The church door

The church door

Religion and I have a love/hate relationship, but I am fascinated with churches, particularly the Catholic ones. I can always find peace in them. It is a sacred place for me and a haven to my wounded soul. I view churches as healing places. I like the solitude. I love the architecture. Mostly, I like the fact that when you are there, you might be talking to God or Saints or Jesus, but the truth is that you are talking to yourself. It’s you and your soul finding solace in each other. Don’t ask me why I feel better talking to myself in a church than in any other place. I cannot explain it. I don’t care for reasonable explanations as well. What matters to me is that inside I can find peace.

The church in the picture is one that I used to go a lot to when I first started having panic attacks, and I left a lot of tears and sadness in there. But I always came out feeling stronger. Isn’t that what matters most in the end?

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I am Malala

‘Who’s Malala?’, asked a Taliban gunman in October of 2012 to a school bus full of terrified girls. Nobody answered, but all looks turned to a girl at the back unintentionally. Malala says she does not remember much apart from the fact that she had a very difficult test the next day, a test she would never take. She also remembered that the man’s hands were shaking before he shot her three times.

Fortunately for the world, Malala did not die that day. Whether you believe that she was protected by a higher power or by a great team of doctors in Pakistan and England, or even both, the fact remains that she survived the horrifying experience to tell her tale to the world in an amazing book released in 2013.

When I first saw Malala’s book on a window display of one of my favourite bookstores, I had a vague idea of who she was. I picked it up out of curiosity (after all, who doesn’t want to know more about a young girl who stood up to Taliban?), read a few pages and just could not put it down.

Her life narrative is poignant from beginning to end. The love she has for Pakistan, and more specifically for the Swat District, where she was born and raised, makes your anger towards her situation that much greater. Malala is a girl raised by loving parents. Her father is an activist whose mission in life is to make education available to all. He has also been a big influence in her life. Her mother comes from a generation of women who were denied education because they were raised to be wives and mothers. Reading and writing were not top priorities if you were going to spend your life completely devoted to your husband and kids. Malala’s father, however, thought differently. He believed boys and girls were equally entitled to an education and passed on his beliefs to his daughter.

Malala learned plenty from her father’s activism towards education and equality, and she grew up to become one of the best students in her school. Being very imaginative, she soon became a great speaker as well, a trait she also inherited from father. It was thanks to her father’s activism and support that Malala eventually became the voice of education in Pakistan when the Taliban began to ban girls from attending schools. At the age of eleven, she blogged anonymously to BBC about how it was to live under the Taliban regime. Schools were destroyed and people were persecuted. As if the Taliban’s terror was not enough, her region was also attacked by USA’s drones and hit by a massive earthquake and floods, which only made the Taliban stronger as they were the ones with access to the area and could provide help for those in need. They did not help for the goodness of their heart. They helped because then they could use people’s trust to their own agenda.

In 2011, Malala was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize but did not win. But she did raise awareness to the problems in Pakistan and was awarded the National Peace Award for Youth by Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani. The fact that she was such a passionate advocate for girl’s education caught the attention of the Taliban, which led to her attempted murder. When Malala was at the hospital fighting for her life, it was decided that she had to leave the country not only for a better treatment, but also because the Taliban was still a threat. On 15 of October she was transferred to Birmingham, in the United Kingdom.  She endured a great deal of her recovery alone in a foreign country because her family was held back due to bureaucracy and the fear that once out of Pakistan, they would ask for political asylum (and that would look really bad for the Pakistani government).

When the Yousafzai family left to be with their daughter, they expected to come back home quickly. But Malala’s recovery, though extraordinary, took time. Besides, it is still very dangerous for them in Pakistan, so the family remains in England.

After everything she went through, Malala continues on her journey to fight for her beloved people. She even dreams of becoming a politician. It breaks my heart that she views politics as it should be, not as it really is. But I suppose that an element of naivety is needed if you really want to change things for the better. She believes that education can change the world and open people’s minds. After reading her story, I believe she is just the right girl for the job. I believe she will not be tainted or corrupted, which makes me a lot more worried about her future. She has a long way to go, and a lot of good will. She is brave and smart. I think she can do it. She was named after a woman warrior, after all, and she has the support of her family.

The end of the book left me hopeful. Here is this amazing young girl still fighting after going through so much. And here is to more Malalas in the world!

 

Light x Darkness

Light x Darkness

This picture was taken on a particularly dark road in my city. There was just this tiny lamp at the end of the street. When I took this photo I was waiting for a darker image, an eerie feeling of doom. But what I got instead was that tiny light shining brightly in the background. It blew me away.

It left me with a feeling of “The Truth is Out There”.

Economists according to Peanuts

‘Thousands of people paraded happily through the streets, but economists predict the cleanut will be costly.’

‘Skies were sunny today, but economists warn that this could cause an increase in the price of sunglasses…’

‘Although audiences across the country love the film, economists are saying it will probably lose money.’

The Water Square

The Water Square

Architecture can be poetic as you can see in this project. It was designed by the Brazilian architect Willian Fagiolo to be a square in a city in the south of Brazil. Look forward to more projects like this, as I will be posting them here. Anyone interested can contact me.

Damelok: Chapter Two!

DAMELOK: Chapter Two

The Visiting Card

Through the bars of the cage he was able to see the signs upon the walls along the street inviting the people for his hanging. His name was on all of them and what they said about him wasn’t very flattering: ‘The City of Edinburgh announces the execution of Ferus Cadafalls, runaway and outlaw, to happen on the gallows, on the eleventh of November, at dawn, in the square of the Grassmarket’. That’s precisely where the prison wagon was headed on that rainy morning. It was Ferus Cadafalls’ birthday, according to what his mother had once told him, and the present he would be getting was a noose around his neck.

The wagon was surrounded  by guards, some on foot, others on horseback, like their Captain, who rode majestically in front of the party. Cadafalls was alone inside the cage built upon it, head down, on his knees, his back turned on the horse that pulled it, and he had his hands tied up before himself.

The street was deserted. Every door and window were shut as though the city had been abandoned. All he could hear were the footfalls of the guards and the hooves of the horses and the wheels of the wagon against the cobbles. On the background, a faint hubbub grew louder as they went.

Only a figure was walking up the street. Its body was covered in a terribly worn cloak, with tears and patches of filth all over it; its head was lowered, hidden beneath a hood. A beggar.

As the wagon came near him, he stopped to have a look at it. And there he stood immobile as the party moved. He wasn’t very successful, however, for it was difficult to make out what was behind the bars.

‘Leaving already, beggar?’ said the Captain ‘As if you don’t like such things…’ The beggar didn’t answer.

After the party had rode past him, he continued staggering up the street.

Soon the square came into sight at the end of the street. From that distance, it was possible to see the place was absolutely crammed full.

‘The hanged man’s comin’!’ a man shouted and pointed at the wagon when he saw it approaching.

All the heads turned around to look at it.

The news of the condemned man’s arrival passed from one to the other more quickly than an irresistible piece of gossip. In no time the attention of the entire square had been drawn: yelling and catcalls from every corner filled the cold air. People could not hide their excitement; the reason for them to be here had finally arrived.

The party came to a halt before actually entering the square. Their way into it was blocked by the massive crowd.

The Captain, a brawny, young-looking redhead with a goatee, advanced violently upon the people with his huge dark horse as though they were the enemy ready to be trampled underfoot.

‘Make way!’ he cried out loud, like he was talking to beasts ‘Make way!’

A woman holding a baby lost balance and was almost run over by him. Somebody standing  nearby kept her from falling.

‘We no grape to be stomped!’ she cried.

‘Then make way, woman, or else you and this ugly thing you’re carrying will become juice!’

The ones who were standing closer to him obeyed his order immediately and began to step sideways. A corridor hardly wide enough for the wagon to ride through was formed. The Captain restarted moving; the party followed him.

The crowd was in complete turmoil.

People swarmed around the wagon in an attempt to have a peek at the condemned man through the bars of the cage. That peek would make them feel relieved that it wasn’t them heading for the gallows, but the guards prevented them from coming too close. Nevertheless, they would show their utter contempt for him at any cost by booing and whistling, by spitting with anger and hurling the most vile stream of abuse at him.

‘We’ll hear yer neck breakin’ from over here!’ ‘Hold your breath up there, mate!’

Those were the sweetest things they would shout. There were roars of laughter as the jokes popped up here and there. A lad even caught a handful of horse dung in a pile and flung it at the wagon.

‘Make way! Make way or we’ll pass over you lot!’ the Captain cried at those who insisted on lingering in their way with all the kindness he could muster.

Three boys, short as they were, managed to break the barrier of the guards and come really close to the wagon. The bravest one, the one who had come in front, peered inside it, only to catch a glimpse of Cadafalls’ eye staring intently at him through a gap between the bars of the cage.

‘It’s orange! His eye’s orange!’ he cried in horror.

When he turned around, his two fellows had already legged it.

He legged it himself next.

After vanquishing the crowd, the party came to a halt by the gallows which had been put up at the far end of the square. During the trip never did Cadafalls raise his head.

Whilst the guards dismounted their horses, the Captain, still mounted on his, told two of them who had come on foot:

‘Bring the man.’

They walked up to the rear of the wagon.

One of them unlocked the cage and held its door open. The other one crudely helped Cadafalls out of it. When his bare, dirty feet touched the ground, the rest of the guards  had already gathered about him in  a protective circle. At a signal  from the Captain, they escorted him for a few feet up until the flight of stairs leading onto the scaffold. People in the crowd reached out their arms as far as they could, trying to touch a bit of the condemned man.

The two guards detached from the group and led Cadafalls up the stairs. There were already two people on the gallows: the first one was a tall figure in a hood and cloak the colour of wine; the second one was the Sheriff, a heavy-set, bearded man in dark green clothes. Too heavy-set indeed to venture standing on such a frail structure.

The guards left Cadafalls standing on the trapdoor, right under the pole from which hung the noose, then took up their positions on the ground, at the corners of the gallows.

For the first time, Cadafalls raised his head.

The view from up there was no less than spectacular.

He was petrified. He had never seen so many people together at the same place before; the square was full to overflowing. It seemed the entire population of Edinburgh was before him and the noise they made was so suffocating he could barely hear his own breathing. Not even the light rain, nor the early hour had scared them off. There were people at the windows and others struggling to balance upon the rooftops. Thousands of faces  staring  at  him,  trying  to  draw  his  attention, clashing over a gap in the crowd with the best view. All of them were here because of him, only because of him; all of them wanted him.

Beggars were usually a sure-fire presence at executions, but this time they were like the plague. Everywhere Cadafalls looked, he would see a threadbare cloak and a hand stretched out for alms.

Word was out that people had travelled from neighbouring cities to watch the execution. It was only natural; there were signs advertising it everywhere. Even a Damelok doll, its head tied to the end of a rope, was being sold. Children loved it.

A wicked smile flashed on the corner of Cadafalls’ mouth, but it soon vanished.

People teased him in search of some reaction: ‘Look up! Have honour!’

‘Face us! Be a man!’

But Cadafalls wasn’t a man. He was sixteen years old and looked much younger. That was the face he was showing them, the face of youth, not the face of desperation. Whatever he was feeling at that moment, the crowd wouldn’t be allowed to see. Nobody could tell that lad was only minutes away from his death.

He was extremely pale and looked even paler because of the cold. Blue and purple veins could be seen through his skin like rivers on a map. He was rather short and thin. The raind had darkened his honey-coloured hair and plastered it onto his forehead. He was dressed in a white, long-sleeved shirt and a pair of breeches. From time to time he  would tremble. And although he was sodden, there was something about him that seemed to be alight: his eyes, which were the colour of melted copper. Those seemed to be at their highest temperature.

The Sheriff stepped onto the edge of the gallows and cried:

‘Silence! Silence!  The sentence will be read!’ his voice echoed throughout the square.

Little by little the crowd silenced. They were eager to hear the sentence.

The Sheriff unrolled the scroll he had in his hand and held it at eye level. He began to read from it, as loud as his lungs allowed him to:

‘With the powers granted to me by His Majesty, the King, I condemn the fugitive of justice known as Ferus Cadafalls, sixteen years of age more or less, unknown birthdate, unknown birthplace, unknown parents, to hang on this 11th of November of the year of Our Lord 1591 for the crimes he committed, namely: theft, pickpocketing and poaching at night in the cities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Roxburgh, Bagpipeburgh and Aberdeen; identity and money forgery in the cities of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness; dice cogging in the cities of Ethellel and Fog’s Hate, and for the murder of eleven people in the city of Muddymoat. Being said that he should hang not once but many times over until he payed for all of his crimes, for the crimes that we are still not aware of and the crimes that he would certainly commit should he remain alive. May the  Hangman approach!’

The square was in an uproar. Heads were searching all around but the executioner was nowhere to be seen.

Cadafalls heard noises nearby. One after the other, they were like stabbings into his heart. Somebody was climbing the stairs to the gallows: a tall, heavy-set figure in a black suit and a black pointy hood that covered its entire face, with only two holes for the eyes. The crowded exploded into cheers. The Hangman had arrived.

Cadafalls didn’t turn his head to look at him, he simply felt his presence as he stood by his right side. The Hangman stepped in front of him and blocked his view from the square.

The rumpus from the crowd was disturbing him, so he closed his eyes and waited for the noose. His fragile body was shivering; his breathing was heavy. It would happen anytime now. Anytime.

The noose didn’t come.

Cadafalls opened his eyes in fright. He wondered if the Hangman was just expecting him to do it so he could place the noose around his neck, but it didn’t seem that’s what was happening.

The Hangman had a small case in his hand. He opened it. There was a quill inside it. He took the quill and came closer to Cadafalls.

‘Every author signs his work’ he said it into Cadafalls’ ear, then like a hungry vampire pushed his head sideways so as to leave the neck exposed and stuck the quill in it.

The Hangman’s quill had a blade instead of an ink point. Blood oozed. Cadafalls’ white shirt was dyed red. He cried out in pain and that made the crowd go mad.

When the Hangman stepped away from the lad, there was only a huge, bright red smear upon his neck to be seen. The Hangman never wiped up his quill. He put it away with Cadafall’s blood still dripping from it. Next, he tightened the noose around his neck, and retreated to the corner of the gallows.

When the rope touched Cadafalls’ cold skin, a purple spark flashed once before his eyes and vanished. He had no time to blink.

A rectangular, purple piece of paper that looked like a blank visiting card materialised where the spark had been and there it stayed, hovering in mid-air.

Cadafalls’ first impulse was to shout ‘Witchcraft!’, but he quickly realised it wasn’t the best place and time; he wouldn’t want another accusation to be added to his sentence. He was thunderstruck and petrified. Not even the hanging itself had had such an impact upon him. He looked around for a reaction from the crowd to that flying visiting card but found none. Nobody seemed to care.

Suddenly the card caught fire. A vivid purple flame engulfed it whole. Despite the sound of paper burning, it remained intact.

This added even more horror to Cadafalls’ already terrified face, now illuminated by the brightness of the flame. His heart was almost piercing through his ribcage.

Then, some letters appeared upon the visiting card. He squinted a bit so as to read them. To his dismay, they made sense:

CAVALRY

London – Edinburgh – Cardiff

The four words soon changed into new ones. They read:

That noose is tight, isn’t it?

Cadafalls’ eyes were bulging.

The words on the card changed again:

Don’t worry yourself.

They cannot see it.

The sentences only lasted for a quick read:

But if YOU can see it,

it means you need our help.

Cadafalls’ reactions to the card started to  reflect upon the crowd. At long last they were getting the desperation they had come for. It smelled of blood and excited them. Shouts here and there were replaced by a general bedlam. The square was invaded by a flood of ovations. People were celebrating; the show would be worth it.

‘Came all the way from Mortarlore to see it!’ somebody cried.

‘Finally! Show us some pain!’ this one lifted up his child so it could have a better view.

Cadafalls was so mesmerised by the visiting card he didn’t realise what the crowd was doing. Neither did he hear it when the Hangman tightened a rope that was attached to the trapdoor and which he had in his hand.

‘Hang! Hang! Hang!’ the crowd demanded. The letters on the card changed yet again:

If you want our help… you will have to cry.

Another sentence followed immediately:

Cry.

In the most dramatic fashion.

Cadafalls swallowed hard without even noticing.

You’ve seen an execution before,

have you not?

The card changed again:

But if you don’t want our help…

The card was completely blank for a painful second.

Then, a new sentence slowly appeared.

…then, die in silence.

Good death!’

After this last sentence, the letters rearranged to show Cavalry again.

Next the purple flame consumed the visiting card and left no trace of it in the air. Cadafalls was facing the thirsty mob again.

A priest who had been standing nearby quite unnoticed approached him.

‘May God hear you in this time of distress. Do you repent your sins?’ the priest asked in a coarse voice.

Cadafalls could smell his putrid breath even though the priest had not come too near him.

‘Do you repent your sins?’ the priest insisted. Still, no answer came.

‘Answer, vermin!’ the Sheriff intruded. Cadafalls didn’t say a word.

‘God will hear even those who remain silent’ said the hooded figure; he blessed Cadafalls and returned to his place.

‘Hang! Hang! Hang!’ the crowd continued. The Sheriff gave the Hangman a nod.

It was time.

The Hangman was ready to give the rope a quick pull and open the trapdoor beneath Cadafalls’ feet. Then, it started.

At first, it was a shy sob, but it quickly grew into a desperate cry that almost left him breathless. Thick teardrops ran down his face. Cadafalls cried.

The shouting of the crowd was absolutely unbearable now. For them, the hanged man had just understood what an execution was all about.

A sigh came under the Hangman’s hood.

Cadafalls continued to cry, pushing his throat to the limit. He was about to get hoarse; his eyes were red and swollen.

‘Hang! Hang! Hang!’ the crowd yelled.

The Hangman agitated them even more with one of his arms in the air.

‘Hang! Hang! Hang!’

The last thing Cadafalls saw was the Hangman staring fixedly at him.

He felt the trapdoor beneath his feet open and went blind for good.

IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN KNOWING MORE ABOUT DAMELOK, GO AND SHOW YOUR SUPPORT TO THE AUTHOR HERE: http://milliuskarpin.wordpress.com/

The French Garden – A Hydrobiological Project

The French Garden - A Hydrobiological Project

This is another one of Willian Fagiolo’s brilliant projects. It is the project of a hydrobiological station, and it was inspired by the French gardens. If you are interested in knowing more about his projects, you can contact me.

For more information, you can find @willianfagiolo on twitter.

His personal tumblr is: http://www.willianfagiolo.tumblr.com/

He can also be found on Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/willian-fagiolo/88/ab2/ba8

I’ll be posting his other projects and ideas on my blog as well.

Please, let me know what you think!