Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Bad Girls Guide: How To Deal With A Psychotic Bitch

I’ve met my fair share of freaks and seen a lot of weird shit in my life so I wasn’t surprised when a family friend, Suraya, approached me for advice. About 9 years ago, her uncle (mother’s brother) got married under mysterious and peculiar circumstances. It happened suddenly, completely out of the blue and through some twist of fate, the newlyweds moved in with Suraya and her Grandmother.

At first, Suraya couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something sinister about her new aunt and all her suspicions were confirmed a few days later, when her aunt sneaked out of the house like a fugitive in the middle of the night, had her brother pick her up from one of the street corners and drove home (to Durban) only to return 4 months later. Her explanation to her husband at the time was that she went home to get medication for Multiple Sclerosis and that she had to see her doctor. And every year since then, it’s been the same story… she disappears for 3 or 4 months at a time and comes back with the same excuse… and inexplicably, her husband never questions or doubts her and accepts everything she tells him.

Now according to Suraya, ever since they moved in things have changed completely. She said that it’s like a dark cloud has settled over the house and she feels melancholy and uneasy all the time. She also said that her uncle is not the same person anymore, it’s like he’s become blind to life and his wife has him by the balls, literally. And to this day, he hasn’t met the “doctor” treating her for Multiple Sclerosis and every time he enquires about it, she’s evasive and changes the subject.

For the 9 years that this woman has been living there, she’s made Suraya and her Grandmother’s life utterly miserable. Under strict instructions from her Mother and other family members to keep the peace and not to retaliate or say anything, Suraya kept her mouth shut. Her Grandmother was the only other person in the house that had to endure this woman’s antics and it wasn’t long before she went digging around into her daughter-in-law’s past and background and came across a whole lot of wicked information… like her daughter-in-law’s penchant for all things related to the dark arts and black magic practices and the numerous men she's lived with before latching on to her son like a parasite.

Suddenly, a whole lot of things began to make sense and when they went to see a spiritual healer for help, it was confirmed that something malicious was indeed brewing in their home. In the meantime, this aunt refused to do anything in the house and often treated Suraya like a slave. She would be mean and vulgar to both women and when they complained to Suraya’s mother or uncle about it, putting her in the spotlight, she would flat out deny it or say that she can’t remember anything. Whenever a dispute arose between her and her husband, she would threaten him with suicide and OD on medication she got to keep up with her MS ruse, spending several days utterly intoxicated until he caved in. In general, she refused to leave the house unless she went to her “doctor” that no one knows, to be treated for a disease she obviously doesn’t have.

A few months ago, things took a turn for the worse when this aunt of Suraya’s wanted to beat up her Grandmother. They called a family meeting and as usual, she denied everything saying that she couldn’t remember what happened and that she was not responsible for anything. Around the same time, her behavior became more bizarre and creepy and when Suraya was at work, she would go into her room, take her underwear (specifically her panties) and wear them.

It wasn’t long before Suraya figured that this woman was taking her underwear and other items of her clothing out of her cupboard, wearing them and then packing them away in her own cupboard. On one occasion, when Suraya saw that she only had 2 panties left in her drawer, she confronted her. Feigning ignorance, this woman cheekily replied “oh this one?” before tugging down one side of her pants and revealing the elastic rim to ensure that Suraya could identify her underwear that her aunt was wearing.

At this point, Suraya became fed up and told her to leave her clothes and underwear alone. But it didn’t stop there. For a few weeks after the confrontation, the aunt continued stealing Suraya’s clothing and underwear, often stating that she’s confused and that all their clothes and underwear look exactly the same. The domestic worker caught her in Suraya’s cupboard several times and when Suraya began locking up all her things, she would steal it on the day the laundry was done… either from the washing line or from the ironing board.

Absolutely livid, Suraya confronted her again, this time in front of her uncle; and again she feigned ignorance, denying everything and her uncle just laughed it off and said that it was a simple honest mistake. Having reached boiling point, Suraya decided then that she had enough of this abuse and that she had kept quiet about it long enough. Using all the knowledge she had on this aunt as ammunition, she confronted her once again, the very next day, telling her that she knew all about her past and her relationship with her “witchdoctor”.

Needless to say, it caught the aunt by surprise and she was shocked into silence because she didn’t think that anyone knew about her past. On her accusation of enticing evil forces and delving into black magic, the aunt just stared at her blankly and defiantly, neither confirming nor denying anything. And that’s when her aunt stopped stealing her underwear, but continued stealing her clothing and storing it in her cupboard.

It wasn’t long after that when I met Suraya for tea and she told me the entire story. I told her it looked like her aunt was trying to drive her and her Grandmother insane, possibly hoping that they’ll leave the house, so that she can have the house (which belongs to the Grandmother) all to herself. So she wanted to know how to deal with this psychotic woman and what to do about the situation without resorting to murder or using black magic herself. The thought of revenge made me smile…

See, you can’t deal with a psychotic bitch the way you’d deal with a normal person. This is no ordinary domestic dispute that requires compromise… no one’s fighting over TV channels or what to cook for dinner. This is psychological warfare. From what I’ve heard, the aunt obviously has NO boundaries, dignity, integrity, morals, values or any kind of shame at all… true characteristics of someone who’s a few grapes short of a fruit salad y'know what I'm saying. Unfortunately, there is both an upside and a downside to this.

The upside is that every person, no matter what their status, circumstance or situation has a weakness and in Suraya’s case, it was a matter of finding her aunt's weaknesses and exploiting them in the correct manner, at the correct time. The downside, as I’ve explained to Suraya, is that there are no limits to what her aunt will do because the truth of the matter is that if she could go into her cupboard, knowingly and intentionally take her underwear and wear them… and continue to repeatedly violate Suraya on a such a personal level… there’s no telling what else she’s capable of doing. Never underestimate a psychotic bitch. EVER. And the aunt is clearly a deranged lunatic and has to be handled as such.

With her Grandmother’s consent, Suraya began fighting back, often hitting below the belt, calling her out on her whorish debaucherous past and her satan worshipping skills. It was a good start because while we shouldn’t be broadcasting people’s secrets to others, there is no solid rule about not revealing their own secrets to them. So I told Suraya that she shouldn’t talk about her aunt’s past with anyone else, and that she should instead tell her aunt about it… remind her every day about that which she so desperately wants to forget.

See, the objective of every psychotic bitch (and bastard) is to drive you crazy, to make you "freak out"… and "freaking out" gives them the exact response they hoped for. So instead of feeding and living up to their expectations, you should change the game, turn the tables and freak them out.

For instance, the aunt’s worst fear is to be a victim of witchcraft herself… so I suggested that Suraya start taking items of her clothing every day and when she asks for them, to give them back with a mischievous sinister smile on her face. I also told her to learn neutral arbitrary Latin phrases like “Laus Deo, lex dei vitae lampas, libera te tutemet ex inferis, luceat lux vestra” (“Praise be to God, the law of God is the lamp of life, free yourself from hell, let your light shine”) and on particularly bad days, she should repeat it in front of her aunt, in rapid succession like a chant… with the tone of her voice rising dramatically and her eyes rolling back in her head, before blowing in her face or in her direction and smiling. For extra kicks, she could blow it on every food item in the house in the presence of her aunt… since the aunt is terrified of eating anything in case it was poisoned with black magic.

In addition, I advised Suraya that it would help if she got a syringe with codeine or some other harmless drug. She should then show it to her aunt and tell her that it’s morphine and that the next time she attempts to OD to scare the family, she’ll inject her with it and help her finish the job.

Suraya was initially worried about physical contact, fearing that her aunt would resort to physical violence, like she did with her Grandmother. On this I advised her to always carry a lighter… the biggest one she can find… and at any given moment when things look like they’re going to get out of hand, she should boldly ignite the flame and put it near the aunt’s hair, and tell her that she had once heard that witches burn faster than normal people do.

There was one tiny detail left… what to do if she had to deal with her uncle, mother and other family members if her aunt complained to them. On this her Grandmother is happy to defend her and say that she’s not guilty of anything but I told her that her best defense is to imitate her aunt… feign ignorance, deny everything or say that she can’t remember anything that happened, blame it on all the demons in the house and suggest they go back to the healer for more spiritual help because his remedies aren’t working effectively.

The thing is, people like the aunt are physically and spiritually weak but while they may look harmless, they have the ability to wreak havoc in the lives of others if left to their own devices. If you are standing in the way between them and the object of their desire, you automatically become a walking target and the malice that brews in their souls will never let you be. They will NEVER leave you alone. So you have to be pro-active and do what you have to do, like pray and know when and how to counter-act and be constantly alert to survive. If you don’t focus, you’ll become just another one of her victims… another pawn in her game. It’s self-preservation. People like that can’t be ignored or left alone because if you don’t get her, she’s coming for you, slithering slowly like a snake in the grass. Guaranteed.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Only Thing On My Mind...

I’m sure this “Black Disco Night” by Gianmarco Lorenzi fetches for more than just a few pennies (more like two month’s rent) but they’re so pretty innit. Most females will know what I'm yakking about. They're the perfect pair of piss-me-off-&-I-will-straight-up-cut-you shoes. Hmmm... wonder if I could get a pair of knock-offs in China Town... man I love cheap Fong Chong goodies.
Happy Friday Bishes™

Friday, October 15, 2010

Saints & Sinners

My late maternal grandfather had several brothers. They were a typical dynamic close-knit family with strong French roots and Jewish ancestry, growing up in the 40’s and 50’s as Catholics in Apartheid South Africa. The brothers themselves were like a fraternity made up of strong bonds and allegiances to each other… each with his name and place in the group, much like the Mafia but without the organised crime bit. At that time (before he met my grandmother and converted to Islam) my grandfather was Cecil Patrick aka “Popeye” and one of his brothers, Daniel, was known as “Hawk”.

They were an interesting bunch them brothers… rejecting societal norms and conventions in much the same vein as most of my ancestors did on either side of both families.

One day, in a drunken stupor, Uncle Dan had an argument with his wife and he subsequently killed her with a knife to her heart. It wasn’t something he intended to do, it just happened in the heat of the moment. My grandfather had to testify in court, where Uncle Dan pleaded “guilty” or “no contest” and he was sentenced to 10 years in prison for murder.

What was particularly intriguing about Uncle Dan’s case was that he wasn’t a malicious person, nor was he aggressive, violent or hostile in his temperament. He genuinely loved his wife and spent the rest of his life filled with regret and remorse for his mistake. When he was released from prison, he accepted Islam and eventually got re-married.

I was talking about murder once… how things can happen (as in Uncle Dan’s case) without your intention or without you even realizing what’s been done before it’s too late. I can specifically recall a woman telling me that she’d “never commit such a heinous act” and that she can’t “understand how someone could take someone else’s life”.

My response to her was that she, like the rest of humanity, is more than capable of murder or even worse crimes. She looked at me defiantly and somewhat perplexed before stating quite indignantly “I could never kill a man”; to which I replied “You will if you catch him raping your daughter, or your son. Believe me you will kill him, or at least want to, because a Mother’s primal instinct is to protect her child.” She then said “That’s different” and I replied “Really? How different? Murder is Murder, regardless of the circumstances surrounding it… just like Stealing is Stealing, whether one stole 5 cents or 5 million, it’s still the same sin. Our sins are not weighed or measured in quantitative terms.”

The biggest fallacy in human nature (& especially amongst many Muslims today) is that we believe and convince ourselves that we’re immune to the spectrum of human emotion and those actions that may arise from those emotions. We’re quick to judge and point fingers at those who temporarily succumb to their weaknesses… when in reality, we are no different from each other and the only thing that separates us is CIRCUMSTANCE.

For instance, do we not all have desires? Is that not a part of our primal instincts? I’m vehemently against adultery and advocate celibacy until marriage but… and it’s a very big BUT… I’m very well aware of the fact that very little stands in the way of making that decision. After all, what distinguishes me from an adulterer? My circumstances. Who can dare say that they wouldn’t give in if they were desperately looking for love, lonely, hopeless, vulnerable, miserable and looking for a way out? No one can claim that they’re immune from their desire to be wanted, loved and appreciated.

I’ve had other experiences where, due to my lack of head scarf, I’ve been looked down upon by those donning it… as if a piece of cloth placed strategically on their heads makes them more “Muslim” than I ever could be. Now I re-iterate, I will never negate the fact that it is incumbent for every Muslim woman to don the scarf for her own protection and because The Almighty said so, but me not adhering to that law (yet) is MY sin… something I will answer for, no one else.

I can recall specific incidents at University where those arrogant female-head-scarf wearing individuals would bunker in their self-righteous, condescending corners judging the rest of us. And if I chose to go to Mosque or the Jamaat Khanna to offer compulsory prayers, there were the customary nuances… the *SHOCK*… oh the *HORROR*… how can someone who doesn’t wear a scarf pray or even be Muslim?!?

And my amused mind would question… “What makes you think that you’re better than me? Do you honestly think that sitting there, gossiping and chomping on rotten flesh the entire day, judging everyone else makes you a better Muslim? Do you think your scarf is a free pass to heaven? Or that it will cover a black heart? Or is it that you’re afraid that without it, you’d be forced to have an open mind and question those vile cultural precepts ingrained in your DNA that you hold so dear, the same tenets that ordain segregation of the populace in terms of status and rank, as opposed to being tolerant and accepting of others as equals according to the true dictates of Islam?”.

I had a confrontation with a particularly self-righteous woman once, who happened to be an Aalima and supposedly quite learned in the ways and laws of Islam. But for all her knowledge… knowledge that I have a deep respect and admiration for… she still could not escape her close-mindedness. We share a mutual friend and unfortunately, this friend hasn’t always made the best choices in life but one day she woke up and decided to change her life for the better. At a gathering, the Aalima casually mentioned her disapproval of our friend’s past choices, quite scornfully, before adding that she was pleased that she decided to make a positive change.

I might have over-reacted but I was absolutely livid at this disclosure. I proceeded to explain to her, as calm and composed as possible, that we all haven’t had the life that she’s currently living. That some of us weren’t privileged enough to live in a home with two functional parents, a good steady income and a stable environment. That unlike her, our path of righteousness wasn’t handed to us on a silver platter. I pointed out that she never lost both her parents or was forced to make adult decisions from a young age… that she had the “benefit” of growing up so sheltered that she never had to choose between good and evil… those choices where made for her when her parents decided to remove her from school mid-adolescence and place her in an environment that did not encourage, condone or allow vices or transgressions of any kind.

And unlike some of us, she never had to dwell in the pits of hell-on-earth that were circumstances beyond our control… or spit in the face of pure evil and crawl her way back to the straight path. She never had to fight for anything in her entire life… she never had to CHOOSE or repent for those choices. She was handed the “good life” from the beginning, that was her fortune. So how dare she sit in her ivory tower, looking down on others as they battle their way to the bitter end with no armor and nothing but courage and hope to get into God’s good graces. I asked her point blank if, in a cruel twist of fate, who she thought would win in a war against evil and who would be “better” off… our friend who’s been to hell and back and has triumphed over adversity under the most trying circumstances… or her – someone who hasn’t had to face any real trial or tribulation and doesn’t even know the kind of strength that’s required to turn your back on something that your heart desperately wants, but your head knows isn’t good for you. She remained silent for a long time after that, unable to respond to my argument.

So yes, mankind’s biggest downfall is that we think that we are different, that we are immune from making the same mistakes as others… often forgetting that if our circumstances were different, if we were in the same situation and the same position, we would in all likelihood make those very same choices and decisions, or worse.

I find myself guilty on one particular charge. When I was very young, my parents spent a lot of time with family friends… one family in particular. The couple had a daughter who was about 7 or 8 years older than I was, and being the only child she was spoilt rotten. She received everything she ever wanted and consequently became rude, lazy, unmotivated, entitled and eventually dropped out of school. But from a young age, she would draw and she loved drawing and creating things and continued doing so well into adulthood, often buying colours and clay and materials for amateur art pieces.

To her family; parents, aunts and uncles alike; her behavior and inclinations seemed very childish and immature and was often attributed to her being a spoilt brat, because it never occurred to them that she was a creative spirit, since “art” and its derivatives weren’t really prominent aspects of their culture. She was ridiculed constantly… for years on end… accused of being stupid, a “big baby”, having no drive or ambition. And as such, her skills were never harnessed to their full potential and with no encouragement her creativity was somewhat dwarfed, stunted in its growth.

Ashamedly, I was on that bandwagon because I grew up, from childhood to adolescence, ridiculing her too… utterly bewildered by her decisions and unable to understand what drove her. I thought that maybe she was so used to getting what she wanted all the time and never having to work for it, that she had somehow became addicted to acquiring and purchasing “junk” for no particular purpose.

It was only years later, while rummaging through a studio belonging to one of my best friends… and watching her make pieces of avant garde jewelry from the strangest objects that it hit me. What my friend was doing in the name of art was no different to what the supposed “spoilt brat” had been doing for years! But instead of being applauded for her work and encouraged to further develop her abilities, she was the subject of endless derision and disparagement.

I never felt more ashamed in my life. I had judged her by default… riding on the wave of everyone else’s comments and assumptions without fully comprehending (or lacking the intellect & capacity to understand at that time) the situation at hand. Yes she was spoilt in many ways, but even at her worst, she was never ever malicious. She was always a free spirit, it’s just that no one could see it or fathom what it meant.

And to this day, I feel utterly wretched about it… about my part in whatever pain she suffered through the years because of our judgments, assumptions and ignorance. I want to find her and tell her how truly sorry I am and express my regret and remorse from the depths of my soul. I want to tell her how I was never more wrong about anyone in my entire life, to beg her forgiveness because I was too young to understand and simply followed in flawed footsteps and that it took that much time to finally get it. I pray that I am never that blind again and that I continue to learn and grow and see the truth with the help of The Almighty.

Every now and then, I think of my late grandfather and how every single one of his brothers and sister eventually converted to Islam in the years following Uncle Dan’s imprisonment. Had his incarceration motivated his conversion, which in turn inspired theirs… were the events that occurred necessary to get him to that turning point in his life? We’ll never really know.

None of us know our end really, or what hand will guide us there. A King may move a man, a father may claim a son. That man can also move himself. And only then does that man truly begin his own game. Remember that howsoever you are played, or by whom, your soul is in your keeping alone. Even though those who presume to play you be kings or men of power. When you stand before God, you cannot say "but I was told by others to do thus" or that "virtue was not convenient at the time." This will not suffice. Remember that. ~ King Baldwin IV, Kingdom of Heaven

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Letters From London Part 2

When I moved to London, every few days I’d type out a really long email detailing my experiences and escapades and would send it to my parents, sisters, cousins, friends, and a few of my aunts and uncles… people I’m quite close to. Unbeknownst to me at the time, Mother printed several copies of each email I sent and handed it to anyone who enquired about my welfare… this included family friends, neighbours, her colleagues, ALL her friends, family doctor’s, various members of our extended family, petrol attendants at the local filling station, a few tellers at the Supermarket etc. etc. etc.

Needless to say I was absolutely MORTIFIED when I found out. Imagine, I’m back home for a holiday and Grace aka teller number 6 asks me if I ever saw Faeez again after that fateful day on the bus. I would have DIED right there if I wasn’t afraid that they’d find my body along with the ginormous pack of Always Ultra thin pads with wings that I had just paid for… then everyone would have known that I had my period and I would have had to die all over again…

A few months ago, Mother was sorting through some old paperwork and came across all the printed emails I wrote during that time and handed them to me. Reading through them was both excruciating and thoroughly entertaining. There were so many little things that I had completely forgotten about and reading through the emails brought back so many memories that I could actually feel myself back there, in that time, in that place, in that emotion. And in many ways, this is exactly what I want to get from this blog… to capture my thoughts, emotions, ideas, rants and experiences etc. in a specific time, place, context… to reflect on at a later time and perhaps share with my kids, nieces and nephews one day.

So I thought I’d start by sharing tiny snippets of what a 22 year old first-time-traveller-bright-eyed-somewhat-idealistic-&-naïve-Azra had to say all those years ago with my comments in green…

From: Azra []
Sent: 17 August 2004 12:06 PM
To: Mother, Daddy, Cousins, Friends, Aunts, Uncles
Subject: Greetings from London!!
Salaams / Hello everyone! Well I’m finally here and can’t believe it. Let me tell you how it was from the beginning… My flight was ok… well whatever I can remember from it. I was knocked out for most of it and I vaguely remember a lot of turbulence but I didn’t really care because I was in lala land. I woke up as we crossed the English Channel, while the sun was rising and I just saw little patches of green everywhere. EVERYTHING is green. I’ve never seen so much green in my life. (It was my first time travelling abroad and it was the first time I was completely alone. And how I miss that green especially during our drab brown / black Winters)

From: Azra []
Sent: 22 August 2004 11:08 PM
To: Mother, Daddy, Cousins, Friends, Aunts, Uncles
Subject: Global
I spent today walking around and around in circles. I was supposed to go to Victoria Station (London’s Gandhi Square) and then go to Wilton Road… I walked around the whole block asking everyone for directions and everyone directed me to different places and then eventually about 2 hours later I went back to Victoria Station and saw that the place I was looking for was right across the street!! So I spent two hours walking around in circles! Haha

Then to make things worse, when I was done, I was looking for a bus home. I left the building and spent another hour walking around in circles just to find that the bus stop was right outside the building I came out of! And I was caught in the rain too. There’s no point in blow drying my hair because it goes home every day hahaha. (I remember asking two gorgeous Policemen for directions but either they got it wrong or I wasn’t paying attention)

From: Azra []
Sent: 30 August 2004 10:59 PM
To: Mother, Daddy, Cousins, Friends, Aunts, Uncles
Subject: Part 1
This afternoon on our way back home, I met the most ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS GUY I have ever seen in my life. It was like something out of a movie… my dream guy in the flesh. I was walking down the steps of a double-decker bus because there was no room upstairs and he was climbing up and for like two seconds we stopped and just stared at each other. So then I told him that there’s no place upstairs and we were both standing at the foot of the staircase and trying not to look at each other. And I couldn’t take it anymore so I asked him what’s his name and he said Faeez – he’s British, born and bred – and we just stood there next to each other, talking a little – then he had to go because we were at his stop and I secretly wanted to jump off too but I still don’t know the bus routes and was afraid that I’d never be able to find my way home! He looked at me regretfully and smiled as he left – you HAD to see this guy!!! I sooo wish I can see him again! (I never saw him again)

And then a while later this other guy from Bahrain came and started talking to me and asked for my number and I said I don’t know what it is (I really didn’t). His name is Ali and he tried to asked me out and I said no, so he gave me his number and said that if I needed anything I should give him a call – I just said ok to get rid of him. There are a lot of desperate people here. I’ve been asked out 8 times in the last 2 days! Can you believe that?!?

From: Azra []
Sent: 2 September 2004 12:38 PM
To: Mother, Daddy, Cousins, Friends, Aunts, Uncles
Subject: From me
Everything has been soooo SURREAL! I was walking around, looking at Big Ben and the River and I couldn’t and still can’t believe that I’m here! I was supposed to do so much today but I decided that I’ll take the day off since I’ve been up and down these past few days and I’m a little tired. So today I’m at home and cleaning my room, packing my summer clothes away. The winter stuff is still in my suitcase, it would be pointless to unpack it since we’re all moving out at the end of the week. I’m also looking for a permanent place to stay, we’ll see what happens! (I found a place the very next day)

From: Azra []
Sent: 5 September 2004 11:54 PM
To: Mother, Daddy, Cousins, Friends, Aunts, Uncles
Subject: Salaam
Remember that nice Italian guy I spoke to at Starbucks that told me not to worry, that he’s there to help me whenever I need it? Well I saw him on the bus today on my way home on my route and I got so excited but I didn’t have the guts to go and talk to him. He probably wouldn’t even remember me! Now if only I could see Faeez again! (After filling out application after application in an attempt to find a job, I was feeling spectacularly lost, friend-less and dejected in a strange city and stumbled into the nearest Starbucks. It was quiet and the Barista was a beautiful perceptive Italian guy and my face told him exactly how I felt so he asked me if I was ok. When I said “no” and told him that I was new to London and didn’t have any friends and was in the midst of the horrible task of job hunting, he consoled me and told me not to worry and that everything will work out fine and that I could always find him there if I needed help or someone to talk to. He gave me the hope I was looking for at that time)

From: Azra []
Sent: 7 September 2004 07:18 PM
To: Mother, Daddy, Cousins, Friends, Aunts, Uncles
Subject: From Me
Today on the bus there was an Irish man with his son. His son must have been about 4 or 5 but he was talking non-stop, asking a lot of questions. From the corner of my eye, I could see that the guy was looking at me but it was confirmed when his son asked him why was he looking at me, quite loudly for everyone to hear. It was so funny! He told his son that he wasn’t looking at me, that he was looking outside but his son said “don’t lie you’re looking at her!” and I was desperately trying not to laugh! Then when we came to the last stop and got off the bus, the guy asked me if I was Arabian – so I said I’m South African. Then he said he doesn’t want to offend me but he thinks that I’m very beautiful, so I said thanks and then they went in the other direction. But he was so embarrassed because of his son, it was so funny and sweet!

From: Azra []
Sent: 10 September 2004 11:37 AM
To: Mother, Daddy, Cousins, Friends, Aunts, Uncles
Subject: :)
Arshad phoned me again yesterday. I was so rude to him… again. I told him that I hate being messed around and that I’ve killed people for less etc. etc. He said for a little person I’ve got a big mouth on me – so I told him shit about that too. I told him that with friends like him, I don’t need enemies. Well I guess now he knows the real me so to speak. I wonder what’s he going to tell Zakiya about this? But I don’t care! His @ss… (Zakiya was one of my mother’s friend’s daughters and Arshad was her cousin. He was supposed to help me and made a hundred promises to help me with a number of things before I arrived in London but bailed with some lame ass excuse every time I needed his help)

From: Azra []
Sent: 15 September 2004 12:09 PM
To: Mother, Daddy, Cousins, Friends, Aunts, Uncles
Subject: :)
Salaam / Hello
So yesterday I went on a date. Actually I was so busy yesterday and on top of that I was so tired and I didn’t feel well. It started like this…

There’s this guy, his name is Haroon. He owns a small shop where I get off from the bus to catch the other bus and he always tried to talk to me but I’m always in a hurry. So yesterday in the morning he started again – he said he just wants one hour to talk to me and he was going on and on so I just said ok – I agreed to meet him at 8 outside his shop so that we could talk.

So then I left and went to Earls Court to go to this other agency I was supposed to go to but I couldn’t find the place and my stomach was cramping a lot and I felt like throwing up so I came back and went to meet Haroon. On the way there, I met this other guy on the bus. He asked me if I had a boyfriend and I said no and that I don’t want one. So he said that he wants to be my boyfriend and I said No, because I don’t want a boyfriend. Then he suggested that we get married and I was like HELLO! NO! Then he was trying to plead his case of why we should get married and said that he really likes me blah blah blah… I just said no thanks and got off the bus.

Then I met Haroon outside his shop and he asked me where I wanted to go to (to have supper). I said anywhere with lots of light – I really wasn’t going to sit in a dimly lit place with a practical stranger. So he took me to this place on Edgeware Road – a Turkish/Moroccan place – and he ordered for both of us – didn’t even ask me what I wanted but apologised for it, said he wasn’t thinking. I said it was ok and he was telling me about his family and history blah blah blah. I was so tired I just listened.

After we ate, he decided to go to Piccadilly Circus but the cow decided to walk there! And it was quite far away. Now I was tired and still hadn’t recovered from feeling sick in the day and there we were walking and walking and walking around London. He asked me why was I so quiet so I told him that I was tired and feeling sick but it’s like he never heard me and we carried on walking and walking and walking. Then we went to get some coffee and I started getting irritable with all the walking and I was rude to him once or twice and he asked me why and I said because he doesn’t listen to me. So he still wanted to go somewhere else and I said that I wanted to go home and he put me on the bus and we said bye.

I got home just after 12 and he phoned to see if I was ok and I said yes. I think I would have enjoyed it more if I liked him, but I didn’t really like him so I won’t be seeing him again…
If he was the Faeez I met on the bus I would have probably walked all the way to Scotland without complaining.

And that was my entire evening – oh yes and I saw a star – hardly ever see stars in this place for some reason.

From: Azra []
Sent: 28 September 2004 09:13 AM
To: Mother, Daddy, Cousins, Friends, Aunts, Uncles
Subject: :)
I got to meet Imraan yesterday (Feroza’s cousin whatever). He was very nice, a bit of an aunty, but very nice none-the-less. He gave me a few pointers about keeping my Imaan and stuff like that and not being swayed by the rest of the crowd etc. (Feroza is a family friend and asked her cousin living in London for 6 years, Imraan, to meet me to widen my social network and introduce me to life in the UK)

I feel more at ease now that I’m settling in the new place. Work is just a bus ride away and my house mates are wonderful. We’re six in the house with two Polish girls, one French girl, one Venezuelan girl and one German girl. They’re all older than me, in their late 20’s and early 30’s and they’re all very friendly and respectful of my beliefs. Most of them are also new to London and we have a lot of similar interests like reading, travelling, art, history etc. so we go out a lot on the weekends to the movies or museums and do a lot of sight-seeing together etc. Most evenings we play UNO and have our own champions league going on. We might go to Brighton soon with the bus, so I’m looking forward to that.

Hope everyone is doing great… mail you later.

Love and Miss You Lots!

Letters From London Part 1

I’ve mentioned on more than one occasion that I blog for my own amusement and for my own records. I like the idea of having a little intangible corner in cyberspace where I can document and store all my thoughts, reflections, ideas, rants, ruminations, experiences, frustrations and life lessons into little boxes called posts, so that I can re-visit them at any time to either recall certain events or to see how I’ve changed or how my views on certain things have changed over time. I find it thoroughly amusing and fascinating… a way of monitoring my own emotional and psychological growth.

When I write, I write to myself. If I had a diary, this would be it. It’s my online journal and a part of me doesn't believe that anyone reads all the crap I put on here, despite the followers and comments and emails, primarily because I have no physical contact with anyone. And it’s great for me because it makes me feel liberated and free to be uninhibited, unreserved, candid and honest to the point where I can write and say what I like or whatever is on my mind without worrying about hurting or offending anyone.

Then sometimes, on the odd occasion, I’ll have a face-to-face encounter with an acquaintance, or one of my neighbours, or a friend of a friend or one of my sister’s friends and they’ll announce to the entire room “oh I read your blog” and I’ll cringe instantly and think of 500 ways to DIE gracefully before rummaging through my brain, trying to remember if I’ve said anything incriminating or blogged about anything that might be construed as insulting or offensive.

And hence the private blog was born, a haven for those really personal thoughts and experiences without the fear of Aunty Fatima down the road coming across sensitive information while browsing the net for a new cake recipe. 

Some writers and bloggers have two distinct voices… the voice with which they converse in face-to-face scenarios, and the voice in which they write. Most times, these two voices may have different vocabularies, tones and syntaxes in that the way the author writes or comes across in his/her blog is not the way they communicate in person.

And then you’ll find people like me, who write and converse in exactly the same manner, albeit in different tones. There’ve been many times where the tone of this blog has been aggressive, opinionated, frustrated or angry (usually when I’m pissed off about something or someone). In the real world, I’m quite the opposite… calm, mellow, permanently amused (unless I’m pissed off), but I still converse in the same voice that I write with. So as you read these words… assuming that someone out there reads this blog… this is exactly how I’d communicate and converse with you if you were standing next to me.

This online journal is officially 2 years and 1 week old today… not that I really care about such things, I just never thought that I’d be rambling off for two years straight. But then again, I’ve always had too much to say and in many ways, I’ve always been a blogger.

It started off on paper, when the Internet was still baby, silent and content with its pacifier, crawling its way through the USA. The World Wide Web was unheard of as I wrote mini novels in the English class, feeding my escapology. I continued to write after school… there were letters and notes and unofficial diary entries with thoughts, musings, ramblings, ideas. Access to the Internet at University meant that many an hour was spent on message boards either writing or commenting anonymously or under an alias. And it’s progressed since then graduating from comments and emails, to this blog...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Material Girl

Someone once asked Madonna to name one cringe-worthy moment or regret looking back on her career spanning over three decades and she replied by saying “Material Girl… definitely… I don’t know what was I thinking!”.

I was chatting to a good friend of mine last week and he had me in stitches with tales of his exploits in the wife-hunting field. On one of them expeditions, he encountered a 23 year old girl and following a recommendation from her aunt whom he happened to know quite well, he decided to pay her a visit… as is customary when wife-hunting amongst the SA Asian Muslim crowd. The aunt decided to join him, happy and excited that she may just have been the catalyst in what could be a beautiful life-long romance.

When they arrived at the house, they received a warm welcome and he was introduced to both her parents as they were seated in the lounge. He said that they seemed nice enough and that it wasn’t long before tea was being served with a variety of little snacks but there was still no sign of the girl. After exchanging pleasantries, the mother excused herself, left the room and came back 5 minutes later with the girl in tow.

He stood up on instinct as he greeted her and she replied with a small smile as they both sat down again on opposite ends of the room. More small talk followed and the girl was silent until they got down to “business”. And before he could say anything, she said “I hope you don’t earn less than R30K a month…”. Stunned into silence, he just sat there while she continued, “…because I only wear Guess clothes”.

“Oh, that’s nice”, was all he could say.

’Oh, that’s nice’? Was that all you could say?” I asked him, as I roared with laughter… looking at the expression on his face made me laugh so much my stomach hurt. Needless to say, there was no Happily Ever After in sight for the two of them and he exited the home as swiftly as he could. Her aunt apologised to him profusely on the way back saying that she had no idea that her niece was so materialistic and being the gentleman he is, he said that it was ok and that he didn’t expect her to know.

This isn’t the first report of the overwhelming materialism that has gripped our society. One of our family Doctor's is in his early thirties, very successful and quite handsome too. Yet he is so wary of, and jaded by, the opposite sex because of his experiences with them. He told Mother that it seems that every woman he meets is just after his money. They see his home and his car and his lifestyle and they become infatuated and hypnotized… but not with him… with what he could give them. He wonders if he would ever meet a woman who would see and appreciate the real him.

I’ve heard a similar story from one of Mother’s cousins, who wanted to set me up with one of her guy friends early last year. “The problem with him…”, she explained, “…is that he’s absolutely loaded but when he goes out to meet girls, he likes to pretend that he’s poor. So he takes out this jalopy… an ancient VW Volla (Beetle)… an absolute piece of shit that he keeps for these occasions and he dresses down so that he can scrutinize them. He works by process of elimination. The problem with that is every girl he meets must wonder how on earth does he intend to take care of her when its apparent that he can’t take care of himself or his car. So I told him to clean up a bit, get rid of the Volla and get a Toyota Tazz or something a little more respectable like that, then maybe he’d meet someone who values simplicity… someone who’d give him the time of day”.

Most of the stories I hear are hilarious, a source of real entertainment for me. And I really feel bad for these guys who are good people and don't deserved to be judged on what they own or how much they own. But I can’t help wondering… where did we go wrong? When did we decide that money trumped character? When did we become so materialistic that we’re blind to what’s real and in front of us? I get the feeling that I’ll spend the better part of my life wondering…

Monday, October 4, 2010

Nothing Holy About Pompous Matrimony

It’s been one of them weekends that leave you gasping for air; filled with weddings and babies and farewell festivities. It’s like everyone and their grandma suddenly decided to get hitched, pop a baby or go for Hajj. So it’s no surprise that I feel like a bus ran over me 6 times on this blue Monday morning.

But if there’s one good thing that came out of this weekend, it’s that it cemented my decision not to have a big wedding. I think I’ve only ever attended 2 or 3 weddings in my lifetime where the families don’t want to kill each other over the most ridiculous things like seating and serviettes. And then there is that never-ending guest-list that knows no bounds because you can never invite one and leave out the other… because the “other” baby-sat you on one Saturday afternoon when you were like 2 years old or brought you home one day from school... and it doesn’t even matter that said “other” hasn’t been in your life for the past 20 years. 

It’s like the wedding party feel obliged to please EVERYONE. And the worst part is that most people incur horrendous debts to host these lavish ceremonies for a couple of hours and have to spend months or years paying them back. And the cherry on this cake of madness has to be all those parents who insist on grandiose ceremonial displays to try and convince the world that they're not worthless pieces of shit and are often left paying wedding debt long after the couple gets divorced.  

Well, I’m sorry. The only one I’m pleasing is myself and I’d rather jump up my own ass than sit there and smile at 800 people… 500 of whom I either won’t really know or like, people who just came for the food and to gossip and hand out their two cent commentaries, critiquing everything from the menu to the décor. I’d much rather take the money and feed starving children in Sudan.

So I announced my decision to Mother at one of these do’s while sipping on a glass of water, waiting for the first course to be served. I told her that when I get married, I’d prefer a small gathering, preferably immediate family only. One non-relative happened to be sitting at the table a couple of seats away from us, devoting a batty ear to everyone’s conversations while she gossiped away with her equally batty middle aged friend. She interrupted our conversation and told me what I’ve heard many times from various people. She said “that’s what you say, but you’ll see when the time comes, it’s not your wedding and you won’t have a say because it’s not in your hands, everyone takes over”.

I smiled inwardly, because this auntie clearly did not know who she was talking to. I looked at Mother who sat opposite me, and with my steely determined gaze told her, “You know me. If people want to interfere and tell me what I want, I will call the whole thing off, get on the first plane to Buenos Aires and not get married at all… or worse, I’d elope and have no one there”.

And I really would do that. I just won’t pitch and then everyone would have to eat and fuck off because unlike most people, when I say I don’t want a wedding, I mean I. DON’T. WANT. A. FUCKING. WEDDING! I don’t mean oh-please-go-ahead-and-make-this-all-about-you-and-your-need-to-please-the-masses-and-impress-the-Joneses. And I won’t give a fuck about how “disrespectful” it would be because if people cannot respect me and my wishes, there’s really no incentive for me to respect them and theirs.

No one knows me or what I’m capable of doing more than my Mother does, so she knows I mean every word.

If my future husband’s family wants to host the mother of all receptions... unrivaled festivities... the stuff that dreams are made of... and invite everyone from here to China, they can go ahead. If my sisters or cousins or friends want massive weddings, that’s their prerogative. I’d be happy and supportive on both counts. But personally, I just want a small intimate gathering on my part*, nothing more. I’d be more than happy to get married on a Thursday night in a simple ceremony and then have a braai for all and sundry on the weekend. Now that’s my idea of a perfect wedding.

*For those who don't know, it is customary amongst Muslims to have two receptions: one on the bride's side of the family, with a small party representing the groom's family & all of the brides family, extended family and friends in attendance; and vice versa.