An immigrant family. A genius. An indifferent mother.

Would the bright child of an immigrant family who never had the chance to go to school make it in life?

Would a mother who hung to memories of an adventurous night in a train with a man be happy with another for the rest of her life?

What about children, who look after each other, and constantly wonder when their parents are going to leave them for good?

What about the father, whose only worry in life is that the mother would leave him and spends the rest of his time crying?



Rain in summer

Marguerite Duras


Sommerregen- Marguerite Duras31m8AlnE+3L._BO1,204,203,200_

This is a story about a family and about individuals. It is about love and about dreams.

A story of an immigrant family in France, of their life, their struggles and ideology.

The story describes the growing up of the elder 2 children of the family, Ernesto and Jeanne. The father and the mother, the remaining 5 children are hardly mentioned by name.

The mother dominated by experiences of passionate love in the past remains in a world of her own.

“Sie liebten die Grausamkeit der Mutter. Sie liebten die Mutter. Sie liebten es, von der Mutter im Stich gelassen zu werden. “

“They loved the mother’s cruelty. They loved their mother. They loved being let down by their mother.”

The father plays his role as being the mother’s protector, who never leaves her side in the fear that she would leave to an unknown place and not come back. Neither of them have a job or seem to do anything productive. The parents are intelligent, well read and have ideals which are impractical in the real world, but very real to them.

In their story, the children provide them with ”Children’s money” that the government give the parents for their care. The children are not cared for by any adult except for being provided food. None of them go to school. Earnesto and Jeanne look after the ‘children’ and provide them emotional support, by understanding them and reading to them.

There is a lot of crying (every few pages of the book has someone crying), the father cries, Earnesto cries, so do the children.

The underlying tone of the book is also the search for a God .

“An jenem Abend hatte die Mutter gewusst, dass Earnestos Schweigen zugleich Gott und nicht Gott, der Drang zu leben und der Drang zu sterben war. “

“ That evening, the mother knew, that Earnesto’s silence was simultaneously the presence of God, and his absence, the urge to live and the urge to die.”

The life of the children, their hope and strength revolve around a book- One which is a little burnt and yet readable. The book contains the story of a king- King Solomon and the Ecclesiastes, are the ones frequently mentioned.

Earnesto has special abilities. He has taught himself to read and write using this one book. Later, he starts to read books given to him by a teacher. He has attended school for 4 days and decides to stop going because “They taught him things he did not know about.” Jeanne goes to school for 10 days before she discontinues.

Earnesto and Jeanne merge into each other in a way only children in suffering can, with each declaring not willing or able to live without the other. Jeanne confesses her love to her father, thought no true words of love are openly spoken, there is an understanding beyond words, which is in my opinion the only good portrayal of relationship in this book. As a consequence their physical relationship is not shocking and does not come as a surprise.

At the end of the book Earnesto leaves to study, Jeanne leaves too, the father and the mother ‘allow themselves to die’ and the children go to foster care. The teacher later adopts the children.

That is the end of the story.

How do you feel at the end of the story? You feel like you have lost all hope, you feel depressed and you carry a bit of the weight of the injustice of what has happened.

There is unfortunately no English translation of the book yet. I would recommend it for easy read, a little thought provoking, but definitely not for pleasure.

Take away points from the book:

Mothers can be indifferent.

A genius will come up no matter what the circumstances.

Life can be terribly unfair.

In the midst of the dark there is usually a tiny little light.




You can find the German version of the book here.

The French version of the book can be found here.



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Looking Christian, Acting Christian

In the world we live in Christianity is just another phrase, sentence or verb.

It is associated with people of certain characteristics and behavior.

In some countries, it may be associated with shame, in some with pride.

It is associated with a religion which is split into so many fragments that a new ‘believer’ has difficulty understanding it.

Storm- Reg Grant

(A story of Martin Luther)

In this context, I read “Storm” by Reg Grant, a story about Martin Luther. The book is an attempt to bring to life a historical figure and portrays a man’s struggle against the most powerful authority of his time. It describes the formation of his ideology and his struggles in his quest for truth.storm

Martin Luther lived from 1483 to 1546 AD in Germany. He is known for his role in the Reformation in the church. The Reformation was a movement that caused the split in the Roman Catholic Church led by the pope and the formation of the protestant church. Martin Luther is famous for translating the New Testament into the German language in a way that was easily comprehensible to the common man and for introducing hymns and singing in the churches, which was then a privilege of priests.

At the time of his struggle, the Catholic Church issued ‘indulgences’ which could be purchased for money, the amount depending on the number or enormity of sins you had committed. The purchase of these would save you from ‘hell’ or the eternal fire, the sure punishment of sinners. The church used this money for building projects and for a comfortable life of those in superior positions at the cost of the poor man’s hard earned wages. In his 95 theses, he posed questions about the practices of the church and the pope to the academic community of his time, using the bible as his sole reference.

Sola Gratia – We are saved by the grace of God alone.”

This phase became the center of his discussion.

His teachings caused the poor local community to rebel against the aristocracy which had been exploiting them for centuries causing civil wars. This movement soon spread to other countries including Austria, Czech lands, Bohemia, Slovakia, and Switzerland. This finally culminated in the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, after 30 years of war.

He caused a scandal by marrying Katherina von Bora, a former nun, breaking the rule that church leaders/ pastors should not marry.

Martin Luther is known today as one of the most influential figures in the history of the world. But he was more than just a leader of a historical revolt, he was a man of God. A man who stood firm for what he believed in even when he stood alone. A man of vision, who stood for what was right in the face of threat to life. An exemplary life lead with determination and passion.

Moreover, we owe to him that we know that there is a God who loves and cares for us.

A God who is merciful. Grace.

Christianity is more than looking smug and pretending to be good.

It is more than singing songs and donating to organizations.

Martin Luther demonstrated that being Christian is often standing alone, getting out of your comfort zone and persecution.

It is holding on to the only thing that really matters in life.

His Word.



Picture credit:

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I forgive you

For all the half truths and half lies

Confessed, unconfessed,

And everything in between.


For all the choices you didn’t make,

Or made, When

You couldn’t or had to.


For all the words that meant,

Nothing or everything to

You and me.


For the thoughts that guided

Your actions, expressed

Or unexpressed.


For the gifts you bought,

Or didn’t, the ones

Returned or should have been.


For the moments of deception, intentional

Or instinctual whilst these drew or

Repelled me to and from you.


Cause you see in the end,

The things that mattered were insignificant

The things that didn’t- important.


So in the end, I Embrace truth, I forgive you.



Prayer to forgive others

Help me forgive those who have hurt me, God. Maybe they had a reason, or it amused them, maybe they wanted me to learn something or they wanted me to hurt and rot. Whatever the reason, help me to breathe in the Holy Spirit and say “I forgive you.” Help me, Jesus, to forget the hurt, and work towards my own health and soul. Inspire me to be positive and identify the numerous opportunities that present themselves before me. Amen


Picture credit:

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Breastfeeding- pleasure or pain?

This week is  “World Breast feeding Week”, celebrated every year during the first week wabaof August. It is sponsored by Organizations such as WABA, WHO, and UNICEF, with the goal of promoting exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life. This goal is really important in our country, where the first major cause of death in infants is infection, which include diarrhea caused by unhygienic preparation of human milk substitutes. Teaching our population sterile preparation of milk is traumatic and frustrating (for the health care professional) who faces so much resistance caused by a lack of awareness. Most mothers and grandmothers feel that the bottle is sterile if it has been rinsed once a day. Questioning their cleanliness is almost a personal assault. Bottle feeding is therefore definitely not advisable.

So I agree with the concept of exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months. There are innumerable benefits to the mother and the infant- without a doubt. But I find myself not as enthusiastic about breastfeeding as I used to be. I find the aggressive supporters of breastfeeding at times ruthless.

And increasingly I find immense pain associated with breastfeeding promotion.

“You didn’t breastfeed your baby, that is why he is falling sick all the time.” By a mother in law.

“If you had breast fed our baby properly, he would have gained weight better.” Said by a father to a mother whose infant’s growth was below the curve.

“I didn’t have enough milk, and so I breast fed him only for 2 months, is that the reason why this happened?” Asked by a mother of a child with Down’s syndrome.

“You probably did not feed the baby properly on the left side, that is why this happened.” Said by a nurse to a mother who had a breast abscess on the left side.

“We try and try to make her eat more, but she just doesn’t eat. If she doesn’t eat, how will she have enough milk for the baby? Please, doctor can you give her some good advice?” Said by a grandmother about her daughter, who is refusing to eat nonvegetarian food.

“If the baby does not gain weight at the next visit, we might have to admit her. It is better that you feed her well, keep trying.” Said by a doctor to a mother.

“If only I could have breastfed her, she would have been much healthier and smarter” A mother whose medical condition prevented her from breastfeeding her infant.

“I tried and tried, but not a drop would come and the baby would keep crying the whole night. Finally, I had to give her cow’s milk. What could I have done?” By a mother who was guilt stricken.

“I am going to give him one nice tight whack if he bites my nipple again.” Me, when suffering from sore nipples.

“My mother did not breastfeed me for long because she was pregnant with my younger brother soon after. I think I still resent my younger brother for taking my mother and her milk away from me.” By a 59-year-old accountant.

I wish all of us would remember this:



Like all good things in life it comes at a cost.

Breastfeeding is pain.

It is back pain, sore nipples and engorged breasts.

It is physically challenging, and a continuous emotional struggle.

‘What kind of a mother am I if I don’t feed my child’- culturally supported hypotheses.

It is stressful.

 Caused by societal pressures to breastfeed.

It makes some people feel sick and nauseated.

Some mothers have giddiness and nausea after or during feeding.

It is embarrassment.

When the little one is nudging on your private parts in public/ at the gathering/ formal occasions.

It is sleep deprivation.

Breast milk is easily digested and hence breast fed infants feed more frequently, even in the night.

It is loss of independence and a social life.

Being the only source of nutrition for an infant means that you have a little something (I call them creatures) attached you for the entire day and night. If you do manage to get away for an hour, you will have obsessive thoughts about what would happen if he/ she gets hungry before you are back.

It is loss of personal space and boundaries.

Sometimes you wonder, why they didn’t stay where they were a few weeks back, and you know the answer, which is that you couldn’t wait to get them out.

Why I do the ‘breast feeding supporter’ write about this? Because I believe when we make a choice, we need to know both the sides. We need to educate about the pain as much as about the advantages and benefits. If we don’t, we are not giving mothers a choice.



So why would you still want to breast feed, knowing it all?

That feeling of being absolutely wanted.

The feeling of holding your own flesh and blood close to you, watching him latch on, breathe, sigh, feed, pull in their cheeks, to drink of what they think is rightfully theirs. Fight their sleep till they give in and then burp- the sweetest sound in the world. (This ‘good feeling’ while feeding is apparently caused by hormones. The baby’s sucking brings on the release of oxytocin and prolactin and causes a euphoric state. More about hormones.

It is knowing that you are doing for your baby, the best you can.

It is a commitment. It is just for 6 months. What does that compare to a life time?

So is it worth the pain?

Yes, every bit of it.



If you for any reason decide or are left with no choice to breastfeed your baby, that does not mean you love him less.

It does not mean that you have not given him/ her the best he/ she could have had.

Expressions of love come in many ways.

Sacrifices of love are inevitable.

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being true to yourself

“This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.”- Shakespeare

Being true to oneself.

Bronnie Ware, an Australian nurse who worked with people who were in their final stage of life, narrates her experiences in her book “The top five regrets of the dying”.

The one that topped the list was the wish to have had the courage to live a life of being true to oneself and not live the life others expected of one.

It wasn’t owning more.

Not a better car, a bigger house or expensive vacations.

It wasn’t sensory experiences.

 Not bungee jumping, paragliding, sky diving.

It wasn’t even earning more or having worked harder.

Not that promotion, being in leadership, recognition.


In fact, regret number 2 was the wish to have not worked so hard.


Being true to oneself.


I wondered what it meant to be true to oneself.

Did it mean being honest with oneself?

How do you know when you are being dishonest with/ to yourself?


We spend so much time,

Being  wrapped in pretenses,

That we forget who we truly are.


We spend our lives just existing,

That we forget to live,

And forget what we are here for.


We go behind petty important things,

And run after more of something made of nothing,

That we forget what it is that we really want.


And one day unknowingly you cease to fight for that what you stand for,

You forget the dreams you dreamt,

And makes choices that lead to a dead end.


There you are cornered in that place,

With nothing in your hands but illusions,

And the things that seemed to have made you, but didn’t.


If given a choice then,

To lose all that you have summoned so far,

To gain that which will cost you everything you value.


To find that piece of yourself,

Lost in the place of wandering, that defers to be found.

Would you take it?


To gather you welted dreams in a bundle,

To water them every day,

Till the first green leaf appears.


 To honor yourself, to be true,

To love wholly, to stand for right,

And to fight till the very end.


Till you can say,

I did it and I was true.

True to my soul, my spirit, and my body.


“One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it.
But to sacrifice what you are and to live without belief,
that is a fate more terrible than dying.”  Joan of Arc




Some more beautiful thoughts on being true to yourself can be found here:

Some useful tips:

Some nice quotes:

Some very nice suggestions:



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Is being good worthwhile?

“For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” Ps. 73:3


Is it worth while being kind, helpful, truthful, patient and self-controlled?


“This is what the wicked are like— always free of care, they go on amassing wealth.” Ps. 73:12

What a man he is and what a temper! Better not mess with him.

He knows how to manipulate people, be careful with him. It’s not for nuts that he reached his position.

Oh she-  she won’t harm a mouse, she may not even notice the mistake. She’ll forgive you if you suck up to her.

Why did you tell the truth and get all of us in trouble? Everyone does this, and now you made us look so bad. Wait and see what will happen to you.

It’s not really in her job description, but I’m sure she will be willing to take up this responsibility, she has never said no and seems to enjoy all she does. (Eyes rolling)


 “Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure and have washed my hands in innocence. All day long I have been afflicted, and every morning brings new punishments. Ps 73: 13-14″

The business tycoon who had the best, latest and the biggest of everything and a beautiful woman beside him in all the glossy magazine pictures, died all alone, with no one to hold his hand.

He was the mighty king of a great empire that he had established himself. When his son grew strong enough to defeat him, he imprisoned his father. And that is where he spent the rest of his life.

The affair, which was financially beneficial, and so convenient cost him his entire career and all he had worked for his entire life.

His name was erased from all the textbooks and the beloved family put to shame when the truth came out. This one did not have peace in his grave.

She wanted to be famous and she tried all means. She did become a famous example of how no one should think or behave.

He thought he had the world in his hands, and power beyond measure. He thought he had his entire life planned out when he suddenly died of a heart attack.

The consequences of selling his soul were so unbearable that he had to drug himself to get through each day. The result was a life that ended too soon.


“Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin. How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors! Ps. 73: 18- 19”


You lost your previous job because you challenged your boss’ authority. It doesn’t matter what he did wrong, you do not get this job.

He didn’t let me go for the national conference this time. The last time I told on the colleagues who had fudged their bills to get a bigger reimbursement.

She hates me, makes me work overtime and holds up my promotion. She makes me look bad in front of my patients. Just because of that one time I was right and she was wrong about the treatment procedure and brought that to her supervisor’s notice. She thinks being junior, I should not have done that.


“Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward, you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you?  And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73: 23- 26

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The note that made my day :)

image1Dear Tiny Pew’s English Sir,

I don’t know much about you, my son hasn’t yet gotten your name, the only thing I know about you is that you aren’t very tall or hefty. That is probably the reason my son who is pet named and teased for being tiny and puny took to you immediately. I have often wondered what makes men choose the teaching profession, but I am grateful for the few (and especially you) who do. But that is a topic for another day.

You do not know how much that little note, the smiley, and the Dora sticker meant to me. We have been struggling with my son’s learning difficulty from the time he started school. He took a whole year to get his alphabets right when all the other kids did so in 3 months. The ‘b’ and the ‘d’ still look the same to him, so do the ‘w’ and the ‘m’. His spellings are a concussion of letters, with little order or rhyme. The problem is that he thinks he gets them right when he doesn’t.

My problem is not however whether he gets the words right or doesn’t, but the look on his face when he brings home the test notes, mostly single digits, for papers worth 3 digits. It is the braveness that he puts up and the pretension of not caring. And sometimes when he snuggles close to me, accidentally words like “I’m not very smart or intelligent, why do you like me?” slip out of the little mouth, my heart breaks.

My son is one of the smartest people I know (and I know I have a mama bias). He can dismantle the circuit of a remote control car and fix it back (which I can’t).

He is also one of the most caring and helpful children I know. My aged father in law could not have a more considerate caretaker. He spends his free time talking to elderly neighbors, and the things he talks about! He is a wonderful host when we are receiving guests and makes sure they are comfortable. He goes out of his way to help his friends and classmates.

So this is what happens before every spelling test. The school curriculum expects the children to learn about 100 words in two weeks. We start with 10 words a day, which works fine for a day. By day 3 my child does not remember the words that we learned the previous two days. And by day 4 things get so frustrating that we end the session after 2 words with tears.

And then, I as a mother have a choice. I have the choice to enforce my rules, expect good behavior or I have the choice to just let the spellings be for the moment and focus on more important things like the child’s self-esteem and his need to be loved no matter what.

So I have decided that while I am going to be working at his spellings and reading, that it is not going to compromise on our mummy- son time, hugging time, just chatting time or being ourselves time.

But that means that the spellings will take time, so will the reading lessons.

Thank you for understanding.

Thank you for not being judgemental.

I can’t wait to thank you in person at the parent teacher meeting.

With lots of best wishes,

Tiny Pew’s mom.


There are a lot of resources for children with dyslexia.

I am doing a course on COURSERA at the moment entitled “Supporting children with difficulties in reading and writing”. The instructors explain the concepts of learning to read and write in a simple yet comprehensive way. There are also a lot of practical suggestions on how to help dyslexic children. I would recommend it to any parent or professional working with dyslexic children.



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One day, Baby.

One day baby, we’ll be old…..

Eines Tages, Baby, werden wir alt sein….

I came across this beautiful, young and talented Slam poetry artist named Julia Engelmann, whose words so deeply moved me that I just had to share it here. She has titled it “One day/ Reckoning Song”.  It’s a little long, but definately worth reading!


One day, baby, when we’ll be old,

oh baby when we’re old

we’ll think of all the stories that we could have told.

I, I am the master of pranks when it comes to self deception.

I’m a toddler at its best when I face tasks.

I’m a decelerated particle,

let myself be enthused for recklessness,

when lived by someone else.

and I think too much,

I wait too long,

I take too much on me

and I do too little thereof.

I hold myself back too much,

I doubt everything,

I wish I was smart,

But that itself is stupid.

I would like to say so much,

but stay quiet most of the time,

because if I said everything

it would be way too much.

I would like to do so much, my list is so long,

but I’ll never get around everything, so I don’t even start.

Instead, I’m on my smartphone without a plan,

waiting for next Friday,

‘uh, I’ll do that later’

is the baseline of my daily routine

I’m so horribly lazy, like a pebble on the ocean bed,

I’m so horribly lazy, my patron’s is a bastard.

my life is a waiting room,  no one calls me up,

I always save my dopamine in case I need it later.

And one day, baby, I’ll be old,

oh baby I’ll be old

and think of all the stories I could’ve told

and you, you loyally mutter every year

anew on new year’s eve

the same old resolutions into your champagne glass

and at the end of December

you realize that you’re right

when you say that you forgot or missed it again this year.

and yet, 2013 should’ve been the first year of the rest of your life

you wanted to lose weight,

get up earlier,

get out more often,

tackle your dreams,

watch the news more often,

for more small-talk and general knowledge

but like every year,

although you didn’t expect it,

the everyday life came in between.

our life is a waiting room, no one calls on you,

we save our dopamine in case we’ll need it later

and we are young and

we have plenty of time,

why should we risk,

we don’t want to make mistakes,

we don’t want to lose anything

and there remains so much to do,

our lists stay long,

and so day after day pass into unknown lands

and one day, baby,

we’ll be old, oh baby we’ll be old

and think of all the stories we could have told

and the stories we’ll tell instead will be sad conjunctives, like

 ‘once, I almost ran a marathon, and

almost read the Buddenbrooks, and

once I almost stayed up until the clouds turned purple again, and

almost, we almost demasked and saw that we were the same,

and then we almost told each other how much we meant to another’, we’ll say

and we’ll keep it a secret that we were nothing but lazy and

 coward, and we’ll wish in secret to stay here just a little bit longer

then when we’re old and our day’s numbered

and that will definitely happen

 only then we’ll realise that we had nothing to lose

because the life that we want to lead can only be chosen by us,

so let us write stories that we’ll enjoy telling later

let’s stay up late, climb up the highest roof in the city,

laughing and singing the best songs out of rhythm

let’s throw parties like confetti,

see how they travel to the ground and celebrate the fallen parties

until the clouds have turned purple again,

and let’s believe in ourselves,

I don’t care whether that’s crazy,

and whoever looks can see that courage is just another anagram for fortune

and whoever we used to be, let’s become who we want to be

we’ve already waited far too long, let’s waste some dopamine

The sense of life is living, Casper said that already

Let’s make the most of the night, Ke$a said that already

let’s make plenty of mistakes and learn a lot from them

let’s seed Good now, so that we can harvest Good later

let’s do everything because we can and not because we have to

because now we’re young and alive and anyone can know

and our time will end, that will happen in any case

and until then we’re free and there’s nothing to lose

let’s demask, and see, we’re still the same,

and then we can tell each other that we mean a lot to each other,

because we can choose the life that we want to lead

so let’s go, let’s write stories that we’ll like to tell later

and one day, baby, we’ll be old,

oh baby we’ll be old

and think about all the stories that will always be ours.

One day/ Reckoning song by Julia Engelmann




This translation is taken from this website. 

You can listen to her youtube video here (it has english untertitles:))

You can buy the german version of her book here.

I really hope there will soon be an english translation.

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The hardest thing

The hardest thing in the world,

Is not being enough,

Not being tall enough.

Not pretty enough.

Not slim enough.

Not bright enough.

Not accomplished enough.

Not enthusiastic enough.

Not kind enough.

Not being enough.


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A time for everything under the sun

Oh the smile, the first smile, our first smile.

How it felt then: to breathe in the fragrance of the lime tree,

To listen to the silence of the park- To look up at each other

suddenly and marvel until we break into a smile.

Rainer Maria Rilke


O Lächeln, erstes Lächeln, unser Lächeln.
Wie war das Eines: Duft der Linden atmen,
Parkstille hören –, plötzlich in einander
aufschaun und staunen bis heran ans Lächeln.

Rainer Maria Rilke

“Mummy, look the storks are back.”

The children ran towards them, as the family made a perfect landing in the backyard.

“I hope they stay for long this time.” Said the little one.


He raced her up the stairs and reached first.

They were panting and laughing on the way down arm in arm.

“I told you I was faster.” He said.

“I didn’t even try.” She replied with a smirk, looking up at his grey temple.

The best part of the relationship was the way they could look into each other and understand.

For once, words were superfluous.

“I will love you forever and I mean it” he had said. His sincerity scared her.

“Forever is so far away”, she had said. “Anything could happen, I could die now, today or tomorrow.”

“You need a beating”, he had said sternly like a father or a school master.

“I pray for you to live forever” read the message he sent her later that day.

Summer breezes. Butterflies. Ice creams.

Before you knew, it was winter.

Melodies were soon memories.

The one sought after was shunned.

Enya sang- “Who can say where the road goes, where the day flows, only time….

Who can say if your love grows, as your heart chose, only time”

The once loving glances were filled with disgust, shame, fear and hurt.

There is a time and season for everything under the sun.


“Where are you all going?”  she cried after the storks as they took off in perfect V formation.

“To sunnier lands” they seemed to say.

“Will you be back next year?”

There was no answer.

The wind had blown it away….



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