Come Wind or Sun – Novel Excerpt


Image Copyright Protected.

When the cell door shut behind Emilio, he knew that there was no turning back. He collapsed on the metallic bed, feeling like the Fulani bull he encountered as a ten-year-old boy, when visiting his maternal grandfather’s village.

The day before its slaughter, the beast was allowed to graze and roam without restraint. On the day, however, four strong men captured the animal, spreading it on the ground like a grey rag, adjusting thick folds of skin around its neck… By the time Emilio reached the scene, its hoofs had been tied and long fearsome horns subdued. The strong, majestic beast was laying there calmly, no longer fighting. Maybe it had never fought. Maybe, it trusted the perpetrators, until the very end – complying peacefully while listening to their soothing voices as they tied a rope around its neck and fastened it to a graceful Acacia tree.   

But suddenly, its poignant death roar joined the sound of children playing in the background. One of the men had pressed a machete into the animal’s neck and then began moving the blade across skillfully, rhythmically, in an uninterrupted motion… The others were leaning against, pressing the weight of their fit, muscular bodies into the jerking bull – keeping it still. The men’s individual forces could never match that of their victim’s, but theirs were the organised efforts, superior understanding, animal instincts and the strength of the pack. The law of the jungle failed the bull just like this law failed Emilio and many others like him. The system kept capturing them unawares – cutting throats methodically – waiting for their roars to become weaker and weaker until they ceased completely. 

Without a flinch, the men watched the animal’s red life escaping, white flesh spreading apart, separating… Time crawled like an infant, as its blood kept pouring out – into a temporary ditch that had been dug for the very purpose of covering up the bloodshed with sand. Joyful sounds of kids playing continued even when the bull’s poignant roar ceased. Emilio, however, paralysed by a strange desire to remain aware, couldn’t stop staring, his young mind shocked that the sun didn’t stop shining and the earth didn’t swallow the men and the place, along with its life-giving banana, lime, and coco trees. 

Monika Ribeiro © 2021

My Story as Told… at Mixed-Race Faces


‘Not location, not race and not the skin colour make the basis of a friendship or love but the heart and soul’.

Yesterday, my story was featured @mixedracefaces. It is amazing to me that colour of one’s skin is a problem still and to so many… But then, on the other hand, it isn’t surprising because there are people out there who benefit from division. Those folks as well as individual ignorance keep us fighting with each other rather than celebrating our differences. When is this going to stop?

Well… Those naturally or ideologically divisive groups and individuals won’t change even if they are confronted with a better way. But then, ignorance can be cured (I believe) – with education and/or conversation. Hence, being mixed-race, I feel that it is necessary to talk about these things i.e. diverse cultural expressions or different colours of faces…

Initiatives like this one here encourage and remind me that as much as attempts to divide and conquer are part of this world so are the attempts to unite people… Without further ado, please click here to read my MIXED-RACE FACE STORY Enjoy! 🙂

JOIN ME ON INSTAGRAM TOO

Poem, “I Can’t Breathe”


Picture Source: National Geographic

.If the world didn’t call out your name

You would be just one more number

Not the first nor the last…

Just another one… biting the dust…

.

But,

.

We’re weary of seeing blood being shed

Especially, by those who are meant to protect…

.

Except, he was pinned to the ground, unarmed!

“They’re killing me,” he said to his mum…

It’s a life that God gave and called her to deliver

When I think of it, as a mother, I shiver…

.

Mr. president, please, let’s call it what it is…

Not a sad incident nor a bad situation

Let’s call it “murder”, shall we?

That was the intention!

.

Third degree? Questionably…

“I can’t breathe,” he said, repeatedly…

.

“If you can say you can’t breathe, you’re breathing.”

Mr. Mayor, what the heck?

Would you like him to elaborate,

with a knee on his neck?

.

Mr. officer kept pressing that knee into him

While the whole world watched…

We, too, were gasping for air…

It made us feel sick, filled us with despair…

.

Even now, we’re holding our breath –

We want justice, for this premature death…

You can’t handle a man like he’s null and void

His life did matter. His name was George Floyd.

.

 “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me…” Psalm 23:4

Mirage, Marriage, Memoir – Poem


Domestic Violence Freedom – Poem

He looked good and had a lot,
So she entered the mirage –
Only, she had failed to notice
Ugliness & lack, inside.
Their mirage turned to a marriage
From hell – especially for her…
Technically, it was not a marriage –
She was not the only girl.
Damn. Had she known before.
Man! Had she shut that door.

Now, things are not as they were
And there’s another… inside of her.
They remain together –
Every day is deader.
Well, at least for her –
He just doesn’t care.
She is black & blue,
Although born to the white race,
With red cigarette marks
All over her face…
“She’s such a good girl”, they say.

“How?! She doesn’t smoke…”, they ask.
They don’t want to dig too deep –
She feels “safe” behind her mask…
Many years ago,
Mum & dad (without a dime)
Saw their ‘once upon a time’…
Very quickly, in one voice,
They affirmed her choice.
They knew she would share the good life
‘Yes, our girl’s a rich man’s wife!’

Only now,
There’s too much drama
For daddy and mama…
And,
They feel like she failed
Because money’s still scarce –
They do get their share, but
they spend & they spend…
She is all alone, except…
There is Another inside of her.

She is finally getting there –
Fed up with sweet little lies
Turned to big & bitter crimes.
She is bound & very tired,
But she can pretend no more –
Keeps on choking on his waves,
But she’s swimming to the shore.
There’s a miracle there, for her…
Husband doesn’t want divorce,
But… he doesn’t really care.
Technically, he is not her husband –
She is not the only girl.

Now, she knows…
A graveyard may look like a park
Until you see its grave stones…
Finally, she’s been hurt enough –
He’s fractured enough of her bones.
Mirage turned into a marriage
Is becoming a memoir…
He will need to find an ashtray
To extinguish his cigar.

Poem from “Love, don’t Fear” – Poetry Collection

During lockdown and beyond, let’s look out for the victims of domestic violence. Their wounds may not be as obvious as “red cigarette marks all over her face”… ♥

Quick Novel Writing Update & Story Time


Big Ben Struck Nine Recording

Today, Ai was late for work. It was meant to be business as usual – deadlines, spreadsheets and a few simple telephone conversations. And it would be so… if the wind didn’t frustrate her clients by delaying deliveries from France. One of them kept yelling at Ai for half an hour.

“I’m so sorry, Mrs. Smith. I know it’s your sofa, but our vendors cannot deliver today because of the storm, in France.” Ai kept apologising for the delay whenever her client paused to catch a breath. 

“I paid fifty thousand pounds!” Mrs. Smith insisted. “That’s a five with four zeros, Ai!”

“Yes, I know. And, I’m sorry,” she answered while thinking – ‘I will let the wind know how much you paid!’

After work, Ai mounted her bike with great effort and began cycling down Brompton Road – slowly. Again, she thought about mother’s bulletproof plan for her life. University. Good job. Happiness. Done! She had followed that path to a T but now she was certain that the plan wasn’t that bulletproof, after all.

Suddenly, a paper bag flew across the road and landed on Ai’s face, blinding her. She snatched it and sent it flying in the air. Once again, the wind brought her back to reality. Too forcefully. Ai felt angry at the invisible bully, especially that she could not just report its abuse! But she kept on cycling – vigilantly.

Monika Ribeiro © 2020

So, that was yet another short excerpt from my novel in the making. Its title? Hmmm… I’ve been thinking about changing it – from “Everywhere & Always” to “Come Wind or Come Sun”. What do you think?

The title is not set in stone just yet, but chapter one is… And, I have shared it with my email subscribers. Yuppie! Please click here to READ IT RIGHT NOW.

Alternatively, I started posting short reading sessions on my socials like so…

 

Novel Writing Update – Story Time


“…but she did wonder if indeed one needed ‘all that money’. And if not, what did one need to be happy?” © Monika Ribeiro 2020

In a nutshell, my novel (in the making) titled “Everywhere & Always” is about the pursuit of happiness. And, you’ll probably agree that it’s almost impossible to explore happiness without addressing money…

So, I decided to throw some of my characters into riches and luxury to see who they really are… It gets interesting… That’s all I will say for now.😉

To begin introducing this theme, I gave Ai (one of those characters) a job at Harrods Knightsbridge which is where I used to work (in my early twenties)… Hmmm… I still remember dealing with vendors from the UK, Germany, France… chasing deliveries of 35,000 GBP sofas…

I used to wonder if I’d be happier sitting on a 35k sofa as opposed to a 1,5k sofa… 🤔 Well, my novel is fictional, but Ai too finds herself asking similar questions i.e. if one really needs ‘all that money’. And if not, what does one need to be happy?

I have been posting brief novel updates on my socials. Here… not so much, but I’ll do my best to change that. With that said, please Join me on Instagram too if you’d like to get regular glimpses into what’s cooking – glimpses like this one, below.

Back to my novel update though, I have received feedback regarding its first chapter. Aaaand, it was slightly underwhelming but fair. So, I decided to re-write the weaker parts of my opening, aaagain.

Honestly, novel writing turns out to be slightly more complicated than I thought it’d be… However, I am making progress. Accidentally, my rewritten first page has already earned the love of author and English teacher Desiri Okobia who said she’d use it for Year 11s’ creative writing lessons. Exciting!

So, to summarise my novel writing Update: I am rewriting… Aaagain. The promised first chapter of “Everywhere & Always” will drop in your inbox… in all its glory… soon! If… you have subscribed that is. Please do RIGHT HERE.

One More Poem – Shielded Memories


Picture taken from Barbara Campbell’s Facebook Profile

I had said that while working on my novel I’d put the brakes on writing poetry. And, I have kept to that until now. However,on Wednesday, my friend/mentor’s body was cremated. I had been invited to say a few words at her funeral…

Barbara was a big supporter of my poetry and often expressed her desire to be in the audience when I performed. Sadly, that never happened, but I thought a brief speech in poetry form was what she would have appreciated.

She died from dementia. I couldn’t stop crying every time I saw her in the final years of her life. In the most difficult times, her family and friends saw things that most would probably wish to unsee… While that’s impossible, my prayer for them and anyone who lost a loved one to this or any other monster disease is that the beautiful memories become more powerful in their minds than the bad ones.

Dementia is crude and cruel. However, Babs was and will always be a lady in my mind. I wrote this short, simple poem to celebrate that memory of her.

She is gone, but her legacy and the beautiful memories live on.

Lady B.

I call you ‘Lady’ – ‘Lady B.’ actually

International woman filled with dignity

A little stern when need be but sweet when you knew

That your heart was safe and a friendship was true…

 

So many friendships are make-believe.

 

You did not find your El Dorado. There was not enough time.

But the monster that ended your quest cannot stop you now!

You were such a star… I felt warm in your light…

We know you were here. You don’t have to fight…

Anymore.

 

I still laugh thinking of you speaking Patois to me

I am not Jamaican, but felt I could be…

When we laughed.

You left solid love chunks for your people down here…

And, you left quite a few… just for me.

 

Thank you for your time and mentoring –

Not only in good journalism or editing skill…

Thank you for your heartening when I wanted to quit.

 

You’ll be missed, Lady B.

That is who you are and will be to me…

I’ll remember your passion moving past the pain!

I’ll remember your laughter in spite of the rain

And the violent storm that came…

 

It is gone now.

It’s okay, Lady B.

Wait in Him for us… R.I.P.♥

 

Written by Monika Ribeiro

                                                                                                                                                      In loving memory of Barbara Campbell

Let’s Make the Most of Our Time…


My 2019 ended… well… with passing away of one of my mentors and friends. Mine and other journalists’ tributes have just been published by the Voice News. And, I couldn’t start 2020 without acknowledging the impact this editor/publisher and friend had on my writing and life.

“…Barbara Campbell trained me as a journalist while I was freelancing for Black Heritage Today and International Women’s Month magazines. She taught me how to write feature articles, conduct journalistic interviews, research and more. She welcomed me into her home and heart as well.

“I remember proudly presenting my first feature to her. It was embellished – quite “flowery”. She cut so much out. I got upset thinking she took my soul out of the piece. I then showed it to my friend who had read the original. She didn’t hesitate to tell me that Barbara’s pen made it better. So, I decided to stop mourning my style and started paying attention. 

‘HER HEART BLED FOR THE BLACK COMMUNITY’

“Barbara knew exactly what she wanted to say and how she wanted to say it. Her heart bled for the black community and for black stories to be told the RIGHT WAY. I could see a flame in her eyes when she spoke about how much the community needed positive role models and narratives. That passion drove her and made her fight tirelessly against financial, physical and all other odds. It was tough on her, especially towards the end. Sometimes, I think she sacrificed her life for it.”

Speaking about the lasting impact that Campbell had on her life, Ribeiro says:

“These few words are not enough to summarise the impact she made on me as a writer. When I decided not to pursue journalism, she encouraged my poetry and gave me a poet’s corner in Black Heritage Today. In one of her recommendations, she said ‘…Anytime, she is performing l hope to be there – cheering from the front!’ Sadly, she never made it to my shows, but I still hear her voice in my head reminding me to use the word ‘reportedly’ just in case… I edit my stories the way she taught me. Her heart and skills are part of my writing. She was an excellent journalist, editor, boss lady, teacher and friend…”

Please read the rest of mine and other tributes on the Voice News Website.

I wish you and myself a Happy New Year. Let’s make the most of our time here and let’s appreciate friends and family while there’s still time.

Everywhere & Always – A Story Waiting to be Told


“It was one of those afternoons when the beautiful summer sun chased even zealous hermits out their four walls. All but one. Her curtains were closed all day. She didn’t notice the sun’s rays and her skin couldn’t feel its warmth…”

Yes, there’s a new book in the making!

The first draft is done. Yuppie! However,… Yes, there’s a however… I have a bunch of revisions ahead of me still. There’s a vague release date in my mind but I’m not going to share it just yet. Undoubtedly, it is going to take some time before the book’s out. That’s not a bad thing though. Quality is what I’m after…

So, I’ve already spent some time revising the first chapter – over and over and over again…

I believe it is strong enough to capture your imagination, but… Yes, there’s a “but”. I thought it’d be smart to ask a few other storytellers for feedback. I’m waiting to hear from them, at the moment. Once I’m confident that I’ve done the chapter justice I am going to share it with my e-mail subscribers. I can’t wait!

Please Join Us if you’d like me to share glimpses of my novel in the making with you.

So now… The title…  [drumroll] “Everywhere & Always”

It is a story of a multiracial friendship between four people from  different cultural backgrounds… Taking place in a world that doesn’t always get it… It is about their pursuit of happiness; identity search and breaking away from the society’s expectations to pursue their own respective destinies…

Life events force Ai, Alma, Emilio and Jack to face their fears and make choices: love or money; truth or freedom; forgiveness or torment, sadness or joy… Ohhh…

I feel like giving away a little more… I hope this isn’t a spoiler. Nope, I don’t think it is. The book begins with “trouble in paradise”. Yes, their friendship is tested, and the journey begins. I’ll add this for good measure – one of the characters is a drama queen… who’s suffering from depression to top it all off.

But don’t worry – the others are lovely… or not… 😉

Click to Subscribe (via email) and Find Out for Yourself.