Between my shadow and my soul


It just hit me, heart-hammeringly an hour ago. I won't see my best friend soon. My dissertation supervisor told me so, in her gentle yet firm way. I am an adult. I should have known. Somehow, we always seem to have dreams that she is fulfilling. I don't mind that. I mind that I'm not sharing everything happening here with her. When we share things, they become phenomenal. Most of my successes, the one's I'm really proud of, were a result of our shared efforts.

I was supposed to write her a letter before 17th December. I couldn't, It would have made both of us cry and it was a happy occassion, living dreams.

Having a best friend means:

someone saying what you were going to before you do

someone stopping you from doing something before you do it, and then laughing at you for not listening to them afterward

having someone your mum trusts you with almost as much as herself

having someone make you things to eat when you're hungry and you realising only once you see it that that was exactly what you wanted to eat

having someone to paint ceilings with

haing someone to phone or sms or mxit or g talk or misscall or pitch up at their house at any time, to talk about anything and never be stupid

having someone to talk through the night with, even of they fall asleep some times and catch up on the conversation a little later

having someone to know when you REALLY mean something and trust you do, even if its just words

having someone who your family wishes was a husband because she makes you so happy and your phonebills so crazy and your time at home so sporadic

having someone who will forgive you for anything, even if she says i told you so a trillion times afterwards

having someone that you dont give a damn how many times she says i told you so, coz it's one of the things you love about her

having someone who teaches you that Love takes time and once it comes does never ever ever leave even through the most extreme forms of separation

having someone with whom it hurts to send sms's to when all you want is to see just a glimpse of their eyes so you know they're ok

having someone you can ask to keep a burden, like walking out of a 3 hour year exam after 15 minutes and three lines of essay, for a little while so you can go and write your next exam

having someone you NEVER get tired of spending time with (this really is something very very important)

having someone who's silences you have to read carefully and slowly

having someone who has been part of all the parts of yourself that you're really proud of

having someone who you know is going to come back

having Someone

* Disclaimer: This is very subjective and is based on one case study, the one that matters most

** Another disclaimer: It sounds like I'm incredibly dependent on her. I am, I admit it. This should probably change, I'll think about it.

Not in My Ummah's Name

In the midst of all this chaos, I read a book about another war. Or layers of wars. A story written by a man who writes as if he has felt what it is like to be a woman. And I feel the outrage of remembering being in tenth grade and asking our Usuludeen teacher, of whom I have much respect, is there an Islamic country on the earth? And he shook his head, with his blue eyes looking at us solemnly and said, "The Taliban in Afghanistan come closest". At the time, though, we all had some inexplicable respect for them. Did we not know? Were there no media reports before 9/11? And after 9/11 the way everyone wore Bin Laden t shirts. As if one wrong justified another. We should have stood up then, as Muslims, not allowed Muslims to oppress other Muslims in the name of our Faith. Like some Jews do now.

Our wantan, is now known as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.
These are the laws that we will enforce and you will obey:

  • * All citizens must pray five times a day. If it is prayer time and you are caught doing something other, you will be beaten.
  • * All men will grow their beards. The correct length is at least one clenched fist below the chin. If you do not abide by this, you will be beaten.
  • * All boys will wear turbans. Boys in grade one through six will wear black turbans, higher grades will wear white. All boys will wear Islamic clothes. Shirt collars will be buttoned.
  • * Singing is forbidden.
  • * Dancing is forbidden.
  • * Playing cards, playing chess, gambling, and kite flying are forbidden.
  • * Writing books, watching films, and painting pictures are forbidden.
  • * If you keep parakeets, you will be beaten. Your birds will be killed.
  • * If you steal, your hand will be cut off at the wrist. If you steal again, your foot will be cut off.
  • * If you are not Muslim, do not worship where you can be seen by Muslims. If you do, you will be beaten and imprisoned. If you are caught trying to convert a Muslim to your faith, you will be executed.

Attention women:

  • * You will stay inside your homes at all times. It is not proper for women to wander aimlessly about the streets. If you go outside, you must be accompanied by a mahram, a male relative. If you are caught alone on the street, you will be beaten and sent home.
  • * You will not, under any circumstance, show your face. You will cover with burqa when outside. If you do not, you will be severely beaten.
  • * Cosmetics are forbidden.
  • * Jewelry is forbidden.
  • * You will not wear charming clothes.
  • * You will not speak unless spoken to.
  • * You will not make eye contact with men.
  • * You will not laugh in public. If you do, you will be beaten.
  • * You will not paint your nails, if you do, you will lose a finger.
  • * Girls are forbidden from attending school. All schools for girls will be closed immediately.
  • * Women are forbidden from working.
  • * If you are found guilty of adultery, you will be stoned to death.

Listen. Listen well. Obey. Allah-u-akbar.

Khaled Hosseini, A Thousand Splendid Suns (Great Britain: Bloomsbury, 2007), 245-246.

My Hafidh (Protection)

Peter Pan never forgets Never-Never land
Harry Potter can't unfeel his scar
So I am forever Yours
You made me Chosen, and let me think
I Chose. You gave me devotion when I
foolishly imagined I was Devoted
As if i was in control, as if I had the power
to oscillate my childhood on your nurturing axis
to feel the beauty of pre-dawn purpose
and the virtue of something Greater than myself.
There were times when i shied away from this Gift
And had uncapitalised i's and frivolous you's
No more. From today
I Sing You to Me

the story without words

an insatiable flame erupts. burning libraries and mosques and art galleries and churches and movie theatres and government archives and buidlings. blackness. tearing out the pages of history. to that first light of protoplasm. to living without being human. to skin without hair. the story of jannah (heaven). where prayer is movement, nakedness is all, instinct not thought and love not care. to be not to am. to only have ur body, not ur mind, the first few moments of existence and ecstasy. before the pain of blood in our veins and pulling in our muscles. no need for names, or assumptions, or ideologies, or favours, or chivalry, or airs, or politeness. just. when everything was nothing. i feel close to death now.

Things that go "bump!" in daylight

Frucksh, metal and gritting teeth
Jerk, no, let me go,
Pluck some paint off your heart
Scratch some skin off my bonnet
A blinding impact, and then
The anger and the guilt,
for braking my trajectory
I'm going somewhere, yes,
I'm going somewhere
And stopping has cost too much already

Love is Like Cholera

For me, like always stayed like. It meant covert glances and hyperactive stomach prixies, and that was it. In school, there were close calls, when a guy I liked talking to started phoning or smsing but my elder sisters were always on it and I didn't mind, what was the point anyways? At uni I was too busy deciding what I wanted and trying to save the world one poster and exec meeting at a time. I was comfortable with going out with friends but wouldn't spend hours chilling in coffee shops getting to know people. Not that any of this matters according to Taqdeer. But I have been accused of not helping taqdeer out. By people who have obviously never met her. She's the one that made the word bitch a compliment, a sassy Sister to be reckoned with and envied and never lets you down. I don't mind all of this. What I do mind is when i do move a toe's measure towards feeding the pixies, I end up regretting it for ages afterwards. At the end of it all, I feel like I've just retched out my intestines in a toilet bowl and am too exhausted to fight or care any more. Maybe there's something amiss in my personality or God didn't feel like setting my browser on default but never in the history of Nooj has she been attracted to and understood by the same dude. I've accepted it. I like being the Other Joosub girl that didn't marry young and have (alhumdulillah) amazingly gorgeous kids. The only one that "studied" (spit quickly so this doesn't befall your daughter). And I'd rather enjoy the potheadedness of weed if I fancy pixies in my stomach. Those who are close to me and love me, say no, Allah has a zawjah (pair) for everyone. I interpret that verse of the Qur'an as he created man and woman in general as pairs, Marriage is not destined for everyone despite its revered significance as a social institution. They cannot imagine me happy without the fairytales of the other half. I side with Foucalt on this one. The other half is just the parts of me I still have to discover.


I can't imagine solitary travel, as dashing as it may appear. I need someone/s to share wonder in a way that an emo email or an mms pic or a 6 part sms can never contain. Sitting through the boredom and anxiety of a European city waiting for a bus that may never come in a land where English has been fringed and the scraps of the languages u do know cannot formulate, "Is the 11 o clock bus to the next country delayed, or just nonexistent?" To laugh raucously when the taxi driver says that everything in Singapore is fine and you both realize at the same time that he means the one that comes in the mail and not that Beyonce inspires. Someone to hold the door of dodgy bathrooms and wave away mosquitoes. You do feel alone among your travel companions at times. When you miss someone and they don't get it, or your pms makes you into a morning monster and they're all excited for a frikking 7am touring hike. But I would rather feel that alone, the loneliness of fighting selfishness in the cause of compromise than the alone of losing the moment for the want of a pair of eyes for mine to rest in.

For Kay, who unknowingly taught me that a quote is a springboard rather than a statement or summary

2 of the most profound quotes from my trip

1. Jeetey Raho-

This was told to me by a Kashmiri shopkeeper when I shuddered at the soldiers with huge guns outside his, and every other shop. The meaning is roughly equivalent to Dory from Finding Nemo's phrase "just keep swimming". Kashmir was a bit of a prejudice-shock to me. Somewhere in my head I had always likened the place to Palestine but it was vastly different. Yeah, I'm also a product of the Muslim soda water emotion effect- getting all heated up without knowing the facts on the ground. Here is what I wrote after my first walk around Lal Chowk in Srinagar-

The fear is on people's lips that never move. Not to ask my name, or where I'm from or to return my smile. More the men than the women. The men's eyes are filled with a dark thunder, repressed, that stops them from seeing me. I wonder if they see each other.

This i quickly found to be simply a projection on my part after speaking to a friend's relative and our tour guide. Yes the election period was tense and soldiers with guns were everywhere. But not all of the people felt occupied and invaded like in Palestine. In Palestine people spoke freely of their troubles and their political affiliations and frustrations. In Kashmir there was so much uncertainty in the current generation. Yes, their forefathers had died for freedom, but under indian rule their families were eating much better than those in "Azad kashmir" (Pakistan-controlled Kashmir). They knew that India's booming tourist industry would flesh out their worn-out pockets. They were noxiated by how terrorism had degraded their country's honour and name. And I had to ask myself, for all the theoretical idealist I believe myself to be, where does one cross the line between pragmatism and valour? Is it not more sinful to die of starvation than to eat haraam meat when there is no other food available? I am no expert on kashmir. But in the brief 2 and a half days I spent there, this is the prevailing mood i felt.

2. A Child Gives Birth to a Mother

This was ripped from a memorial to someone on a street in Kolkata. One thing I love about India are the hand painted well-meaning signs that adorn the streets with quirky messages and the even quirkier respectful way everyone igonores them, like Don't Listen to Rumours, or Let's be Rational, Don't be Emotional. Phrases like don't take photographs in a sound and light show or aquarium are, as soon as officials are out of reach, responded to with a flurry of flashes.

Anyways, back to the quote. The simplicity of the statement contains what i feel to be a fundamental truth about human relationships. When I was 14 years old my brother in law donated his kidney and my sister had to nurse him through the painful recovery process. My one year old nephew had for the first time in his life, leave him mum and come to Pretoria from Durban. it was a nightmare and somewhere in between his screams and my patience, he started to call me mummy. I was on june holidays and his chubby frame soon became inseperable from my slender hip. And so it was, without my permission or desire. he had created a Mother. Whatever I ate, he did. When I left a room, he stumbled after me. And every neice or nephew thereafter regarded me as a surrogate because of the boy who is now taller than me and stronger than me and yet still hugs me like a lost one year old. And so, every person we meet, creates something in us that never was before, whether drastic or complementary, painful or exhilarating. And by accepting this and being open to it, we realise that relationships are to be embraced, not feared.