Sometimes, after dinner, I take a walk. Today my mother cooked me Chinese stir fried rice with chicken and vegetables. My mother is an amazing cook. She can cook the cuisine of any country. She can cook Italian, Chinese, English. Anything she puts her mind to. And it is always with an Indian touch. The rice today had copious amounts of Indian chilli. They were suited to an Indian palate. When food is so wonderful, it is hard to stop eating. I must have eaten just too much. I felt rather full, so I grabbed my coat.
I walked in the tranquillity of the night. The sky was darkest purple. For the first time in an age, I could see some stars. I felt an awesome connection with the universe. I looked upon the light and pondered. The stars that we see are photographs. Light does not travel instantaneously across vast distances in the universe. It takes time. Just like a camera, our sky captures photographs of stars. They are always a before. They are never the present. They are the big photographs in our night sky. One day, the stars will die. However, they are much more permanent than us humans and our insignificant problems. It was the comparison between our fleeting lives and impressions and the stars that prompted me to take up my diary writing tonight. I wanted to give the fickle some cementing in the word. I cast my mind back to yesterday, Christmas 2016.
We had my nephews over for the day. My mother cooked them sausages for breakfast. I had my usual and healthier alternative. I start off with four or five raw cloves. They are crunchy and can leave the mouth dry. They are said to extend the lifespan. Then I help myself to a spoonful of Manuka honey. It is famed for its healing properties. There are a variety of nuts and seeds and dried fruits in a bowl afterwards. The combination includes brazil nuts, walnuts, cashew nuts, almonds, pecan nuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, raisins and dried cranberries and goji berries. Some foods are for masculine health. Others are for boosting brain power. Some oat bars follow. Oats are good for the brain and for energy. I start on the fresh fruit next. There are blueberries, blackberries and red grapes. These foods are meant to maintain the brain. I have some dried apricots and dates. These include fibre and chemicals which aid sleep. There is half an avocado for essential fats and some coconut for the brain. Finally, there is a bowl of plain yoghurt with sprinklings of flax seeds. The yoghurt is for gut health and calcium. The flax seeds are for the Omega-3 and therefore the joints and the brain. Finally, there is a big glass of water to wash everything down. I treat my diet like medicine.
The children watched TV while I shaved in front of the mirror. As I brought the hand to my face, I looked over some minor cuts. Yesterday, I had taken the children to the park. I feed the squirrels there almost every day with monkey nuts. The children also loved feeding them. We loved the squirrels. They reminded me of children. They are so bold and inquisitive and cute. Usually, I squat and feed the squirrels by hand. They take the nuts out of my fingers. Unfortunately, I had started showing off in front of the children. I held the nut above the squirrel’s head. I then tantalised it so that it would climb onto my leg. About three or four squirrels did this. However, there was one squirrel that wouldn’t climb onto my leg. Instead, she leaped up the astonishing height from a standing jump and clawed at my hand. It was surprising and spectacular. The cuts were from that attack. I dropped the nut and she made off with it. I believe that nature speaks to me. Her lesson was clear. The designs of men were nothing compared to the cunning that she possessed. I had tried to train the squirrel. However, the unpredictability of nature and her adaptability was her strength. She was much more intelligent than the designs of man.
We came back home. The children’s parents came soon after. My brother pretended that he hadn’t bought the children any presents. He tortured the children only for a moment, however. He had bought present upon present. There were superhero dressing gowns. There was an art set and a drawing easel for the older boy. There were Poke-balls, which are popular this year. There was an assortment of other stuff. He bought my mother a handbag. My father got some clothes. I don’t believe in getting or giving presents. So there were no presents for me. However, I had gotten the children a Scrabble board which we had opened just before Christmas. I wanted them to improve their vocabulary and creativity with words in a fun setting. The game had also been on sale.
My older brother had sent over a pogo stick and a skateboard for the children to play on. He wanted a film of them using his presents. So we went out to the garden. I demonstrated how to use the pogo stick. I managed three jumps in a row. It was hard going. My little brother couldn’t use it at all. The oldest boy kept trying it, but couldn’t get the hang of it. He was getting increasingly frustrated. He threw it down in disgust after about fifteen minutes.
We had Scrabble tournaments throughout the day. I was the most practiced, as I played a Scrabble Sprint version on the computer sometimes. Everybody else had their own distinctive strategies which could be improved upon. There were three generations of us men that sat down to the board. The women could not play as they didn’t have sufficient English. They watched Indian TV instead. The younger nephew was also too young to understand the rules. My older nephew’s strategy was to use three letter words. He also asked other people to help him. My brother used lower scoring words. My father’s strategy was the most creative. He would make up words and then ask us to check them on the internet on our smartphones. I learnt some new words that way. There was “NE”, for example, and “CUIF”. The latter is a feckless individual that is held up for general contempt by a community.
For lunch, my brother had roast pork with stuffing. I do not eat pork as it is unhealthy. Instead, I had a chicken pie with baked beans in tomato sauce. Chicken is the healthiest and most environmentally friendly meat. However, I usually have eggs for lunch, rather than chicken. I was treating myself because it was Christmas. Tomatoes are so healthy that they are recommended daily. Everyone knows that baked beans are healthy. I get the ones that are not in metal cans, as the metal rubs off onto the food and is bad for the health. Everyone helped themselves to some chocolate covered biscuits I got for everybody afterwards. The children enjoyed them immensely.
I went on a shopping expedition with my brother to buy pitta breads for the special dinner as well as some plain yoghurt for the accompanying sauce. The police had cordoned off the area in our local high street. We got to the Indian shops via a different route. The stores were as busy as always.
The children were watching The Sword in the Stone when we got back. I therefore decided to go on my own walk. I was planning to go to the park. Unfortunately, it wasn’t open I got there. However, I did have the opportunity to have some alone time and listen to some music on my smartphone. I was listening to Michael Jackson’s Bad album. I had watched the music videos earlier in the week on YouTube. Michael Jackson is my favourite male singer in western music.
I got back home and we decided to watch Finding Dory. My brother had a rental copy. The other option was Asterisk and Obelisk. The children weren’t into that. We had read the comic books as boys and preferred it. However, we let the children rule on that one. I was pleasantly surprised by the movie. It was much more interesting than I thought it would be. However, I did note that there were unpleasant racial connotations in the movie. The white sharks and white shells had a very significant role.
Dinner was a beautiful affair. Everybody else had roast potatoes, sausages wrapped in bacon and then tandoori chicken. I only had the tandoori chicken with an assorted salad and wholemeal pitta breads. I made sure that I didn’t eat too much. The chicken was perfectly seasoned. It was spicy and full of chillies. I skipped dessert. The others had hot chocolate cake in custard.
We played some more Scrabble after dinner. Finally, my brother’s family left. I spent the night reading over a book which one of my fellow PhD researchers had sent me for the holiday. I was planning to do a review of it. It is about a Muslim hero in Nigeria and the problems that he faces. It was about religion and politics.