I try to be optimistic in the coming of every new year, but that whiff of optimism probably lasts as long as the count down to midnight. I tend to be relatively pessimistic. Not in the sense that I see the glass half empty, but in the sense that I expect the worse to happen, and more often than not my expectation is incorrect.
I don’t know if it has anything to do with my upbringing, maybe the socio-political scene that I grew up around didn’t help. I imagine growing up in the region between ’48 and ’82 would take a toll on you.
I remember my grandma would always be angry. Her husband died leaving her with 9 kids ranging from 30 to 6 years old, and without a nanny (a different story altogether) probably was a reason why she was always angry and pessimistic.
The way I explain it, this pessimism has got to do with an interesting characteristic that she had; one that links everything to Shit. I would ask my grandma how she was doing, and she would say Shit! I was once having a casual conversation with my cousins on zodiac signs and one of us innocently turned to my grandma and asked her, “Teta what is your zodiac?” To which she replied, “Shit!”
I later realized that Shit is not something only my grandma uses to express herself, but something that her generation used as well. There happens to be a very peculiar fixation between certain Proverbs and human waste or areas below the belt.
It might be because of the tough times that people lived through at that time, diaspora, wars and poverty, made Shit relatable, or maybe that Shit is simply expressive and funny.
Below are the ones I remember, that, for the record, I didn’t hear from my grandma.
Risk taking: If you step in Shit then step well.
Uselessness: In the place in which he shat, they hung him.
Also on uselessness: The result is like farting on marble tiles.
Courage: In the country in which you do not know anyone, then roll up your sleeves and take a Shit.
On weakness: They made him carry a goat, he farted.
On stubbornness: I tell him its a ram, he tells me, “milk it!”
Being sinister: Eat the bait, and Shit on the hook.
Inseparable friends are: Two asses in one underwear.
One after another is: In each other’s asses.
Stinginess: A hair from the ass of a pig is a benefit.
Repetitiveness: Going and coming like the testicles of a siever*. (*A person who sieve’s would move the sieve from side to side vigorously, starting the motion with the shoulders extending to the waist area. The rest I leave to your imagination.)
Pessimism: The unlucky is unlucky, even if they hung a lantern on his ass. If he shat on it, the flame shall extinguish, and if he farted, it withers.
This last saying is an interesting one. The main point behind it is that the unlucky (or cursed as the literal translation of the saying is) will remain unlucky, even if he had a lantern with him, which is the figurative lantern that would light his way thus making him less unlucky, since now he can see where he is going. Why would the lantern be hung on his ass rather than in his hand beats me, but the point is that methane gas on a burning flame would ignite rather than make the flame wither, making it brighter and hence more clarity. So I guess it is one that can be used for optimism as well.