Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Another small dose


We want to believe that love is the last untamed. That at least it, with all its chocolate scented promises of eternity s not constrained, not confined. It will never be packaged as neatly as everything else in this day and age has become. Think rows of cereal boxes or houses like boxes, a neat little package to contain an entire life. We want to believe that it will always be just a little too big, too loud to be contained.

Think again…

Cutting words for the romantic, I know. But yes, think again…love is bound by time, space, distance, circumstance. Often it happens at the wrong time, to the wrong people. So from the outset it is doomed. That deformed foetus that under different circumstances could have been whole. Could have been beautiful. Then nothing remains of it but the echo on a stolen wind. A borrowed wind.

And it is this wind that follows me. Like a shadow. And brings with it, him…

It has been this way as long as I can remember. I’d be walking amongst a crowd and see him. Plain as day, standing before me. He never looks at me. Never acknowledges my presence. At first I was alarmed by these sightings. But now, I’ve come to think of him as a friendly ghost of sorts. Someone who is there, watching over me. You know, if that were really the case, I would not be surprised. Since, what we shared…well it’s hard to explain. A precious secret to be jealously guarded. A memory that evokes a pain so exquisite that I would be bereft without it. It defines my very essence.

I remember that day vividly. The riots. 1976. Oom Ghassan with blood on his hands; a cut on his head; dust on his body. Before he even opened his mouth, I knew what he was going to say. I wanted to scream at him. Tell him to go. To leave me. I wanted to put my hands over my ears, block out his words. Close my eyes and pretend I had not seen him. But the jacket. Bloodied and torn in his hands. It told me what words never could. The crystallisation of my most feared nightmare. And in that moment, I hated him.

Completely. A hatred so pure that it seemed to extinguish the love that had once consumed me. Why didn’t he listen? Why? It was a road that was going nowhere. A road that would forever be paved with bodies, mostly black, being trampled on by the boere. Those bastards. Sharpeville was only the beginning. The bloody beginning. Soweto would be remembered forever.

“They killed a dog,” Oom Ghassan murmured. Almost to himself. A man lost in the horror of what he had been forced to witness. “Hacked it to death and burnt it. A police dog.”

He didn’t need to say more. The anger that had radiated from the mob was almost visible. I had seen them that afternoon as groups made their way across the railway line that separated Actonville – the Indian suburb - from Watteville – home to the ‘Bantus’. And though the government used the occasion to prove that every stereotypical picture painted of black as savages was true, I saw it as a sign of things to come. A sign that perhaps the iceberg was just beginning to melt.

Watteville has no memorials to mark the occasion. Soweto does. While Hector Peterson has a memorial named in his honour nothing remains of my him. The man who shaped my life. Nothing, but a dusty plaque in the hallways of my heart. One that I visit during moments of solitude. In other ways, everything remains of him. I see him still. And know that he has always been watching over me. Hence the sightings of the ghost.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Afrocentric Review - Maha Ever After

Maha Ever after – another spunky tale of Romance, Rotis and Unsuitable Men – so says the cover.

And that’s exactly what it is. Maha has graduated. From a naaching, koodhing teen to a Duryi dorternlor. The perfect round roti. The very thing she’d vowed never to become.

Brace yourself for a trip through Slumurbia – unmatched. Loads of Guji, even some Cape Malay. And Maha de-bandanna-ed, dripping jewels and wearing heels. Perfect Palace Hostess. Or is she?

When Sameer turns out to be a lot less than she’d hoped for she is faced with a choice. Call it quits, or hang in there. Knowing Maha, what do you suppose she does?
A small teaser:

The Patel posse burst into the room to find me giggling at my book while Sameer lay dozing.
“Ey, Maha! You laughing also!” Dada barked without preamble and jabbed at my book with his walking stick. Behind him Sameer jerked awake and Mummy and foi immediately fussed around him.
“You saali, sitting here reading chopras?” the old man continued, knocking the book off my lap. “You know my wife, marhoom?” he yelled. “So-so much she suffered. When we were young, your age, we was battling-battling, but she made sabar! Now you girls must also learn to make sabar, never mind what and what happens!”
I listened with my gaze appropriately downcast.
“So now you just sitting?” he shouted. “Where your beeg mouth now? You got nothing to say? Just now I heard you had big bhen-chodh mouth for talking talaaq-talaaq!” he spat, prodding my foot with his cane.

Lee explores the Indian prejudice and bigotry with regards to philandering men and divorce with a light touch. She manages to turn an otherwise serious situation into an occasion for laughter. She makes you cry. She gives you hope. And reminds you that second chances really do exist. I enjoyed the trip thoroughly.

The language is as colourful and evocative as ever. The pace never lets up and you are swept along, most willingly, I might add. Even better than The Story Of Maha, and that, in my view is quite an achievement, since few writers manage to achieve that.

The ultimate feel-good read. Perfect for lazy days on the beach.

What you waiting for? Go out and get a copy!
Title : Maha, Ever After
Country: South Africa
Format: Softcover
Publisher: Kwela Books
ISBN: 9780795702914
Length: 222mm
Width: 152mm
Weight: 365g
Pages: 272