Royal City Literary Arts Society - RCLAS

For RCLAS's E-Zine Oct. 2016

A poem from her book of Poetry "Waiting"

A short Story from "Paradise of the Downcasts" collection of short tales

Where Is My Food?

The sun peeks in through a little hole in her small, dark, cold room. The smell of dirt and mould fills the air. She is tired and hungry, stretching her weak body and yawning. Her twin toddlers are all over her and searching for her breasts. They suckle contently, all the while playfully shoving each other. They break away to wrestle some more, then return to their mother, even though they get nothing from those empty breasts hanging on her body. 

She plays with them gently, holding her young against her tired body, kissing them. She slowly gets up to look around the empty space, knowing they need food. She goes to the entrance and pokes her head outside.  It feels warm, with a fresh smell of spring in the air. She very much enjoys the feel of the sun on her face.
She steps outside and the two little ones follow. She looks around and sees the same two paths, and she remembers. If she goes to the left, she will come to a graveyard of tree stumps, and then that mean city with those wild and selfish beasts in their fancy homes … the ones who attacked her for who she is. She had to run away from them last year, so she takes the right-hand path, a way that winds through more pleasant and forested land.

Her body is weak so that she wobbles a bit as she walks. The two little ones seem fine for now; perky and playful as they happily follow her. So far, their tummies are full. She has no milk anymore but she lets her kids suckle any time they want. Soon she is deep in the familiar forest and begins searching for berries, or anything else she can find, to feed her children and fill her own empty belly. After searching for a couple of hours, all they find are a few little wild berries. She arrives at the river where she used to catch fish, but the water is so low that there is no way any fish could live there. She is hungry and breathless, and now her kids are hungry and impatient. She is getting worried. Then she hears the familiar humming and buzzing sounds of the beasts. Frightened, she pushes her children behind her to make them understand that they must not get ahead of her and only follow behind.

They walk a bit more, arriving at the edge of another town. They see many dens, each one with large smelly bins where she may be able to find food. She gets her kids to hide and stay quiet, then she sits with them and waits for dark. They are all hungry. She hates those bins as she knows the food in there is like poison in their stomach, but she also knows it’s better than nothing. She sits leaning against a big tree as her kids suckle on her empty breasts. She cuddles with them and looks at them proudly, seeing how brimful of life they are despite their hunger.
Eventually she feels it is dark enough, though they still must be quiet. She remembers well from the year before on the other side of the forest how the monsters there suddenly arrived with loud noises and colourful flashing eyes, and how she barely escaped by running back into the woods.

Her kids sense that they must not make noise while following their mother, as she stealthily approaches one of the smaller bins then tries to open it. She works away and eventually opens it to drag out a few plastic bags which she carries quickly back to the forest. They are so hungry as they rip apart the foul-smelling bags. They eat whatever is edible.
Walking slowly into the forest after their meal, they climb a tree. She pulls her kids to her chest so they can relax and get some rest after their adventurous day. The twins are uncomfortable and restless because of the unsavoury food they ate, but they manage to sleep through the night and some of the next morning. For the rest of the day they search around for berries, but any direction they go they encounter the mean beasts.

That evening, she desperately comes back to the same place as the previous night, waiting again for nightfall, and then approaching another garbage bin. However, before she can open it, lights suddenly flash in her eyes. Those monsters start shouting. Panicking, she runs back into the forest yelling for her kids. They follow her, but so do four of the monsters. She hears a loud bang and then feels a sudden pain in her body. She tries to keep running but she becomes very weak and soon collapses. Her kids jump onto her, and she tries to hide them against her hairy belly, but she has no energy. She tries to lick them, but suddenly they are lifted up. She looks frantically at them as they are carried away toward those colourful flashing eyes of the monsters, all the while screaming for her.
She tries to get up but she cannot; she has lost too much blood. She moans and looks in the direction that her children were taken away, trying desperately to see them, but she can only hear their cries. She lets out a gurgling roar, and it seems tears run down her face, as she weakly calls to them.

Two police officers stand over her head. The tall one says, “Why did you shoot her, you moron?” 
“He came right up to the houses and into the garbage; we can’t have that. Besides, I thought he was ready to attack me.”
“He? Don’t be so clueless! She is a mother bear; just a hungry mother bear trying to feed her cubs, just like we do!”
Her ears are up, still trying to hear her children’s cries. She takes her last breath, as the moron says, “Is she crying? I didn’t know bears cry too!”

An Article of Nasreen posted on Inanna Publication Blogs a well.

Are We There Yet?

November 17, 2016 at 5:53 AM

Women have always been the essential foundation of every aspect of our lives, but they have consistently been deprived of their rights, and their talents and achievements have often gone unrecognized while those of men are routinely praised.

Charlotte Bronte the famous English author said, “I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will.”  Yet, in her time, she was precluded even of publishing her books under her own name, and her most famous book, “Jane Eyre,” was first released in 1846 under a male pen name. After that, from 1848 to the mid-1850s, she fought for her right to have her own name on her own books as author. She, alongside many other women, fought for women’s basic rights and accomplished much. But the question today is: “Are we there yet?”

Let’s look at one case.  A question such as why a towering figure in the fields ofphysics and astronomy, Dr. Vera Rubin, has not been awarded a Nobel Prize, is not a new phenomenon.   Dr. Rubin uncovered the discrepancy between the predicted angular motion of galaxies and the observed motion, by studying galactic rotation curves. However, she was not allowed to use the Palomar Observatory apparatus until 1965, even though she already had obtained her PhD in 1954 - over 10 years previously. Before that, women were not authorized to access that facility, or many other scientific facilities, in the way men freely used them as their birth right. Her work and discoveries in the field of Astronomy have earned her great acclaim and several awards, and she gained a prominent place in the history of science.  Yet the Nobel committee has not selected her for that well-deserved ultimate award, the Nobel prize, even though she was a pioneer, with Kent Ford, in finding dark matter in the 1970s through those studies of galactic motion, one of the most fundamental discoveries of our time in astrophysics. The discovery of dark matter has opened a tremendous gateway for scientists, which has allowed them to discover much more about our universe. 

Her struggle to be accepted as a scientist has haunted Dr. Rubin all her life.  When she applied to Princeton as her graduate school she was rejected, as Princeton did not accept women in the field of astronomy; a policy that was not discarded until 1975.  During her time at Carnegie, Rubin became the first woman to legally observe from the Palomar telescope in San Diego, blazing a path of equality at that observatory. Provoked by her own experiences of prejudice and discrimination and her battle to gain credibility as a woman astronomer, Rubin has been active and outspoken in encouraging women to pursue careers in the sciences, and continues to encourage young girls tofollow their dreams of investigating the universe.

Today, Vera Rubin is 88 years old; an accomplished scientist who cares less for fame than what she learns and gives to the world.  She says:  “Fame is fleeting; my numbers mean more to me than my name. If astronomers are still using my data years from now, that’s my greatest compliment.”  She is humble and seems indifferent towards the Nobel Prize, but my question is why this gifted scientist has not received it?

Does the boy’s-club hold the final decision, as it does in so many other fields?  Why is it we still see so few women in science and technology careers?  Needless to say, many more young women are being used in advertising so that their beauty and sex appeal can produce more sales.

- Nasreen Pejvack, author of Amity