Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Fallen Masks:Excerpt from the Mendacity by BRAWTA

Crestfallen and petrified, Mercy Palomino came running through the door to get Caridad, screaming that Edra had threatened her. In a rage she had wanted to attack her but Mercy ran away to get help. Caridad always knew it would come to this, she had seen it brewing. Caridad and Mercy had a close connection and that did not sit well with Edra. Although everyone, even if some were reluctant, had reached out to Edra, that was not enough. It seemed as if when things were serene, it was a clue for her to stir up trouble. Caridad had no choice but to take disciplinary actions, it had passed time to think this would go away. Edra was foaming at the mouth with anger,her eyes were bulging and she spewed out words so mumbled that you would need an interpreter to understand. But Caridad recognised this ploy, Edra had used it many times before, when she was caught in the wrong. The fast talking and gibberish was meant to throw off any blame from coming her way. Mercy was equally angry but looked rather frightened and took this attempted attack very seriously.

That evening a division became evident, never to be mended again and when Mercy left the village for good, shortly after this unfortunate incident, Caridad was saddened by this disruption that tore them apart. One by one the masks began to crack from the other villagers and a full blown war of words erupted. No discussions, no mediation could quell this blow out and Caridad threw up her hands at this shouting match, this radical shift.

It got so bad that many of the villagers would not walk down the same street with Edra, they took a different path. From the get go they had wanted to go the opposite direction, away from Edra but gave in to Caridad's call for solidarity. There were no words of joy spoken at the lunch room, lunches were no longer shared even the village jester had dried up. They continued to celebrate birthdays but there were no more outings and this went on for about two more years.

The black cloud came back with vengeance, the melancholy mood set in again with Edra and Caridad had her hands even fuller. This day the masks began to shatter and the villagers sighed a relief,they had named her a persona non-Grata, their faces now say and they no longer had to wear a mask. There goes that half smile again, Caridad knew what that meant, once again she had brought sadness to the village and this time she had managed to drive one of the dwellers out. She was so full of herself that she had totally ignored the fact that Mercy had left to start a new life as she had planned.

Edra could not stand this silent treatment although she had caused this on herself, she pointed fingers and laid the blame elsewhere. She even turned on Caridad, the only person who gave her the time of day, not because she deserved it but because of her warm heart. How could she abandon this dweller as diabolic as she was? But Edra continued to fight against Caridad with her few posse, visitors to the village and her family members. Edra's campaign was meant to tear down Caridad and although her spirit felt broken for the moment she was not about to let this nincompoop trip her up. But was it too late? She left the broken masks as they were. She would no longer persuade the villagers to do what they were not feeling. She on the other hand would not give up, she did not think it was impossible to live peacefully together. This riptide she knew would go away, only a matter of time. Some called her a wishful thinker, a mender of souls but in all of this she held her head high. The erect posture meant she had some serious business to take care of to mend this village. The written reprimand handed to Edra shattered the last remaing masks, that of Caridad which had to be taken off to help her get a handle on this very serious crisis that had become an albatross around her neck.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Gaining A Foothold:Excerpt from the Mendacity by BRAWTA

Months had passed that left them weary, but Edra was now participating in more activities. She was an early riser in the village and although Caridad sensed danger, she translated that into a positive sign. By now Edra had began to gather her posse. Many mornings she could be found lurking around the corner with the cleaning man. Her laughter was thunderous and she was always whispering and playing the cat and mouse game, watching for Caridad or other villagers. This was a different Edra, the villagers began to gossip about what they called strange behavior but Caridad would not entertain any of this, she did not mind hearing her laugh. They had suffered for months through black clouds and finally the sun was peeping through.

Caridad did not want to show that she was not comfortable with this change, she had a weak feeling in her stomach every time she came up on her rendezvous. By now her entourage had grown to include the handyman and a flock of women who all looked like trouble, in other words cut from the same cloth like her. Soon some of the women who came for service in the village community began to ask for Edra by name. They all fit the same profile, meanspirited, loud and sassy. Bad karma, the villagers called their presence. Whenever they arrived it was as if the village was filled with toxic fumes, they were ready to provide service to these troubled souls so they could leave and take their bad spirits with them. Edra was gaining a foothold, she finagled herself into the life of one of the villagers and together they began a menacing act, throwing seeds and disrupting our sacred ground, now she had company to help perform her bad deeds.

Many were lukewarm but she was getting there, some human beings are easily pulled in, if you keep working on them. She began to tell tales, they were flowery and full of holes and almost everyone was more leery of this new act. The melancholy look was turning into burst of laughter, the villagers did not know which was worst. They continued to make merry, each month as they celebrated each persons milestone, a birthday, a new birth,nothing was off limit to have a joyous time. They were back in business, the village felt like before and so they began to relax but Caridad never closed her eyes on Edra. She knew it would only be a matter of time that this new found personality would revert to the old self. Caridad had seen the mood swings.

Nevertheless Caridad began to plan activities for the village. One such fun time was creating fabled characters much like the Aesop tales that she grew up reading and enjoyed so much. Although Caridad was not an artist, she was able to sketch the inhabitants of this idyllic village.For example, there was the everready battery for the staff who was always willing and ready to go the extra mile; for the suave persons, the profile was portrayed as movement slowly carried by the wind. Caridad drew an eye and a reflection in a pool of water for Edra who would constantly look in the mirror. The buddies had a jolly good time identifying themselves. Between the outings, the birthday cakes and meals fit for queens and kings, they certainly had a whopping good time. They worked hard but never forgot to live.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Flashes Of Hope:Excerpt from the Mendacity by BRAWTA

Caridad sat down with Edra to see if she could get to the bottom of this turmoil. For the month since she arrived, she had turned the place upside down. Caridad was uncomfortable broaching this subject but knew this had to be done. She fumbled awkwardly and began with extending an invitation to an upcoming after work get together. As much as she wished that she could side step the many issues, Caridad knew this was the moment. The villagers were buzzing about Edra's unkempt look. Foul smells were attributed to her, some held their noses, others disappeared as soon as Edra entered their space. Caridad had brought in deodorant, body wash and cream, to keep the odor down and the dry skin away. She knew it would be difficult to explain such gifts but she would give it a try. Edra took Caridad by surprise, she thanked her and said she was happy she brought this concern to her. Caridad knew this was too easy and expected some repercussion. Caridad shivered at the half smile that broke out on Edra's face.
She must have spent the night getting a new hairdo because the next day her hair was neatly styled, every strand in place, a far cry from the days past when pieces of weave were found in the hallway, bathroom or anywhere Edra had visited for the day.

The villagers were coming around, they were still faced with a rebel but nevertheless a cleaner rebel who smiled more often, who had began to have civil conversations. One day when they were all sitting down at lunch, which happened rarely now; the stand-up comic of the village cracked a joke and Edra began laughing. Her laugh continued when everyone else's had ended. The group stared away and Caridad felt uneasy. They wanted laughter but this did not feel right. They let this slide like so many things because they were banking on change. They wanted to be as cohesive they were before so that they were willing to savor flashes of hope.

By now they had extended their celebrations to include birthdays, the entrance of a new addition to our world and tying the knot. As if that was not enough, they had laid claims on the families of the villagers and if one of the children did well in school, it was a reason to bring out the drums. They knew little of Edra, everything was shrouded in secret and when she did speak and they compared notes, nothing seemed to match,everyone had a different version. "Who is this among us?" Caridad began to wonder. The mysterious one lies through her teeth. "Liar, liar, pants on fire" she thought she heard voices chanting. Caridad dismissed this but knew for sure that she would not give up, she believed in giving everyone a chance, she believed that some good can come out of this. This was a troubled soul, calling out for help and although they were not Social Workers, they collectively had a lot of love and caring to give.

Caridad truly believed that if they continued to nurture, paid attention and showed this person that she is loved, that a miracle will happen. It was hard work, straightening out every misunderstandings, pushing her suspicions aside that people were talking about her, giving individual attention so she would not feel left out. This certainly took a toll on them, but Caridad counted the crack of a smile coming from Edra as a blessing.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Black Clouds(Excerpts from THE MENDACITY)

As the story goes, right after talking to the boss, Edra began rolling on the ground, groaning and howling. The people around her were amazed at this outburst. "What could have brought this on?" they asked. Some bad news, they thought! Edra was out of control, how long would this go on? The crowd of on-lookers were shaking their head. "She is hallucinating," one cried out. The staff was nervous and knew that they had to act fast;just then the second call came in. It was the boss again. After some cajoling, Edra came to the 'phone. Suddenly the moaning stopped, she stood straight as an arrow,she would get to stay on the job for now but she needed to do what is right. She would be transported somewhere else. The grimace on her face was replaced by a forced smile,"I have pulled this off again" her look seemed to say.

Edra landed in this idyllic village, this was where she was given a second chance. The inhabitants were hardworkers with contentment written all over their faces. In this community of workers merriment was the order of the day. Each morning as they gathered to start the day's work, it is as if the sun came along to brighten their days. As they went about their activities, caring for the folks of the community, they were planning their next outing. It was as if they could not get enough of each other.

Edra stood by the door murmuring under her breath. This was not a good sign, they immediately saw black clouds as the sunshine seem to disappear. The look on her face was one of evil and sadness combined, a melancholy glare. Caridad James the overseer of this charistmatic group, knew that she would not allow anyone to destroy their happy 'home. She had experience with naysayers, ball busters,pretenders and that bunch of troublemakers. At this moment she began to reflect on the brood she manages and remembered a few dissidents.

Take Agata, she puts up a fight for any change. She was so used to upsetting the barrel that it took her a long time to recognize even when the change was beneficial to her.
Leonardo kept the bible close by, it was tattered giving you the impression that this was his regular storybook. Yet he was cunning, conniving at first but gradually came along for a peaceful ride with the rest of the gang.
Let's not forget Charmaine, a complainer who had every ailment you could think of. She kept a medical book nearby, willing to try any new remedy at the drop of a hat. This was so out of control that something had to be done to quell this distraction. Finally, no one paid any attention to the stories of these various illnesses and the complaints all but vanished. So Caridad had no doubt that this newcomer could be straightened out in no time, at least that's what she thought.

Caridad introduced herself and the rest of the staff and knew right away that this one would be a challenge. She thought she had seen it all but even the repenters shook their heads, vowing to stay their distance. There was trouble brewing in paradise, sunshine was replaced with black clouds, they were forever putting out fires and Edra was in the midst of this chaos that had overtaken the village. They had allowed bad spirit to creep in and now they must fight to get back the joy that once flowed in their path. Caridad called a meeting with a few of the long time residents, including Agata, Leonardo and Charmaine, she wanted to bring Edra into the foal and needed some assistance. They were resistant but Caridad reminded them of their beginning and their turnaround. The truth is that they now seemed like saints compared to the daily disruptions that they were now experiencing from Edra. The group relented and made it easier for Caridad to bring the plan to the rest of the folks.