush, to communicate with it, or listen to it. I was too busy trying to protect myself from the probable dangers. I also went searching for things to feed my “ego” looking for great things to tell thereafter; secretly undermining our guides and their expertise, convinced that I knew better. Missing out… then I realized that I was the big looser in the walking safari and not the guide or the others.

I immediately associated this experience with the way we usually go through life, missing out the moment as we are too afraid of the hidden dangers and enemies. Convinced that we know better and feeling sorry for the ones that are contented. Focusing on the end result instead of enjoying the journey.

Then I started laughing loud, which caught the others by surprise; they all looked at me with concerning faces. I’m sure more than one thought they have gone for a walk with a mad woman, which made me laugh even louder. Finally I told them “I just remembered a private joke” putting some rest to their discomfort.

I did the rest of the walk with excitement, open to the unknown, unafraid and happy. We did not come across any dangerous animal, but I have seen all types of poops and learned everything you have to learn from it. Actually it was an amazing experience as I came out of the bush with a broad knowledge of the wonders of nature and myself.

© 2009 Gabriela Abalo – Author

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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

In the name of God

“The smell of burned bodies, gasoline, smoke, pee, fear and many other things was unbearable, but I had to be strong and contain the impulse to run away as far and as fast as I could. I have been hiding for three days with no water, food or warm cloths. I was very confused and still trying to understand what was going on. I had no idea why my father put me in the oven and instructed me not to get out until everybody was gone and I was sure of being alone. My crying mother hugged and kissed me as if her life was depending on this very act. Then she whispered in my ear: “Cover your ears, close your eyes, and do not cry. Whatever happens here today shall not stop you from becoming a good man. Things happen for a reason; do not use this as an excuse to hate and kill in the name of revenge. Do not ever forget what I just said, make me proud!”
I remember the banging noise of something breaking and the people shouting that followed immediately after the oven door was closed. I wanted to cry but fear left me speechless, I wet my pants when I heard my parents’ howls for mercy mixed with strangers’ malicious laughs. I could not see what was happening so I tried to guess what was going on out of what I could hear. I recognized some of my neighbor’s voices while they were going through the house breaking things and shouting blasphemes against my parents and their religion. After what seemed hours they finally left, so I patiently waited for my parents to come and take me from the hiding place… Then I remembered my mother and finally understood her… she was saying goodbye...
I couldn’t stand it anymore so without thinking twice I pushed the oven door open. All of a sudden the world stopped moving, the shock was such that I immediately ran back to my safe place. With wide open eyes I kept staring into the darkness of the oven, as if trying to erase what I just saw. But the horror visions kept hunting me back.
I knew that I needed to get out from there, otherwise I would die and then my parents’ sacrifice would have been for nothing. I gathered all the strength that a ten year old boy could manage and with a sudden determination I stepped out and slowly started walking towards the door. I was looking up and only peeped at the floor to avoid falling; whatever happened I had to ensure I did not look down, or else I would not be able to keep the promise I made…”
Peter pauses and with tenderness looks at his audience, evaluating their different reactions. Everybody is quite; the silence is only broken by the sobbing of many. There are over one hundred today, from different races and religions providing him the perfect scenario to deliver his message. He is a man of God and peace who has dedicated his life to spread the words of love, tolerance and forgiveness.
A peaceful smile dresses his old face when with his deep masculine voice he says: “My childhood experience has made me a strong man, I have gone through horrible things but I have survived. My mother’s last words embedded in my heart kept me from falling into despair, hate and revenge. I could never betray her example of unconditional love. Even when facing dead she saw beyond her executors’ criminal acts. She saw their struggling souls and their unconsciousness, killing people just because they did not believe in the same God. She was aware that her sacrifice and the one of many others was a must, as human kind usually requires extremes to react. The victims and the victimizers where all part of the big plan, where each part was teaching humanity “what to be” and “what not to be” I’ve shared with all of you today my story with the hope that together we can all make a better world, where we do not need to kill or hate each other trying to impose our beliefs with the conviction that we know better. Let’s honor the sacrifices of our ancestors and of all those that today for some reason or another are going through any kind of struggles…”

© 2009 Gabriela Abalo – Author

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