Postcard proseIssue 10 | September 2010

Grammar Lesson

by Mandy Berman

The first day I meet the children, we sit in the dirt, on a flat ground beneath the rolling hills of beanstalks and maize and pumpkin patches, pulling bean pods from their stalks. The women and children laugh and talk in Timbuka. I sit and do my work. A girl with thin arms and full lips sits next to me, separating the brown bean pods and the green ones into two piles. We are quiet until I ask for her name.

Charity, she says.
That’s a very pretty name.
Thank you. Beside her is a plastic bowl, and she begins to place stray beans in it, ones that had fallen out of their pods.
How old are you, Charity?
I am twelve years old. Her English is measured and clear, a mix between the British accent she learned in school and the thick Malawian dialect, with its interchangeable r’s and l’s, its emphasis on the last letter of every word.
Do you have any brothers and sisters? This to me is a universal question to ask a twelve-year-old.
Yes, she says. I have five-ee.
Five! That’s a lot. Are any of them here? I point to the other children pulling bean pods from their stalks.
No, she says. There are no more.

I decide my first lesson will be on the past tense.

About the author

Mandy Berman recently returned from teaching English and Math to AIDS orphans in Malawi, Africa. She currently writes for the online travel guide, Dguides.com, and blogs at prettierworld.blogspot.com. She is currently teaching English in the Dordogne region of France.

Read our current issue:

Poetry

Two poems by Bonnie Bishop
Outside Ngaoundere by Aaron Brown
Watershed by Catherine Chandler
1955-D and 1945-S by Craig Cotter
Hyacinth by Dylan Crawford
Strays by Judy Darley
Freedom Fries by Krista Genevieve Farris
City Lights, Dirty Window by Janna Layton
The Road to Managua by Wilda Morris
Edinburgh, Alone by Stephanie Papa
Two poems by Eugenia Hepworth Petty
Four poems by Christine Potter
Next to the River by Jeremy Radin
Another Art by Susanna Rich
Five poems from Shoshauna Shy
Three poems by R L Swihart
Two poems by Rimas Uzgiris

Postcard prose

Gritsev Calls by Jeremy Radin
The Last Gentleman by Eldon Reishus

Travel notes

The Pond by Ariana Nadia Nash
So There They Were at the Beach Again, Looking Around by Janice D. Soderling