300 Books Before 30

Part of my identity has always been that I am a reader. I cannot remember a time in my childhood — from my earliest memories — that I did not love books or count myself among those who love reading; whether it was thick, cardboard-paged books about a spotty dog, The Famous Five, Sweet Dreams (cringe!), Sweet Valley, then finally the more mature books about life, love and such… books formed a huge part of my identity.

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But, increasingly, in my young adult years through to my current adult years (old adult?), I’ve found less and less time for reading. And I know that’s just because I’ve made less time for it. I’ve found more distractions, more stress, more work, more world news, more to fret about, and more Facebook and YouTube to numb my brain with.

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Bowing Out

I made it five days into the glorious month of poetry before bowing out (gracefully?). Well, that’s not entirely true — I have still been writing this past week and I have a few poems to show for it, but none that I want to share right now.

NaPoWriMo is just not happening for me this year. Pieces of my mind are scattered in so many different places that I can’t quite gather them together long enough to compose something I like enough. Continue reading

A New Place to Call Home

My family and I have recently moved into a new neighbourhood. In this neighbourhood, we have a new place that we now call ‘Home’. I’ve only ever known one other Home in my life; that Home, I had known for over 25 years — more, if you count the time that I was moving and shifting around in my momma’s belly. That was Home. And, a bit unnervingly, I still call it that even now. I don’t mean to, I really don’t. I like this new Home I have. I really do. I like the space and the air, the greenery and the birds.

But my old Home was family; it wasn’t just a brick and cement building. Imagine moving into a new Home and leaving one of your family members behind in the old one… That may sound extreme or exaggerated, and before moving, I might have thought the same if I had heard someone else make that analogy. But, I promise, that is how I feel. I have left part of my family behind. An old grandpa. Or old uncle. (Yes, my old Home was a man. Grey and wrinkly. And cracking in certain places. But he was lovable and dear.)

It is impossible to bring him along, but it feels almost as impossible to leave him behind. I drive past this old Home and I struggle to picture other people inside it. I try to imagine them in our kitchen, eating around our table, or lounging in our living room, and I feel like they are intruders. I want to visit my old Home, just to see if he is doing okay. To see what they’ve done with him, and if they’re treating him well. Now, I know I am bordering on insane here, but how do you not become just a little bit crazy when you leave behind 25 years of running up and down the passage even when Mum said not to; banging bedroom doors to relieve teenage frustration; family breakfasts, lunches and suppers around an antique dinner table; or sounds of creaking doors that would alarm you to the approaching parent just in time so that you can hide that novel that you should not be reading or that movie that you should not be watching while you actually should be studying Bio or Geography for your final Matric exam? And if you think that sentence was too long to digest, perhaps that gives you a slight indication of the length of time I am trying to squeeze together into some comprehensible and tangible form so that I may keep it alive for a little bit longer.

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Now I know they say that Home is where the heart is, or where the family is, and that this is just a new place for me to make new memories, and that change is good and all of that. I’m sure they are right. But change and a new Home takes some getting used to, and memories take a while to become memories. So while I do honestly love this new place, I am still waiting for it to really feel like Home. In the mean time, let me share with you some things I miss about my old Home, my old uncle that I left behind. Some of the things on this list I had already documented elsewhere, on more temporary media forms, and due to a concerned friend, who kindly advised me to try to think of things I like about my new Home, rather than reflecting too much on the past, I stopped that list. But now I want to continue, but please note: this is not a lament. This is not a form of nagging and moaning for what is lost. This is just me reminiscing and fondly replaying the memories of a place that was Home for the first 25 years of my life. I’d like to look back 25 years from now and remember that place, and the details of it. But by then I’ll be 50. And I might have Alzheimer’s, or just plain ol’ bad memory. So these words might help as a supporting aid.

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Things I Miss About My Old Home:

1. My cousin who lived three roads away. Random evening or afternoon walks up to her house, or random visits from her — these are no more. In fact, just random evening walks anywhere in the neighbourhood. We still take random walks in the evening in this new neighbourhood, to my sister who stays up the road, or just around for the fun of it, but there’s no community here. No little children running through the streets at a time that they actually should already be in bed, no teenage boys taking skateboard races up and down a cul-de-sac, or people sitting on stoeps having casual conversations in the cool night air. I loved seeing these things while my parents and I leisurely walk through the streets at night. Oh, and bumping into aunties and uncles along the way and stopping to greet but then ending up having a 30-minute conversation. (All our neighbours are aunties and uncles. I mean, our ex-neighbours.)

2. My neighbours. We weren’t the tightest-knit community of people. There were people two houses away whose names I did not know. But there was Uncle Kevin across the road; we never spoke, but we always waved in passing. There was Aunty Faeeza next to him; she often sent us guavas from her guava tree in her backyard, and I grew up playing with her children. There was Aunty Zaida next door; she made scarf shopping really easy and convenient because she sells them. And Uncle Muhammad who always stood on the corner at the end of our road; I’m not quite sure where he lives, and I’ve never spoken to him at all, but he waved in greeting to me each morning as I took that corner. And, like I said, all my neighbours are aunties and uncles, even those that lived roads away.

3. Hobos that you know and who become regulars at your house. I used to have conversations with them. It was memorable.

4. Shorter distance between Home and my place of work. And no traffic. At all. Just some annoying drivers along the way. But other than that, it was just me and the wide, open road. Now… I have more distance, annoying drivers, and a slow-moving, car-crammed, accident-prone highway between me and my place of work. Granted, that stretch of car-crammed highway is not very long before I again get on the wide, open M5 road, but when there are slow-moving cars, the 3 minutes you should spend on that highway to get to the M5 turns into 10-15 mins of agony.

5. My beautiful, close view of the mountains from my front stoep. My old neighbourhood is not the most scenic of places. In fact, it is pretty crowded and houses are very close to one another. But we were also close to the mountains. And I loved looking at it as I stepped out in the mornings, or on sunny afternoons. I love the mountains. Sometimes, as I’m driving, I am in danger of getting too close to the car in front of me because I’m too busy staring at the glorious mountains and the different patterns and fashions in which the clouds cover it. So having the mountain so close to my doorstep was a huge bonus that I never took for granted.

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6. The smell of freshly baked bread wafting through the air from the nearby Blue Ribbon bakery. This one my cousin reminded me of — the cousin who lives three roads away. She lives in the neighbourhood too, so she would know. That smell… is beautiful. I would come to the red light at the intersection just outside the bakery and sit there just inhaling that aroma. Gosh, I miss it.

7. Living around the corner from a masjid. That was just a blessing. There is so much attached to that. To which masjid will I rush through the streets during Ramadan for taraweeh now? Which masjid will sound the athan into our home now? There is no masjid near enough here.

8. The ‘Eid vibe. ‘Eid has just passed us. It was the quietest ‘Eid I have ever experienced. Reasons are already stated above: community, masjid, all of that.

9. Creaks, cracks and bangs that I knew. Here, there are sounds of creaks, there are cracks, and there are bangs that I am not familiar with yet. And they FREAK me out! Especially when I am alone at home. I knew every sound in my old Home; I knew exactly from which part of the house or from which object falling it came. Here, I do not. Even the sound of the wind scares me.

I shall end it there. I do not want to make this list too exhaustive, lest it be thought that I am unhappy in my new Home. I am not unhappy. I am, indeed, very happy here. Alhamdulillah (All praise to Allah). I miss the old, naturally, but I certainly appreciate the new for what it is. It is spacious, fresh, lush, quiet and safe. I find new reasons to love it each day. And I know that, soon, this Home will become an old aunty to me (this Home feels like a woman; a fairly young and fresh woman too). So do not be mistaken by my words of longing for my old Home. I long for it, and I will most probably always miss it a little. It was my first Home. It is where all my firsts happened. But I am excited at the new prospects. I have visions of amazing times here with my family in this new place to call Home.


Have you ever felt connected to a building or place, like they’re a part of your family? Or am I just a strange person?



NaPoWriMo Day 30: Speaking in Opposites

Remember, as a child, when you would play that game where you’d say something cool/weird/funny/scary to your brother/sister/friend, and they would look at you with excitement or awe written all over their face, and you’d wait a bit just for effect and then say, “In the opposites!” and laugh your head off? Remember those days? Or is my childhood the only one which has those moments? Because then this would be a little awkward…

The last prompt of NaPoWriMo requested us to take an original poem written by someone else and to change as many words in the poem as we could to mean the opposite of what it originally says.

I chose As I Grew Older by Langston Hughes.

As I Grew Younger

by Ruqaiyah Davids

It was a short time ago.
I have never remembered my reality.
But it is here now,
Behind me,
Dull like the moon—
My reality.
And then the wall sank,
Sank fast,
Around me and my reality.
Sank until it touched the ground—
The wall.
I am white.
I stand up in the brightness.
Still the darkness of my reality behind me,
Below me.
More than the thin wall.
More than the brightness.
My feet!
My light feet!
Mend together the wall!
Lose my reality!
Help me to piece together this light,
To rebuild this day,
To mend this brightness
Into a single light of moon,
Into a single firm reality
Of moon!


NaPoWriMo Day 14: Superty-Duperty

This is a persona poem, as is put forth in the Day 14 challenge. We were encouraged to write in the persona of someone else, preferably a superhero or super-villain. I don’t know any of them well enough to pretend to be them–we’ve never met. Instead, I’ve chosen to assume the persona of my mom. My very own superhero. She doesn’t have a cape, instead she has a scarf untidily draped around her head because she was in too much of a hurry to fix it, giving preference to giving all of us vitamins for the day instead. She can’t fly and doesn’t have x-ray vision, but she’s always just where she needs to be and she has the power of the super-glare. When she looks at you with the super-glare, you immediately stop whatever nonsense you were just doing and you know–you just know–you’re going to get it when you reach home. You don’t quite know what it will be, but you know you’ll get it. And you’re afraid. You’re very afraid.

A lovely woman she is, though often tends to believe she is more invincible than the rest of us. She sacrifices herself too often. But I guess that is one of the qualities of a superhero, isn’t it? They always sacrifice themselves for the greater good–even when the people they’re doing it for are undeserving of it.


Rise early,
No time to be surly.
Get everyone up!
Serve them love in a cup.
I don’t get a sick day,
I don’t get to stay under the covers and lay–
Well, not for long anyway.
I have to work today–
And the next day.
And the next.
That is what everyone expects.

My cooking is not always the best,
But I take care of my family–
Who cares about the rest?

When they’re sick
I’m their doctor.
I rub their heads,
Sit by their beds
And even deliver their meds.

When they’re hurt,
Have a growth spurt;
When they achieve,
Or need some reprieve;
When they’re happy,
Or just feel chatty:
I’m there for it all,
Even when they put up a wall.

I shout and I scream.
Sometimes, I am a horror movie’s dream.
I manipulate and force,
But all with due cause.
They don’t always know what is good for them.
This was proven when
My youngest girl
Was too afraid to sit behind the wheel.
She fought and she cried,
She didn’t understand why
It was so important for her to learn how to drive.
But I fought even harder,
I wouldn’t allow her to discard her
Independence and intelligence.
So I manipulated and I forced,
I never paused.
Now, years later, my daughter is grateful
And no longer fearful.

I am not very well-read
And I don’t know the big, fancy words,
But I gave birth to four English nerds.

I am super-right;
I have super might;
There are few things that will cause me fright.
I am super-strong,
I raised four kids in these arms,
And I will always try to protect them from all harms.

I am Super-Mom–
And my love for my children
Is where my power comes from.


Tell me about your Super-Mom. Or any other superhero you have in your life.


NaPoWriMo Day 11: Tanked It!

It’s one of those days again, when the prompt from the folks over at NaPoWriMo are not that much fun to follow. Well, yeah, they’re fun, but they’re not easy. And right now I’m equating ‘fun’ with ‘easy’. So, because I’ve committed to seeing the whole month of April through with a poem a day (or sometimes skipping a day and giving you a whopping TWO poems a day! Yay!), I absolutely have to try my hand at this new type of writing that I haven’t done before. It’s actually quite fun to experiment with new forms of poetry that I’ve never done before–getting out of my comfort zone and all that.

Today’s prompt is to write a type of poem called a tanka. It’s a poem based on syllables, with the pattern being 5-7-5-7-7. According to NaPoWriMo, “[t]hey work best when those final two 7-syllable lines contain a sort of turn or surprise that the first three lines might not wholly anticipate.”

I must admit that I took this poem very seriously. Very. I think it’s quite heavy with emotion.

Tanked It!

Tanka is a poem
That isn’t easy to write.
Syllables and rhyme,
Do not show me a good time.
And I think I’ve just missed it.



NaPoWriMo Day 8: Poetic Licence

I had some silly fun with this one. 🙂

Poetic Licence

The last time I tried this hard to rhyme
I was in high school.
Needless to say, in time,
I learned that forcing meaning and rhyme was uncool.
Regardless of my poetic licence, I felt like I was committing a crime.
When I read what I had written, I felt like a humungous fool.
So I threw them all away
And I am a better poet for it today.

(Even though, based on this poem, you would not say…)