Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Fables told around kitchen tables at Guilty Pleasures...

"The day I was born luck smiled on me. A sardonic smile, but a smile none the less. I was lucky, I still am.Considering my history and the story I will now be telling you, child, you will think my idea of being “lucky” peculiar.

I was born on a ship: a dank and rusty tramp-steamer plying the East Coast of Africa, hitting every forgotten rat-ridden port.The day I was born, the River Moreno, under the flag of Panama, was docked in Mogadishu. The charming gentlemen of the crew were entertaining.

I rather imagine my Mother waddled in, slick fleshed and glossy, to general delight; the crew being rather partial to generous female flesh, probably as a welcome change from each other’s sinewy and hairy buttocks. I’m quite sure she was hotly contested. So much so, that she was the resident guest for several days, until suddenly and inexplicably, she vanished, taking with her several treasured belongings of her most ardent admirers. We cannot, however, accuse her of theft. What she took, she took in trade.

She bartered in flesh, so it surely must have seemed logical to her. She bartered me. My squirming new-born flesh was deposited in the onion basket. I see now how my fate was determined: my very first seller was my Mother. I must believe some tender feelings of motherly concern intervened, for she left me in what was the most welcoming place in the River Moreno: the galley, redolent with delicious smells, a paradise of cleanliness and plenty. When her time came, she must have made her way down to that galley, squatted down and grunted me out in a business-like fashion. She tied off my umbilical cord and carefully cleaned up all traces of her labour, in fact all traces of her part in my life’s history end here.

So it was that Anatoly Servinski, coming into the galley to make the morning’s bread, found me: a scrap of dark squealing humanity, glistening and naked, waving fiercely clenched fists at the world, and that, dear child, was all the luck I’ve ever needed, all of my life.

I believe my pugnacious character, that was to be such an asset in the future, was evident from day one. I screamed with demented rage, punched and kicked at the soft cotton swaddled around me, tears jetted from my eyes, my tiny body thrumming with fury.

My Father mixed powdered milk from the stores with boiled water, and soaking a cloth in the tepid liquid, carefully dribbled some into my yowling mouth. Apparently the silence was immediate, although I continued to valiantly wrestle with the sheet wrapped around me, and struggled to focus my new-born eyes on his face. With fierce strength, so he told me, I managed to grasp the index finger of the hand holding the milk-soaked cloth.

That was the moment, according to my Father, that his fate was sealed. He transmuted half a century of pent-up loneliness and homesickness into love. For me: a squealing bundle of bad temper and misshapen flesh, and that love was to be my talisman."

Serge Moreno

Guilty Pleasures
The Food and Fornication Fables
by Manuela Cardiga

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