Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Girl Talk: Aimee and Lily Kerrigan


Lily Kerrigan was born on June 22, 2012 to my daughter, Emma Kerrigan

When I was one week old I thought I had lots of mothers too. You only have one. Anyway, where was I? I know. My name is Aimee, I'm a girl. Your name is Lily and you're a baby girl. Girls develop in all sorts of ways faster than boys. Don't ask me how, or why? I just know.

Everyone seems to talk to babies in high-pitched voices and shake noisy rattles and toys in our faces. Just play along with them, smile and raise your eyebrows. Then there's tickling our toes and playing 'This Little Piggy.' Look happy and put on a brave face.

I don't remember nodding my head as much as you do? Your face expressions make me giggle. One minute you're smiling, then frowning, then surprised, or wide-eyed and a bit frightened. You don't like loud noises, that's for sure. I like watching you smile when you're asleep.What can you be thinking about? Probably your mummy, milk, and beautiful lights and sounds. I do hope they are happy thoughts.

Sometimes you can be quite noisy. No one knows if you're stomach is full of bubbles, if you're teething, hungry, or just plain grumpy? When I don't get my proper sleep, or someone wakes me up, I get really grumpy.

My favourite colour is pink and you're covered from head to toe in it except for those big white booties. You can't wear those to school! Everyone will laugh. I can tell you will be a sensible girl. I've lovely blonde hair and I'm pretty. Everybody tells me so. And you're beautiful too, even if your hair is a different colour to mine. I can't see you needing a haircut for a while, but I want to be there when it happens.

I love nursing babies, especially you. I'd like a baby girl when I grow up. I'll buy her lots of dolls, teddies and soft toys. I've lots of cuddly toys that I like to snuggle and rock to sleep. The trouble is I've run out of names. You're tiny nails are sharp. I'm going to ask your mum to cut them or buy you a pair of mittens. They'll be pink, of course. 

Did I tell you that boys are disgusting? They like getting muddy, bite their nails and pick their nose and eat it. They also get nose bleeds if they climb up trees. Most boys are really cheeky and don't know good from bad. Horrible boys. Except for my brother, Joshua, of course. Though he does have his moments. Just treat all boys as half-wits and silly billies.  

I know lots of words. I expect you'll soon say your first word. Probably something like 'Mama,' 'Dada' or 'Ba Ba' like in 'Baa, Baa, Black Sheep.' Whatever that's all about? A disaster down a lane, I think. At the minute you tend to 'coo' and stare at everything with your beautiful big blue eyes. Remember to cry to get attention and tilt your head when you really want something. It's a girl thing, but some boys try all manner of tricks to get attention too.

Did you know you were born under water? Was the water nice and warm? Nanny says that babies born in water are calm and cry less than babies born in air. That sounds just like you, Lily. Calm, happy and clever. In fact, that sounds just like me, too. I'll sing you my "favourite" song. I'm going to be a singer and a dancer when I grow up. Maybe you, me and Becky will start a girl band. We'll call ourselves . . . Let's see . . . 'Sparkles'! Now listen and watch me singing. And try to remember the words.

*

Reflections: Lily Kerrigan was born in a birthing pool at the Ulster Hospital, Dundonald, two days after the funeral of my father, Robert John Kerrigan. I wish to thank my wife, Sylvia; sons, Richard and Philip; and daughter, Emma; for their love, understanding, support and steadfast compassion.

My heart has been warmed by Lily, Aimee, and Rebekah (Becky), who, with heartbreaking simplicity, bring an emotional charge of light and joy to my life.

I am deeply grateful to Bobby Weatherhead, a special friend, for his thoughtfulness, benevolence and valuable wisdom in a time of unforgettable grief, amid the emotionally charged arrival of a 'new life' into this world.   

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Writing with Courage, Truth and Integrity: The Bravery and Determination of Malala Yousafzai


Sometimes for a writer to resonate in modern culture the narrative requires courage, truth and integrity; a commitment to freedom and justice. Many writers, bloggers and journalists throughout the world have been murdered, or brutally beaten, because they wrote about crime, corruption and the right to freedom of expression. 

What about the acts of suffering and violence occurring in the world at this moment orchestrated by those in power and in control of information, knowledge and the media? What is their agenda? One of their many objectives is to distort the truth about those who do not have power.

I greatly admire the bravery and determination of Malala Yousafzai, the 14-year-old schoolgirl, who committed no crime, but was shot at point-blank range in the head by a Taliban gunman for her campaign for girls' education in Pakistan and for speaking out against 'Taliban oppression'. I hope she makes a full recovery. Given the extent of her injuries, however, it will be a long, complex and tortuous journey. I hope that the 'Taliban cowards' who ordered, planned, and carried out the attempted murder of Malala, are caught and receive sentences befitting their crime.

Writing with conviction and truth is not without danger. Sometimes police and employees of local administrations are implicated in the attacks on writers, bloggers and journalists. 

No police force in the world is above the law. Any alleged acts of corruption, racism, torture, incompetence, indifference and collusion must be investigated, and individuals arrested and brought before a court, where necessary. People must be convicted for the crimes they commit on writers, irrespective of the perpetrator's position in society.

It follows that this should apply with respect to all violence wherever it is perpetrated on this earth. No one should remain unpunished for senseless acts of violence no matter how deluded their motives may be: patriotism; loyalty; nationalism; religion; economic and political power; money; drugs; greed.

We live in society. But to say we all live in communities gives a sense of false security. This not only stretches an acknowledgment of reality, but demeans the law and the life and memory of those people who have been murdered. Meanwhile their attackers bask in freedom, go unpunished, and in some quarters, are hailed as people of distinguished courage, and are rewarded for their despicable actions. 

Indeed, some perpetrators of violence no longer seek anonymity, but live with impunity, and are constantly in search of the limelight. Just don't expect some individuals to voice contrition for their criminality, for many carry a bitterness towards humankind which endorses their deluded sense of superiority.

Some people in positions of great political power rarely want the truth to be made readily available to citizens. They are on a collision course with death and destruction, and look upon fellow human beings as insignificant, dispensable, a meaningless statistic. A serious and harrowing situation; criminal in itself. 

(2012)