My maternal grandmother died when I was an unseeing teenager. I could not understand then that her passing was much more than the loss of a beloved matriarch. Having lived far away from her for many years, I had never got to hear any stories from her about our family’s history.
She came to say goodbye to us at the railway station when I was a baby and my immediate family was moving. As they took me from her arms I am told, I began to bawl and would not stop crying for hours after the train had steamed away from her. I am left today with fading memories of her small stature, her warmth, a pickle crock of crystallised sea salt unhurriedly liquefying in the humidity of her sooty kitchen. Her memory now resides in singular scents that waft around me from time to time. Continue reading The mystery of a lost language
I wanted to tell a story in novel form. One evening years ago, as I wrestled with how to turn my favourite archaeological mystery into fiction, I remember, my husband and I were standing at a white porcelain kitchen sink. Swirling around our little apartment was the political debate of the time emanating from a focal television set.
The argument on TV was about the differing versions of history, and which among them were more right than others. In my country, we had been used to a condescending socialist school syllabus, which, by the time I was standing at our kitchen sink, began to be called leftist by those who were right of centre. They had gained in power and were now calling for an amended history to be taught in schools. They believed children needed to be in touch with their traditions and not be apologetic about their customs.
Continue reading Why history