Thursday, 26 November 2015

Flamingo Footed

Is it possible to run out of things to say? Think, even?
Can words and thoughts flee as if pursued by a shadowy monster? Chased away to a far off land, up hills, over dales, through mountain passes never to trace their way back home ever again. To lose themselves. To begin a new life in a foreign land and become something else. A person hyphenated like a double-barrelled surname, trying to bridge two different cultures. Be born in one, but mature in another. Learn and adapt to White Ghost ways as the Chinese might say. The next generation born in the adopted country but taught to recognise the land of their ancestors as their natural home, a home where they've never set foot, as here their family's traditions are rooted, and these will be upheld along with new foreign ones.
Where does loyalty lie? Where does language reside?
How do the children of or visitors to cross that gap? For it cannot be jumped. A rope must be tied and a ladder placed between one side and the other. There has to be metal rungs and a hand moved slowly along the rope-rail, one hand over the other. Don't look down! Never look down! Don't think, act or look like a Fresh Off the Boat! FOBs always stand out. They're pushed aside and picked upon, even by their own more established settlers, since they haven't yet learned how to conduct themselves in a European manner, and so bring shame on themselves and their origin. Any reflection of themselves is a reflection of others. Their voice is too loud, their language not as muted; their gaze challenges rather than accommodates; and their attire is more rumpled than fashionably smart or demure.
But for Heaven's sake, don't make yourself too westernised! Don't forget, born there or not, your humble beginnings, the wars that have been fought in your name, and the customs of your homeland: the festivals, the ceremonies, the gods. Better yourself, but send money to relatives; climb that ladder rather than just walk across it, break through the glass domed ceiling. Exceed your expectations and those of others, or failing that, at least give the appearance of doing so. Lie through gritted teeth, sweat like a pig doing jobs White Ghosts don't want for less pay, cry unseen lonely tears of rage but tell back-at-home relatives everything's great. You're so glad you came here! Save face.
America is a pure gold mountain; London streets are paved with solid gold; in Europe, trees have copper leaves which when they fall turn to gold and silver coins. There are no shanty towns, there is no hardship. The West has many lands of opportunity where all are made to feel welcome.
Untrue claims don't ease the passage of this journey, not for those on dry shores, not for those mid-way, in the middle of an ocean or packed like sardines in a lorry, and not for those in the observational waiting stage. And if, when, they make it, they live with a foot on one soil and five toes dipped in the pool of another. Frozen in a flamingo stance, caught in a state of uncertainty. A longing to put down roots but with no straightforward or easy means to do so, and so an up-rootedness persists. They wander, displaced and lost, in this disappointing valley. Poised on one earth-bound foot, trying to determine whether the foot that's slightly raised should take a step forwards or two steps back. What have they done? Why have they done this? Where is the promised milk and honey? The places they're grudgingly offered refuge in lack in substance and the kindnesses they presumed would be given freely.
Nobody ever admits they were wrong, in the wrong for their thoughts, outspoken beliefs or actions, and that equally applies to those actively escaping and seeking a better life, and to those who righteously declare they, and only they, should have it. All of us, in our own fashion and regardless of caste or creed, are extolling the virtues of inclusiveness and engendering permanent disengagement. Perpetuating half-truths or whole untruths, spreading blatant lies, because in this revolt of disintegration there are no lands of plenty.

Picture Credit: American Flamingo (on left), Cyndi Sellers