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“Writing a story is like the weaving of a mat. At the finish the ends needs tidying off, but they are only in reality cut short. Before and after each thread there is the possibility of a never- ending yarn. If people are read one can at the best make a random choice… picks it up.”

Peggy Appiah’s “A Smell of Onions” is not a trimmed off story of any one particular place or situation. It is a yarn of everyday life. It is a tale of everywhere and every place. It is a ship sailing on the vast ocean. It faces storm and it sails through the breeze. “A Smell of Onions” is a tiny window into the world of Kwaku Hoampam and his Ashanti society.

The book opens with the patriarchal figure, Kwaku Hoapam who is the eyes and ears of his village. He owns several cocoa farms but still prefers to manage his small shop from his verandah. Kwaku seems to hear everything that goes on in his farms from his own house. And he would go personally to threaten a neighbour who encroaches on his land or a timber contractor who steals or damages trees. “For this reason Kwaku’s family fears and respects him.” Appiah creates a figure who is respected and feared  by everyone in the village. “The fact is that his eyes and ears are ever open and little happens in the village without his hearing and seeing it.” But this great patriarchal figure is undercut by his second wife Akosua. The “energetic woman in the prime of life” is contrasted to the Kwaku who has “discovered the joys of being a man of leisure”. Kwaku sits in his “rocking chair by the door, watching the road, a pipe or chewing stick firmly clenched between his teeth, or perhaps playing draughts with his friends or drinking a companionable calabash of palm wine, which he sells fresh and cool from the big pot behind the counter.” Akosua has been to school. She is not uneducated like her husband. She travels back and forth to the city to buy the goods for Kwaku’s shop. She inspects the cocoa. She sees to that her children go to good school. Kwaku is proud of children but does not like to ‘interfere’ with their education. Akusua manages their school fees and pays for their clothes. “She is a good wife and Kwaku is proud of her.” Kwaku Hoampam is a much respected member of the community.

“Is he then not entitled to sit all day on his verandah and watch the world go by?”

The narrative shifts to include Mammy Mausa. Modernism (or western Modernism) invades the Ashanti village. It is decided to put up a post office in the village. The surveyors started “taking measureme nts” and Kwaku and the villagers “watched”. The old house where Mammy Mausa was staying had to be pulled down in order to build a post office and a telephone exchange in its place. “Where will Mammy Muasa go?” Mammy Mausa’s Opel driven relatives had already sold the old house. The village collected in the yard. “They were great talkers:. Akosua dismisses the men by commenting, “You men, that is all you do, you talk and talk and talk and decide nothing!” But by not being a part of the solution she too becomes a part of the problem. She justifies herself by saying “if I were not going to the city today to buy corned beef and milk for the store, I would do something myself”.

Appiah reflects the class difference inherent in the structure. The villagers were mostly farmers. But only few like Osei Kwaku and Kodwo Owusu who could break away from the traditional idea that “cattle could not flourish in the forest area” were the most prosperous of the lot.

“Did not the village need to be in touch with the outside world?” Kwaku himself is almost persuaded by the argument . But “Mammy Mausa’s door remained firmly closed”. Mammy Mausa did not bend down. She was not to be defeated.

“The spirits of her ancestor rose within her. She let out such a stream of abuse that the crowd was silenced. She pronounced a curse an all who should try and destroy her home”.

Mammy Mausa dies.

The news of her death spread through the villages. Relations come to arrange the funeral. “The people came, celebrated and went”.

But Mammy Mausa had her revenge in her death. She had made her official will. “This was not only a will but the expression of a determined personality.” Her greedy relatives were bequeathed only a Bible a piece. Money and worldly pleasures had made the youth loose contact from their religion and roots which upholder the respect to the elders.

Mammy Mausa’s old house was pulled down. A new building was erected. “The village forgot it had ever been without its post office.”

Once there was post office the village began to grow. More people started settling in the village. This gave rises to water problems. Before long the village was connected with a tap. More people increased, the crime rate increased. A police station was built to ’police’ the villagers. Kwaku and Adumu Lafia, the policeman became good friends.

Adamu comments, “You people don’t know how lucky you are to be away from the centre”. Not being in the ‘centre’ lets the villagers create their own “problems”. Appiah deftly portrays how Adamu puts an end to the  petty differences among the villagers using his wit. The readers comes face to face with a cultural setting which is so distant from them yet are able to completely empathize with it.

“There were no more frivolous complaints.”

“The choir was good and the Good Lord must have been pleased at the volume of song which arose from the Church each Sunday morning”. Religion is a big part of the live of the villagers. Appiah paints the picture of the religion oriented education. A preacher from the town would come and take the service, christen the babies and administer communion. There was Bible reading and discussions. Appiah is not uncritical of religion either. “Where were the prophets these days?” The author uses beautiful imagery of “a snake swimming against the current”. The message drums are juxtaposed with the funeral drums.

Abena Ahoafe was the new school teacher. She was polite, charming – and distant. Kwaku found her “quite fascinating“. He was very attracted to her. “Abena made his wonder”. He proposes to her but is rejected.

“Could not the old man realize his age? He had a good wife. He had grandchildren.”

Abena married Kwaku’s nephew, Yao Poku.

  • how slave narrative came to be called literature.
  • the slave narrative start a literary tradition.
  • emotive language. emotive situation. the pathos of the position of the narrator.
  • oral histories
  • language is strikingly similar in structure, content and theme.
  1. a corpus of non- fiction and fiction, oral and written, which asserts the equality, differentness -and sometimes superiority- of Blacks and Black- American way of doing and perceiving things.
  2. a set of political principles, primarily consistent in their outrage against inequality.
  3. a brace of ethical and artistic critiria which will be considered valid or invalid writing by Black Americans.
  4. a human code for translating the mute matter of a world in which certain races and inhuman system combine to destroy other races and more humane systems.


Josiah Henson (1789- 1883) – “Truth Stranger than Fiction” (1858)

  • feeling of pride in fulfilling his slave duties to his master.
  • Henson tells of his decision not to choose freedom for himself and his compatriots when it is effortlessly graspable.


The three types of emotive language in a slave narrative:

  1. prejudicial- negetive connotation
  2. prepossessive- positive
  3. euphemistic- expression of understatement or grim humour.

“Each man to his own Canada” –Ishmael Reed.

[Canada became a state of mind. Where men with black skin may be free.]

“The life and Times of Frederick Douglass” – Frederick Douglass(1881)

  • “American Slavery”
  • makes satire of the celebration of the Fourth of July as day of “independence” for all.
  • “what the negro wants”
  • “immediate, unconditional, and universal enfranchise of the black man”.

Booker T. Washington: advocate a sort of seperate, skilled guild of black blue-collar workers who would be content with their stations.

  • education as an organic part of Black self- realisation.

W. E. B. Du Bous: often called the father of sociology in US.

US as a literate, print- sensitive culture. as opposed to preliterate, oral and aural- sensitive culture.

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I don’t care what Ecopress is but why the heck is it on my “free” blog.

It seems WordPress up to cheeky stunts: unauthorized ads sneaked in.

Ecopressed along with WordPress have decided to hoodwink the unsuspecting bloggers. Don’t be surprised if you see a ‘green’ ad of Ecopressed sneaking around the end of your blog post.

This is the new magic trick by WordPress. Blogging without advertisement as was sold to us (good faith) isn’t so and the benefit is to the “green” advertisement.

An ad after each post just before the comments box. Thank You, wordpress.

Is it my blog anymore? i guess not.

And the official reasoning (trust the online corporates to have some of these written down in some corner of there “Terms & Conditions”).

Official word>

“Note: To support the service (and keep free features free), we sometimes run advertisements. We try hard to only run them in limited places. If you would like to completely eliminate ads from appearing on your blog, we offer the No-Ads Upgrade.”


” Automattic reserves the right to display advertisements on your blog unless you have purchased an Ad-free Upgrade or a VIP Services account.”

So where do we stand? i guess on the way to what has happened to Facebook. Commercialization of personal blogs (space).

what is the alternative?

HubPages: is a website designed around sharing advertising revenue for user-generated articles and other content on specific subjects.

If my blog has to have advertisements then why shouldn’t the person whose so called blog it is, get a piece of the pie.

I firmly believe this is against the true faith idea of a free blog. anyways how does one blog’s words stand in-front of the giant.

Hi, my name is: Pluto Panes

Never in my life have I been: caught peeing from the top of a building.  

The one person who can drive me nuts is: my ‘adequately sane’ but imaginary neighbour Rufus Daruwala

When I’m nervous: I generally used to suck my thumb but nowadays i pee my pants.

The last song I listened to was: “free tibet” by highlight tribe

If I were to get married right now my best man/maid of honour: george w bush (any doubts?)

My hair is: black, long and tends to curl.

When I was 5: I had a pet hen called ‘laalti’. (it was only later in my life that i realised, chicken and men can never be friends.)

Last Christmas: I kicked santa in his nuts. and i apologied later. (i wrote a letter.)

I should be: studying literary theory for my entrance Exam.

When I look down I see: Narnia.

The happiest recent event was: the fall of Berlin wall.

If I were a character on ‘Friends’ I’d be: joey (now deal with it).

By this time next year: 2012 will be here. freedom at last.

My current gripe is: it’s 2011.

I like you when: i generally tend not to.

If I won an award, the first person I would tell would be: Myself. “hey pluto you won.”

Take my advice: Don’t be perfect. rejoice your flaws.

The thing I want to buy: 5 kilos for manala hash.

If you visited the place I was born: You will find an old mining town and thousands of shattered dreams.

I plan to visit: the otherside of the rainbow.

If you spent the night at my house: you might not meet me.

I’d stop my wedding if: i know about it.

The world could do without: money and justin beiber.

I’d rather lick the belly of a cockroach than: accept god as the supreme creator.

Most recent thing I’ve bought myself: rolling papar.

My favorite blonde is: dumb.

My favorite brunette is: hipster. 

My favorite red head is: on Cartman’s ginger hate list.

My middle name is: bin laden. Pluto bin laden Panes

In the morning I: have a boner.

The animals I would like to see flying besides birds are: elephants. (they can already swim)

Once, at a bar: lost our jackets, acussed the bartender of stealing, fought with the bouncers, thrown out of the bar, we realised my friend had our jackets .

There’s this guy I know who: who doesn’t exist.

If I was an animal I’d be: saber tooth tiger. and still be alive.

Tomorrow I am: going to pretend remembering today.

Tonight I am: just me.

My birthday is: Sometime this week.

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after the party

Posted: November 14, 2010 in POEMS /futility of words

comes home drunk

and gets stoned here

words slander into one another

still few more puffs of the herb

would do wonders for the sleep

left the door open

or was it shut?

gets up

does the ritual

climb the stairs

latch the door


outside world off for the night

or is it day?

the love of the basement


days into the nights.

night perpitual

almost transcending laziness

of the night.

forgets to sleep.

the boy sighs

another day into the pleasing crowd.

last drags of the herb

with the other creatures

of the night day conundrum.

twenty cards of notice

handed out to twenty people

probably someone or everyone

will know him tomorrow.

the boy who shut

the latched door again


day spent in the bar

passing out free beer coupons

to needy young girls in distress

tomorrow they will know me


by then he would be long gone.

all dreams don’t come true

and the barely few which do

takes a awful lot

out of the boy.

Sleep happens randomly

“just like that”

as they say on the television.

grins like a silly child.

Stoned and drunk,

he exclaims.

for all purpose done,

he accepts.

he throws his sillyness

in your face.

goes to sleep on the couch.

wakes up.

shuts the laptop down

last cigarette.

“meet you tomorrow”

“maybe in 15 minutes”

“if i am unable to sleep,

that is”

he says.

just like they say in the movies.


#dedicated to Karan Krishna pande

somedays it would matter
and somedays it wouldn’t
somedays the cat would drag
in the flesh
and leave it on the bathroom floor
intestine to clean, isn’t an enjoyable task
hanging internal threads
ripped off by the merciless cat
a lazy summer afternoon snack


Posted: July 27, 2010 in POEMS /futility of words
Tags: ,

smudged glass

written voice

rubbed… gone


Posted: July 27, 2010 in POEMS /futility of words
Tags: ,

closed door

hidden secret

known… the unknown.

Questions haunt the mind
Demanding answers all over again
Answers unknown
Answers quite beyond my comprehension
Unlike the carefree days
This lonely me finds
The very work of nature
Confusing, outlandish

What are the red bricks?

Can you see through darkness?

What is roggibobbin?

How much joy makes you happy?

Which is better- a strip of paper or a strip of cloth?

Looking into the world can be a tiresome experience. The red t-shirts and the blue skirts of the world in their daily journey to reach from x to y. through the maze and beyond the gloom of the daily life. A bag strung around. And meticulously calculated steps. 10 steps to the coffee house. 45 steps to the college. The pondering over the cups of tea and sandwiches. The reflection on the sunglasses. A tiny sun scorns at you from the tinted shades. A smile hidden behind the glares. No intension. No voice. Muted muffled stories doing the round. You catch one and make it yours. Three years back I was walking by the road when…


Posted: July 12, 2010 in POEMS /futility of words

yellow flower

morning sway

petal fall.

red petals few.


Posted: July 12, 2010 in POEMS /futility of words

crystal dew.

small joy… pure.

gone one night


Posted: July 12, 2010 in POEMS /futility of words

crushed grass

zeal to rise

broken voice…