Sad I Ams

Sad I Ams
I am
the ring
from an empty Cola can
the scrapings
from an unwashed porridge pan
the severed arm
of last year’s Action man.

I am
the envelope
on which the gum is gone
the Sellotape
where you can’t find the end
the toothless stapler, springless bulldog clip
the dried up liquid paper
that mars instead of mends
the stamped addressed reply
that you forgot
to send.

I am
the battery in which no charge is left
the starter motor which remains inert
the tyre on which the tread is worn
the sparking plug which shows no sign of spark
the carburettor chocked by bits of dirt
the chromium trim from which the shine has gone.

I am
a garden
overgrown with weeds
a library book
that no one ever reads
a stray
which no one thinks to feed
the piece of good advice
which no one seems to need.

– By Trevor Millum

 

In the first stanza, the poet is describes himself as the things that are usually thrown away because they have become useless to the owner:-the ring of the can is usually thrown away after we open the can; the scrapings should be cleaned when the pans are put to wash –nobody wants to keep the dirt on the pan! And finally -when the toy’s arm is broken- the ‘action’ figure toy becomes distorted- next year a new action figure would become more popular.
In the second stanza, the poet is now describing used things that cannot be used any longer. They are: the envelope where the gum doesn’t stick- perhaps it is an old envelope; Sellotape that is old or not marked where the end is impossible to find; stapler that has no place to attach the bullets- thus, it has become not functional; spring -less bulldog clip: one without spring would not be able to function; liquid paper that is dry; and an envelope that he had already put the stamp on but had forgotten to post.
Similar to the earlier stanzas; the third stanza also describes things that have become useless to the owner. They are however, concerned with parts of the car: Battery that needs to be charged- it shows that the car cannot be driven; starter motor which does not work; tyre has no threads anymore- it becomes dangerous to drive with such tyres as they have no grip; Spark plug that does not work-the engine of the car would not start if the plugs do not function; carburettor that needs to be serviced before it can be used and chromium plating which is not shining!
In the final or fourth stanza, the poet describes things that are not paid attention to such as: the garden that is not taken care of which is full of weeds- which implies that no one has cleaned the garden; a library book which is probably outdated that no one wants to borrow it; an animal such as a stray dog that no one takes care of and finally good advice that no one heeds.

Let’s discuss the poem –“Newsbreak”  by Max Fatchen

News Break

Now why so loving, darling,
And why the sudden kiss?
You’d help me with some little jobs?
For goodness sake, what’s this?

Your face is clean for once, dear,
Your clothes without a crease.
You saved your luncheon money?
Will wonders never cease?

No dropping of your school books,
No shrieking, childish treble.
Today you are a lamb, love,
Where yesterday a rebel.

But surely you’re some stranger,
No rage or hullabaloo.
Come closer, let me look, dear,
Can this be REALLY you?

Now were you struck by lightning
Or were you stunned at sport?
Ah … now I see the reason.
You’ve brought your school report!
– Max Fatchen

In the first stanza, the parent is wondering why his child’s behaviour is suddenly so loving.The child even gives a kiss to the parent and the parent is bewildered that the child offers help. The parent desperately wants to know the reason for the sudden change.

In the second stanza, the parent is surprised to see the child’s face neat and tidy. The child’s clothes are also neat as if it has been ironed and has no crumples. The parent is also shocked to know that the child did not spend his money for lunch that day as he usually does. The parent is astonished with all the surprises that he is getting and thinks when it would all end.

In the next stanza or stanza 3, the parent is surprised that his child did not drop his school books as he returns home. The child does not scream or show an outburst of anger. The parent praises the child for his good behaviour that day as the child acts like a gentle lamb when just the previous day, the child was going against his parent.

In stanza 4, the parent feels as if the child is a stranger to him – like a new person.

The child does not show any anger or any emotional disturbance. Therefore, the parent asks the child to come closer so that he can see his child better as he wonders if that is really his child.

That brings us to the last stanza, stanza five, where he also wonders whether his child had been struck by lightning or injured during sports that has made him temporarily unable to react. Finally, he understands the real reason for the change as he noticed that the child has brought his school progress report.

Point Of View

The first person point of view is used

Setting

The setting is in a house.

Theme

Honesty is the best policy – We should be honest with our parents. We must tell them the truth so that we can gain respect and trust from them. Without trust, life would be miserable. Parents will become suspicious in everything we do. This would lead to arguments and lack of trust. It is more effective if the child behaves in honest and productive ways. Learning to be honest and eliminating the need for lies can help to clean up one’s conscience and his relationship with others

Moral Value

Honesty – It is a very important virtue. Speak from your heart and tell the truth. Do not be bothered even though it would make you feel bad. People respect honesty, even when the truth is uncomfortable.

Tone

The persona is surprised and astonished with the child’s behaviour. The poem creates a reflective mood as the persona compares the child’s past and present behaviour. Overall, it is light-hearted and a little humorous.

Metaphors

The poet uses metaphor to describe the behaviour of the child. ‘Today you’re a lamb’ which shows innocence and obedience when the child is compared to a lamb; and ‘Where yesterday a rebel’ which shows disobedience and defiance when the child is said to be a rebel (lines 11 and 12)

Structure, Style and Language

The poem consists of 5 stanzas with four lines and the rhyme scheme is ‘a, b, c, b’.  The style is simple and direct. The language and choice of words used is easy to understand as we can relate it to what a child does.

The Title

News Break means reporting something that is unusual. The title is used to indicate that the boy is doing something unusual by showing a change in his behaviour.

DISCUSSION

The words “News Break” are usually associated to important events in one’s life. In this poem, the child is afraid to tell the parent about his result. Instead of telling the parent, he started to behave differently by being nice to make up to the bad news. The child realises that his report card may not please the parent. Hence, he tries to be extra nice so that the parent will not be angry. The poem demonstrates what a small child has to do just to please his parents before the parents take any action against him. He also tells us the fear he is undergoing when things do not turn out as they are supposed to. The poet has observed the trauma a child faces before he hands over his progress report to his parents.  The job of the poet is to voice the actions of the small child to gain credit from his parents so that there would be no shelling from their parents.

Let’s read the poem-

The Living Photograph

 

Let’s read the poem-
The Living Photograph

My small grandmother is tall there,
straight-back, white broderie anglaise shirt,
pleated skirt, flat shoes, grey bun,
a kind, old smile round her eyes.
Her big hand holds mine,
white hand in black hand.
Her sharp blue eyes look her own death in the eye

It was true after all; that look.
My tall grandmother became small.
Her back round and hunched.
Her soup forgot to boil.
She went to the awful place grandmothers go.
Somewhere unknown, unthinkable.

But there she is still,
in the photo with me at three,
the crinkled smile is still living, breathing.
                                                                                            -Jackie Kay

 

 

                          

Understanding the poem:

Stanza 1 tells us that in the photograph, grandmother looks “tall’ although she is supposed to be ‘small’.  Her grandmother is still youthful and has a “straight-back”.  She is wearing a “white broderie anglaise shirt” and a “pleated skirt” which shows that she is a woman of class, upper or middle. She is a kind and loving person. “Her big hand holds mine, white hand in black hand”-Perhaps, the writer and her grandmother come from different ethnic background. The persona’s grandmother was a very brave person as she was not afraid of death – “Her sharp blue eyes look her own death in the eye.” Note that the poet used the present tense to describe her grandmother.

In stanza 2, the persona refers to her grandma in past tense when describing her actual state before dying.  Her grandmother began to grow older and develop a hunch back.  She had become forgetful as dementia sets in – “Her soup forgot to boil” before she died – “She went to the awful place grandmothers go.”  Perhaps as a young child, the persona didn’t understand what that place was, it was just “unknown” and “unthinkable”.

Stanza 3 describes how the poet wants to remember her grandmother. The memory of her grandmother will definitely live on but she doesn’t want to remember her as old and senile, but as how her grandmother was in the photo with her when she was only three years old. She will always be remembered with her smile. Note that the present tense is used once again.

 

Language and Style

The language is clear and easy to understand. The Style is simple and direct to the point. There isn’t any clear rhyme scheme.

 

Tone and Mood

The tone heads towards a sense of strong family relationships. There is a lot of thought and love felt in the poem.

Point of View

The persona uses the words ‘my’ and ‘me’. Thus, it is in the first person point of view.

 

Symbolism

The photograph symbolises the closeness between the grandmother and the persona. It highlights the feelings of the persona towards her grandmother.

 

 

Themes

Positive image people create in remembrance of a departed person.  Just like the persona we remember our dearly departed persons by the great things about them. The persona wants to remember her grandma as how she was in the photo, not the days before she died.  When our loved ones die, we no longer see the ugly side of a person. We forget and forgive all their shortcomings, when they die.
Coping with grief and loss.  One excellent way to cope with grief and loss is to cling on the good memories of a person, instead of remembering the bad.  The persona coped with grief for the loss of her grandma by keeping it in her heart that although her grandma is not with her anymore physically, she is still alive in her heart. She celebrates her grandmother’s life.

 

Moral Value

We must appreciate close family members while they are still alive. The poem teaches us that we must spend time with our loved ones because when they are gone all that will be left are the memories of the time spent together.

 

Discussion

The poet, Jackie Kay, is half Scottish, half Nigerian, and she was adopted by a Scottish family.  The persona could be the poet Ms Jackie Kay herself, hence the “white hand in black hand”. The poet says that her grandmother is tall in the photo but later became ‘small’ as at the time the photo was taken her grandmother was younger. Her back was straight. Thus, she seemed taller. It could also be because the writer was very young at the time -about three years old as mentioned in the last stanza.  As her grandmother grew older, her back became ‘round and hunched’. Therefore, she appeared ‘small’.  Note that although the grandma is dead, she refers to her in the present tense.  This shows that she is alive in her heart, and that the state of her grandma in the photo is how she wants to remember her. In the first stanza, the grandmother is strong and healthy in the photograph while in the second stanza the grandmother is older and ill. In stanza 2, the grandmother is described in the past tense, this also shows that the persona is over the tragedy; and her grandma is now dead. Overall, the poem is about how a photograph immortalises a person.  This is shown in the poem where she will always be remembered by the persona with the photograph although the grandmother is dead.

                     

‘Where the Durian Tree Grows’ is a collection of five short stories rooted in Malaysian culture revealing its hidden treasures. The durian fruit is symbolically mentioned in this title as it is regarded as symbol of mystique. One should not judge it based on its spiky outer appearance; the magic begins when you pry open the fruit as it reveals a soft, succulent, fleshy yellowish pulp and discover the mystical qualities of this unique tropical fruit. The plots in the stories revolve around solving a mystery. I specifically wrote in such a manner to allow readers from all over the world to be exposed to places in Malaysia and at the same time get a feel of experiencing adolescence life in Malaysia.

I have been teaching English and Mathematics in Malaysian Secondary Schools and then moved on to become a lecturer at a public university; namely; Sultan Idris University of Education. Here I taught undergraduates majoring in TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language). I taught various papers pertinent to the course such as “Literature for Young Adults”; “Teaching Methodology”; “Computer Assisted Language Teaching” and more.

Prior to ‘Where the Durian Tree Grows’, I have published many more story books but they were published by local publishers. ‘Where the Durian Tree Grows’ is my first attempt at an international level.

If you ask me- “What inspired me to write my book?” then, I need to relate my experience teaching at the university. Some of us (lecturers) were given the task to teach English Language Proficiency Classes to foreign students. These students had limited exposure to English Language. They were students in dire need of assistance to grasp the language before they could continue their studies in their respective fields. They were mainly aiming to study in the Business and Arts faculties.  They needed reading materials suitable for their level of proficiency. Books available in the library were of a higher standard. These students were struggling even to read newspapers in English! The students in my class were mainly from China and Indonesia. They were very eager learners. Some of the other lecturers who were assigned with the same type of students began borrowing my story books. The stories were meant for young adults, however, they came in handy for the teaching of the language as a foreign language! The students enjoyed reading the stories and the books gave them an avenue to practice reading in the target language.  This gave me further motivation to continue writing in this genre.

It took me about six months to complete ‘Where the Durian Tree Grows’. ‘Where the Durian Tree Grows’ is meant to instil good characters amongst children and young adults without being “preachy”. The stories are all embedded with values such as ‘Intellectual values’; “Civic Values” and “Character Values”. By “Character Values”, I mean characters in these stories possess either one or more values such as bravery, honesty, creativity and diligence.

The one message I would like to convey to my readers would be- people from different parts of the world are all connected in many ways although our cultures may be distinct from one another. Our differences should be a point of reference to better our lives and not be points to condemn each other.

I am working on a sequel. I have a collection of another five short stories. These stories have similar elements as the “Where the Durian Tree Grows”. However, this time the title could be “Colourful Grains”!

FINAL BOOK COVER HARD COPY

FRONT COVER

Do get a copy- you may get it here at google play.google.com/…/Leela_Chakrabarty_Where_the_Durian_Tree_Grows

Also available at Amazon.com amazon.com/…tion/dp/1482853639/ref=sr_1_1

and Barnes and Noble barnesandnoble.com/…hakrabarty/1122824054

DSP or STANDARD PERFORMANCE DOCUMENT HAS BEEN REVISED TO PPPM – PANDUAN PERKEMBANGAN PEMBELAJARAN MURID
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PPPM BAHASA INGGERIS TINGKATAN 2DSP or STANDARD PERFORMANCE DOCUMENT HAS BEEN REVISED TO PPPM – PANDUAN PERKEMBANGAN PEMBELAJARAN MURID
Here is the latest document for Form 2 English as revised from 1st APRIl 2014.PPPM BAHASA INGGERIS TINGKATAN 2