Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Grade Five

It’s registration period, and our form teacher is absent. The class is noisy. Everyone is walking around, discussing their weekend.

I catch the word ‘Soccer’ a few times. I’m reading (surprise!). The BFG is just so completely brilliant! I’m smiling at the pages.

I hear Khaled.

“Guys, you know why Rabia never gets invited to anyone’s parties? It’s because everyone is scared she’ll eat up all the food.”

Khaled is the grossest boy I've ever met and also the stupidest. The one time he was asking me for my homework and there was a big green booger in his left nostril. I wanted to vomit. He’s always picking on everyone. But if you know a few good insults, (preferably, ones that he won’t properly understand because you thought to throw a few big words in to confuse him) then you’re safe.

I’m always armed with big words. The bigger, the better. 

For my 10th birthday, I asked mummy for a thesaurus. Khaled is asinine. I found that word in the thesaurus. When I call him an asinine ass, he reports me to the teacher for swearing. They never believe him though, since I AM Mrs Patel’s daughter, and also the student who comes out first every year.

Khaled’s cronies (that’s a nice word for friends) cackle. They sound so ugly.

“So, Rabia, what you brought for lunch today? Half a cow?”  Muneer. He’s almost as bad as Khaled, except one day I saw him save a baby bird that fell out of a nest. 

Most of us look down. We try to pretend we’re not hearing Rabia being attacked. My book is suddenly riveting. (Thank you thesaurus).

The rest of the kids are still walking around, but instead of TALKING, they’re whispering.

“Hey Fatty, get up. You sitting in my place.” Khaled is grinning. I can hear this even though I don’t look up.

Rabia sniffs. The class goes completely quiet. I look up. Her chair scrapes against the floor. She gathers up her bag. Drops it. Picks it up again.

“Come on Fatty. You not only fat, you also so slow. And stupid.” Khaled is in full wickedness mode now.

She moves away from her seat, looks around the class. I catch her gaze. There’s so much helplessness in her eyes and she’s crying. I stop thinking. I’m just so angry.

I’m standing in front of Khaled. How the hell did I get here?!

He’s got his legs on her desk.

“What you want, nerd?” The word is a sharp arrow in his mouth.

“For an asinine ass, with a brain the size of pea and a face that strongly resembles a gorilla’s posterior, you have a lot to say.” I feel so strong standing there in from of him.

The class is graveyard quiet; I can actually hear Khaled breathe. He sounds like he’s snoring, he’s that loud.

“Ya, well you…you a…” He sputters. Then his Motor Mouth dies.

Everyone bursts out laughing.

Khaled’s face is maroon. I’m grinning as I go back to my seat. I sit down to find Rabia next to me.

Rabia’s not half bad once you actually get to know her. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A Flash - but not in the pan

One of the exercises we did during the workshop (which you've heard of ad nauseam - so stop me if you think I'm overdoing it) was look at micro-fiction. Really short, short stories.

We wrote one during the workshops. I've since written two more. The workshop one is a little longer than the other two.

Bite-sized stories, all three though. Buon appetito.

Pencil Love

He writes all his letters to her in pencil; just in case, he says. He hopes she reads them, eraser and pen in hand, sculpting his thoughts until they look like him. The him she sees. The him she claims to love. In ink, to boot.

He reaches for that letter again. Right at the top of a fat pile of letters in his bedside drawer. There are the words.

 I Love You.

He runs a finger across them. They’re engraved into the paper. If he feels along the back, he can feel the words. The braille of the heart. He flips it over again then rubs a little. But the letters won’t budge. He reaches for his eraser, which he employs often during his letter writing sessions. He rubs. All that does is smudge the words, a little. Just a little. Like the first stroke of the bleeding process that characterises his paintings. Or so they say.

He rubs again, hoping, praying that this motion, in the opposite direction, will make the letters perfect again. It doesn’t work. He feels like he’s defiled something precious. How to fix it?

I love you, he writes.
 In pencil.

 He signs his name and slips the letter into the envelope, and seals it. Before his eraser gets to it.

 Word Count: 217 Words excluding title

Stop Wondering

You read to her your story about how she stayed with you because she believed she would change you. About how every time you broke her lip or closed her eye or found yourself with a handful of her hair in your hands, you said you were sorry and she forgave you. Because she loved you. She says it’s a cliché, this idea. It’s been done to death. You smile, say thank you. And wonder if she’d also beg you to stop when you do her to near-death like they all did. Whether she too, would be a cliché. 

Word Count: 99 words, excluding title


If you can talk about the thing that broke you and be whole while doing so, you know, that even the scars, they’re fading. If you find that you no longer hate his lie. Hate her lie. Rather, you understand that you and he, you weren’t connecting. Not properly. And they, oh yeah, they connected all right. Right until that moment when she found him with her sister and she went for a kitchen knife and they found him naked, the knife between his ribs, in her sister’s bed. And no one was really sorry. Except her sister. 

Word Count: 98 words, excluding title

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Meet The Patels - an exercise in editing

Today was the last day of The Writivism Creative Writing Three Day Workshop. I was thankful that I'd applied. It has been a rewarding three days. I've learnt so much.

 One of our exercises today dealt with dialogue.

When I got home, I dug out this story, downloaded from old emails since my son accidentally formatted his external hard drive and ended up deleting ten years worth of my writing. Yeah, I know.

The Patels are the first characters I'd ever written into being.

I played around with this piece, removed quotation marks, used italics for thoughts, just to see whether this would work. I also rewrote a lot of it.

At the end of it all, I decided, I still like these nosy folk. I hope you will too :)

Meet The Patels

Mrs Patel settled down on her wobbly three quarter bed with a huge sigh.

Soooo hot this summer. Bo garmi.

The springs groaned. It was a high bed, thanks to the two frequently-replaced bricks that supported each of its four legs.

Ey, this bricks of today. They don’t make nothing like they used to. Crumble like biscuits from Shalimar Bakery.

She hitched her ijaar up a little higher, exposing calves that had never known the glide of a razor blade - Wax? You’ve got to be dreaming! - undid the knot of her scarf from beneath her chin and dropped it on the bed.

She was just in from her afternoon stroll, a leisurely one which was defined more by the number of stops it included than by the mileage it covered. Santi Mahi, Chotu, Khayroon. Comrades in News all these years, they were. She’d sit at their kitchen tables while Santi Mahi fried samoosas or Khayroon made tea.

Tune khar…?
Hachoo waat?

This was how tea was  meant to be had. The News being the chutney for Santi Mahi’s samoosas. The News, the perfect masala to Khayroon’s watery chaai.

Ey, but this Khayroon. So kanjoos with milk. Won’t kill her to put little more in the chaai.

But Mrs Patel would smile her most winning paan stained smile for Khayroon. Because The News Khayroon shared would always leave her children gasping when she shared it during supper. 

What's a little watery tea between comrades, eh?

Haroon. Bhai, paan dabboo le awjo.

Haroon was ek nawaai nu poyro. Her Only Son. Entrusted the honour of being Man of the House after the premature demise (the doctor had warned him that chewing tobacco could cause cancer of the throat) of Mr Patel some twenty years ago, he was affectionately called Bhai.  Royal Keeper and Replenisher of The Betel Leaf Box. Also known by the locals as The Sentinel since he was rarely away from his post on the stoep.

Jee, Ma.

Haroon waddled into the trifling two rooms and a kitchen annexure that was their home, took the tin containing betel leaves and the various stuffings from the TV cabinet in his room, and handed it to his mother.

Ma just knows when to trouble me. I’ll miss something. So much happens after 4!

Haroon speed waddled back to his post. And he watched.

A confirmed bachelor at fifty, Haroon was a short man with a boep that would make any beer-drinking rugby fan proud. His eyes were small and round, hidden behind thick spectacles. He prided himself in having annual eye tests. In his game, poor eyesight could be an occupational handicap.

Hmph, there goes Farida. I see Anu was working out last night. Bet there’s a big shiner under her sunglasses.
Oooh, look, Yasmin’s daughter got a boyfriend. Astaghfirullah! I wonder if her father knows.

In some circles Haroon was also called ‘Internet’, not that he had ever used it, mind, and yet in others he was known as the ‘Dadaville Gazette’. In short, he was a legend.

‘Internet Saheb’ was punctual for Salaah. Five times a day.

If people knew just how much one could learn from being early for every Salaah, they’d try just a little harder. Sure you learn plenty by listening to Moulana Saheb. But the lessons you learn from chatting to fellow musallis after salaah…you can’t attach a value to that. Never. Sometimes my news is even more up to date than Ma’s. Bet Khayroon can never tell her what Muzammil Chacha’s last words were before the karia shot him? But I know. Wazeer told Basheer. Basheer told Sufyaan. And Sufyaan told me. All because Wazeer was standing outside the shop when it happened. If I was Wazeer I should have gone in and tried to save Muzammil Chacha. But these young people of today, they got no gumption. Scared to die. Don’t understand how lucky Muzammil Chacha was. Shaheed straight away. One way ticket to Jannat.

Haroon looked at his watch. Munira would be home soon.

Time to hustle.

He wrenched himself away from his post and went to the kitchen to set the table. Ma was stretched out on his bed, and was deeply absorbed in the intrigues of the Bold and not-so Beautiful.

Just as Haroon filled the water jug and set it on the table, he heard Munira.

Oh Ma, how many times I told you mustn’t throw your scarf on the bed?

She continued her march. Ever onwards towards the bathroom, the windows trembling, from the onslaught of the high pitched nasal whine that passed for her voice.

Lo! Aawi gyo, madam. Arre! Forgot to take off the washing. Dhamaal thawanu!

Haroon tried to get to the back door before Munira saw him but he was too slow. So instead he slipped into the bathroom and made a show of washing his hands. With any luck she wouldn’t notice the washing still on the washing line outside.  

And you Haroon, always wetting the floor. I tell you every day, make wuzu at the mosque for Namaaz. For what you give to the jamaat every month if you don’t want to use the wuzu khana, he?

Haroon mumbled a platitude and headed for the front door, which Munira had a habit of leaving unlocked.

What you cooked today, Ma? Munira’s mood lightened at the prospect of a hot, albeit garlicky, meal.

Daar chaawal. Mrs Patel gathered up her scarf and placed it on the stool in the corner of the bedroom.

No kachoombar? Munira, lifting the lids off the pots as she spoke.

Mrs Patel snorted. She whispered to Haroon, who was busy doing up the five locks on the front gate, If she wants kachoombar, she can make it herself, lazy!

Hurricane Munira would not be thwarted.

Haroon, how come you never take off the washing yet. Oo thakeli, and now you wait for me to take it off. You do it every day. How many times I must tell you? You don’t work and Ma makes tawaaf of Dadaville whole afternoon.


I’ll get it, I’ll get it!

He huffed into the kitchen, out the backdoor, and into the back yard while Munira put the pots onto the table.

 It’s summer. There’s still plenty of daylight left, but Munira must make a beeg show. I’m so lucky I didn’t get married. Imagine a wife like Munira.

Haroon shuddered as he folded one of Munira’s panties and placed it in the washing basket.

And for what she’s always carrying on these days. Jealous. That’s what. She’s still working and I don’t have to.

Haroon had taken an early retirement from his job at a clothing factory the year before. He had received a generous package from his boss Mr Varachia, whom he knew had been glad to be rid of him, though he’d rather give up his title of ‘Internet’ than admit to that. Mr Varachia, eternal diplomat that he was, had praised Haroon’s benevolence in taking up the offer.

Mashallah Haroon. You so thoughtful, ne. Like always. Thinking of what’s best for the company. We need new blood. These young people, they cleverer than us. Know how to use the internets and things. Advertising. And what’s that word? Ya, ‘Promoting’ the business. We need to keep up with the times. My papa always said like that.

The fact that he was now an unemployment statistic was just fine by Haroon. During his thirty years at the company he had saved up a substantial sum. He had few expenses and, thankfully, he had never married. He didn’t think he’d be able to handle another woman in his life; Munira was quite enough of a pain in the you-know-what. And marriage would have meant children, something he didn’t really have the stomach for – although his boep looked as though it could accommodate a baby or two.

Take the family who lived in the other half of the house, for instance. They had four! Now who in their right mind would be so irrational as to have four children?

He could actually feel his blood pressure go up when the children’s friends came to visit, which was far too often for his tastes, because then the normally rowdy bunch became positively savage.

 All that WWE they watch. Jumping on the couches. Banging. Screaming.

Haroon hoped that they would move at some point, because he wasn’t going anywhere. Mr Dadoo, the landlord, was over eighty and had never quite understood the concept of inflation (and Haroon wasn’t about to explain the mechanics to him either). As such, he was more than happy with the R200 rent the Patels paid every month for their half of the house.

Haroon carried the basket of washing into the house. Munira and Ma had just begin to dish out.

You heard what happened to Salloo? Ma was soaking her rice in thick garlicky dhaal.

What a thing! Garbar waat, hachoo. His son and daughter-in-law, they were happy together. But that sala Salloo couldn’t keep his hands off her, and now the son’s home is broken. Mohsin, his brother, says he’s very depressed. Haroon’s eyes were shiny.

Hachoo? I wonder what Salloo’s wife said. Munira now, between mouthfuls of kachoomber-less daar chaawal.

I hear she asked for a divorce. But he won’t give it to her, ne. Who will make sutherfeni for him then huh? Ey, and you heard, they held Kaloo up at his Fish and Chips yesterday. Lunch time. Six guys with guns, but they didn’t get no payha, because Kaloo gambles all his money away at Emperors. Haroon smirked. No doubt information that his mother hadn’t gleaned as yet.

Haai, Kaloo, gambling? I can’t believe it. And his father was a Molvi. What is this world coming to? Munira very nearly stood up.

It’s Akhar Jamano, I’m telling you. The Prophet of Doom voice was one that Mrs Patel had perfected after years of practice. Tane khar, I went to see Sadia’s baby today. That poor child, half a scalp on her head. But still that Sadia is so stuck up. Her mother didn’t even offer me nothing to drink.

Supper passed in this vein, until the Adaan of Maghrib brought an end to their conversation. Haroon set off for the mosque where, as he walked,  musallis were asking Allah save them from salaah next to Haroon. Mrs Patel’s overuse of garlic was the thing of legend.

Mrs Patel and Munira performed they salaah in their bedroom. The Patels were Hajjis. No self-respecting Hajji was ever lax with prayers. Everyone knew that punctuality in prayers was a sign of an accepted Hajj.

When Haroon returned, he found his mother and sister huddled around the TV, Munira on the shabby couch and Mrs Patel stretched out on his bed. The sound of Munira supplementing her garlic fuelled diet with Simba chippies punctuated, at intervals, by his mother letting lose a Wind of Wonder, courtesy of the dhaal. Haroon sank into the bum-moulded couch springs next to Munira.

The signature tune of the eight o’clock news started and Haroon sat up a little straighter, giving up the battle for the biggest Simba chippie as he did so. How could any self-respecting man of the world, who prided himself in informing others who didn’t really know too much (by this he meant most of the men at the mosque), be really good at what he did without assistance from the various News reports that peppered the programme line-up on all the television stations?

At ten o’ clock the family had their last cup of chaai, with a generous helping of Dadaville Gazette news (as had been gleaned by Haroon after the Isha prayer) for the day and retired to bed.

This was their routine every day, and would probably have remained that way until they all left the world had something very dramatic not occurred one Friday night. In retrospect, there should have been a warning. A feeling in Mrs Patel’s bones, a passing comet, a total solar eclipse.

How could something so huge happen on a starry summer evening?

Haroon came into the house on that Friday after the Maghrib prayer.

Munira was not home as yet. She had been invited to a friend for supper. Naeema, her old school buddy was finally getting married at  43.

Haroon’s face was flushed with excitement. He had news, but not just any news. It was the kind of news that would prove to be his coup d'état for the day. Surely it was more exciting than anything his mother could have gathered during her afternoon walk?

Ma! He spoke loudly. The neighbours needed to hear.  Kya khabr aaje! You won’t believe what happened. Farouk, next door, he ran away with a woman ten years older than him. Left his wife and four children. Em ach! Bo garbar. 

The look on his face showed though, that he thought the turn of events was anything but terrible. Maybe now the wretched woman and her four brats would move.

Hachoo? Tu hu kem? And he was such a quiet guy. Bo duyro. So respectful. Always so nice to me and Munira whenever we went to market. He used to give us lift. I said, ne, that cheeky wife of his was going to chase him away. She’s another one, she. Always walking with her nose in the air, thinking she’s better than everyone. Holy poly, with her big dupatta.
 The smile on Mrs Patel’s face extended to her molars, showing every paan stain in the fluorescent glare.

By eleven o’ clock that evening Munira still hadn't come home. Mrs Patel had been anxious enough all evening, hoping that she’d get to tell Munira the news before Haroon could. And now, this selfish Munira was prolonging her agony. When she felt ready to burst from suspense she called Haroon. 

Bhai, phone Naeema’s house. See where’s Munira.

Haroon stood up, went over to the telephone, checked in his ancient telephone book for Naeema’s number, and called her up. The telephone rang for ages before Naeema’s slightly deaf mother answered.

Hallo… Hallo…Kaun? she screamed into the receiver. Kaun che?

Haroon held the phone a few centimetres away from his ear.
Oo, Haroon. Munira nu bhai. I’m looking for Munira. She’s there?

Who? Oh, Munira. No. Naeema say she couldn’t come. We didn’t see her…

Haroon’s feet grew cold. He sank into the couch.



Monday, January 19, 2015

Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes

I’ve long been toying with the idea of baking Pumpkin Cupcakes. Possibly because I’ve made Pumpkin Lagan in the past and the combination of sweetened pumpkin, coconut, cardamom and cream of wheat was so wonderfully ‘halwa-ish’ that I figured pumpkin would be a beautiful addition to a cupcake. After several Google searches, I settled on the Martha Stewart recipe. But since tinned pumpkin isn’t available in South Africa, I had to find an alternative.

My solution was to cube fresh pumpkin. Warm a tablespoon of butter with a nice fat cinnamon stick. Once heated, add the pumpkin and allow to steam on low heat until the pumpkin is soft and the moisture has burnt out. Mash. Allow to cool. You could do this a day in advance. Please ensure that the pumpkin is nicely dried out since too much moisture will cause your cuppies to collapse.

The second issue I had with Martha’s recipe was the excessive amount of sugar. I recommend reducing the amount of granulated sugar by ¼ - ½ cup.

I used the creaming method which was another change I made to the recipe. I’d like to try it again though, to see what the outcome would be using the melting method.

And after making these, I think they’d be delicious with roasted pine nuts and/or pumpkin seeds added, either to the batter or sprinkled on top of the cream cheese frosting once done. I can see these Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes replacing summer sun on chilly autumn evenings. 

Pumpkin Cupcakes

2 cups flour (500ml)
1 teaspoon baking soda (5ml)
1 teaspoon baking powder (5ml)
-1 teaspoon salt (4ml)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (5ml)
1 teaspoon ground ginger (5ml)
¼ - ½  teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (up to 2.5 ml – please use Freshly grated Nutmeg. The flavour is worth the extra effort)
¼  teaspoon ground allspice (I actually used ½ tsp ground cloves instead)
1 cup light-brown sugar (this was what I had at hand. But I think Muscovado will be delicious too)
½ - ¾  cup granulated sugar
225g butter
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
425g pumpkin puree


Preheat oven to 170 ᵒ. Line muffin pans with paper cups. Using #10 cups ought to yield just over 3 dozen cupcakes. #12/14’s would probably give you 2 dozen.

Cream butter and sugars until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift dry ingredients into a separate bowl. Fold into butter mixture. Fold in mashed pumpkin. If using nuts, now would be the time to add them.

Spoon into prepared pans. Bake until cupcakes spring back when touched. Allow to cool.

Cream Cheese Frosting

Cream Cheese frostings can be tricky. I’ve seen people talk of adding copious amounts of icing sugar to frostings that go gloopy or recommending refrigeration before use for frostings that are too soft. The secret is really in the method. Here follows a recipe for a delicious, light frosting that won’t melt. Since I’m not big on too-sweet frostings, I’ve kept the icing sugar quantity minimal.


225 g butter, at room temperature
225g cream cheese (it won’t matter if the cream cheese is chilled)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
3 cups icing  sugar

Cream butter until fluffy using the paddle attachment. Add the cream cheese, vanilla and salt and continue beating for a further two minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl from time to time. Reduce the speed of the mixer and add sifted icing sugar in two batches. Beat for a further minute or two until frosting is light and fluffy.

Pipe or spread on cooled cupcakes. Dust with extra cinnamon or a sprinkling of pumpkin seeds or (pine) nuts.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Things I learnt from Charlie Hebdo

 It’s okay to propagate hate speech if you do it under the banner of Freedom Of Speech

I’d never heard of Charlie Hebdo before the tragic shootings of 7 January. When I logged on to Twitter and saw all the tweets in solidarity with the murdered journalists, everyone saying Je Suis Charlie, my first reaction was to Google the meaning of the phrase. It means, I am Charlie. Then to see what it was I was supposed to claim to be.

What I found caused my supper to rise to my throat. Under the guise of satirising radical Islam, Charlie (whom I refuse to be) had caricatured the ‘Prophet Muhammed’ with his genitals exposed; naked; his ‘wives’ had not been spared either. Interesting to note that the most offensive of their ‘Prophet Muhammed’ cartoons are picked up over and over by the most Islamophobic of websites.

As a rule, I’m careful about maintaining as healthy a sense of humour about my own hypocrisies as I can manage. I’m always testing my own limits. This would explain why I thought the MJC and general Muslim community’s overreaction during the Zapiro ‘Everybody Draw Muhammad Day’ saga a tragic reflection of my own people as immature tantrum throwing bullies.

I sit through stand-up comedy shows and always try to see the humour in even those moments that make me squirm. After all, I’m an open minded Muslim. I’m all for dialogue. I don’t shout ‘BOYCOTT!’ every time someone refuses to see things from my point of view. Burn stuff? Heck, no!

I find the current victim mentality that births all that 140 character outrage on social media to be tedious. And think the world would be a better place if we all just got on with our lives and tried to give something back to the world and life in general instead of trying to constantly leech stuff out.  

I’m reluctant to call racism/hate speech on things I see because often what the media would have us believe is either of or both of these, is too often stupidity, alcohol or plain ignorance in action.  And also because I refuse to continue being a victim. Apartheid lasted long enough. So this causes me to overlook the sometimes glaring racist attitudes I encounter in public places. As a Muslim, I am taught to give ‘the other’ the benefit of the doubt.

But these Charlie Hebdo cartoons, they shocked me. I tried to see how it was that they added something of value to the conversation around Islamic ‘Fundamentalism’/Extremism but couldn’t. I couldn’t see them as anything other than hate speech. And equating them to the works of Zapiro, Jerm or Dov is to do these cartoonists a disservice.

See, I don’t believe in any way that the ‘creature’ they drew in those cartoons, meant to depict my Prophet, in whose footsteps I strive to walk, from whose teachings I have learnt humanity are him at all. But I fail to see how setting out to offend 1.6 billion human beings of whom a teensy teensy fraction subscribe to extremism that dictates that they blow themselves up or go around killing civilians will help bring an end to the scourge that at the end of it, makes us all a little less human.

As a Muslim, I am required to apologise every time a lunatic (who screams Allahu Akbar when he sheds blood) goes on a killing spree

And even though I know I am required to make the Not in My Name noise, I refuse to. While I think that any loss of life is an indictment on humanity, while I empathise with the families of the bereaved, I refuse to apologise.

And for that reason, I refuse to be one of the 2.7 thousand people who retweeted Mufti Menk saying Not in My Name.

Neither I, not my Islam were responsible for those deaths.

Social Media has the attention span of Dory from Finding Nemo

But Dory has loads more integrity and a lot more brains.

Nuff said. 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

What A Muslim Wife Wants - Cos men shouldn't have to speak on my behalf

Recently, I've seen a piece from shared over and over on social media (often by women) where a man enlightens (wo)men on what it is Muslim women want from their spouses.I decided to write a response to this piece because, really, I'm sick of men speaking on women's behalf. In trying to find this piece for my 'article', I stumbled across this response on The snark edition listing fourteen things that Muslim wives want but really won't tell you. Hilarious. 

Even though a response has already been penned, I still decided to write my own.  

 So what is it that some Muslim women want? 

Off the bat, she wants you to have the emotional intelligence (sans the emo PMS fueled leanings) of a woman. But with all her irrationality, she knows that’s never going to happen, so here it is:
  •            She wants you to forget that bull about male privilege that you were brought up to believe and understand that she really doesn't have to pick up your clothes from the bedroom floor every day but that when she does it, it’s an expression of love. She doesn't have to cook for you either.
  •         She wants these acts that she carries out because society dictates that she should and also because she loves you (and maybe because she actually enjoys them), to be appreciated. They’re not your right. They’re a kindness on her part.
  •         She wants you to LISTEN. Really listen to what she’s saying because every argument isn't just her saying, “Ooh, let’s have make-up sex”.
  •         She wants a sincere not- motivated- by- your- wanting- sex compliment every now and then. Because no matter how smart she is, every woman wants to feel beautiful.  (While I believe this says worrying things about the female psyche, it is what it is)
  •         She wants you to support her dreams. Of course you can only do this when you've divorced yourself from the screwed up notion of male privilege that dictates that you need to give her permission to dream in the first place.
  •         She wants you to give her room to grow.
  •         She wants you to be strong for her when her legs falter
  •         She wants you to trust her with herself. After all, you trust her with your children.
  •         She wants to know that you respect her as an individual. See her as one. Know that you aren't threatened by her individuality.
  •       She wants you to help her raise her sons differently. The world really could do with fewer men weaned on an unhealthy sense of male privilege, no?
Feel free to add on, see :)

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Silver Linings

2014 has been the year of the Great Boob Scare. So now I just call em Lumpy and am thankful that said Lumpies turned out to be benign.

It has been the year of the Faith in Humanity is Overrated epiphany. Now, I scrape the bottom of my barrel of Optimism and pray that 2015 will see it refilled.

It has been the year of Never Judge Others by The Standards You Set for Yourself. While learning that lesson is painful in the extreme,  I cannot help but feel that it will turn out to be one of my most valuable ever life lessons.

I could start whining about Why He chose these specific tests for me, but what would be the point? Submission to His will means submitting to His tests.

So instead I’ll tell you how it felt to spend days waiting for my mammogram appointment and the questions that turned my mind into a carousel that made me feel quite ill.

It was the Not Knowing that was hardest. Feeling those lumps and thinking ‘What if..?’
Looking at my children and thinking ‘What if…?’
Looking at my husband and thinking ‘What if…?’
Looking at my life and asking myself ‘What if…?

If they were to be my body cannibalising itself what would I regret most? What would I want to do over? More of? Less of?

What came out of all that Not Knowing, all that mental torture, was a realisation that life really is the shortest of slumbers. The Death is the Only Reality. (Geez, I really am going to town with these silly capitalisations!)

And that the greatest injustice we do ourselves is to defer our dreams to a Tomorrow that has not been promised. Yes, sometimes life does get in the way. Sometimes our duties and responsibilities tie us down but that does not mean that we shouldn’t reach out and grab those dreams that we can realise.

Like learning to fly a small plane.

Or booking a hot air balloon ride.

Or making the time to complete writing your novel.

On Faith in Humanity, I think some of my ire stems from my love/hate relationship with Instagram, where I have just now posted THREE - ohemgee, what was I thinking?! – pictures and entered myself into a black and white landscape photography challenge (the falls we set ourselves up for! SMH). Talk of contradiction!

Thing is, more and more I grow annoyed with social media. Annoyed at how it has reduced our lives to 140 characters, retweets or likes on statuses, and in the process, reduced us to voyeurs and exhibitionists. Instagram, being an entirely visual medium seems to nurture the ‘Windgat’ gene in each of us. I see people boasting of the lavish functions they attended or hosted and it makes me sad because I have visited Informal Settlements, aka, squatter camps and seen with poverty looks like. It reminds me of Allah promising us that our wealth and children will be a test. And Often I cannot help but feel that we're failing that test.

Simply put, what bounty we have been given that exceeds our needs is best banked for the life to come. The one that matters. Yet we’re so deep in our slumber that we take this worldly fantasy to be our reality and hold the life hereafter to be a dream.

And on not holding others to the standards I set myself? I think right now, that one hurts too much to even unpack.

Wishing everyone joy over what remains of 2014. To those celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah or Life, every happiness.

Live meaningfully
and go gently, see…