ChickenBones: A Journal
for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes
Until that time, I was easy-going, taking my fancy to one man, then another, I didnt
care a cent that Ive vowed before God to be faithful to this here man!
the old woman pointed at her snoring husband
Don’t Kill Mother!
By Stoyan Valev
Mila, the favorite granddaughter of the old Venneta, sat down on the floor by the armchair, and asked:
And have you loved granddaddy all the time, granny?
Certainly, dear, how can it be otherwise? the old woman caressed her cheek.
“And you didnt get tired?” said the girl, amazed, ensconcing herself in her grannys feet.
The old Zlati had drifted into his usual sweet doze on the rocking chair by the window, his face covered with the unfinished newspaper. At his side lied stretched Rudi, the Germen shepherd, whether sleeping, or keeping watch, however, the girl suddenly wasnt certain.
Well, he did make me mad sometimes. We had our quarrels. the old Venneta became thoughtful for a moment, giving a peek where her husband snored peacefully, then laughed quietly. Can you ever love one man for good fifty years? her eyes screwed up cunningly, I taken some rest. I have given myself a break.
A break! the girl felt bewildered and exclaimed, You must be kidding me, granny!
The marriage is a job, my dear, the old woman shook her head. You need a time off. After the holiday, you work better, isnt that right . . . ? the old Venetta was smiling cunningly, somehow mischievously and playfully, but honestly all the same.
And during the break, what? the girl gave her a conspiratorial wink.
Ah, me . . . should people share all their secrets? the old woman shook her head and gave the old man the same mischievous, childish look. Besides, you are still very little, the time hasnt come yet for you to listen to that sort of things . . .
Nonsense! Once women at eighteen already had already children of their own! Tell me, please! demanded the girl and pressed her cheek upon her grannys knees.
Well, all right, all right! the old woman waved her hand, bowed her head and started her tale, in a very low voice, seemingly in the girls ear, but actually her voice was echoing in the room.
Once, I had got myself, too, a certain friend, as you call it now, but at the time we used to call it simply: lover and this is the truer word, I think. His name was Radko, a colleague of your granddad. I hated the long-drawn unfaithfulness: I wanted to be with the man I liked one, two, three days and ¡ then everyone on his own path! So, I breathe the word to my sister over the phone and a wire comes from her at once and I still can see its preposterous contents: Mother seriously ill. Come immediately.
Mother lived with my sister so there was nothing suspicious it was exactly her to send me such telegram. So, I leave immediately, the very same night after receiving it. Your granddaddy harps on coming, too, but I said to him: no, no, you shouldnt leave your work just like that, you have just been promoted, you have to prove yourself now! He complied to let me go alone, and all in all, I didnt want him with me, because you understand I have other things on my mind. There was nothing wrong with my mother, of course, you understand it was just an excuse for him, she beckoned towards her husband who was snoring on and off under the newspaper.
Now the dog was taking part in the snoring, too. The old woman pursed her lips and exclaimed: However, the moment I showed up, mother got ill! What a wonder! I, of course, had fixed it so that my new friend was coming, too, and he stayed at the local hotel. The first day, anyway, we spent it locked in the hotel room.
A whole day! Mila exclaimed, admiringly.
And a whole night, too! the old woman smiled mischievously and suddenly sighed. But my mother goes worse and worse! My sister, frightened out of her senses, runs around, gets the doctor, and he says: She must be taken to hospital, her life is in danger! Whats wrong with her, ask I, but he mumbles, one cant make anything of his chattering. At the same time, my sister, God forgive her, pulls me aside and tells me right in my face: Gods punishing Mom because of your unfaithfulness! Go away, dont kill mother! What could I do? I left. When I came back, my first job was to phone the doctor sudden improving, says he! And again, all over me with his Latin gibberish! God sees all and punishes us, mark me, dear child . . . yes, it is true . . . ! Since then I hadnt taken time off from your granddad! Here, honest to God! and the old woman crossed herself, her gaze fixed on the icon of the Virgin Mary, placed in the corner of the living room.
Yea-a . . . the girl agreed, stunned by her grandmothers story.
Thats why one shouldnt be unfaithful. Until that time, I was easy-going, taking my fancy to one man, then another, I didnt care a cent that Ive vowed before God to be faithful to this here man! the old woman pointed at her snoring husband and caressed her granddaughters hair, However, I understood, you can hide no secret from God! He sees all! and the old woman again hastily crossed herself.
My God, what a horror youve been through! Mila exclaimed, taking both her grandmothers withered hands between her palms, kissing them.
Nonsense! How can you fill the childs head with such drivel?!! thundered old Zlati sharply removing the newspaper from his face. I called your mother and she decided to play that little nice trick on you! Even your sister took part! He-he! Arent you stupid?
Oh! But hes been eavesdropping! said old Venneta, startled.
Granddaddy! Shame on you! said Mila resentfully, but the old man gave her a cheerful wink and said: And when you talk behind my back, doesnt that, by any chance, make you feel ashamed, my dear girls?
Venneta abruptly turned towards the old man, and snapped, but bewilderment showed in her angry voice:
Can this be the truth you speak, Zlati?
What do you think? he smiled and slowly folded the newspaper.
I dont think, I ask! said sternly the old Venneta.
The marriage is a competition between two people, Mila! explained the old Slavi to his granddaughter, waving his finger mischievously, The smarter, the more ingenious, is the one who always wins, as is with life, my dear child!
Wait are you serious, or you thought it up while listening in on us? asked the old woman suspiciously.
Yeah-! the old Slavi nodded, I¯m quite serious. I had decided never to admit that, but here stupid of me! I made a deal with your mother at the time. For a mother-in-law she showed much love for me!
Really?! the old woman couldnt believe her ears.
And how! giggled the old man.
What a villain! the old Venneta half-rose from the armchair, outraged, then sat down again, grown extremely weak with the overcoming agitation. Her hands began to tremble in her lap, and clumsily, she tried to hide them away, but couldnt she didnt know where to put them.
Well, all right, said the old man You tell me, Mila, if I had acted like a villain, hadnt I been provoked enough by her?
Mila sighed ¨C the case was too difficult to solve. She only shrugged helplessly.
Women, for some reason, always imagine themselves very sly and smart. But I wont have that. Obviously contented, the old man started caressing the dog and the dog growled with pleasure.
But, granddaddy! exclaimed Mila and broke off. Actually, he was right.
So, be a winner in this competition, my child! Dont believe your granny, nobody supervises us, life is in your own hands but love most of all. Win or somebody will win instead of you. Theres no equality in marriage theres a winner, or a loser! Take that from me!
I will, nodded the girl and suddenly, she saw her granddad in a completely different light: strong, clever, ingenious. . . .
Come on, Rudi, my dear friend . . . Time for a walk! the old man was laughing while the dog scurried towards the door, then came back with the lead and bent his head. No, you dont need a lead, dear friend, you are a man!
Take care, you hear, old boy! called the old Venneta after him, mischievously, as always, though her voice was trembling with agitation.
I will. I have learned to take care that half a century I¡¯ve spent with you, sweetheart!¡¯ grinned the old Zlati. Would I manage to keep such a beautiful and loved woman like you, if it were otherwise?
Crazy man! the old Venneta started shaking her head. She absently caressed Milas neck, after the girl had lain her blond head on her grannys lap again, Well . . .so goes the world, my girl. So many years have I been with this man and I still dont know what goes in his mind.
Well, he took you in, whats so hard to understand? Mila smiled.
No, you are wrong, you are wrong . . . uttered the old woman thoughtfully and then exclaimed: But I must have loved him for that; for this strangeness and mystery of his! a quick smile crept upon her lips and again, she shook her head ironically, with disbelief although who knows?
From outside, came the barking of the dog.
Someone must have come! said the old woman, surprised, and rose with a sudden liveliness; then went up to the window and looked through it.
Do you know whos here? she asked excited her granddaughter Radko, the same I told you . . .
That one, from the hotel? asked the girl, surprised and quickly joined her granny at the window.
The very same! nodded the grandmother fervently and her hot breath dimmed the glass in front of her eyes.
But how come . . . how come they are still friends? I thought granddaddy knew! Mila stared astonished at her grandmothers face.
He knew, of course, and I didnt have the slightest suspicion! Radko least of all! But, who knows, they might have settled the things between them . . . who can ever understand these cursed men . . . the old Venetta crossed herself while she kept watching the two old men, who strolled down the wide lawn spread before them. Against the dim light of the sunset, Radko and Zlati merged into one great single figure, while the dog was racing along before them.
Suddenly, the two men parted, withdrew from one another and stood exactly opposite each other.
As if they are going to fight a duel for their lady of the heart! Mila whispered, pressing her forehead on the glass.
The old Venneta only sighed and laid both her hands on the sill.
The two men started throwing the flying disk.
Frisbee! declared Mila ironically, surprised. Look at them, old men, what a game they have decided to play!
The dog was running across the men, shuttling between them, barking in exaltation, following the disk that was flying over his head. And the men seemed completely absorbed in throwing the plastic disk.
Is it possible that I, like the dog, have been running across the two of them all my life, asked herself the old woman, terrified and weakened and started trembling with agitation again, this time feeling a sudden rage rising inside her, totally confused and helpless.
She made two uncertain steps and slumped in the armchair, sobbing with terror, her face hidden in her arms.
Her granddaughter Mila was watching her as much with pain, as with some unsuspected contempt, felt for that old woman in front of her that suddenly had become a stranger to her. The girl half-closed her eyes and one could read on her lips the vow she took: that in love and marriage she will always be the winner, just like her grandfather Zlati!
Translated from Bulgarian by: Nevena Pascaleva
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Stojan Valev was born and live in Bulgaria, Eastern Europe. He is specialist in Bulgarian language and literature. He graduated Paisii Hilendarski University in Plovdiv in 1982 and taught there 5 years as an assistant in Russian literature of XX century. He used to work as a journalist in radios, weekly papers and daily papers. He used to be chief editor of the weekly Freedom, the daily press Maritza and Twenty-four-hour news maker.
He published his stories in the Collection of stories A Murder on Christmas and A Murder of Love, in the following editions Paper for the Woman, Womans Kingdom, Review, and For the Woman. In 1999 Hermes Publishing House published his first book When God Was On Leave. In 2000 two Bulgarian theatres put on scene his play for teenagers An United Class. His second book is The Bulgarian Decameron, in two volumes published in 2002 and 2003 by Golden Apple Publishing House. The two volumes include 30 stories about the love life of the Bulgarian in the past.
His screen script on his story Unfaithfulness one time and a half won a competition of the Bulgarian National TV in November 2002. In 2003 Golden Apple Publishing House published a story collection of 40 stories named Time for Infidelities. Some of his stories have been published in many issues in USA, UK, Australia, New Zealand, India, Italy, Poland, Kingdom of Nepal, Ireland, Canada, Switzerland and some are going to be published soon.
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For July 1st through August 31st 2011
#1 – Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark #2 – Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree #3 – Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane #4 – Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper #5 – Stackin’ Paper 2 Genesis’ Payback by Joy King #6 – Thug Lovin’ (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark #7 – When I Get Where I’m Going by Cheryl Robinson #8 – Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby #9 – The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane
#10 – Covenant: A Thriller by Brandon Massey
#11 – Diary Of A Street Diva by Ashley and JaQuavis
#12 – Don’t Ever Tell by Brandon Massey
#13 – For colored girls who have considered suicide by Ntozake Shange
#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree
#15 – Homemade Loves by J. California Cooper
#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper
#17 – Player Haters by Carl Weber
#18 – Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare
#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King
#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey
#21 – The Upper Room by Mary Monroe
#22 Thug Matrimony by Wahida Clark
#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark
#24 – Married Men by Carl Weber
#25 – I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter
#1 – Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable #2 – Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans #3 – Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane #4 – Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper #5 – Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant #6 – Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey #7 – The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight #8 – The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing #9 – The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson
#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History by Ahati N. N. Toure
#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley
#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell
#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore
#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit by RM Johnson
#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins
#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell
#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle
#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard
#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris
#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice
#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields
#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class by Lisa B. Thompson
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Edited by Miriam DeCosta-Willis
Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a collection of fourteen essays by scholars and creative writers from Africa and the Americas. Called one of two significant critical works on Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late 1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of Carter G. Woodson and Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an historical context for understanding 20th-century creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone writers, such as Cuban Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist, and scholar Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the significance of Negritude in Latin America. This collaborative text set the tone for later conferences in which writers and scholars worked together to promote, disseminate, and critique the literature of Spanish-speaking people of African descent. . . . Cited by a literary critic in 2004 as “the seminal study in the field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which most scholars in the field ‘cut their teeth’.”
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By Randall Kennedy
Among the best things about The Persistence of the Color Line is watching Mr. Kennedy hash through the positions about Mr. Obama staked out by black commentators on the left and right, from Stanley Crouch and Cornel West to Juan Williams and Tavis Smiley. He can be pointed. Noting the way Mr. Smiley consistently voiced skepticism regarding whether blacks should back Obama . . .
The finest chapter in The Persistence of the Color Line is so resonant, and so personal, it could nearly be the basis for a book of its own. That chapter is titled Reverend Wright and My Father: Reflections on Blacks and Patriotism. Recalling some of the criticisms of Americas past made by Mr. Obamas former pastor, Mr. Kennedy writes with feeling about his own father, who put each of his three of his children through Princeton but who never forgave American society for its racist mistreatment of him and those whom he most loved. His father distrusted the police, who had frequently called him boy, and rejected patriotism. Mr. Kennedys father relished Muhammad Alis quip that the Vietcong had never called him nigger. The author places his father, and Mr. Wright, in sympathetic historical light.
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From The World and Africa, 1965
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posted 17 February 2005