If you think that you have just one life, think again. There's the life you think you have, the life others think you have and the life you really have- three lives!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Egyptian Mum Part 1

My mother travels to Egypt much more frequently than I. Each year when she returns she spends hours lamenting the loss of values and growing immorality among Egypts youth- much to my amusement. My mother could have written the book on middle class morality, which often prompts people who meet her to turn to me and say "you're the black sheep aren't you."

I have become very good at pretending to be interested, showing surprise and nodding my head in agreement as she prattles on about the "fasad" that has overcome Egyptian youth.

But nothing could prepare me for this...

A week had passed since my mother had returned and I knew that the time was fast approaching when she would sit me down and begin her rant. She proceeded in her usual way "you would not believe what the youth in Egypt are getting up to these days". As usual I nodded my head in agreement and shook my head in dissaproval as she continued...

"Would you believe" she said, "that it has become common for the young girls and boys to perform a disgusting act where the girl actually puts the boys penis in her mouth!"

What could I do? I had to think quickly! I had to pretend that I shared her utter abhorrence of such lewdness and maintain my virginal status in my mother's eyes (yes, I have been married twice and given birth to two kids, but to our mothers we are always virgins, OK)

Meanwhile part of me was still coming to terms with the realisation that my mother had just used the "P" word, while the other part of me wanted to burst into laughter.

I feigned a look of disgust and then uttered a half arsed "ikhs" (the Egyptian equivalent of ewwww). I dared not look at my mother lest she look into my give away eyes and expose me for the fraud that I was!

All was silent.

A silence that seemed to last forever.

From the corner of my eye, I caught sight of my mother's face, her teeth clenched and her lips pursed and right then I knew exactly that she was thinking... 'the dirty little bitch has done it!'

The incident was never spoken of again and I must say that my mother's annual morality reports have never been the same!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Year That Was

As 2007 is almost upon us, it's timely to reflect on 2006.

The year started with my marraige in crisis. I was ready to leave after almost 7 years marraige and close to 11 years together. He could not understand why and I could not tell him. It was difficult at the time to know the exact nature of my discontent, but as time passed it became much clearer and eventually I was able to accept it, embrace it and work through it.

I have never been a romantic. Fantastical notions of soul mates, star-crossed lovers, Prince Charmings and the like have never convinced me. I do not believe that there is such a thing as Mr or Ms Perfect. I am far too selfish to give wholly of myself to another human being and far too self absorbed to want the same from him. And so, any union would only ever be a coupling of our physical lives. But deep down lingers the little girl with dark skin, big eyes and dark curls, who was always the outsider and who each night dreamed of being Cinderella.

My husband and I cohabit, we fulfill eachother's physical needs very well, we provide companionship for eachother and share in the care of our respective children (we do not have children together) and our mutual assets. But I also have my own world in which he features minimally if at all and in which he has very little interest. Once I learnt to accept this, and to understand the limits of my relationship, I was able to appreciate my marraige for what it was instead of being unhappy at what it wasn't.

I went to Egypt for 5 weeks in July and used this time away to come to terms with the fact that while I love my husband deeply, I will never share with him an intellectual or soulful intimacy in the same way that we share a physical intimacy. And that's alright, that's OK, because I really don't think that I am capable of sharing more than that- I have always known this to be who I am.

In 2006, I gave 9 public lectures, 3 radio interviews and 2 television interviews. I completed 2 and a half chapters of my Doctoral Thesis (I started in 2005), started writing my book and wrote 2 major journal articles for publication. I started and almost finished my data collection amounting to over 300 pages of transcribed interviews and focus groups. Of the 9 public lectures, 5 were invatations from people or organisations who had heard about my work and the rest were conference presentations. I spoke at two anti-war rallies and a Union rally against the government's introduction of industrial reform legislation. I also continued my job with Government two days a week. I maintained my voluntary work with a community organisation. I became involved in campaigning against domestic violence, not of my own will, but by the burden of knowledge. And I started this blog!

Am I tired? Yes, yes, I am exhausted. And yet there persists this wretched yearning to do MORE, to be MORE, to achieve MORE. A sense of urgency that burns like a fire in my being and that I fear will never subside. Why am I cursed with this need to want change? Why am I burdened with an urgent and nagging desire to make things different?

2006 was a year of dreaming. Not day dreaming but sleep dreaming. I cannot recall a night when I did not have the same dream of climbing. Climbing infinite stairs, mountains, hills, rock piles, ladders, anything and everything. Each morning after these dreams I woke both physically and mentally exhausted. Why was I always climbing? When will I reach where it is I need to go?

And so, in a few short days, we will bid farewell to 2006. I think I grew 10 years in that one year (thank God for botox!). I learnt a lot about myself in 2006. And so, in light of that, I will always remember 2006 as a year of self enlightment!

Now... bring on 2007 because I can't wait to see what that has in store for me!

Sunday, December 24, 2006


Courtesy of Drima

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