Thursday, December 21, 2006

Statistics

I know this ain't fiction, but I really just had to...

I love checking out the stats. Seeing that I’ve had visitors from Germany, Sweden, Israel and God alone knows where else. It’s a strange feeling, that, as though you’ve connected in some way, reached out, touched fingers and all that.

But more that that I love seeing how people found me. It always gives me something to smile about.


A huge favourite has been the words ‘koesusters’. Well since people are desperately hunting for a recipe, I shall post one soon –ish to satisfy all those souls who have stumbled across me because of An Eternity Too Late and the overspiced koeksuster analogy. And that reminds me, I made some two weekends ago. They freeze brilliantly, and once heated up and syruped, well Sunday mornings get new meaning.

I had someone google the word ‘big tieties’ the other day. Now that was really funny, since it would have led them to Gelukskoot. And if they were hoping to find big boobed babes, they would have been greatly disappointed because they would have found Mma Mary in all her huge hipped glory.

Beau Brummel the infamous nudist who has started (or will soon) a nudist colony for whites only on the banks of the Vaal is another good advertisement, though my post about him was anything but kind.

There are those who go out looking for Afrocentric Muslimah and they do give my heart such joy.

There was even a search that involved the words, “he put his head on her stomach”. Now how strange is that? Haarith? Yes, could only be.

And jinn is another favourite. That's Haunted .

Another oddity was someone googling ‘gee maa.’ And that is Haroon naturally.

Big tieties wins the Strangest for Today award. I think from now on, I shall inform my readers of the strangest google for the day, every day (okay, almost every day- I'm lazy right now). It really is such fun!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Inspired by Home

I saw it then

I saw it then
In hungry eyes
And well meant lies
In fevered rallies
And pointed violence

The dreams,
The hopes
Sublime

I see it now
In the empty eyes

And hungry cries
In the waddling men
In pinstriped suits

And still
The dreams

The hopes

Sublime

The Carousel

The carousel goes round
then round again
Players change
Yet the game
Remains
the same

The same hunger
That turns mere men
Into beasts
The same greed that
Transforms the noble
Into something less
Hands slip unseen
Into lined pockets
Where corruption breeds
And hatred is nurtured

Where rebellion is fed
By the noble
Who will soon
Be much less

And all the while
The colonies
Breed
And bleed
And cry
And kill
And sleep
And steal

And the carousel
Goes round
And round again.


Saturday, December 16, 2006

Voices for Africa

Did you know:

There are 40 million orphans in sub Saharan Africa
12.5 million AIDS orphans in Sub Saharan Africa
149 million children in developing countries still suffer from malnutrition
More than 10 million children under five die each year of preventable diseases
More than half a billion children live on less than a $ 1 a day
More than 100 million children are out of school because of poverty, discrimination or lack of resources of these 60 million are girls




Muslim Writer's Publishing has put together an e-book to raise awareness of the plight of people in Africa. To download this e-book free of charge, go here




Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Little Miss Muffet


Little Miss Muffet

Little Miss Muffet
Sat on a tuffet
Eating her curds and whey

She sat all day dreaming
While her mother was screaming
For Miss Muffet to go out and play

Or clean up her room
Which smelt like a tomb
Or brush her hair someday

But Little Miss Muffet
Just sat on her tuffet
Eating her curds and whey

Her socks on the floor
Pyjamas on the door
And dolls turning into clay

Her bed a mess
As was her dress
Which looked rather grey

Yet little miss Muffet
Just sat on a tuffet
Eating her curds and whey

Beneath the dirty knickers
And very smelly sneakers
Spindly the Spider wouldn’t stray

But he wanted a wife
For the rest of his life
And Cindy would never here stay

He needed a plan
And help from his clan
To show Miss Muffet the way

That rooms must be clean
Bread, never green
And shoes lived not on a tray

He called up some brothers
And they in turn others
And they prepared a nasty play

Wearing smelly knickers
And very dirt sneakers
And dresses awfully grey

Little Miss Muffet
Sat on a tuffet
Eating her curds and whey

Along came the spiders
And sat down beside her
And frightened Miss Muffet away

The spiders were happy
They sang something snappy
And called dear Cindy to stay

Clean up this mess
And wash that dress
Was all Cindy would say

The spiders got to cleaning
While Cindy sat dreaming
Of the best place for a family to stay

They moved the dirty tuffet
Of lazy Miss Muffet
And found the perfect hole so gay

Cindy and Spindly were married
The family all tarried
And sang Hip Hip Hurray

Then little Miss Muffet
Sat back on her tuffet
And began eating her curds and whey


A little bit of nonsense, inspired by having read a book to the kids about that lovable
Gruffalo , though nowhere near as good. Illustration by William Wallace Denslow from the Project Gutenburg Ebook of Denslow's Mother Goose, by Anonymous. info: courtesy of Wikipedia.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Him

I caught a glimpse of Him the other day. Of His hands as they - paint drenched - dragged their way across the western sky. Broad expansive strokes. His colours were of peaches - a gentle yellow; apricots - tantalisingly close to orange; blood red pomegranates; even lavender. He sprayed the clouds a grey until they became bluish mountains against a whitening sky.

But there was something wrong. He was crying. His tears fell onto the canvas and blended the colours, bled them into one another, forced them to meld, to mix, to become one. A solid mass of swirling hue. When last had I seem Him paint like this?

Perhaps He cried for the orphan child, living on the street and sniffing glue to forget his troubles. Or for the young girl who would play wife to her father, or another. Perhaps He cried for the boy with gnawing innards who picks through the garbage of a family bloated by excess. Perhaps He cries for my forgetfulness, my arrogance, my heedlessness.

But even with His tears, He creates such a picture, such breathtaking beauty that for a single instant, the picture comes sharply into focus. For a single instant, I see Him, and I know that I will always be His.

True Love

To love until you feel like dying
to wring from your soul every last tear
to pray for the last day just to see His face
to beg for Paradise only to bow at His feet

Have you felt it?

The joy, yet misery
of love that consumes
and yearning that devours
and despair that destroys

Have you known it?

You speak of love
yet you give preference
to the selfish dictates
of your avaricious soul

You speak of faith
yet you engross yourself
in fears of tomorrow
and concerns of yesterday

You speak of mercy
yet you’ve done nothing
to earn that gift
or any other

You speak of forgiveness
yet you’ve never repented
until you wished to tear
out your own eyes
to stop the tears

You claim to know Him
How can you?
when you know not yourself

Thought I'd best move away from all the sensuous nonsense ;) Something spiritual. Don't know how it went down. Hopefully, well...

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Fantasy

I suppose most of you who are regular readers remember Her Fault posted sometime in August about a man who learns how easy it can be to fall into an affair. Somehow I've explored this twice already. Seems a tad overdone. But this is the poem that spawned from the tale

Autumn leaves
Golden hued
Flutter, swirl, dance
Until they’re dizzy
In the breeze

The flutter of
My heart
The swirl
Of my desires
The dizziness
Of my dreams

Confusion

Of colours
Myriad, rich
Churn

In in my dreams
Take flight
Alight

On fantasy
Exotic
Erotic


Distressing

Study
The lines
Of her face
Trace a path
With
Your fingers
Your mouth

Examine
Her eyes
See
Your reflection
See
The upward spiral
Of sweeping desire

See the hunger
And thirst
Equal
To your own

A forbidden hunger
The sweeter for it
Illicit thirst
Has desire
Ever felt
This good
?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Right Thing

This poem was written to accompany my story The Right Thing, posted on the blog a while ago.

An alarming stirring
Of emotions long buried
In murky alcoves
Of my most secret mind

A desperate yearning
To feel
To taste
To experience
Forbidden fruit

A confusion
Clouding, growing
On my mind
Cutting my soul
Into disparate halves

The right thing
Right thing
Right thing
Would that I could know
What that really means

Yet I flutter
In a breeze of desire
Swirling, swirling
Losing myself
In yearning

It controls me
Directs me
Where to

Stop the breeze,
Stop it
Set me free
To ‘unfeel’
All that I have
Now drowned in

I can’t have the yearning
The aching
Throbbing longing
It’s not
The right thing

Chapter Two - a tale has to be complete after all

Better late than never. That's what they have always told me. So I decided to test the theory.

Haarith surveyed her profile. From the side, she looked like a perfectly made up Bollywood star. Her neck, a slender column, was pale. Her cheekbones, pronounced. She was staring straight ahead, barely murmuring audible answers to his comments. He complimented her on her garara. She blushed prettily. He asked her about the henna pattern on her hand. He tried to hold her hand when he said this. She pulled it away and seemed to shrink further into the corner of the couch.

From the side, she gave off the air of one confident and assured of themselves. It was when their eyes met, which they did ever so fleetingly, that he saw the doubt, the uncertainty, and perhaps the fear? What was there to fear? This was the first day of the rest of their lives. She’d be a good wife. He was sure of this. Everywhere he went people complimented him on his choice of bride. And they always mentioned her legendary culinary expertise. For his part, he’d try his best to be the kind of man who protected and cared for her. Women needed protecting.

She looked so vulnerable sitting there, that his heart went out to her. He felt like putting his arm around her. Later, that would come later. He anticipated the night that lay ahead. His first time, hers too. That time with the hooker, it didn’t really count for anything. He was nervous, but he’d been reading, learning. He was sure they’d be okay.

Presently his new mother in law came up to the stage. She was a woman in her fifties. A loud, brash type of woman. Not his kind of person. But thankfully they wouldn’t be living anywhere near her. And he’d see to it that they didn’t visit too often. In-laws needed to be kept that way, at arm’s length. He didn’t want people to think him the kind of man who was controlled by his wife.

“Come all of you. Come and eat. They’re bringing the food to your table.” She flashed a toothy grin Haarith’s way and he felt slightly irritated by her. A woman needed to have modesty. This one clearly had lost the plot. Thankfully her daughter hadn’t.

They followed Mrs Kadwa from the stage, the best men, and bride’s maids in tow. They settled down at the long table. Silver cutlery winked up at him. Long stemmed wine glasses – what did they need these for, Muslims didn’t drink alcohol – stood ready to receive punch and cold drinks. Tall candles arranged in tiers stood at either end of the graceful table. A flower arrangement spilled down the front.

They took up their places, Haarith and Rajaa in the centre. Rajaa, a strange name, he mused as he settled back in his seat, folding his long legs beneath him. Sounded Arab, rather than South African. But then Mrs Kadwa came across as the ostentatious type, so that was to be expected.

The halwa arrived. Haarith took up the platter, first dished a little into Rajaa’s plate and then into his own. He caught the wink from one of her friends when she noticed his action. He saw Rajaa blush. He felt joy well up inside of him. She’d come around yet. She had to.

“So the halwa up to your standards?” he teased as they ate.
“Actually it’s really nice,” she intoned after a sip of pink punch.
“But they tell me that yours has to be eaten to be believed.”
She giggled. “No, not really. You know how people are. The make a fuss about everything.”
“Aww, man, you mean they’re wrong. You’re not really spectacular in the kitchen? Then why on earth did I marry you?” He was trying really hard. There were barriers that needed breaching.
“Well…” she hesitated, “I’m okay, I guess.”
“Phew, I was getting worried there for a moment.”
She laughed. It was a throaty laugh that made him feel an inopportune stirring in his loins. He cleared his throat and passed some foolish remark about the flower arrangement. The quizzical look that crossed her face made him want to kick himself.

The rest of the meal passed in a blur. At some point he had rested his hand on her arm. She hadn’t brushed him off. With each tentative meeting of the eyes he saw the fear melt and he felt encouraged. Soon, they were being ushered back onto the stage. Time for photographs.

He smiled until his cheeks ached. She stood, sat, did as she was instructed. It was pictures with aunts, uncles, friends. The stream of people to the stage felt like a flood that would never end. She cried when her sister and brother stood behind them for the picture. He wanted to wipe away the tear, but restrained his hand. At length, tea was served. By this point Haarith could barely conceal his relief. In an hour, they’d be going to his home.

*************************

They had survived the ruckus when he had arrived at her home to ‘collect his bride’. Her cousins had demanded an exorbitant ‘gift’ at the gate. Their cousin was worth more, they had insisted when he had placed R500-00 in the palm of a tall girl with a square jaw. Mrs Kadwa had rescued him. He found her in her parent’s bedroom. He stifled a smile when he realised that she hadn’t changed out of the ivory garara. He had been seeing himself undoing those pearl buttons that followed each other, innumerable, down the back of the jacket. He’d get to do that at least.

She wept as he left her home. But she was going to something better. Once they were ensconced in the back seat – his cousin, Munir, would be driving them home – he took her hand, and pressed her fingertips to his lips.

“Don’t cry Rajaa, We’ll be okay. I promise.”
They journeyed in silence. He placed his hand on her thigh. He heard the intake of breath. She did not move. Munir chatted companionably, cracked the mandatory ‘first night’ jokes that Haarith saw brought rosy colour to her face. Another ten minutes, and they’d be home. They’d have to survive the family supper. Her parents would be there too. And then privacy. He could barely wait.

*******************************

The prayer rugs had already been placed in the corner of the room. The bowl that he had asked for, a porcelain one, was on the pedestal. They removed their shoes at the door and entered the bedroom. He watched her face eagerly.

She looked around the room, took in the heavy oak furniture, the vases, the curtains. She said nothing.
“So?” his tone expectant.
“So?”
“Well, do you like it?”
“It’s beautiful.”
“That all?” he feigned disappointment.
“No really, it’s wonderful.”
“I chose it for us. I’m glad you like it. My mother chose the curtains though,” he added almost as an afterthought.

If Rajaa had been totally honest she might have confessed that the furniture was too heavy for her tastes, the curtains too gaudy. She was something of a minimalist. But this was just one of many concessions that she would make. This incident would set the tone for a lifetime.

***********************************

Rajaa awoke to the weight of a bare arm around her waist. She squiggled out of his grasp and turned around to look at him. Haarith looked so calm, so serene like this…unlike last night. She felt a tremor of delight ripple through her body at the memory. It had gone off better than she had hoped although the pain in her groin reminded her that she was no longer a girl.

His face was long, his forehead high. A short beard, neatly trimmed covered a chin that she could tell was a prominent one. Stubbornness, that’s what her mother said it meant. His lashes were long for a man, thick and dark. Now why don’t I have lashes like that, she wondered with a smile. Everything about his face was orderly. Like him, she mused, smiling as the memory of his actions of the previous night came to mind. He had led her to the bed, made her sit down. As was taught in the book, he had placed a hand on her forehead, and read the prayer, one for a life that would be happy and blessed. Then he had surprised her. He had taken the porcelain bowl from the pedestal and filled it with warm water. He has asked her to place her feet in this. He had taken the water and lightly sprinkled it on the walls in bedroom. This was something she hadn’t come across in any of her reading.

He had then told her to perform ablution and done the same. They had read two rakaat of salaat, prayer together. He had prayed loudly, and she heard him ask for blessing for them and their night. And then he had turned to her, a grin turning up the corners of his mouth.

“I’m glad you didn’t change out of your outfit. I’ve been imagining opening all those buttons.”
Rajaa had looked away, feeling embarrassed. He had taken her face in his hands. And from that moment, she had been lost in sensations she had never before experienced. She sighed happily as the memory of the havoc his hands and mouth - warm and eager - had wreaked on her trembling body.

She swung her legs off the side of the bed and went to that bathroom. She needed to perform ghusl – a bath to be cleansed from ceremonial impurity – before she could perform the pre dawn prayer. And then she’d wake him to do the same.

She removed her gown in the bathroom, and stood before the mirror. A small bruise at the base of her neck served as yet another reminder of her innocence being a thing of the past. She found that she couldn’t look at her body without mentally tracing the paths all over it that he had traversed. She turned on the water and couldn’t help wondering at the size of the shower. Twice the size of any of the showers at home. She watched the mirror misting over, her body fading to a silhouette.

Rajaa stepped beneath the steaming jets and was about to close the door, when his hand appeared and pulled it open gently.
“Can I join you?”
She felt her stomach knot with anticipation as he stepped in. She became acutely aware of her nakedness, and was suddenly shy.
“This is why I had them make a big shower. It was hell getting someone to make up the shower door…”

And then they were lost.

They didn’t make it for the pre dawn prayer. The read it after sunrise, together, with him as the Imam.

******************************************

Haarith was curious to see what sort of breakfast she would prepare for them. He was curious to see how she would interact with his mother, Mrs Hayat. He really wanted for them to get along. His mother was an easy going woman. Modest – unlike Mrs Kadwa – and always very respectful towards Mr Hayat, his father.

She had made the bed and rinsed the towel that she had kept for the small blood flow that would follow the first time. His mother would be pleased. He grinned to himself remembering the previous night, remembering the morning. Haarith was thankful that she wasn’t rigid and stiff in bed. She was so willing to lose herself with him. They were going to have a happy marriage.

He could hear her bustling about in the kitchen with his mother. They spoke a little. She sounded okay. Mr Hayat had left for the office already. Haarith would be on leave for the next two weeks. They were leaving for the Garden Route today. A week in Plettenburg Bay would be followed by another in Cape Town. He had offered her the choice of a honeymoon overseas, but she had preferred one in South Africa. Secretly, he was thankful that she had chosen it this way. South Africa was beautiful enough. He didn’t need to spend two weeks on a strange country where getting decent halaal food would be a problem. And if his friends were to be believed, they wouldn’t be doing much sight seeing anyway. His face broke into a grin once more as he anticipated the weeks that lay ahead.

“Bhai, come, breakfast is ready,” Mrs Hayat called from the dining room.
Haarith obeyed. He sat down at the table. Rajaa remained in the kitchen.
“Mummy, tell Raja to come and sit.”
“Rajaa, come, please, come and eat with us.” Mrs Hayat’s face had turned away from him, so Haarith couldn’t make out her expression, though her voice had an edge to it that he was sure he had never heard before. His boisterous mood clouded over for a moment as he stood up. He found Rajaa in the scullery washing the dishes.

“What are you doing? We have maids you know.” The words hadn’t come out right. He had meant to be gentle
Her eyes, when they met his, looked wide, distressed. He felt fractious. He wanted to hug her, wanted to ask his mother why she hadn’t brought Rajaa with her to the table. But he couldn’t. And this made him feel all the more irate.

She followed him to the table in silence. She ate in silence. His mother chatted happily, seemingly, oblivious to Rajaa’s presence. Haarith sighed.

He hoped that by the time they returned his mother would have gotten over her issues. He didn’t want this to be the way they lived. And he didn’t want to have to fight with his mother because of Rajaa. He knew where his loyalties lay.

Friday, December 01, 2006

The Winter Meme

Now I doubt whether this will ever be part of the book. But I gave it a stab anyway. I was tagged by Mr DBA Lehane (you know him, the guy who writes the freaky stuff) to do this meme about the things (5) that I love and those I hate (5) about winter. The timing is not great since we're struggling with summer temperatures of over thirty degrees right now, but I can pretend can't I? And this is a fictional blog, right?

Rajaa pulled little Zainab’s gloved hand into her own. She bent down, and with her free hand, straightened the beanie that restrained her daughter’s normally wild locks. It was a pretty beanie in the colours of summer with a shocking pink pom-pom at the top, and somehow, even though she never wore them, because of the headscarf, she never tired of collecting them, especially if they came with matching gloves. The other perk of winter came in the form of boots. Of course with their current financial position the number of boots she allowed herself had dwindled drastically, but just looking at the elegant suede or leather creations gave her pleasure. And life offered little pleasure these days.

Another day of the same. She sighed. Zainab had to be walked to school and then Rajaa would get stuck into the housework. She hated housework in winter. Hanging washing while the icy wind tore your fingers to shreds. Mopping floors, rinsing mops outside, getting wet in the cold. No fun at all. Somehow life seemed to have been bled dry of all the fun when Mr Hayat got arrested.

She stood before the front door and braced herself for the icy blast that would greet her when she opened it. It was one of those mornings, with a sky like cooked liver and a ground covered in enough frost to encrust the sole of your shoe like marshmallow frosting on a cake. She liked the frost. Zainab liked to pretend that it was snow. Why did South Africa never get any snow, she mused. She would have liked winter more had she been allowed the opportunity of building snowmen.

They walked, heads bowed. Rajaa caught sight of the occasional little brown bird. What were they called, these common creatures? She missed the weaverbirds with their bright yellow plumage and their furious activity. It was something that winter stole. The colour and the life. Everything was so grey and sad. The sight of the naked trees depressed her, stripped of their emerald cloaks. The world looked dirtier somehow. People moved slower too, no urgency to anything, except to get home at the end of the day.


And it wasn’t even near sunset. That was when the smoke from the braziers set outside the shacks of Thembuville would form a dense cloud that made breathing impossible. These braziers were nothing more than empty paint tins, twenty litre drums, holes poked into them, where branches from trees, bits of rubbish and duff from coal yards conspired to bring warmth to the dwellers of the shacks. Another thing that made winter painful. The knowledge that people lived in these perforated shanties, people braved the cold, with whole families, little children, in these shacks. It made Rajaa thankful for her modest house.

It made her thankful that they could huddle around the heater in the evenings, hot buttered popcorn and steaming hot chocolate at hand. That they could bask in the pseudo warmth of togetherness even though she and Haarith felt as though they inhabited separate worlds. They could sit around the table, shut out the cold, windows misted over and eat as a family. Khitchro, a warming winter broth was a firm favourite with Haarith. At her mother’s it would have been soupy dumplings, a broth rich in tomato, chunks of lamb, soft potato, all topped with fluffy dumplings. Her granny used to make Bread Pudding. She made Buttermilk Pudding. A feather light confection topped with whipped cream and generous lashings of golden syrup. Thankfully Haarith enjoyed it too.

Somehow winter was strange that way. It created intimacy where previously none had existed. She coudn't say that she loved it, but somehow, she couldn't quite hate it either.