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The Quiet Woman The Quiet Woman
by Abigail George
2023-09-15 08:29:13
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I feel that I am losing her. The quiet woman. How can a sister or an African country be the love of your life? What was the question? She comes here with her own set of rules and changes everything. The quiet woman. She is everywhere and possesses everything.

The light burns away sin. Why is there so much suffering and not enough self-help, self-love? There is always a journey from darkness to light. What do you do, I was asked once. Oh, I write. The feminine mystique is to go into yourself. To make a statement. You must as Rilke said, ‘go inside yourself’. It is not enough to exist. If I trace it, the breaking point, destiny, the turning point it is connected to my sister. There is a universal truth there. There is always more terror in the world, war, hunger, famine, drought, and more the end of the world as we know it. Marked territory, more development, and more unemployment. When it comes to my creativity, every impulse, and nerve is connected to my mother. Her fury at the world has become my own. A world filled with volcano people. What does a changing world demonstrate?

Infinite darkness is as ancient as the stars. Constellations. What does the texture of every cool experimental construct feel and taste like? Is it a cold winter street? Bottled specimens of honeyed cells found in human nature, the environment affected by the reaction of climate change. We are governed by change. The wreck of illness. The connection between creation and creativity, justice and integrity, books, love, and poets. The primitive impulse is a punishment. The wind charmed me as it blew right through me. Yes, it had an articulate and charming personality just like my sister. When we were children our meeting point was heaven, paradise. I stare at my dinner. The ‘restaurant’ fish or rather prepared as if it was in a restaurant. I think of amazing things.

woman01_400Childhood. Deep sleep. Goals realized. Gold. Family. Theories about books and libraries. I shield my eyes on my daily walk with my father and think of my family. My sister. Our relationship. How easy it was to have an earthly balancing act when we were young girls. Now it borders on a history wilderness. On how I never fight her back. Every song is her fight song. Every choice she makes is the right choice. Now for me it comes down to two situations. The famous red brick wall or running down the stairs into the rain. I know what I see now but I cannot seem to recognize the reflection in the Alice in wonderland looking glass. Darkness holds onto nothingness the same way it holds onto my image in the mirror. Like a river I have nothing left to hide.

I open up old notebooks. Diaries. Paris diaries. People, well, they can say anything they want to say. Am I the one who is lost or is it my sister? Is she the memory of the ghost? I know how to stop time. I know how to build a time machine. If only we felt more interconnected with each other. If only we were reintegrated and did not each smell of revenge. The battles I fight now is with my father (he has the same skinny legs I had as a child now), sleepy haiku, and the decay of your sense of moral decay. He is infirm. My heart bleeds for him. In the still of the night in the silence of the bedroom I think of the love I had once. How perfect my life was once. I was an epic woman. There was no room for anyone else in that equation once. I still make coffee but they are all gone.

Now I just scream when I get mad. I scream for no reason at all. I am the screaming woman. I have such potential though to be quiet. To remain calm under these circumstances. All the men who used to be in my life have just gone and faded away on me. They are just ghosts. Dreams. I should have told them that I loved them even though some were friends. I am an adjustment Goals, and fathers in the making. I am tired of me. I am tired of you. I never had that life experience. The rosebushes that my mother planted in spring is flowering now. Everything around me is deep and profound. There is a careful synergy in everything around me. The insects seem to be angels in the garden. Soul mates. Media has gone on. On fast forward the people I worked with then have gone on to glory (children, families of their own, marriages) or rather glorious careers. 

I am forgotten like cold soup, or lukewarm coffee. A plate of cheese on a dusty Karoo table left out for lunch for an artist, islands of trees in a forest, the winter guest unexpected, uninvited, a child prodigy from the eighties, a child that has disappeared without a trace. Success does not interest me as much as it did once. Observation, and tension comes to me in layers like an onion, and as beautiful as a tapestry, a dress made out of shiny material. It is a love, and hate relationship. Some days I am in no hurry. Other days I am like an animal. A character almost like an animal. There are days like radio music. The music when it fills my head provides me with inspiration, and imagination. When I am in need of finding myself I go the beach for a slice of beach life.

I remember a high school in a rural district in the sleepy town of Mbabane, Swaziland. I was happy there. For a child and youth being happy is important. Being happy is a unique state of mind. I can remember feeling happy when I was a child. I was an unselfconscious citizen. Grew up to become the Lazarus phenomenon. She writes unlike our mothers and grandmothers. Love me. Love me. I want to tell her. With a kind of pure love. Remember when it rained in the darkness. Inside I slowly died and that light I spoke about before burnt away. I remember when my sister wanted to be a god. All gods wanted to be worshiped, right? The first time I wrote anything it felt as if I waking up to a kind of awareness. There was a sharp edge to it like bipolar.  

I knew I could cook chicken like a master. Watch its awesome birth from the oven to the dining room table. Somehow like my mother I too could prepare a feast. A festival, a circus of flavors on a plate. Rice pudding somehow like my younger brother. I watched my father as we watched the news. The room in darkness. I could still see the lines and the wrinkles on his face. His shoes laced by his infirm hands. His hands brown, sunburnt, covered with age spots with a touch of arthritis. He now complained of lameness in his right hand. The walker is pushed in the corner in the sitting room. I have never had that kind of instinct to travel. We do not walk far. Our daily walk usually interrupted by the wind. Yes, that charming Port Elizabeth wind that comes from nowhere.

That you can feel in the small of your back pushing you to walk faster. Once I knew what love was (once). Love can rewrite, rewire your childhood. Spark your youth. Your young adult life. Rewrite the influence your siblings and your parents have on you. It can make you take vows. Birth novels and decay. Sin and pleasure. Children, couples, and diamonds. Bracelets, gold, necklaces, and rings. No one was more beautiful than my sister. No one more elegant. Her laughter was the laughter of moths, and butterflies. Her food would melt like butter in my mouth. She did not read anything I wrote. Anything that was published she was never excited about that. Now I was a caregiver and she paid all the bills. Now I was the one taking care of dad. She never telephoned.

She paid all the bills. We never forgot that. Sometimes in the darkness of my room I would think about the man I lost. In the silence of the night I would dream about the children I could have had. Would life have been fairer to them than it had been to me? I do not think so. It is good I never had those children in the end. Love is meant for a certain type of girl. Is she pretty? Is her features lovely, attractive, appealing? Is her body, mind, and soul profound? She does not know yet that her most dangerous enemy yet is man. He wants to dominate her. In order for her to be winning, a lover, she has to be submissive, but she also has to seduce. She has to be powerful but also vulnerable. She has to be a fragile little flower. A dandelion with wings. She has to parachute behind enemy (man) lines.

She has to be a poet. For a woman to understand a man she has to think like him. Quiet women win more I think than loud women. I was always on the side of the introverts. I wrote as both an introvert, and an extrovert. I wrote with a maternal instinct. As if I had those children all the time. The ring on my finger. I wrote as if I was a poet. I was an introvert first. I imagined the leg of lamb for my beloved and our family. The Christmases but she (my sister) was nowhere close to it in her thirties than I was to it. It was my brother who prepared the deboned leg of lamb for Christmas. He taught himself from a young age to nurture himself, to nurture his older sisters, take care of us with a stew of meat and potatoes as if he was both a combination of dad and mum.

Now we take turns at absolutely devastating each other. Are writers all damaged, intelligent, bright wonders with the sun in our eyes? We say little of our dysfunctional childhood. Dad locked away from the world for weeks at a time. Mum driving us to the hospital or the clinic for visits. The memory has never been lost on me. It has never faded away completely or refused to tap me on the shoulder like starlight. Mum loses herself in her flowers. Her roses. Daddy writes books. Books about his depression and his dysfunctional, and devastating childhood. I help him where I am to get ‘it’ right. The depression, his depression dazzles on the page as a disability. As a mental illness. I am lost. So I turned to films. Filmmaking. Poetry.


In my twenties in the end mental illness began to turn me on too. The man I lost I place him in situations now. I never take him out of Africa though. He is always a teacher, or older, or a lecturer, but always older. I think like I have said before it is because I never had a teenage boy as a boyfriend. I never had that life experience. Oh well, I say. It was never meant to be anyway because there was someone else in the picture. Another woman. A woman is different from a girl. A woman is confident. She knows her place in the world. If she has children she has cemented her place in the world. She has found her sunny road. She is a matriarch. A girl is painfully naïve. There are experiences difficult to place or explain away the instant that it happens to her.

The woman, her life is what I envy. Her ease that she walks with in the workplace. The skirts, and the dresses that she wears. I look into windows and what do I see. An arrangement of light. My face. My sister’s life. It is a beautiful life. A wonderful life, but she is a pretty little liar. Is she happy, or is she ice in the lungs cold? There seems to be on the surface no strings attached to her love but only on the surface tension of things. There seems to be a dark side to things on the telephone. Thunder in her voice. Then I know I have lost her. I have lost her for good. There is history there. I have to look after her. I have to look out for her. Love must mean something. It must mean more than competition. More than sibling rivalry. Mother has her roses. I have a brother who has a growing family.

An estranged sister. A mum who has her roses. A brilliant father who writes books. What is going to happen to me if I stop smiling? If I go under then what will happen to dad? I am aware that I am nothing like my sister. I try and disengage myself as much as I can from her reality. I know who I am. I know that life will go on.

‘Life will go on.’ dad tells me.

‘Yes, dad. I know.’ I say. ‘This education of life is hard on me though.’

People never tell you that it is really a prison out there of your own making.

Abigail George has a new book in the Ovi Bookshelves,
"Brother Wolf and Sister Wren"
Download for FREE HERE!


In the same shelves you wil also find one more book from Abigail George
"All about my mother"



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