Sarah Ann Hall

Reporting on writing in progress or, more probably, not; practising flash fiction.

Ligo Haibun Challenge – quote week – What did you do in the war?

with 6 comments

I have struggled coming up with anything for recent challenge prompts – the muse is playing hard to get. However, I couldn’t pass on this week’s Ligo Haibun prompts – both proverbs are wonderful. I hope it’s obvious I worked with the first.


Only when you have eaten a cockroach do you appreciate soup. — Ukrainian Proverb


Either dance well or start drinking. — Ukrainian Proverb




What did you do in the war?

My grandmother always used to tell stories of how hard it was during the Second World War. She was a woman left at home to fend for herself with a young child, while my blind-as-a-bat grandfather was away in the Pay Corps. My dad was born in 1942 leaving my gran weak, and he spent his early years living with his grandparents. I found this out only after my gran died, before that I was given to understand how hard she had worked and suffered for her only son.

I suspect my grandmother was very good at pulling the wool. I never saw her weak – the strength never left those fingers gnarled by arthritis; she never lost a marble or shied from an argument about what she knew to be right and true.

‘Respect your elders,’ was her mantra. I think the unspoken truth ran along the lines of, ‘Do as I say, not as I do.’ This was the woman who hid black market eggs in the bath when the customs man came to tea. She lived in a port town, her husband worked on the docks: she couldn’t decline visits from the well-meaning powers-that-be. There are other, now lost, stories about her having far much more butter than her neighbours as well.


tales of hardship

exaggerated for effect

poverty unknown


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Written by Sarah Ann

June 8, 2014 at 8:42 pm

6 Responses

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  1. Tales can have an effect of clearing a bad conscious maybe… but still she probably did the right thing by her family.

    • I’m sure she did the right thing by her family. I think you might be right about the tales, they were definitely used to paint a brighter picture.

      Sarah Ann

      June 10, 2014 at 7:48 pm

  2. You caught just the right tone here. This is rare, and raw, and the writing brings forth a myriad of imagery and ideas – some very funny, but of course each one hides another, often more alarming truth. A powerful haiku that hits., and really, as one thinks about this haibun one ponders about human nature, and the ability of a few to do this, and suddenly the echoes of this haibun appear elsewhere, in news stores and other people. Sobering and sad. Great writing.

    Gunn's Cabin Fever

    June 11, 2014 at 6:51 am

    • Thank you. I don’t think we know our grandparents at the right age – I was too young to ever appreciate this one. There was so much about my gran I didn’t know and never can. She was multi-layered, two-faced quite often. Had she ever shared stories of her childhood, I think much of her later questionable behaviour would have been understandable.

      Sarah Ann

      June 15, 2014 at 8:26 pm

  3. what an interesting character.

    Belinda Broughton

    June 19, 2014 at 7:27 am

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