Tuesday, January 21, 2020

A Hammer in My Schoolbag

My memories of the sea are book scented and sing of hammers promising treats. Weird? Of course, it’s weird. I’m a weird woman, and I was a wonderfully weird child who, on Fridays, fed a hammer to her schoolbag.

But don’t fret for me—I grew up in a time and a place when the thought of metal detectors in school would probably brew riotous, disbelief-infused laughter. So, I smuggled (
well… perhaps “smuggled” might not be the right word for it, since no one ever said to me that I could not bring a hammer to school or to the Biblioteca Nacional Pedro Henríquez Ureña for that matter).
My hammer waited patiently in my schoolbag, through math with señor Gustavo, through natural sciences with Sor María de la Piedad, through social studies with a teacher whose name I can’t recall (but everyone called her Sor Mumm-Ra).

After school, on Fridays, I would take two buses and a motoconcho to the library. Then, I would delight in books
(mythologies and fairy tales and garden grimoires were my favorites).

Once the book fun was had, my hammer and I would head to El Malecón—not just a pier but a whole street that glances into the Caribbean Sea. Between the street and the beach, out of sandy soil, grew palm, coconut, and sea almond trees. I would sit on the ground, not caring if the skirt of my uniform got a bit dirty, and I would take my hammer out of the bag, reach for the ripest almond, hold the fruit against a flat rock, and hammer it until it split in half to offer its nutty treat.

sea almond
via
the wee notes…

- motoconcho: a motorcycle (often a rather small model) used for public transportation in the Dominican Republic. If you are curious, follow this link for a glimpse.  

- follow this link, if you wish to see the sea almond hammering process. The hands (the hammer and the almonds) in the video aren’t mine.  

- for Poets and Storytellers United (Weekly Scribblings #3: Salt-water poems, where Sanaa invites us “to write inspired by the sea.”)      

39 comments:

  1. I enjoyed your story and the video. Almonds make you work for their reward.

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  2. Absolutely fascinating and enchanting! Thanks too for the links.

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  3. a mysterious but gripping write up. Enjoyed it all. You are an amazing writer.

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  4. How delicious are those sea almonds!!💝 I loved visualizing a version of you carrying a hammer in your schoolbag, the spirit, the determined smile and attitude with the Caribbean sea in the background. Thank you so much for writing to the prompt!😘😘

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    1. Thank you for hosting, Sanaa... and for visualizing. 😊

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  5. I love the idea of book-scented sea, Magaly. The library was my favourite place as a child, it smelled of fantasy and escape from the mundane. I tried to work out what the hammer was for and was delighted that it was for cracking almonds! Thanks for the link – those sea almonds are big nuts!

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    1. The library was my sanctuary and playground, too. My local library was tiny. But I practically lived there before I was old enough to go to the national library on my own (it was a long ride).

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  6. Who as a child has not taken something to school they shouldn't have? I loved your story Magaly I wasn't quite that daring!

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    1. Taking a hammer to school when I was a teenager wasn't a very daring thing to do. We had a garden, in my school, and we had to bring our own tools. So, many times my books rested next to a trowel and some sort of cutting tool.

      But... I did dare to bring risqué novels to school, which I would read with friends while giggling like maniacs. And those were strictly forbidden.

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  7. Although I grew up land locked with nary an almond tree in sight, the spirit of this piece felt very true to my childhood. I remember the small thrills of the things and places I called my own and how very special they were to me. LOL, I also remembered one teacher we called Miss Lava too, on account of her sweet and mild personality. :D

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    1. Miss Lava sounds like such a warm name, lol!

      Sor Mumm-Ra was a least a thousand years old. She looked decrepit and as tiny as a small preteen. But when she got upset--which happened a lot--she seemed to burst out of her mummy wrappings and expand into a glorious monster.

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  8. Magaly, I loved reading your hammer story and being caught up with the suspense of why you took it. I also am happy to learn the word, motoconcho. I've seen them, China and Central America but hadn't known a name for them.
    I guess you've invited a "kiss and tell session" here:
    I shot a pistol for the first time in high school. We used it with blanks during our class play. A buddy brought some bullets for it and a few of us went outside and shot them when we were not on stage.
    I rode a Vespa scooter to work four years of my Army life at El Paso (Texas). At home I could take the kids, we had four then, two at a time for scooter rides. One would be on the buddy seat and another would stand on the platform ahead of the driver seat. None could be the handlebars because I had mounted a windshield there.
    I had one accident that landed me on the hood of a lady who ran a stop sign. My face and legs were bruised, bones okay.
    I'm glad to learn the name,motoconcho. I've seen them in China and Central America.
    In Guatamala on the Pan American Highway pickup trucks would be full of folk standing in the back. Used in leiw of cabs or busses.
    Lots more similar to your library trek but already I've written TMI.
    ..

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    1. Motoconcho is purely Dominican slang. I suspect different places might have different names for it.

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  9. "fed a hammer to her schoolbag" ((smiles))
    I remember those almonds, a hammer works good on them
    Happy Wednesday

    much love...

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  10. I wandered (and wondered) through your story considering the purpose of the hammer. Delightful read, Megaly!

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  11. I really was wondering where you were going with this hammer thing! Thanks for leading me in to find out, my friend!

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  12. I love the image of you “feeding” a hammer to your schoolbag! Also the thought of you in the library, poring through books on faery tales and garden grimoires. I can literally see it in my head! Along with the SPLAT of that poor, poor almond. lol 🖤

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    1. The SPLAT was rather satisfying. Also, I'm certain the almond had it coming. If not, why would the fall of the tree?

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  13. Your story took me to a place I knew nothing about. And I had no idea where it was going- excellent Magaly!

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  14. Yum...the nuts AND the story. Salute!

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  15. I was reading this and thinking, what an earth is she doing with a hammer at school? The big reveal at the end give me the answer. A delightful ending.

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  16. It pays to always be well equipped for life's delights. I love getting to know the upbringing of young mystical Magaly. The sea almonds remind me of date seeds.

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  17. Thanks for sharing a small glimpse of your youth. As a land-locked Iowan, I could only imagine other places such as yours. You painted a wonderful picture.

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  18. I really enjoyed this glimpse of your Dominican childhood...and seeing your "trademark" hammer at work. :)

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    1. It seems that my relationship with hammers started very early. Hehehehe.

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  19. I was worth the wait to see what the hammer's use would be.

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