Sunday, October 31, 2010

Daddy and I

My childhood memories of my mother range from 'very faint' to 'non-existent'. She left when I was eight. My sister was six then. She left us with Daddy, without looking back. And, as Gretl said of Fraulein Maria in 'Sounds of Music', she didn't even say good-bye! I came home from school one day to find her gone. 

I had caught her crying the week before she left. And so, after there were no more tears to shed, I got  mad at Daddy. Mommy loved me! I know she did! and she wouldn't have left if Daddy hadn't done something horrid to her! I refused to talk to Daddy for week. Refused to see his own pain. If he was suffering, served him right! After all, he drove her away, didn't he? At times, I think I even hated him! and acted it! But Daddy never wavered in his love for my sister and I. 

An unspoken truce was declared though, when I had refused to eat dinner one day and convinced my little sister to do the same. We were on hunger strike, we said. And we climbed up to bed on empty stomachs as Daddy stood begging us, on the verge of tears. 'We are not eating till you bring Mommy back!' We screamed and shut our bedroom door, oblivious to how each word we spoke drove a knife into his heart. 
As was wont to happen, we woke up in the middle of the night with insistent cravings only food could satisfy. As I sneaked downstairs to steal some food, I saw daddy crying at the Dining table. He was holding a framed photograph in his hands. It was of the family, all four of us. 

Now, I had never seen Daddy cry. Men don't cry where I'm from. Daddy was our jolly cuddly bear. He tickled us with his mouthstache until we giggled when we were crying. He sang silly songs and told lame Daddy jokes that had me rolling my eyes. Sure, he got mad when we broke a plate or did something bad. But even then, he would relent and feel bad when we began to cry and tickle us back to laughter. (of course you can imagine how we exploited this mercilessly... and he let us) Daddy never cried! This must be serious.

I run down the stairs, stealth forgotten and gave him a big hug. Hugs always made me feel better whe I was blue. He held on to me as if for dear life. 'You miss her' I stated. He nodded. 'I miss her too' I said. 'Why are you sitting here? Aren't you going to sleep? I asked. 'I couldn't go to be knowing my little girls hadn't had anything to eat' "I am not little!' I exclaimed in my most grown-up voice. 'You'll always be my little girl' He said. And that was when I fell in love with my father. Sure, I still resented him for sending mom away, but he was a great dad, and I loved him! 

'Barbara, come downstairs, cover blown' I shouted to my little sister. She ran down, joined the hug, and Daddy made us the most delicious pancakes I've had to date, which we devoured with much gusto. 

When I was ten years old, I came home early one day to pick up my costume for the school play that afternoon. I had forgotten to take it with me when I left for school in the morning. I let myself in, not expecting anyone to be home and heard Daddy's voice. 'Please, for the children's sake, wont you come back?' I sneaked into our room and picked up the extension. He must have been too distraught to notice. He hadn't even heard me come in. 

It was Mom! I listened in for about five minutes. Five minutes in which he begged her to come back. Five minutes of her saying no, she was now happy with her new lover Rafael. Why did he want her back when she had broken her blatantly broken her marriage vows? She will only do so again. She loved Rafael. My heart broke for Daddy. When I could take it no longer, I asked 'Don't you miss us even a little, Mom?' My Dad dropped the phone and ran upstairs. 'You are far too young to understand', she said, and hang up on me. C*O*W*A*R*D. 

My Dad entered our room, just as she hang up and said, 'I'm so sorry. You should never have heard that...' His voice trailed off with emotion. 'I'm sorry, Dad', I said and hugged him. 'Don't worry, If she doesn't want us, we don't need her!' and I hugged him for what seemed like hours while we both cried.(To be continued. hehehe!)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

(The) Some Male Minds

Reading Dava's Blog the other day, I was reminded of one incident that left a sour taste in my mouth. I was on a bus headed for circle and the radio programme airing at that time was on ladies who cheated on their husbands, got pregnant, and passed the kids off to their husbands as their own (their husbands, that is).

There was one very vocal guy on the bus who exclaimed that it would never happen to him, that women could not be trusted, and that was why he would never marry but will continue to use as many women as he could. To quote him, 'As you no go fit put meter for your woman top, she fit share plus any bro. So why pay for it?Why be the monkey when you can be the baboon and chop some free?' He went on and on for about fifteen minutes.

Of course, I must mention that considering this man's looks and mannerisms, it was no loss to women that he didn't want to get married. However, his opinions which he was proudly forcing down our throats just rubbed my feminist self too badly for me not to comment. 

I turned to the guy sitting next to me and said 'This guy is making noise. How will what he is saying solve anybody's problems? Besides, if no man was to touch another woman other than his wife, this problem would be non-existent.' Seriously, guys, think about it... (Of course, reasoning along similar lines, I will also say that if women allowed only their husbands to touch them, cheating husbands would be non-existent cos there would be no one for them to cheat with. If he was going around using women (other people's wives, now or in future), why was he making noise about someone using his own?

And here, [Editor's note: Did my suggestion sound ridiculous? It would in this day and age, right? Like Miss Kris said, 'that is such an amazing way to think about it. too bad it's unrealistic... that's like asking for a world of completely monogamous people. doubt people will ever come around to that. but it's a really good hypothesis anyway'. And because we are not willing to make that sacrifice, we shouldn't blame anyone for the mess we're in. We are all contributing - consciously or unconsciously. Just work on YOUR relationship]

Mr. vocal overheard this and said 'How can I dae a girl and not touch her? What the would show that she is mine?' He then proceeded to propound a very stupid theory. "Women are proud and very aware of their sexuality these days and use their sexuality against men. With the campaign for girl-child education, they have also become loud and argumentative. We all know women are smarter than us so the only way you can subdue a today's woman is to sleep with her. Then, she becomes mellow and knows her place.

Seriously? Sex is how you subdue a woman and retain your manhood? Then that manhood must not have been very big to begin with. You cannot imagine how pissed I was. .. He actually said 'When you catch her, you give it to her well well and she will know who is boss.' Lesbianism began to look very good to me, especially when about 70% of the men in the bus proceeded to agree with him. 

When you take a woman's sexuality and womanhood and bastardize it, making it her weakness and your weapon against her, a way of staking your claim on her... Will she want to be a WOMAN? Be with a man?No wonder more and more ladies are becoming lesbians. No wonder more women are wising up and using their sexualities to get what they want from life. It's sad, really! But hey, if they are going to be used anyway, it might as well be on their terms, don't you think?

Of course, I shouldn't really pay that much attention to this guy. He also said educated women should not marry educated men because those will cheat on them. They should marry fitters, masons and the like to decrease the income gap... We asked him what he would say and do if his university graduate daughter wanted to marry a truck-pusher and he fumbled. Everyone in the car pounced on him... even the masons and fitters who had initially nodded when he started the theory joined in.

When someone asked if he had ever been hurt by a woman, he said never! How possible? He also said he had 4 sisters and that his parents were still together. Where then did he get this 'socialization' from? Is there hope at all with men walking about thinking like this???

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Blessings of Life and Good Health

I hate hospitals. Every time I visit one, I receive confirmation I made the right decision not going anywhere near medicine. As noble and prestigious as it is, it is unfortunately not for me. Aside the fact that I can’t stand the sight of blood (which is ironic because I am a woman and no matter how careful I am not to get hurt, nature has dictated that I have to see blood on a regular basis), I find hospitals altogether too depressing and come away from each visit deeply melancholic. And no matter how everyone I meet tells me the disturbance and grief I feel witnessing death, dying and suffering would have passed with time had I gone into medicine, I am convinced otherwise. I would probably have committed suicide or taken to drugs or drinking by now. Barring these, I’d probably go mad. It’s not the profession. It’s just me.

Yesterday, I went to the hospital and the situation was not much different. I spent about two hours at the central OPD (Out Patients Department) and saw more suffering during that period than I saw the whole of last year. Seeing a group of nurses and doctors chatting heartily and laughing as they passed the corridor, I couldn’t help but gain some more respect for our men and women in white and green who work surrounded by pain and suffering all year through and maintain a merry countenance. Perhaps we really are unfair to our nurses. If I just lost a nine year old patient, I would definitely not be patient and would probably snap at you if you refused to take your soup because you don’t feel like it, or you cry because you hurt your little finger or something of the sort. Granted, some people are just sour and bitter without provocation and would snap at people even in they worked at Disneyland but I’ll just give them the benefit of the doubt.

Within five minutes after sitting down, I saw a boy who couldn’t possibly be a day over six years who had lost a leg and was using crutches, a daughter patiently walking her mum who had had a stroke and had little co-ordination and an eleven year old girl who had just had her eye taken out. I know her age for sure because I asked. Later, I realized these sights had been a walk in the park when I had to go through the accident center to get to the operating room where my mom was to be treated. A ‘kind’ nurse offered to show me around the male accident ward when she saw me looking around, probably because she thought I was interested. One look in the ward had me declining the offer faster than a speeding bullet.

Why am I sharing this with you? Being at the hospital yesterday made me realize how much we take for granted day-in, day-out. Many of us have not been to the hospital for anything more serious than a rash, the flu, malaria, changing the prescription of our glasses or tightening our braces in over five years. Some of us don’t remember the last time we were detained at a hospital. A few of us haven’t been sick for as long as we can remember and we don’t even realize how blessed we are. The blessing of good health is one of the easiest to take for granted, especially when you don’t come into contact with sick people very often. Yesterday, I was forced to take another look at that blessing.

When after six hours my mum emerged from the emergency room all wrapped up in a bandage, I thought I had never seen a more beautiful sight. Her operation had been performed with a local anesthesia so she was able to come home. Even though she will have to go back for dressing of the wound every other day and I will have to wait on her hands and foot since she cannot use her right hand until the wound completely heals, thinking of how many people came to the hospital with a parent, child or spouse yesterday and went home empty handed made me extremely grateful. Some patients died, some lost body parts and some were irreparably damaged or terminally ill. Some even go through all four conditions. Life is indeed a precious gift.

As my mom was recounting her experience in the operating room, she told how at a point, a vein tore and had to be tied up. Exhibiting my ignorance, I asked my dad if it would be sewn back, or if it wouldn’t affect her in anyway. Apparently, we destroy thousands of our finer veins every day. When you sit, you block the blood flow through hundreds of tiny veins in your backside. However, your internal transport system quickly adjusts to the diversion and nothing happens to you. When you get up, many of those blocked passages will never work again. However, new ones quickly replace those and the diversions work while this is done until it’s like nothing ever happened. In trying to explain the process to me, my dad stopped at a point in time and said “In fact, the whole process is incredible and so detailed and well-orchestrated that it tends to suggest that we were indeed created and not a result of say, a big bang”.

As you can well guess, this was the highlight of my day. Hearing this from my dad, who had studied science and the human anatomy for God-knows-how-many years, warmed my heart greatly. In this era of ‘enlightenment’ where academicians and scientists the world over are claiming their studies has led them to discover true knowledge and enlightenment and led them to reject God, it was a refreshing break. I won’t let myself be carried away by this topic though; it is a topic that will take at least another article to tackle.

If you woke up today and nothing hurts and everything works, if no loved one of yours is in intensive care or terminally ill. If you don’t have to take twenty-two pills a day under doctor’s advice to move on to the next day, you are blessed. Exercise and a good diet have not kept you that way. Certainly, they have helped. However, professional athletes in top form have dropped dead with no apparent reason. You are blessed. Use the blessing of life and good health wisely.

And just as an aside – the fact that you have access to healthcare should you fall sick, is another blessing on its own. Visit the WHO (World Health Organisation) website and find out exactly how many people don’t have even that. You will be amazed.

Copyright (c) 2010
First Published in the 'Daily Graphic' (March, 2010)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Women... Our own enemies?

"He loves me, I love him not. He treats me like a queen, it matters not.
I love him, he loves me not. I love him, no matter what." ~ Nana Oye Odame

I remember a poem I wrote in High School about Marriage. I tried to find it and post it, but it will take some time. It all boils down to this - happens to almost every girl. There are guys who would give an arm and a leg to call you theirs and some who would take your arm and leg if you gave it to them, and throw it away, not seeing the value of your sacrifice. And correct me if I'm wrong, but we tend to mostly gravitate towards the second group.

This has earned us a reputation of not knowing what we want from the guys. Here is an illustration
Loving, sensitive, God-fearing guy: What do you want in a guy?
Lady: I want a guy who loves God, is caring and can make me laugh. A serious minded guy who is not just looking for fun but has marriage in mind...

(a few months later)
Same guy: Will you go out with me? be my girl? Will you consider the possibility of being my wife and explore that possibility with me in courtship?
Lady: I will think about it (thinking to self - Hell no! You're boring. I want excitement. and marriage? dude, I'm way too young for that. I wanna have me some fun! Where are you in a hurry to? And you care too much. You don't get mad at me or make me mad, you're always calling me to check on me... I want a guy who will allow me to have my space and not a needy guy like you. You're not man enough for me)

(of course, she says no eventually and the next time they meet, here is Lady with a child and no husband, visibly bruised and battered)

Excitement! We let the good guys go in the name of chasing excitement! Did I not say that we are adrenalin junkies? Anyway, I was telling my friend the other day, when he was debating a similar dilemma as to whether to date a 'naughty girl' or a 'good girl' that A good girl can be a naughty wife. A naughty girl can also be a good wife. It comes down to a trade-off between happiness and excitement and which risk you'd rather take.

More often than not, we choose to go with the excitement, often confusing it with happiness. We act as if when  the pastor pronounces us husband and wife, our exciting boys are going to automatically transform into responsible husbands. This is no fairytale. The pastor isn't a fairy godmother with a magic wand.

If we are honest and make two lists - one with the qualities we want in a boyfriend and another with the qualities we want in a husband, many of us may find that the lists describe two very different people. But who do we marry? Is it not our boyfriends? The unfortunate thing is that this inconsistency teaches the good boys that good guys finish last. Many of them become bad men.

And we turn and complain that good guys have gone extinct. The power is really in our hands. The power of choice. A little economics here - what we demand will get produced. If we are demanding naughty, dangerous, bad boys, who treat us badly, why do we complain when they deliver?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Blog Action Day

Today is Blog Action Day! This is an annual event held every October 15 that unites the world’s bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day with the aim of sparking a global discussion and driving collective action. This year's topic is water.(see website here -

If you’ve never lived in a place where you had to walk miles to fetch water each morning, where harvested rain is the cleanest source of water you have, where you boil stream water and drink it although your neighbor was peeing in it when you were fetching the water, if guinea worm, bilharzias, cholera, typhoid, amoebic and bacillary dysentery all sound like exotic diseases to you, you’ve probably never truly realized the value of water and are wondering what the fuss about water is.

If you don’t have to worry about toning your arms because drawing water from the well does that for you, if you've walked miles to fetch water from a well or bore-hole before, if you've bathed with water you've been scared of, if you’ve mastered ways of softening hard water without a single chemistry class, you probably know too well what I am referring to…

By mass, human cells consist of 65–90% water. Approximately 90% of plasma (which constitutes about 55% of human blood) is water Human beings can go months without food but can only last three days without water before your kidneys fail and your whole system starts to fail. If I’ve still not convinced you that water is important, think of all the things you do with water – drink water, cook with water, wash (clothes and dishes) with water, you name it...

True, 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered with water. Yet, only 3% of this is fit for human consumption. Of this 3%, two-thirds is frozen (ice caps and glaciers), leaving only about 1% available for consumption. The remaining 97% covering the earth’s surface is salt water, which cannot be used for drinking or agriculture (hence, the whole hullabaloo about desalination). If all the earth's water fit in a gallon jug, available fresh water would equal just over a tablespoon.

According to the UN, 50% of all hospital beds worldwide are occupied by patients who are ill from contaminated water. In the developing world, water related diseases account for 80% of all sickness and claim around 5 million lives each year. In such areas, 60%-70% of the rural population neither has access to safe usable water, nor any satisfactory means of waste disposal. Presently, over 1.1 billion people lack access to improved water supply and this number is set to climb to 2.3 billion by 2025.(Source:

So yes, water is VERY important. If you have clean, potable water, you are blessed and shouldn’t waste it. It’s amazing how easy it is to take water for granted. Brushing our teeth with the taps running, having sex in the shower with the water still running (I see you!) using the dishwasher to wash three plates at a time… You know what you do!

Water on Earth is finite. We will never get more than what we have now and yet, population will continue to grow. This is a call for awareness, a call to conserve our water resources. How? 
Wash your fruits and vegetables in a pan of water instead of running water from the tap; turn off the tap after wetting your tooth-brush, Monitor your water bill for unusually high use. Your bill and water meter are tools that can help you discover leaks… check out more tips here (

P/S: If you want to make the world a better place for those who have no potable water, find an organization that does so and support it. Also, click to sign the petition on my blog. Have a wonderful day!