Tag Archives: blood

#213 ~ Tenacity

When your heart is broken it doesn’t fall  apart. Instead it is dismantled into jaggedly shaped pieces which begin to chafe against one another, causing a deep-rooted pain which splurges from deep within to cover the extremities of the muscle. The heart keeps pumping and circulating blood, life, yet each contraction jolts searing white pain throughout the body, drawing even the far forgotten toes to the fine hair follicles into a cramped contortion of unified pain. A breaking heart however, is the clearest example of a birthed passion, a very present compassion. As the heart chafes against itself the mind comes alongside the cause of heart-break and dwells with it in a shared suffering. And that is where tenacity comes into play. The ability to latch on to what your heart is broken for, and regardless of whether public opinion is ready to hear it or not, to plough through and have your voice, your hurt, aired. A broken heart is too readily belittled into a romantic, self-absorbed caricature. A true heart that breaks, is shattered through the observation and experience of injustice, of fear, of evil in all its inglorious nature; and the blood that spills forth like Teresa’s leather hide soles, does so, because it believes with every pulse redemption can be found. Life can be reclaimed, healing can be attained.

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#209 ~ One Hundred Words and a Photo: 19

The orange bannisters were playing tricks with my mind. In the vertigo swirl I could feel the remains of the Granny Smith peels running riot ‘round my tonsils. Sweat like vinegar was pinching at my cheeks, drooling over my chin, pooling under my eyebrows. It was a narrow shaft, but not narrow enough. Not narrow enough to keep out the memories that were ordered, like interlinking lines in my mind, tunneling down and down into an abyss of nothing-ness. Just cold, hard concrete and a half-forgotten scream. The shadow still looked like his blood, fresh on the steps.

Copyright: Victoria. O

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#206 ~ One Hundred Words and a Photo : 16

Blood congealed into robust globules, the sheen reminiscent of the violent illumination of rusting iron through the jagged facets of a sanguine sunset. It caked over mottled toes, seeped between peeling skin, and latched bloodthirsty claws into silk wrappings. Poised, elegant and fearless, the cramping arch rolled high into an effortless elongation of the delicately muscled body. Wrapped securely by pale pink hands which melded with the opacity of fresh leggings, layer upon layer increased, built up, stretched and twisted into a muted dance of power and poise. Brute strength throbbed consistently beneath the pale exterior of a graceful aesthetic.

Copyright: Victoria O

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#146 ~ Female Genital Mutilation

Female Genital Mutilation or Cutting is defined by the World Health Organisation as the total or partial removal of external female genitalia or injury to the female genital organs for a non-medical reason. It is a procedure that can occur recently after birth of just before puberty, often without anaesthetics but with a traditional circumcision knife or razor. Occurring in over 26 countries predominantly in North-east Africa, were 92million women are expected to have been affected, it is also prominent in parts of the Middle East, and North America, Australasia and European immigrant communities.

FGM is a process that some cultures administer in the attempts to reduce a woman’s libido and reduce promiscuity. This can be to ensure familial honour, and also reduce the spreading of disease. Historically it has ben condoned to insure female chastity and prevent adultery. This is because the pain of penetration is so great, that the act of sex stops being something to enjoy and becomes a violent, at times excruciating experience which can be magnified in childbirth.

Circumcision is practiced within the three Abrahamic Faiths (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) although it is not a precept of any of the faiths, and rather an incorporation of older cultural ideologies into modern social norms. Judaism endorses male circumcision, the removal of the foreskin, but not female. Some Islamic scholars have declared FGM neither an obligation nor a part of the faith, even condemning it to criminal status that has resulted in fatwas being declared on those who’ve practiced it.

There are four types of removal that can occur in FGM.

The first and second involve the removal of the clitoris and sometimes the labia. The third involves removal of all external genitalia. In order for this to heal, the girl’s legs are tied together for forty days. Consider the pain, discomfort and UTI’s that will occur during this period as she attempts to urinate. A hole, which can be as small as a matchstick,  remains for the menstrual blood and urine to exit as the scar tissue that forms is so prolific. The vulva, is then cut open for childbirth and intercourse. Fatal haemorrhaging can occur during childbirth and often results in death. Sometimes the scar tissue and the keloids that form are so thick, penetration cannot occur. In order to enable the penis to fit, over a range of days the scar tissue is cut away until a large enough hole is created. Sometimes scalpels have broken in this process. The fourth type of FGM includes ceremonial cutting of the clitoris which occurs in Indonesia, burning or stretching the labia, and even the forced removal of the hymen.

The cutting devices are rarely sterilised, the process done without anaesthetic and without the child’s consent. I wish to stress the point that this procedure is taken out on children, either immediately after birth, or before they reach puberty, so around the age of nine or so. STI’s as well as UTI’s can be transmitted, and extreme bleeding is common. Cysts may form later in life, as well as severe keloid scarring. Sometimes the cutting required to create a hole for menstrual blood and urine can lead to a joining of the anal hole, causing faeces to seep into the vagina. A higher percentage of women die in childbirth.

An estimated 500 British girls will be circumcised this summer. Stoicism is expected. The women of the family and community come to hold the girl down. They can’t tell they’re having periods. With nowhere to go, the blood is sitting in their bodies. Many women are now infertile. It’s not done out of hate or religion, but a wrong concept of religion and chastity.

Recent reports have confirmed that cutters are being flown into Britain to ‘administer’ FGM. No-one has ever been charged in the UK. Some women desire for gynaecologists to be in airports to check and therefore enable prosecution.

This post is ending here because I’m too distressed to continue. Below are links to further your research into this issue.

Home Office Information

FORWARD: Charity for the prevention of FGM

Article by the Guardian and a Video of FGM ‘survivors” speaking out about the issue. 

A Silent Circumcision 

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#108 ~ One Hundred Words and a Photo : 8

If you only stopped, stooped down low and took a look. Took a real good look.You’d see their broken bodies, like snapped twigs – except they had a bend. They had become malleable to better mould themselves to the overbearing winds that shoved them apart creating miniature wind tunnels that whipped through their obscure communities. Too often they were trampled over, without any regard. But remember, we’re looking closer. Noticing the vibrancy of their colour. A rich green. Green of life. They were still alive, bursting with chlorophyll bloodstreams. If you just looked down, looked down real good, you would see.

Photo:

Victoria O, Copyrighted

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#97 ~ Passion

There are certain words that education experts implore one not to use when applying for university. Passion is one of them. It falls gracefully into the category of clichéd phrases so overused and under-meant that they have come to signify nothing else but a generic desire for an undefined something. The language of romance has fused it into a symbiotic relationship with the semantic field of carnality, sensuality, desire, temptation, an abandon to the physical senses which burns us up in side. I burn with a passion for you, spoken in a deep throbbing voice, has become the modern Lothario’s key to any woman’s locked bedroom. Yet the appropriation and re-appropriation of the word passion for a variety of uses suggests to me, that, bound up in the very root of the word, there still remains something pertinent, profound and compelling. The idea of a passion, being passionate, evokes a sincere and powerful feeling within us, even if it is received by staid ears.

Derived from the Ancient Greek pashko passion in fact, means to suffer. It is an intense and compelling emotion that over time has come to connote positivity. Yet its evocative nature is so because at its heart it is a description, a typographical signifier, of the act of suffering, and suffering is the clearest evocation of the humanity of man.

And here we are 97 days into this blog and approaching one of the most profound and renowned acts of passion known in human history. The passion of the Christ. The reminder that God who so loved the world, so loved his creation that his heart broke in distress at our brokeness that he incarnated himself into human form to suffer for us. To be a public expression of passion which would culminate in a public execution and resurrection.

These are words that I have had infused into my very brain from a young age. If my heart was a piece of WHSmith’s paper, it would be torn by the number of times I have, in absorbing this information,  had it ‘written’ on my heart. I know these words, I know these ideas and I confess myself to be a believer. Yet what does it mean to suffer, to have someone die for me. Though in rhetoric I profess to believe and to understand, I have neither physically felt the romantic passion that lures me into fantasy daydreams, nor have I experienced the rapturous passion of affective piety. I suppose I am also a passionless girl, having never suffered, never really suffered enough to evoke intense emotion in someone else.

Today, however, I stood in the temperamental weather that characterises British springtime, In Trafalgar Sq, Central London, in a hole-ridden jumper, green tights and an avant-garde fro-hawk (afro mohawk made using a variety of Boots clips) and watched the passion of  Jesus Christ re-enacted before my eyes, emblazoned on large screens to a crowd of thousands. I watched as ‘Jesus’ rode into Jerusalem to the shouts of Hosannah on a real donkey. I saw his kind eyes, his righteous anger in the money-changing Temple, I heard his cry in the garden of Gethsemane as he begged, in a raw voice for this Cup, this future to be taken from him. And the peaceful resignation of obedience which is to be a model to the way I live my life as a Christian, humbly accepting to the Father’s will, trusting in His goodness and righteousness. I heard the sound of the whip crack on his body, and then I watched as it was broken before me, before all of Central London to see, as they hung him from a cross and stabbed his side.

I knew all along it was an enactment. These were actors and actress reliving and re-telling the gospel story. I knew that the shredded, torn, battered and bruised skin that drew gasps from the multi-racial, multi-faith, multi-generational crowd was artistically applied prosthetic makeup. The blood that drenched his skin, streaked the sides of his limbs and tainted the fingertips of members of the audience who helped pick him up when he struggled under the weight of the real-life cross, was make-up, paint, in essence, fake. Yet in that moment, captured on television screens which so easily hold us captive with murder-mysteries, banality and the dark reminder of the news, I couldn’t maintain eye contact. I struggled to allow the truth that what this actor was enacting someone really did for me. Not because I don’t believe it isn’t real. But because I didn’t want to acknowledge that amount of suffering, a passion I could not comprehend.

Yet it ended with hope. The resurrected body, the love in the eyes and the final message that boomed from loud speakers, imploring us, the crowd of people from all walks of life, to be a light in this world. To love our neighbours, stand for peace, be bold, have faith, be and do love. To go out and be the good news in this world that is crying out for it. And at the end the Bishop of London came, giving a blessing, and calling for us, in whatever our mother tongue was, to say together, the Lord’s prayer.

For one of the few times in my life, this Easter, thanks to Ma, I shall be sitting down to delicately peel back thin layers of gold painted foil, revealing beneath, the fragile construction of a chocolate Lindt bunny. And I won’t be alone. Must of us will be delving into chocolate which, though we eat it regularly throughout the year, we suddenly feel a desperate need to eat more. Some of us will have eaten fish today, Good Friday, most probably won’t know why. A number will delve into lamb on Sunday, again most likely unsure why.

Even though I will and have partaken in all these cultural rituals to mark this Christian festival that, in terms of the annual calendar, was superimposed on a Pagan festival of new life and re-birth, there was something i experienced today watching that monumental act of sacrificial suffering. That concept of the utmost love played out with a sincere integrity. That someone could love me, love you, love the potential of this world so much, that they would sacrifice their life, and in that sacrifice proclaim to all the world, that Death, our greatest fear, has no power. Death which pushes so may people away from religion, Death which brings fear into the hearts of the young and old, Death that drives people to a superficial madness as they try to escape its clutches, Death, which breeds hate, destruction, anger, war, violence, Death which we feel is the final voice of doom in this ‘cursed’ world. It has no power. Love. That same word, like passion, which students are told to flee from, the way Paul tells us to flee from temptation. Love which has also been bastardised, over familiarised and commercialised. That other almost unidentifiable word, has conquered it. Love which didn’t ask for anything in return. Love that reinforces our sense of worth. Even those that have been condemned by the world, called promiscuous, damned, abominations in the eyes of God, outcasts, rejects, adulterous, murderous, the least of the least, yeah, that Love, died for us.

How can I comprehend that kind of passion? That passion which supersedes any mac-daddy’s romantic ‘gassing’, ‘breezing,’ sweet-nothings?

Only with the utmost nonplussed sense of awe, gratitude and confusion. But a happy, perplexed and grateful confusion all the same.

Greater love has no man than this – that he lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)

I don’t know who you are, but he did it for you, as much as he did it for anyone who professes to believe. And he said, in all this darkness, you are loved and there is hope, there is new life. 

That’s my reason for the season. God Bless.

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#94 ~ Umbilical Chord

Officially known as the funiculus umbilicus, the umbilical cord connects the foetus to the placenta from which it attains all the nutrients it needs to survive. Wikipedia informs me that during the prenatal stages of pregnancy the umbilical cord connects the foetus both genetically and physically to the mother, and is cut very soon after birth. Without it one cannot survive, one cannot be brought into being.

Yet so often we look at the umbilical cord as something that connects the child to the mother, and not mother to child. I’m speaking about this outside the biological realms of science and surgery. Throughout the act of pregnancy, the umbilical cord is appropriated from simply being a physiological element to an emotional, a metaphysical symbol of unity. It is the chord of Life, and life in the very complex expression of that term. It is the chord that generates and maintains maternal affection throughout the life of that child. It is the chord that generates the sacrificial nature of parenthood, it is the chord that you can never cut, its roots are planted in the very arteries that make up the heart, it becomes the carrier of the ‘familial’ life blood.

And when we, the children, grow up, becoming adults ourselves, when we physically move away from the maternal breast, the home, the space in which Mother rules, we stretch it taught. We strain the very tissues that hold it together, stretching the cells, and inadvertently pulling on the nerves, jolting the heart into action. You see, when the umbilical cord is cut in the physical world, only the child retains any memory of it, the belly button. But when it’s cut in the emotional, the scars are often found on the mother. There is that desire to hold on, to draw the children back to the bosom, and remind them how much they are loved and wanted –

Yet also how much the mother wants to be loved and wanted. How big a space those children that were carried internally, take up in the external world. How her life is reduced into a single room in which all her focus is trapped, waiting for those fragile beings to be nurtured, developed and to grow.

Hearing my mother asking for my speedy return home reiterated to me something I had tried to ignore. Growing up isn’t solely about moving forwards and experiencing life selfishly. It’s also, just like driving a car, about checking in the review mirror, the cars, the people we might be leaving behind.

Just as the blood that is carried in the arteries that line the umbilical cord fed me when I was being nurtured in her womb, so does my time, attention, my reminder of my love for her, need to be a source of sustenance stretching back along the familial arteries that keep the life blood pumping throughout our family unit.

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