Archive for the rock the cage Category

November Mist

Posted in rock the cage, Tribute with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 14, 2009 by Silvia

It was a freezing, gloomy morning, a true November sunrise. The mist was almost impenetrable, thick and heavy. In the roads, could be heard the tired, still forced, steps of who was going to work. Sometimes, a light showed up in the mist, trying to get through. It was the Militia’s car, patrolling the roads, assuring that no-one caused any problem.
 
Behind the grey buildings, with no colour or joy, all alike, in the closed corner where the back gate of an “Alimentara” (food shop), we could see a queue that seemed to have no end; a long queue of women and children, and very few men. Three people could stand side by side. Some were standing, but the most of them were sitting close to each other because of the freezing, cruel cold of the dawn. It was still dark and the mist felt like an ash cloud; there wasn’t a single light shining in the streets, not even in the windows. This was the system. Saving energy was the rule. Only the common citizen had to save, though; the direction of the Party and their relatives lived a different life, without the lack of essentials to the daily survival that was normal to everybody else.
 
In the second row of this queue, there was an old lady sitting. She had white hair, a tired face from all the suffering she had endured all her life, but her eyes were an angel’s, staring at the little boy who was still sleeping, holding her arm.
A few metres ahead, the gate moved, the heavy locks opened slightly. The crowd agitated a little, in the queue, but no-one abandoned the position where they were.
 
Above the gate, a weak light flamed and a strong, cold voice of a woman yelled. That voice had no feelings; it was like the voice of an officer in the Army, yelling at his privates.
“Attention!”
Silence.
“Today, maybe I decide to open the door and to distribute the oil and the sugar!”
The expectation raised, still everybody kept silent.
“I still don’t know if it’s enough for everybody!” she continued yelling. “I just know that, if I hear a loud voice, someone yelling, a complaint or a pushing, I close immediately and I don’t open any more this week! You can be sure that I’m not playing around! Yesterday I didn’t open because I was still nervous from the day before, when that pregnant woman bothered me.”
She waited.
“You shouldn’t have children if you can’t wait for your turn. But you want more children, to receive more ration! Here, that woman won’t come any more, because if she does I will give her nothing!”
Indifferent to the desperate people looking at her, she still said:
“That’s it! Is that understood?…”
Nobody answered.
“Now you must wait, because I’m going to drink my coffee, so that I can be in a good mood. Any questions?… Uh?”
A man’s voice sounded, from behind, hidden by the morning mist.
“With respect…”
“Say!” she yelled. “Quickly; I don’t have time!”
“The ration for each person… Is it the same?”
“Now, that” she said, exasperated. “Of course it is the same! As to me, I think it is already too much!”
The ration per person is a half litre of oil, and one kilogram of sugar per month.
“Sorry!” the man replied. “Thank you!”
The man sat down. His leg was amputated below the knee.
 
The child, who was sleeping before in his grandmother’s arms, was already awake, listening to the conversation. He was five, maybe six years old, an age at which children, nowadays, still don’t understand much, but at that time children were forced to grow up and become more mature with the problems of life and the need for survival.
 
The little boy was thinking that his granny was already there for two days. He had gone to his neighbour’s house to eat and sleep, but the old lady had stayed there all the time, to avoid losing her turn.
His granny was already old, around seventy, tired and hardened by the storms of life, but she had a heart full of love and sensibility.
The boy was also thinking “Could it be that all the world lives this way?”
He knew nothing of the world outside the walls; nor knew anybody. People just weren’t informed. Who had a T.V. or a radio could only listen to the local news.
 
The iron gate was closed and the light was turned off. In the cold of the morning, people sat down once more, hoping that finally, in that day, they would receive the monthly ration.
The child didn’t how long it elapsed. He saw the grandmother fall asleep. He stood there, awake, waiting for the moment when he would hear the iron gates opening.
The gate opened once more and the light cut through the mist.
The aggressive woman’s voice sounded again, stridently.
 
“Come on! Everybody stand up!”
“A queue of two! Not a word!… Move!”
The child stood up and pulled his grandmother.
“Let’s go, granny! It opened!”
The old lady didn’t answer and didn’t move.
“Come on, granny! You can sleep at home, afterwards!”
Nothing.
 
The little boy bended his knees to hold her, trying to wake her up. But, suddenly, he stopped. The tears filled his eyes and he screamed, with a voice that refused to come out.
 
“Granny!”
His grandmother didn’t answer… She died.
 
Another child, around the same age, two rows backwards, held tightly his grandmother’s arm, feeling his throat tied and his eyes flooding with tears. He looked at his granny, feeling the fear, in his heart, that one day, it might happen to her.
 
This second child was my husband.
  
In memory of all those who lived and died in dictatorship, around the world.
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The Invading Darkness

Posted in Life, rock the cage with tags , , , , , on July 9, 2009 by Silvia
Light in the Darkness

Image by Michael Mistretta via Flickr

Suki went to work feeling happy, pleasantly determined to work like a donkey, ignoring pain and tiredness, as she used to do when all doors and possibilities of a brilliant career were still on the table. And so she did, the first four hours, organizing the merchandise beautifully, tidying up, taking her cages in and out. Suki was singing, as she always does, because music helps her spirit to maintain concentration on the job and the body to keep the rhythm (isn’t that why they sing those songs in the Army?). Suki thought “This is a brand new day, a bright new start.”

Then an Apprentice of Manager came to her, around five o’clock, asking: “How many time of break do you still have?” Suki answered “One hour!” “Then, you have to take it now!” “Why?” “Because Mr. Supreme said that you have to!” “Well, tell Mr. Supreme that I can’t have one whole hour of break now! It’s the Health and Safety Regulations!” How come this, may you ask… Suki’s job is a physically demanding one, like a sport. It takes time to warm up the muscles and get them to work well. If the warming up isn’t done properly, the workers are subject to all kinds of accidents, that can include resulting in paralysis. When the muscles are all warmed up and the workers take one hour of break, then the muscles cool off, the pain comes and it’s quite difficult to restart. Suki likes to work, she doesn’t like to be there blowing balloons. It’s already difficult enough at the beginning of the day, because in practice the workers really don’t have the time to warm up. There was a time when Suki went to work walking, not only for economical reasons, but she realised that when she arrived it was much, much easier to get into the rhythm. To be able to restart the body when having one hour break in the middle of the day (uuufff!)… It’s almost a miracle.

The Apprentice went away. Soon enough, Mr. Supreme came to Suki, with an outraged look on his face and said: “You must have your breaks in the middle of your working day, because this is the convenience of the factory.” Convenience of… Well, as Suki remembers, the breaks were created, in the first place, to protect the Worker, not the factories. The breaks prevent the Worker from doing excessively long turns of effort and from risking accidents caused by tiredness. Suki explained that to Mr. Supreme. “I’m sorry! It’s the System!” Well, then the system forces her to take her breaks, one hour and a half, concentrated between half past three and six o’clock. Yes, because when she tried to take her first break at two o’clock, “No, you can’t, because there are too many persons in break at this time!” OK. Half past two? “No, people have lunchtime. You must wait until everybody comes back!” “Three o’clock, then? “There are still persons at break! YOU MUST wait until everybody comes back!” That’s why Suki said between half past three and six o’clock.  Hey, but you are forgetting some important detail: between four and five no-one, but absolutely no-one can have a break.  What’s left for her, then? Half an hour from half past three to four. One hour from five to six. One shift of four hours and a half, then one shift of one hour, then one shift of two hours. And there is something absolutely blinded in the middle of this story. Why her, why Suki has to wait until everybody else comes back to be entitled to a break?

Suki explained that to Mr. Supreme, as she could.  And she asked: “Who else in this factory is forced to have one hour break in these terms?” “Ah, many people have…” Yes, they have because they want, because they chose to (as Suki knows, everybody walks in and out of the factory when they want, for a cigarette, for a chat, to go anywhere else, at the point that the Direction had to put the Security counting the minutes, because they lost track of their own workers). “Who else is forced to…” No-one.

Suki told Mr. Supreme: “I didn’t want to issue a complaint for detriment when I was told that I have no future in this factory, for the fact that I was promised that after Christmas I would be doing training to evolve in my career. I didn’t want to complain that I was yelled at here, that I was lied to, (how many times?), that I was forced to close my eyes to violations of the principles of the Company… But this is already too much to me. Are you sure that you want to do this?“ He laughed: “Who are you going to complain to?” After all, HE IS Mr. Supreme. Suki told him who she was going to complain to (I can’t say it here, because the Company would be identifiable and they finally would have a good reason to sack me). But Suki told him about the governmental agencies that take care of problems of discrimination. “Discrimination?!” He laughed at her again. “Yes, that’s the only way I can understand the difference in the way I’m treated here, this harassment that happens here every day!” “You are doing blackmail with me!” he said. “No, I’m not! I’m going to act legally, accomplishing every step that the Law previews, on something that I can’t bear any more.  It’s a right that, as a Worker, I’m entitled to.” And Suki thinks that it’s much more honourable to warn him than to do it on his back. Suki was never the treacherous kind of person.

Suki asked him: “Mr. Supreme, think for a while! What am I going to do here during one hour of break? You know that I can’t go home!” He asked: “What do the other ones do?” “They talk!” But, if Suki is forced to go for a break when everybody comes back, how can she talk to anyone? In practice, this is a sort of segregation, which is more a violence to the spirit. “Oh, then you are saying that you can’t take one hour of break because you can’t talk?” “Mr. Supreme, please don’t try to take advantage on the fact that I’m a foreigner to put meanings in my words that I didn’t mean to say!” Suki told him again that her fundament to a refusal is in the Health and Safety regulations. “Then, if you can’t stand the effort (not in these exact words) of this job, you must look for something else! (exact words)”

And this is it.

Suki went home, before her shift ended, crying and with her heart beating excessively. She was so nervous that she almost couldn’t stand up.

Suki didn’t go to work today.

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The silence of Portugal

Posted in rock the cage with tags , , , , , , on July 5, 2009 by Silvia
The journey

The journey

  

“I ask to the passing wind

 For news of my country

And the wind silences the disaster

The wind tells me nothing.

 

I ask to the rivers that take

So much dream at the flower of waters

And the rivers do not rest me

Take dreams, leave grieves.

 

Take dreams, leave grieves

Oh, rivers of my country

My native land at the flower of waters

Where does it go? Nobody says.

(…)  

I ask to the passing people

Why they go with their eyes in the soil.

Silence – it is everything that has

Who lives in the servitude.

 

I saw blooming the green branches

Right branches straight to the sky.

And to who likes to always have masters,

I saw the shoulders bending.

 

 And the wind says nothing

Nobody tells me nothing new.

I saw my native land nailed

To the arms in cross of the people.

 

I saw my native land in the edge

Of rivers that go to the sea

As somebody who loves the journey

But has always to stay.

 

I saw the ships leaving

(my native land to the flower of waters)

 I saw my native land blooming

(green leaves, green grieves).

 

There is who wants it ignored

And tells you “native land” in your name.

I saw you crucified

In the dark arms of Hunger.

 

And the wind says nothing

Only, to me, silence persists.

I saw my native land detained

By the side of a sad river.

 

Nobody says nothing of new

 If news I go asking for

In the empty hands of people

I saw my native land blooming.

 

And the night grows within

The men of my country.

I ask for news to the wind

And the wind tells me nothing.

 

Four leaves has the clover

Freedom has four syllables.

Don’t know how to read, it’s true,

Those to whom I write.

 

But there is always a candle

Within the own disaster

There is always somebody

Who sows songs in the passing wind.

 

Even in the saddest night

In time of servitude

There is always somebody who resists

There is always somebody who says “No!”

 

(Manuel Alegre)

 

 

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A tribute to the anonymous Worker

Posted in rock the cage, Tribute with tags , , , , on July 3, 2009 by Silvia
A young mill worker, unknown city in the Unite...
Image via Wikipedia

Before I tell you this story, before I pay my tribute to the anonymous Worker, I must make clear that I’m not a Communist. I have no political affiliation whatsoever and I suppose I’ll never have, until there comes a political genius, with the ability to solve all the issues in “It’s so difficult to rule the world”. No. I want only to praise all those beautiful, extraordinary people that, anonymously, make this world go round, day by day, with their effort and, many times, sacrifice. All those, to whom every word could count (and does) and… I wish I could help each and every Charlie of this life!
I must say also that this is not my story. My story has much in common with this one, but also many differences.

(…)
Charlie was a good boy. Raised with love, he was gentle and cared about the people around him. He liked to study, but he had to leave school at age sixteen, because his parents couldn’t afford to keep him studying any longer. He found a job in a production line – a huge factory that supplied materials to several stores. At the beginning, Charlie felt enthusiasm and happiness, because he was working and supporting his family, who lived with so many difficulties. Years went by…
Charlie met a girl. They married and had their babies. Years went by…

And Charlie stood there, faithful to his workplace, loyal to his employers. He was good, dedicated and always tried his best. He worked more hours than he was contracted to, just to get his work finished. He always smiled, and was thrilled to help everybody else. He did everything, he knew where everything was, he was the first to come and the last to go. No-one ever noticed Charlie. No-one ever smiled to him, no-one ever said thank you (coming from the heart), no-one ever said “Good morning!” or “See you tomorrow, Charlie!” Many people didn’t even know his name.
Years went by…

(…)
Charlie’s trousers are torn. The soles of his shoes are broken – there is no money to buy new ones. His jacket is old, worn out for so many times being washed: unstitched in the edges. The gloves, that he uses to protect his hands, are ragged. Charlie’s hands, frozen; their skin, dry and cracked, from so many times passing from the heat to the cold and from the cold to the heat. The fingertips bleed, with broken, colourless nails. His face ages, little by little. The eyes deepen, dark rings around them, of tiredness. He can no longer see very well – the green becomes blue. “Keep working! You still have five to do!” Five, in hundred, how much is that?… His feet burn; three thousand and four hundred steps a day. They get water blisters and fungus, in those combat shoes. “Why do you walk so slowly?” “I’m going to make a race with you…” “You might as well race me. You don’t do this all day, all week, all month, all year, all life…” The hunger contracts his stomach, his hands and legs start shaking. “Four hours are gone… I need a break!” “What are you talking about? You can go only when everybody else comes back!” But… “It’s my right!” “No! You can’t!” When the break finally comes, bread and butter – with the Minimum Wage and a family to support, can’t be much more than that.

(…)
Charlie makes his parts, barehanded. Hundreds, thousands of times… Twist and turn. The wrist hurts – effort trauma. It hurts so much that he almost can’t move his hand. Charlie goes to the GP. The doctor gives him painkillers – no treatment. “Oh, don’t worry! It will disappear…” Shall it? “Why were you absent from work?” I hurt my wrist… My child is ill… My father died… “You cannot be absent from work!” Disciplinary meeting. “If you are absent from work once more, you’ll be sacked!” His son breaks his head. He has a fever. And there Charlie is, with his heart in his hands, crying and working, crying and working. “Be happy that you have a job!”
Silence. The machines stopped. How strange, how spooky is this silence.

One day, Charlie asks for retirement – he needs to give medical evidence to get it! And he leaves the factory for the last time, with the knapsack on his back, a sad look in his eyes. No-one even bothers to tell him goodbye…

Wise Old Man
Image by TeeJe via Flickr
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Hope to Harley.

Posted in rock the cage with tags , , , , , on June 25, 2009 by Silvia

friends helping friendsImage by johnpiercy via Flickr

This is a story I could not remain indifferent to, and as I know, and I believe, that Blogs may take the stories further, I thought I would give it a try… Maybe it gets to the right place.

The little Harley is in Manchester Children’s Hospital.
He is four years old only. A bright, cute little boy with deep, beautiful brown eyes.
Little Harley had Meningitis B, a terrible disease that can knock in anyone’s door. Any of us…
He fought for life. He survived. But his limbs were amputated.
Harley is still smiling and he still has faith in life.
His parents are asking for new prosthetic members for Harley. It isn’t too expensive; £100.000.

I won’t point the finger, this time. I won’t say: football players, politicians, economists, renowned artists. I will just say… What if?… What if it was your child?

Those who earn millions, thousands of pounds every week (or any other currency, who cares)… Hey, what difference will it make to you £100.000 more or less? What blessings and greatness you’ll feel in your conscience seeing little Harley growing well and happy?

With your help!

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It’s so difficult to rule the world!

Posted in Literature, rock the cage with tags , , , , , on June 19, 2009 by Silvia

To my father…

Do you know that song?…

“If I ruled the world…”

If I ruled the world, no innocents would be condemned for crimes that they didn’t do.

No-one would suffer from solitude; no-one would feel abandoned.

Razor wire

If I ruled the world, schools would be happy places, where children would love to learn.

If I ruled the world, every child would have a mummy and a daddy


(those words are on purpose).

No infants would be killed.

If I ruled the world, there would be no hunger

No despair, no cold…

There would be free water

and electricity for everyone.

If I ruled the world, no-one would feel ill

And have no doctor to run to.

No-one would remain without a shelter;

No-one would need to sleep on the street


(unless if they wanted to)…

If I ruled the world there would be no pollution,

No specimens in risk of extintion…

I would plant trees everywhere!


If I ruled the world, there would be laughter,

Tears of joy,

Songs everywhere.

If I ruled the world there would be heaven,

With open doors for everyone.

People would wear different colours

children's messages for Peace

children's messages for Peace

In their faces and hearts,

To make it even more beautiful!

Love would be the Law…

 

But this is me…

It isn’t hard to understand why I don’t rule the world, is it?!

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