Friday, September 12, 2014

Sliced sky

Save me from knowledge
That cuts my world a thousand ways
Like a frozen branch, a frozen sky
From knowledge that turns me inside out
Until the last drop of my hot blood
seeps into the bowels of an uncaring earth
From knowledge that burns
Like fire-ants inside me
Biting. Biting. Biting.
It’s okay that I live a lie
That ‘us’ is more in my head
Than it will ever be right here
It’s okay that I feel loved
These are MY lies
My pretty lies
Like rainbows that I  can feel
Or laughter that I can taste
Without my lies
What have I
But this, this thing
So large
This truth
That swallows me
And in its belly I find
All the pain I’d swallowed
Or buried
Or painted over
With rainbows
and lies
and jammy laughter

I am broken Lord,
Can’t you see?
Sliced a thousand ways
By this truth
Give me back my lies
And the mercy of forgetfulness
So I can unslice my being
And wrap my frayed cloak of love
Around my crumbling shoulders
And be real again

Friday, September 05, 2014

Jammy Laughter

You load laughter behind pursed lips
And fire it at me
Like feathers
That tickle the inside of my nose
I giggle too
Tasting your laughter, as it mingles with mine
Your jammy laughter, sweet, with an edge of tart
There was a day when your laughter was sharp
Like cheese, too mature
It bit. Your laughter
even more than the accompanying words
Remember the time your laughter was like chocolate?
Dark and warm, slipping down my throat
Warming me…all the way to my toes?
And then there was the day your laughter was froth
Spilling over the sides of a coffee cup
Pretty to look at
Too soon gone
I like to taste your laughter
Even on the days it leaves a funny taste in my mouth
Like chalk
Even when it cuts my tongue
Sour pineapple like
Even when it’s bitter stale coffee
But mostly, I like the taste of your laughter
When I've given it to you
Cos then it tastes

Like us

At 3 am this morning, I found myself lying awake in bed, thinking of laughter. Of how it tastes. Wanted to get out of bed and write. But it was cold. Better late than never, innit?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Gratitude Challenge

If you’re a Facebooker you've probably stumbled across the Gratitude Challenge, if not participated in it yourself.

It’s been interesting, reading how many different ways people can say: I’m thankful to be Alive.

When the delightful Azra tagged me, I considered doing it. Then chickened out because I’m not in a very thankful space right now (shameful, I know).

 But now I’m ready. And instead of posting three things daily to Facebook, I’ve decided that this Gratitude Challenge deserves, at the very least, a blog post. So here goes:

I’m really thankful for toilet paper.

Ask any poor sod who’s found themselves in a loo, woefully bereft of, at the very least, single ply, just how big a blessing toilet paper is?
Along that same vein, I’m thankful; for sanitary pads and panty liners. And when the kids were younger, disposable nappies. It’s these little things that preserve our dignity.

I’m thankful for puddles.
Not the kind that are fun to stomp in after a rainy day, but the walking, talking kind. Because it is equally possible to see yourself in a deep, still pool as it is to see yourself in a puddle. So to all those shallow, vain folk out there, thank you for being so…puddly. You’re fabulous daaaahlings!

As for people who are like seething oceans, well…they’re best avoided. I’m thankful for the wisdom to know this.

I’m super thankful for indoor plumbing.
Aging means that your own plumbing isn’t as…uhm… watertight as it once was. 2 AM urgent pees are so much better now that the loos are practically in our bedrooms.

I’m thankful for technology.
How else would we measure the trajectory of our own spectacular decline into total failure if we didn’t have all these radiant, I’m-so-fucking-awesome-how-come-I’m-merely-human people to compare ourselves to?

I’m thankful for tastebuds.
Without them we’d have no foodies. Can you even BEGIN to imagine the horror of a foodie free existence? Can you?

I’m thankful for feet. Just thinking how absolutely empty my Instagram feed would be without people’s feet, shod in a zillion different shoes, is enough to make me weep. By the same token, I’m thankful for heads (think hijaabs) and hands. They add such variety to my Instagram feed.
I’m also very thankful for coffee. Again, an Instagram life changer.

I'm thankful for laaities who think they're all that and therefore you MUST be into them just because you added an emoji to your last conversation :)  They do wonders for the ego.

 I’m grateful for illusion.
Without it we’d have no imagined reality.

I’m grateful for forgetfulness.
Though I imagine that if God forbid, I should end up like my mum with Alzheimer’s, I’d be less than grateful for this.

I’m thankful for boobs and nipples and basically all the human bits that make sex so much fun.
I’m also thankful that I can say this without fear of censure.

I’m thankful for words.
Their existence and their absence.

 I’m thankful for thankfulness.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Writivism Flash Fiction Resurrected

I realise that lately my blog has seen a glut of opinion pieces. I've decided to remedy this, especially since I've just begun a rewrite (what I hope will be the last) of my novel. The process is...interesting, for want of a better word.

This piece was my flash fiction submission for the Writivism project. It featured on Books Live as well as Deyu African. It's one of those pieces where I am reluctant to hear what was made of it. But I'm sure some of you will tell me, regardless.

                                                        Breaking Glass
                                                                            Saaleha E Bhamjee

He comes to me as the day begins to breathe its last, his smile, like birth. There is a mole above his right eye. A period that completes the sentence of his brows.

“Heya,” he clears his throat.

“Hey.” Gurgling words.

“Long flight?” He is sitting in an armchair now, fragmented by the light filtering between shutter slats.

“The pilot found a wormhole. We gained twenty minutes in the air.”

My laughter is brittle.


He shakes his head.

I stretch out a hand. He takes it. His fingers are long. I see them now, covering my left breast, tweaking my nipple. He catches my gaze, his brow raised, a question. I blush. He kisses my palm. Trembling hands that can no longer bear the weight of an All-seeing God; the words I’d been cradling, spat at me by a critical conscience; his too warm mouth.

He doesn’t speak. Instead he closes the gap between us. I gasp against his lips as his crotch presses into mine. Laced fingers, my conscience’s pontificating displaced, the All Seeing God rolls onto the balcony.

I expect fucking but this is nearly lovemaking. When he leaves, I am both emptied and filled. I sleep, curled around ‘his pillow’. I smell his hair every time I move. I miss the call from home. The kids want pictures of everything. This is the message they leave me.

I return their call as I get ready for the first of the weekend’s meetings. I tell my husband that I love him. My conscience refuses to talk to me.

He has come to see me four times in the last three days. We’ve fucked every time, except this, the last visit. A daytime moon swims in an indigo sky. He wears shorts today. Has traded his All Stars for a pair of flip flops. I find myself distracted by the way the hair on his legs curls. Notice his feet, the scar just above his ankle. It saves me from having to meet his gaze. We are careful not to touch. I give him a bottle of cologne as a thank you gift. I’ve dabbed some of this on the lining of my handbag. He does not need to know.

The Airport is a yawning maw that swallows me. I’m almost late to check in. That last caress-the-pillow-inhale-deeply-as-you-do-even-when-you-promised-yourself-you-wouldn’t stupidity is to blame. And the gifts. There had to be gifts for home.

I hurry down the gullet that leads to the belly of the plane. 12C, I find the seat, stow away my laptop and settle in. The two seats on my left are empty. The rest of the plane, bloated.

Raihaan? I look up. The woman walks in front of him. He is telling a joke. She is laughing, her voice shattering like breaking glass. What is he doing here? Before I collect my scattered thoughts, they’re standing beside me. As I stand up to let them pass, I look straight into her face.

She’s definitely not my sister.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Mum's not mad

a fleeting glimpse
in a mottled mirror

mum’s not mad
I say this out loud
it’s alzheimers
like asthma
but of the brain

and then I forget
and it’s something important
and I look inside
for signs
of the asthma
in my own brain
smothering my ability
to remember
to forget
to make tea
to feed a family

what if
the thing you gave me
is not
just hands
like yours
But this
this monster in your head
that takes from you


Tuesday, August 05, 2014

United Colours of Muslim

Since the beginning of the Genocide in Gaza, aka operation Protective Edge, 1865 (492 children, 243 women, 79 elderly) have been killed, 9563 (2877 children, 1853 women, 374 elderly) have been injured. All on the Palestinian side.

There have been marches all around the world protesting Israel's relentless assault on an imprisoned population. The Israeli propaganda machine churning all sorts of insanity, much of which has been lapped up by mainstream media. Calls went out in SA for our government to expel the Israeli Ambassador. Our president is now in the US, promising he’ll do no such thing, proving (as I suspected all along) that the ANC’s pro Palestinian stance is mere white noise being made to appease the now Boycotting Woolworths Mostly Slumous Masses.

In this last month I have seen more Palestinian keffiyehs on South Africans than I've ever seen on Gazans in the heart breaking images that have filled my feeds on all social media platforms. Often accompanied by designer eye-wear and/or expensive looking outfits. And I've wondered..

What follows is parody.

The Reasonable Muslim

Yes, it’s terrible... what’s happening in Gaza. The Zionists have been merciless in their assault. SO many women and children dead. So many. Senseless deaths. I keep thinking, what if these were my kids? What if this was my home? I can’t stand it anymore,

Yes, Hamas is wrong. Firing rockets into Israel is illegal, since they’re targeting a civilian population, and though I’m a Muslim, I’m not afraid to say that.

I know the difference between a Zionist and a Jew. So many Jews, peace loving people who want to see this war end, have marched alongside us. Some of them are even my friends. I get angry when I see idiots make these horrible anti-semitic comments on Facebook. What do these idiots really know about Palestine? Have they bothered to look at the history? DO they even understand it?

I've been trying to do my bit. Have engaged Ambassador Lenk on twitter. He seems a reasonable enough man. I want him to understand that not all Muslims are raving lunatics who would like to see Israel cease to exist. I also know that he knows that this isn't a Muslim/Jew issue. There are so many Palestinian Christians. Wonder if the ‘death to all Jews’ brigade even know that?

 Bloody morons. Giving all Muslims a bad name. 

Slumou Swag

Yes, I stand for Gaza. That’s why I’m here at the march (could you move your camera a little? Yeah, left. The watch is a Hublot. Yeah. 10 K. I’ve got 2).

SO, like I was saying, I think it’s terrible what the Jews are doing to our Muslim brothers and sisters. I mean how would you like it if someone came into your house and like, took all your stuff? It’s like Palestinian blood is cheap you know. Hitler failed. He should have just killed them all. Jews. Scum of the earth.

Er, can we move this way? These beggars are so damned annoying. You’d think at least Sandton would be safe. Fordsburg is just crawling with them. It’s like you not even allowed to breathe there without having to give them something.

So what time will you be airing this clip? I want to well…kinda put it out on twitter. For my followers, you know. And you think you could, like, send me the pic you took? It’s probably waaaaayyy better than the one I took with my friends. I’ll credit you when I post to Instagram. I just hate it when people don’t credit stuff. Like Jews, they are. Stealing Muslims’ land in Palestine.

The Pure Muslim

We’re here protesting against Woolworths stocking Israeli products. We think it’s just shameful that Woolies is being so arrogant and refusing to take a moral stand. Where would South Africa be if businesses hadn't taken a moral stand back in the apartheid years?

Shame on you Woolworths! You won’t be getting any more of my money. I used to spend up to R 6000 a month here. All my kids’ clothes, all my underwear and pyjamas, I've only ever bought from them. I cut up my Woolworths card. Now I’ll start shopping around. No more! Boycott Woolworths!

Was that okay? I tried to keep it brief. I’m not going to tell my family about it though. Because being on TV, ja well…

But I’ll keep an eye out for it.

It’s going to be hard, hey. I’m sure going to miss that cashew nougat. Luckily I buy my clothes from a local Islamic wear designer. Oh, this scarf? It’s such a blessing that Ajmaan makes them in Palestinian colours. Now if only Hanayen would come on board. Think I should ask my designer if she’ll make me an abaya in Palestinian flag colours.

Pfft, had to be Dayyaanah. Her kids wearing matching Palestinian flag abayas. Why didn't I think of that? Next march. There will be another one right? They’re still bombing Gaza, right?

OMG!!! Did you see that?? Layla just went into Woolworths. She obviously doesn't care enough about the poor Palestinian children being killed in their thousands. It’s the least we can do, you know. Our Jihaad. The Palestinians are giving their lives to protect Masjidul Aqsa. We can give up Woolworths. Allah will reward us. 

I think I’ll call Layla tonight…

The Real Muslim

Just look at them. Shouting Palestine Palestine when they can’t even cover their heads. That’s what Islam is about. Obedience to Allah. Not this showy shouting. Boycotting isn't the Islamic way. Muslims don’t behave like animals.

All these women, shamelessly mingling with men? How can Allah’s help come if Muslims behave like this? Did any of those people there even stop to read their salaah?

Hmph, we want to talk about a united Ummah for Palestine, but we can’t even unite to read one salaah. Everyone knows the Yahudis are no good. Everyone knows this was foretold. The war is coming. Dajjaal is coming. Will these animals that are jumping around on the streets like kaaria be ready to face him? Toyi toying. Since when do Muslims toyi toyi?

Ya Allah, look at what has become of the Ummah. Just look at them. Disgusting!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

How Different it would be If the Blood was Mine

 Image from Al Jazeera America. Read the complete article here

This morning I received a broadcast. It spoke of an orphaned Palestinian child, who when offered a life with a South African family, opted to remain in Palestine. “To protect Masjidul Aqsa.”

The broadcast ended with the usual exclamations of subhanallah (glory be to Allah). An assertion that the Palestinians are ‘chosen’ for this ‘honour’ and a prayer for them and their victory. I felt my light sehri meal rise to my throat when I read this.

 I then found myself thinking of the time the Al Quds foundation sent people to our schools to create an awareness of the ongoing struggle in Palestine. Of how our kids chanted after them, “Bir rooh, bid dam, nafdeeka ya Aqsa.”

I thought of that convoy to Gaza that visited town after town some Ramadhaans back, of how the brothers undertaking this ‘epic’ journey were hailed as martyrs and treated like heroes. Entertained in style in every town they visited. How they raised a staggering amount of money. How a comprehensive accounting of this money was never given and of how there was talk of some of it being used to fund the liberation movements.

Offset that against the heart-breaking images spilling out of Palestine this last week, the words, the brouhaha becomes hollow. Cheap.

The blood we promise to sacrifice in order to liberate Al Aqsa (and by extension, Palestine) is not ours. Is not our children’s. Sitting here, on the Southernmost tip of Africa, snug in our homes, our greatest foe, the biting cold, and domestic workers who steal from us, it’s easy to send out a stream of unverified broadcasts and silly emotional platitudes.  We are not the people giving birth to children, all the while wondering whether they will be killed by a missile or an IDF bullet to the head, before the age of 18. Our 11 year old sons are not dragged, weeping to Israeli prisons, for the crime of throwing stones. Nor are any of them tied to military vehicles to prevent their friends from throwing stones. Nor are they fed gasoline and set alight by right wing Israelis in revenge attacks.

A Palestinian teenager is tied to an Israeli military vehicle to stop his friends throwing stones. (File photo -

I will always view war, foremost as a human being. I will always view the death of a child as a mother. I will always die a little inside when Islamic media writes jubilant articles on HOW MANY rockets Hamas rained on Israel (resulting in no fatalities and possibly, 2 injuries), while 39 Palestinians die in a space of 24 hours.

I cannot imagine that this is the life Palestinians would choose, had they been given a choice.