The Nannu kiss

There’s this kiss that’s the purest of kisses. I’m not sure whether I can describe it or do justice to its nuance of power. It’s greater than any other kiss I’ve known, the epitome of all kisses: moreish without being delicious, deeper than lust and desire crocheted in the intricacy of passion, leather and lace.

I was lucky to have one smack-banged on me recently from a most beautiful soul, a compassionate man who personifies gorgeous that oozes from his insides out.  

I’ve only had a few in the past 20 years, since my grandfather died. I can count them on one hand. My grandfather was a strict man, an ex-army troop sergeant in World War 2 for the British Army Royal Engineers, although he was Maltese. He saw a thing or two with Malta being the most bombed allied country during the War. Forty years on and he would bark orders as though he was still in the army. Us grandchildren, 16 of us, would smirk when we heard them as they were directed at anyone but particularly at our parents and as children, we revelled in our parents being told off! We’d receive his orders occasionally, like if we were washing up incorrectly or cleaning up after a meal in a way that he thought he wasn’t right. He’d direct us to do it his way in his sergeant tone.

But his orders to us were different, they didn't contain the serious undertones so distinct in his orders to others and even when they did, we knew we could disobey them. When we did, he’d have a little grumble then quickly break into a little laugh and invariably, end in one of his kisses. I call them the Nannu kiss and Nannu would kiss us in this way anytime, not just when we disobeyed his orders. It was his signature kiss.

The few I’ve received since his death have come from a gentle giant of a man who I consider an older brother. I’m the eldest of my siblings and so to have this older brother figure is comforting. His kiss normally comes with a hello or how are you. It could be that he kisses me in this way simply because he is almost a foot taller than me and the practicality of giving the kiss is because of his height.

But I don’t think that’s the case, not when I feel such care and a sense of protection in the Nannu kiss. It’s a strange feeling, that of protection, because it’s not as if I'm in any danger. The kiss though, conveys such kindness and respect, and that everything is okay, no matter what. It’s a reassurance that I’m safe, that someone ‘has my back’ and I can rely on them. 

Timing is everything and the Nannu kiss I received from my gorgeous man this week came at the most perfect time, if ever there is such a thing as the perfect. It came with lashings of care, compassion and grace and allowed me the humility to lean into his grounding and know that no matter what, he’s there and I'm okay. It came with the reassurance that he’ll be beside me in the patience of the most enlightened of monks and while he may not be able to stick any broken pieces together for me, he’ll help search for every shard that may have ricocheted into the ethers and catch them if they fall while I glue them together. His nurturing strength is deeply rooted in solid poise, so that anything can be achieved. The Nannu kiss is unwavering.

I hope you get to experience the Nannu kiss in your lifetime and when you do, be sure to draw in all the tenderness that it’s given with. Feel that kiss when it’s coddled, caked or caressed onto your forehead, suck in every minuscule of its giving and feel it spread from the top of your head into every part of your body. Breathe in that cherish of the exchange for it will give you the strength to accomplish even the most difficult of despairs.

And if you’re lucky enough to witness a Nannu kiss being planted on someone’s forehead, observe the lowering of the giver’s eyes, the warmth in their smile before they pucker their lips to kiss the forehead of the lucky receiver, whose head is almost bowed in anticipation of the gift. Watch the receiver tuck into the chest of the giver, their body giving into the comfort of the steady foundation. Appreciate the vulnerability in the kiss being received, and the humility with which it’s given.

The Nannu kiss is the embodiment of love stripped bare. It can empower to achieve and accomplish anything, even the perceived insurmountable. Christmas or not, Nannu kiss or not, the gift of unconditional reassurance and boundless strength is something we’re all worthy of receiving. And giving.

 

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The magic mirror

My kitchen window is the portal into another time and place. I’ve been looking through it and writing about what I see for years. Even when I don’t see any physical activity apart from the day that is – a gluttonous sky thundering over the Chinese Elm, the first blossoms on the apricot tree or chooks basking in the dusty hole they’ve dug to bathe in sunshine – I see so much.

The three little boys that once jumped in and out of a portable swimming pool in summers of years gone, white in a heavy layering of sunscreen and laughing with each butt print made on the hot concrete path. They’d ride scooters and bikes from the back gate onto a track in the grass, have parties with friends and chip golf balls on a make-shift putting green. They’d hang washing on the clothes line while I washed dishes over my window, throwing the ball for Teddi and hitting it out with a cricket bat when they got tired of throwing. They’d bring washing in, all folded and ready to sort. They still do.

Today through my kitchen window is one of them with his love pulling weeds together by that clothes line, cute in their occasional smiles and exchanges. He’s older and wiser now, although sometimes when a shopping trolley full of garden stakes and an azalea bush plucked from an anonymous front yard appears after a night out with friends, I do wonder.

    Our house, it has a crowd

    There’s always something happening

    And it’s usually quite loud … Our house, in the middle of our street

Madness sings over the radio, reminding me of how time moves at a snail’s pace, and yet ever moving with the rotating Earth. This magic window of mine shows glimpses only I can see. Memories of little boys that are now as men, a second 21st birthday in weeks.

Waves in the unseen pulse through, hurts from deep love and happiness scar in a life meandering as a unique Jackson Pollock drip painting. Sharp pains clash in lines of reds and blues highlighted in ochres, the clash of words that gnaw within the heart.

    It’s a fine line between pleasure and pain

    You’ve done it once you can do it again

It’s the Divinyls now, prodding the longings, whether known or not, for him or her, that thing in the corner. To be by the beach; to be home. A longing for peace without turmoil, peace even when the ocean roars its endless rhythm of now and what’s to come. Longing frees the honesty within the heart, to smile when not smiling. Perhaps that’s a contentment, even with emotions brimming and wanting to spill.

Whether I’m looking through my kitchen window at those boys of yesterday and today, or for the rabid clucks of chooks being chased by Teddi and Schnooze, all in good jest of course, it’s always wide open and full of reflection. I can be cooking butterflied lamb that’s been marinating for 36 hours for dinner and whizzing past the window from bench to stove, stopping at the kitchen sink to wash hands of sticky garlic oils, and still, all manner of stark brutality can flood in to choke. A gulp of rosé from the antique crystal glass can smooth it away, spritely and clear compared to the robust of swallow of the same wine from my brown short glass last week. Senses swirl in the heady grilling, aromas fill nostrils to where I can smell no more.

This evening it’s simple burgers browning in a pan with bacon and pineapple and it’s not until one of those boys walks in from work that I realise I’m immersed in the Monika-world.

‘Mmm, that smells nice,’ he says. ‘I can smell it from the back gate.’ His hello kiss brings me back to today with bonds to yesterday. Another sip of rosé.

That magic mirror can show possibilities of what’s to come, of more little children running through the yard or by the beach in their little Hawaiian shirts, more dogs and chooks and golf all fusing as that next part of a growing life. My magic mirror keeps me wide open to possibilities, many I cannot imagine.

There’s always a kiss of tomorrow, the kiss from far away that should have been, could be. Kisses maketh thy life.

    Here comes the rain again

    Falling on my head like a memory

    Falling on my head like a new emotion

    I want to walk in the open wind

    I want to talk like lovers do

    I want to dive into your ocean

    Is it raining with you        ~ Eurythmics

 

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Kisses

There’s something in the sharing of feeling beyond understanding of language, where supple lips meet and tongues swirl to be lost in dizzy delight, or where cheeks brush in a softness of silk and kisses linger in the air of personal space.

Mine begin early from pooches, my blue-eyed girl first after thumping down the hallway in good morning squeals, her nails nicking the wooden boards as she bounds over her petite brown-eyed sister gliding for a hello too. Licks come fast and frenzied and a scratch on their head settles them to snuggle beside me, one by my chaise lounge of greying blue and the other resting her chin on my feet under my desk.

Then come the boys, usually one by one and in quick succession during a work and school week, or as a stroll that can be hours apart every other day. Their sleepy good morning kisses can be warm and soft, even over chiselled jaws, or come in a fleeting hurry to get out the door. They can be the lightest of pecks on cheeks that sometimes glide by with no skin contact at all and go beyond the ‘hob-nobbery’ of air kisses. Other times, one simple kiss lands with such powerful intent, loaded in boundless love that overwhelms and leaves me sopping in nourishing love. As little lads, we sometimes played games of butterfly and fish kisses that led to such laughter, of tigers and Eskimos too.

Lucky for me, I still have hello and good bye kisses from Mum and my brother who has spent all of his nine lives and is looking exceptionally well these days. And Mum’s partner, my partner and aunts and uncles, cousins, sisters and brothers, nieces and nephews … from families galore. They're hello and good bye kisses on cheeks and lips, automatic and customary, ones of habit steeped in deep memory and others brimming in open love. And from friends too, kisses and squeeze me tight hugs come with a depth of appreciation, care and love, and understanding of no matter what.

Kisses can be the obligatory greeting hello between acquaintances and colleagues, more heartfelt than the handshake. They can grow in warmth with hugs of thank you and good bye and air kisses of serious connection, even though lips may not touch and it’s the caress of skin that locks the energy. That can feed lingering thoughts over lunch and in meetings, of good byes in passionate, locked lips where hands cupping and caressing become part of the kiss and all is lost to tantalising tingles and hearts in jitters.

Then there are those ‘others’, the ones where a kiss landing lip to lip takes you by surprise and you wonder whether if mouths were slightly open, you’d go all the way, and the secret within of wanting to go all the way. Or the online flirt that could be a kiss if that person stood in front of you and you imagine what that kiss might be.

Of course kisses are never all Daphne and tulips and there are those soaked in sadness and laced in loss and blue, the ones weighted in tiredness and burden that require a sit and unravelling of the day. These kisses can be an exchange that lessen the load and strengthen a connection.

Regardless of the intent and expression of any kiss, all carry their own reservoir of precious, pooling droplets ready to fall into a garden of ripe and rich. I'd wilt without them.

woman blowing a kiss 

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