Tag Archive: birdsong


greed is good*

art by banksy



Greed is Good* …

brands and little tender hands,
sewing and sweating,

in dinghy factories and in smoke-clogged stands.

Haute-couture and ostentatious labels,
black and blue whiskey on heaving sushi tables.

Greed is good,


it ‘enhances’ free-market competition,
as we blindly scamper from mall to mall,
devoid of a scintilla of compassionate vision.

Greed is good,
oh and it feeds,
on complicity,
apathy,
as we reap the rewards,
of the sowing of hypocritical seeds.

Greed is good,
yes it is,
as long as we can buy and buy and buy and buy,

and

as long as there’s gourmet coffee to be had,

and,

as long as there are oysters we can lasciviously shuck,

ohhhh yessss,
greed is good,
so we sew our mouths shut,
as we frolic,
as we party,

and,

as we fuck …





art from google


( * – title borrowed from Oliver Stone’s film ‘Wall Street’ )

I am the Heartbeat of Africa …



I am the Heartbeat of Africa …

I am the heartbeat of Africa. The blood flowing through its veins, and I have seen much. I have witnessed the the pummelling of peoples under the jackboot of colonialism, the plunder of wealth, stripping bare the very veins I flow through. I have urged the collective to stand tall, amidst the horrors of history. It has not been easy, the tyranny of centuries has left scars, raw scabby festering sores, my thumping scarlet oozing out of myriad pores, rendering the great continent pained, hollow … but still, and yet, I course inside millions of souls, refusing to capitulate, thick with hopes for the day and the days after the day. I have placated the wounded, the multitudes forgotten, the bodies seeking respite from the loss, the anger, the deprivation of spirits undimmed by the splintered darkness of racial prejudice. I have seen so much, children torn from loving embraces, mothers holding on, as the world turns its face away, conveniently absolving itself of its crimes. I have felt the hardening of arteries, the will to fight on, despite the overwhelming odds.

yes, I am the blood of Africa. 

and I shall continue to flow, coaxing my people to rise again, to summon up the valiant spirits of the ancestors, to stand and to fight against the insidious doublespeak of tongues, silken tongues peddling instruments of death, shunning the divides that separate one from another, to rise and greet the fresh blazing African sun, each day, every day, until that day when the daily battles cease, when the battles are done. 

yes, I am the blood of Africa, and I shall flow ever on, sowing hope where desolation stalks the evenings, I am hope for tomorrows dawn, for despite and inspite of it all, the new day of peace, of renewed hope, must be, must be born …

with President Nelson Mandela and my father – Johannesburg 2008
President Nelson Mandela and my father – 1950s Johannesburg
President Nelson Mandela and my father – post Apartheid South Africa

My family – A journey through the Seasons.

Part One: Winter

There is a legend in Delhi that when a male-child is born, the parents are visited by a group of ‘Hijras’, a derogatory term used to describe the Transgender community. The troupe gather en-masse outside the home of the parents of the infant boy and sing and dance, and offer blessings to the new arrival, while in return a small sum of money is offered to the visiting party and all returns to the relative ‘normalcy’ that prevails in a home that has just experienced the birth of a child.

These were the early 1970′s, and this story was told to me in great detail by my parents, who themselves were recently arrived political exiles in India, having to leave South Africa, where my father was arrested along with Nelson Mandela and 156 others in the infamous ‘Treason Trial’ of 1956.

The ‘main’ “Treason Trial” lasted four years till 1960, though the entire trial lasted till 1961, when the 30 remaining accused (of which my father was one) were acquitted by the Supreme Court.

The outcome of the trial was that all 156 were acquitted of the charge of ‘High Treason’.

During the 5 years of the trial my father and his co-accused had to travel daily to court in Pretoria from Johannesburg, some 60 kilometres away.

The accused were all charged with ‘High Treason’ and faced the death penalty if found guilty. My father was the youngest accused at 22 years of age.

A Flash Forward –

Later, in 1963, when my father was arrested again and held at Marshall Square Police Station in central Johannesburg, my father and three fellow political detainees managed to convince a young Afrikaner warder, Johan Greeff, into helping the four escape from the downtown Johannesburg prison. He was promised financial remuneration for his cooperation.

The news of ‘The Great Escape’ embarrassed the Apartheid state at a time when it felt that it had crushed the African National Congress (ANC), with most of its leaders either in jail, or having gone underground. The ‘Sharpeville’ massacre of 1960 resulted in the Apartheid state declaring a State of Emergency and banning the African National Congress (ANC) and other political organisations.

My father, Moosa ‘Mosie’ Moolla and his three fellow escapees (Abdulhay ‘Charlie’ Jassat, Harold Wolpe, and Arthur Goldreich) parted ways and moved from one safe-house to another, until my father, heavily disguised, managed to slip through the border into neighbouring ‘Bechuanaland’, now the country Botswana.

Goldreich and Wolpe managed to disguise themselves as clerics and made their way to Swaziland, a British High Commission Territory, from where they flew over to Bechuanaland (now Botswana).

The South African authorities offered a reward of 5000 Pounds Sterling for the capture of any of the escapees.

Following the escape my father and His fellow escapees were separately sheltered by members of the ANC underground for a few days.

They then parted ways for safety reasons and Abdulhay Jassat made his way to Bechuanaland where he sought political asylum.

By the time my father made his way about a month after the escape to Bechuanaland, the two white colleagues ( my father and Jassat are of Indian-origin) Wolpe and Goldreich had flown over to Tanganyka (now Tanzania) where the ANC’s external headquarters were located in Dar-es-Salaam.

It should be noted that a chartered plane to ferry ANC students and Wolpe and Goldreich was blown-up on the tarmac by South African agents in the early hours of the morning.

Wolpe and Goldreich then flew over on another flight. Jassat followed suit.

An Interesting Fact –

My father and Abdulhay ‘Charlie’ Jassat were both born on June 12th, 1934, and the two were arrested and escaped from prison together, and subsequently lived 30 years of their lives in exile, and both men returned to South Africa following the release of Nelson Mandela and all political prisoners, and the unbanning of the ANC and all liberation movements, and the return of political exiles.

As I type these words, my father and ‘Charlie’ live a few kilometres apart in Johannesburg and meet fairly regularly – mostly at functions or events held to commemorate the years of the struggle for freedom and democracy in South Africa.

But more about my father in a bit.

A Flash Back –

My mother, Zubeida or ‘Zubie’, a nurse at the time, and expecting my brother Azad (which means ‘to be free’ in Urdu) was subsequently arrested and detained while having to endure interrogation about her husband’s whereabouts. Azad was born in late 1963, a few months after my father’s escape.

Thus my father did not see his first-born son till 5 years later in 1968 when my mother and young brother and sister reunited with my father on the Tanzanian border. My father had by then joined the Armed-Wing of the African National Congress, Umkhonto-we-Sizwe, or MK, ‘The Spear of the Nation’, which was formed in 1960 following the ANC’s decision to abandon non-violent opposition against Apartheid and to take up arms.

My sister Tasneem Nobandla, ‘Nobandla’ or ‘she who is of the people’ in isiXhosa was given her Xhosa middle name by my father’s comrade-in-arms and his Best-Man, Nelson Mandela, who couldn’t make it to my parent’s wedding because he was in detention at the time, a few years earlier!

My sister Tasneem Nobandla Moolla was born on October the 14th 1962

‘Nobandla’ was named when Mosie asked his comrade and Best-Man, Nelson Mandela, who could not make it to his wedding to name his new-born daughter. The two men had spent time in jail together in adjoining cells a year earlier in 1962.

Times were tough in those early years of exile, with my father off on military training with the newly formed ANC’s ‘Spear of the Nation’, and my mother having to shoulder the extreme difficulties of life in exile, in a strange country, having left her family behind, and having to essentially fend for herself and her two young children.

This led to a decision that continues to haunt my family to this day.

According to my parents, the situation in exile in those early years of the Anti-Apartheid struggle abroad was so dire, and my father being away training in guerrilla tactics and the like, while my mother worked as a nurse trying to raise two young kids, suffering from bouts of Malaria and being short on money as well, a decision was made to send my young brother and sister back to South Africa to remain in the care of my maternal grandparents, in the hope that when things in exile ‘improved’ or at least settled a bit, the kids would leave the care of their grandparents and join their parents abroad.

This did not happen, and this is one of the most difficult parts of our family’s history to write and talk openly about. Due to circumstances beyond their control, and due to a myriad other reasons, my young brother and sister remained separated from our parents, and grew up in Apartheid South Africa with my maternal grandparents in Johannesburg.

My mother, who passed away in 2008 after a lengthy battle with Motor-Neurone Disease, carried the pain and the guilt of that decision till she died. My father still lives with the guilt and the trauma of being separated from his children, and his family for over 30 years.

My brother Azad and my sister Tasneem, had to endure the unimaginable trauma of knowing that their parents were alive and on distant shores somewhere, yet being utterly helpless in joining them and living as a family, albeit a family in political exile.

The wounds are deep, and the trauma is still raw, all these years later, and my mother died broken-hearted, having to endure the separation of a mother from her children, as well as having to deal with a husband who was engaged full-time in the ANC and the anti-Apartheid struggle in exile.

It is only now that I can understand my mother’s strength of character and fortitude in remaining sane under circumstances that no parent should ever have to go through.

My siblings, on the hand, had to grow up with grandparents, and this has led to our family having to continuously grapple with the scars of a family torn-apart by Apartheid.

My brother Azad, a lawyer, is married with two beautiful young girls, and my sister, a teacher, is married with four beautiful daughters as well.

We all live in Johannesburg, and though some progress has been made in reconciling our family, it is very painful to say that there are many unresolved emotional wounds, which are completely understandable given the circumstances.

President Nelson Mandela and my mother – post Apartheid South Africa

My Family – A Historical Journey through the Seasons

Part Two: Spring

The narrative here is neither chronological, nor is it meant to be a complete history of my family thus far – that would be highly presumptuous of me to attempt – so what you, dear reader, are reading (praise be to your perseverance!) are the disjointed thoughts and memories and anecdotal and other stories that every family shares.

I must state that the facts about my father’s internment and escape are all verifiable using a web-search engine, as are the facts about my parent’s involvement in the struggle for liberation in South Africa, and my father’s subsequent appointment by then President Nelson Mandela as South African Ambassador to Iran (1995 – 1999) and later by President Thabo Mbeki as South African High Commissioner to Pakistan (2000 – 2004) in the newly democratic country that countless South Africans sacrificed their lives to achieve.

My parents often spoke of the privilege that they felt to be alive and return to the country of their birth after spending virtually their entire lives as foot-soldiers in the African National Congress, the liberation movement that included in its ranks giants of South African history – Nelson ‘Madiba’ Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki, Ahmed Kathrada, Dr. Moses Kotane, Dr. Yusuf Dadoo, Joe Slovo, Bram Fischer, Chris Hani, only to name a few, and with no disrespect meant to the many, many more that I have not named.

The ‘privilege’ my parents spoke about was that they were the ‘fortunate’ ones, the ones who lived to see the non-racial, non-sexist, democratic constitution being drafted, and a South Africa without the crime against humanity that was Apartheid.

So many comrades and friends and fellow compatriots did not live to cast their vote on that glorious April day in 1994, and to see Nelson Mandela being inaugurated as South Africa’s first freely elected black President, a President who represented the whole of South African society.

A Flash Back –

And so it was that I was born in 1972 in an India that had just been engaged in a war with Pakistan, which in turn led to the establishment of a new country – Bangladesh.

India at the time was the in midst of austere Nehruvian Socialism, and my parents who had spent the mid and late-1960′s in Tanzania, Zambia and Britain, were deployed by the African National Congress to India, where my father was the Chief-Representative of the ANC.

My early childhood years were spent in India, and I recall the sweltering Delhi summers and the torrential monsoons that offered respite, albeit briefly, from the furnace of the Indian summer.

When I was 6 years old, my father was deployed by the ANC to be its Chief-Representative in Cairo, Egypt, and to be the ANC Representative at the Afro-Asian Peoples’ Solidarity Organisation (AAPSO).

This was 1978, and as a 6 year old, I am afraid I have very few fond memories of Cairo – we lived on a meagre stipend and though we lived in an apparently ‘better’ suburb of Cairo called Zamalek, an island on the Nile, the flat we occupied was on the ground-floor of a high-rise apartment block and it was damp, dark, and had the unfortunate distinction of being right next to the apartment block’s garbage-disposal area!

This meant a steady stream of litter, literally being flung from the windows of our neighbours in the flats above us, and often landing with a crash of shattered glass right outside our tiny kitchen.

Cairo was also where I had to unlearn the Hindi I had learnt in Delhi and pick up Arabic, which I did as most 6 year olds do when required by circumstance to learn a new language.

I faintly remember the Presidents’ Sadat-Carter meetings around the time of the Camp David Peace Accord signed between Israel and Egypt and my days were spent riding my bicycle through the dusty lanes of Zamalek.

One memory that is particularly poignant is that of my mother, with her head in her hands, sobbing as she pined for her two children at the opposite end of the African continent. I remember many days walking back from school and before stepping into our apartment block, seeing my mother through the window of what was my room, head in hands, crying.

It is a memory that I carry with me still.

Another indelible memory is when we visited the WWII museum of the battle of al-Alamein, in al-Alamein. Walking past the graves of the fallen in the war against Nazism, we came across many South African names, and I remember vividly how my father explained to me what Fascism and Nazism meant, and how important it was at the time for the world to fight it.

As we walked through the tombstones of the WWII soldiers from all parts of the world, my father explained to me how Apartheid in South Africa was a scourge (though not in those words!) like Fascism and Nazism, and how just as the world had joined forces to fight Hitler and Mussolini, we too had to fight against Apartheid in South Africa, and that is why I was not at ‘home’ with my brother and sister.

‘Home’. That was something for a 9 or 10 year old to hear, because I had grown up always being told about ‘home’ being South Africa, which was as distant to me as the stars above the Pyramids. I was aware from as young as I can remember my parents’ sometimes angry insistence that home was not where we happened to be, at a particular time, whether in Delhi or in Cairo, but in distant South Africa.

I however, could not understand why ‘home’ was not where I was. In Delhi I spoke Hindi like a local, and had friends and felt that ‘home’ was our little flat on the 1st floor of a block of flats in Greater Kailash. But then came the move to Cairo, and in no time at all I completely forgot my Hindi, and learnt Arabic like a local, and had friends and felt that ‘home’ was our dinghy flat in Zamalek.

And then in 1982, my father was re-deployed from Cairo back to Delhi, and suddenly there I was, 10 years old, meeting my old friends and not knowing a word of Hindi!

So the idea of ‘belonging’, of ‘home’, of being rooted in a place and time was alien to me from a very young age. I remember dreading when the next ‘move’ would be, given that my parents were political exiles and often having to pack up our few belongings and travelling at very short notice. I do not want it to sound like it was particularly unpleasant in any way, because there also was the thrill a child has of the packing and the plane rides, and the new places that were so, so new to me. Cairo and Delhi probably had only the following things in common: the heat, the population, and the fact that both Egypt under Gamal Abdul Nasser and India under Jawaharlal Nehru were two of the four countries (the others being Sukarno’s Indonesia and Marshall Tito’s Yugoslavia) that founded the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) during the Cold War.

A Flash Forward –

The year is 1990, and my parents and I found ourselves in Helsinki, Finland, where in November 1989 the ANC deployed my father as ANC Secretary to the World Peace Council (WPC) which had its headquarters in Helsinki.

For the 17 year old that I was to suddenly, in a matter of weeks, pack up and leave high-school, friends and a girl-friend at the time, was particularly harsh for me.

I remember spending the winter of 1989 holed up in our two-bedroomed flat in Helsinki, not knowing what had just taken place. I pined for the girl I was (kind of!) dating back in school in Delhi, and I was thoroughly shocked by the below-zero temperatures of winter in Scandinavia, and thoroughly disheartened by the short days and long, long nights. I did love the snow however!

Then it happened. We heard the news that Nelson Mandela and all political prisoners in South Africa were to be released, unconditionally, and that the liberation movements and the ANC were to be unbanned!

This changed everything.

It was a chaotic and heady time, with high hopes and renewed life as the once impossible dream of returning ‘home’ was to be realised.

A very memorable trip was made by my parents and I, by ferry from Helsinki to Stockholm, Sweden. An overnight ferry-ride, the trip was magical, for we were to meet Nelson Mandela, free after 27 years on Robben Island and in Sweden to meet the President of the ANC, comrade Oliver Reginald Tambo, Mandela’s old friend, law-partner and life-long comrade in the ANC. President Oliver Tambo, who had been in exile for almost 30 years was a dynamic and charismatic and intellectual giant who had built the ANC in exile from being just another liberation movement in exile into the voice of the South African freedom struggle, launching successful campaigns to isolate Apartheid South Africa from the world community.

Unfortunately President Oliver Tambo had suffered a stroke and was convalescing as a guest of the Swedish government; themselves staunch allies in the fight against Apartheid. Nelson Mandela met his old comrade in Stockholm and we met the godfather of my sister, and the would-be best-man of my father in a hall in Stockholm. I have photographs of the tears and joy as Mandela hugged my father and mother, and as old comrades including Ahmed Kathrada who also spent 27 years in jail with Mandela and the other Rivonia Trial accused, met after nearly 30 years! I was overwhelmed, as were countless others to finally meet the man who had become the face of the worldwide struggle against Apartheid.

That my parents knew the Mandelas as young friends and comrades only made the reunion on a Scandinavian day all the more special.

There was a sense of vindication, of oppression though still not defeated, but definitely in its final moments, as we acknowledged that we all stood on the cusp of something so many had not only dreamed about, but dedicated their entire lives to achieve.

We spent a few days in Stockholm and Uppsala, and then hopped on the ferry back to Helsinki, to finally begin preparations for the return home.

The trip we made was on freezing November night, when we boarded a train from Helsinki to Moscow, and then flew to Maputo in Mozambique where we spent a night, before boarding a South African Airways flight to Johannesburg.

I will never forget the stifled sobs of my mother as the pilot announced we were flying over South African soil.

My parents and I returned to South Africa on a November day in 1990, as part of a batch of returning political exiles.

I was 18 years old and met most of my family members for the first time.

My father receiving “The Order of Luthuli” in Silver from President Jacob Zuma

My Family – A Historical Journey through the Seasons

Part Three: A Summer Digression

And now, dear reader (may your patience be praised!), I am going to steer this ship of memories as we embark on a journey of emotions – a subjective voyage through the feelings that I have felt, the emotions that I have experienced during the course of my 40 year old life.

You, dear reader, may stop reading right now if you find outpourings of emotion and wearing one’s feelings on one’s sleeve not your cup of Earl-Grey! If however, and I sincerely hope you do decide to read through this ‘summer’ of life’s memories, I assure you that what you will read will be savage honesty, however painful and hard it is to bare one’s soul for all to see the flawed human-beings that we all are.

And so it was that just past my 18th birthday in September of 1990, I found myself ‘home’ in South Africa, after 18. Years of dreaming what ‘home’ would be like and how my brother and sister and cousins and aunts and uncles would take me into their homes and lives.

I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and kindness showered on me, the ‘returning’ boy who was not really returning, but was dipping his toes into the early 1990′s, a period of South African history, just preceding the first free and democratic election in 1994 that was one of the country’s most trying of times.

The Apartheid regime, having unbanned all political organisations and liberation movements and releasing political prisoners such as Nelson Mandela and others, was still not willing to relinquish power, and had embarked on a cynical and dirty campaign of fomenting violence in the sprawling black townships in Johannesburg, Durban and other cities around the country.

There were killings and hit-squads that roamed and terrorised communities while negotiations between the Apartheid government and the African National Congress (ANC) offered hope and then broke down, and then were restarted until finally, on April the 27th, 1994, black South African, for the first time in their lives, cast their ballots which resulted in sweeping Nelson Mandela’s ANC into power, with Nelson Mandela or ‘Madiba’ as he is known becoming South Africa’s first black President.

I attended the inauguration of Nelson Mandela as South Africa’s first truly democratically elected President in Pretoria on a crisp May 10th morning along with friends and comrades, and we openly wept as the South African Air-Force flew overhead, the flag of our new ‘rainbow’ nation fluttering below.

A Flash Back –

My early days in South Africa were ones of family dinners and visits to relatives and old family friends and comrades in the struggle. My father started work almost immediately at the ANC’s headquarters in central Johannesburg, and I attended my final year of high-school, also in central Johannesburg.

Looking back now, I see myself then as a caricature of the immigrant who just wants to fit in, always being on one’s best behaviour, and under no circumstances allowing the turmoil within to bubble to the surface.

I was born to parents who were non-religious; my father definitely more so than my mother, who ‘believed’ in God, though was never one to make a show of it.

I grew up not really knowing what religion I was born into, as my parents never, and though never is a strong word, it is applicable here; my parents never mentioned religion at home.

My mom would cook up a storm on Eid-ul-Fitr every year, the feast that is the culmination of the fasting month of Ramadaan, but then we never fasted or paid attention to religious ritual or practice. I can say that religion was absent from our home, whether we were in India, Cairo or Helsinki.

I am forever indebted to my parents for having raised me with and this may sound pompous of me to say, humane values, rather than strictly religious ones, not that the two are mutually exclusive!

I attended a school in Delhi in the 1980′s, Springdales, an institution founded by two great humanitarians, Mrs. Rajni Kumar and her husband Mr. Yudhishter Kumar, both human-beings who possessed the highest qualities of compassion, humanity, and a burning sense of the need to tackle injustice, wherever and in whatever shape or form it was to be encountered.

My years at Springdales in Delhi, though I was hardly a promising academic student (having failed standard 8!), I now look back and am forever indebted to the culture of tolerance and respect for all people, regardless of station in life, religion, caste, gender or race, that my still-beloved Springdales inculcated in me.

The culture of Springdales School and the manner in which my parents raised me, has led to a life-long aversion to intolerance in any shape, colour or form, and a strong belief in the power of rational and critical thinking.

I thank my parents again, and my Springdales, for bestowing on me this invaluable gift.

A Flash Forward –

And so I find myself, now in the teen years of the new millennium, still always feeling that I am on the outside, looking in – and I find this vantage point to be, strangely, comfortable now, I must admit.

I do not have much time for religion or for cultural affiliations. Again, this is not meant to be offensive to anyone, these are the feelings I am comfortable with. I cannot stress this enough, just how my upbringing and my years at Springdales have hewn into my consciousness, and the absolute need for the respect for all.

I am growing weary of talking about myself, as I am sure you, dear reader, are as well, and so I shall stop this monologue with the words of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara who when responding to a woman who also bore the ‘Guevara’ name and who had written to Che asking him where in Spain his ancestors came from. This was Che’s response …

“I don’t think you and I are very closely related but if you are capable of trembling with indignation each time that an injustice is committed in the world, we are comrades, and that is more important.”

Thank you, dear reader, for your patience, and for your taking the time to read these ramblings of mine.

President Nelson Mandela and I – Sweden 1990

My Family – A Historical Journey through the Seasons

Part Four: Thoughts about Exile, Home, Identity, Belonging

A Flash Back –

I look back to that November evening in Helsinki, Finland in 1989, where the temperature was around -20 degrees Celsius, and we stood on the railway platform with our little luggage (mostly books, photographs etc) with tickets to Moscow via Leningrad (yes, it was still called Leningrad back then).

I recall my mother and father, by then already in their late 50′s, and preparing to return to their home, South Africa, after almost three decades living in exile all across the globe, from Zambia to Tanzania to England to India to Egypt to India again and then to Finland, and now following the Apartheid regime’s unbanning of the African National Congress (ANC) and other political parties and the release of Nelson Mandela and political prisoners, my parents were to return to a country they had called ‘home’ for as long as I can remember. South Africa was always; always home, no matter where we happened to be.

Whether it was in our ground-floor, bleakly dark flat in Zamalek, Cairo where we had to keep the fluorescent lights on during the day, or in our 1st floor flat in Safdarjang Development Area in Delhi, or in our cramped 2-bedroom flat in Helsinki, Finland, I was always told about ‘home’, about family and about the country that I grew up loathing (Apartheid South Africa) as well as the country that I grew up idealising, for South Africa was after all ‘home’, that mythical place where family stuck together and where my brother Azad and my sister Tasneem grew up, separated from their parents, and where finally, at long last, Nelson Mandela walked free after 27 years in Apartheid’s jails.

I often look back on my years growing up as a child of political exiles, and I am thankful, as I grew up without the hardships that so many fellow exiles had to endure.

I am also thankful, for the depth of humanity that I saw in strangers and friends and people who took us in, and loved us, and extended hands of solidarity and assistance and warmth when we were most alone.

I owe a debt of gratitude to so many people, ordinary folk, workers, labourers, academics, doctors and engineers, school-teachers and students, who chose to identify with the plight of the oppressed people of South Africa, just as they chose to support the cause of justice, of freedom and of self-determination in Namibia, Western-Sahara, and Palestine.

I can vividly remember the pain and anguish that my mother endured, being separated from her family and her children, and I remember her tears, her quiet sobbing when I used to return home from school, knowing that my father was away travelling, often for months at a time.

It is not easy to put everything down on paper, and indeed it is impossible to capture all of one’s experiences, yet I feel it is very important that I share these thoughts with you, dear and patient reader, not because of what I wish to say about myself, or even about my parents, but to honour and to remember and to cherish the strong bonds that were forged during those sometimes hard times, and to convey to all, that no matter what one hears about our differences as people, be it differences of creed, of colour, of nationality, there is a ‘human’ connection that I have seen that simply extinguishes the claims by the religiously fanatical, or by the jingoistic nationalists who seek to impose upon us a barrier, a wall, a divide that cannot be breached. I have mentioned what I am about to write earlier, and I only repeat it because I believe it needs to be repeated, so forgive me, dear reader, if I seem to be revisiting old ground.

The old ground that I feel I need to revisit now is that of a story that my mother used to tell me, repeatedly, and always with tears in her eyes, and always with her crying openly as she retold this story over and over again to me.

Let me place the story in its historical context. The year was 1971, and India had just been at war with Pakistan, and my parents had arrived in what was then called Bombay and had rented a small apartment in one of Bombay’s high-rise blocks of flats.

It is important to remember that India had gained independence only 24 years earlier, so the wounds and the trauma of the division of India (into Pakistan and East-Pakistan) were still very fresh.

My father was sent by African National Congress (ANC) to India, in order to work to further strengthen the support that the liberation movement had received from India.

My mother, who was a nurse by profession, had started working at Bombay’s Breach Candy Hospital, and my father was busy establishing links within the sizeable South African student community that Bombay was home to.

One day my father decided to jump over a railing, in order to catch a bus, and slipped and fell.

I shall now let my mother tell her story …

… Now we had just arrived in India, and though Mosie and I spoke Gujarati, we still didn’t know Hindi or Marathi (the language spoken in Maharashtra, the state in which Bombay/Mumbai is located), and here comes Mosie, limping and in pain. I am a nurse and so I took a look at his foot and it looked bad, but what were we to do? We didn’t know anyone, we didn’t have a telephone, and we didn’t speak the language. So I went and knocked on our neighbour’s door. An elderly lady opened the door and I explained in English that we were new in the apartment-block and that my husband had suffered a possible fracture. The old lady then asked me to sit. I sat. The elderly lady then asked me my name and I said ‘Zubeida, but you can call me Zubie’. I then told the lady all about South Africa, about how I had been separated from my two children, about Apartheid, about Nelson Mandela, and about how we were freedom fighters and were in exile. The old lady broke down and sobbed, and I cried too, feeling her warmth towards me, even though I was a total stranger. Then the elderly lady told me that they were Punjabis and during the partition of India, they had to flee their home in what later became Pakistan because they were Hindus. The old lady sobbed when she told me about the rioting, the massacres, the pain of leaving everything behind and fleeing with only the clothes on their backs, and then she grabbed my hand tightly and said that she understood everything, and she shared my pain, because she too had been a refugee once … (at this point my mother would be crying openly while telling me the story) … and that from then on, she was my elder sister. This from a woman who had experienced the horrors of partition, and who realising I had a Muslim name, chose to share her life story with me, and who could understand what we were going through. Anyway, we called a doctor who turned out to be a Parsi ‘Bone-Setter’ … (laughing between tears now) … and later when we moved to Delhi and her daughter Lata got married to Ravi Sethi and also moved to Delhi, she told Lata that ‘Zubeida hamaari behen hai’ (Zubeida is my sister) and that Lata should keep in touch with us. That’s how Papa and I know aunty Lata and uncle Ravi …

Hearing my mother tell me this story over and over again, emphasising that aunty Lata’s mother had gone through hell at the hands of Muslims, and still she chose to see my mother not as a Muslim, but as a fellow human-being, who shared a similar life in the fact that my parents were also refugees, having fled their country, and that aunty Lata’s mother ‘took’ my parents in, and shared a bond that cannot be described sufficiently in words, as words would only dilute the depth of feeling that the two women shared for each other, only makes my belief in the power of the humanity that binds us all together that much stronger.

Yes, there will be those who will say that those were different times, and that nowadays things have changed.

Yes, there will be many who may call it idealism, romanticism, or simply burying one’s head in the sand, but I still hold on firmly to the belief that aunty Lata’s mother and my mother shared, one person to another, regardless of religion, colour, caste, wealth, status or any of the many other ‘yard-sticks’ that people are measured by, and by emphasising our shared humanity, rather than by highlighting our differences, that we can, and that we shall, indeed, overcome, someday.

Myself and my poem “Remember us when you walk this Way” as part of the permanent exhibition at the Lileasleaf Farm Rivonia Trial Museum – http://www.liliesleaf.co.za

Remember Us When You Pass This Way.

(Dedicated to the countless South Africans who gave their lives for freedom and democracy)

Remember us when you pass this way.

we who fell,

who bled,

remember us when you pass this way,

we who fell so that countless others may stand,

we who bore the brunt of the oppressor’s hand.

Remember us when you pass this way,

leave a flower or two as you pass along,

sing! sing for us a joyous and spirited song.

Remember us when you pass this way,

we who fell,

who bled,

remember us when you pass this way,

remember us in your tomorrows,

as you remember us today.

Comrade Winnie Mandela and myself – Johannesburg

My Family – A Historical Journey through the Seasons

Part Five: Thoughts about Exile, Home, Identity, Belonging

‎‎This scribble is going to be a rambling, not too coherent piece all about my thoughts on identity, belonging, exile, and about ‘home’.

So, my dear friends, I invite you to accompany me, with sufficient forewarning I hope, on this scribbled ramble…

Home

Looking back now, I can say that I grew up with two very separate yet entwined ideas of ‘home’ – ‘home’ being both the idealised country of my parents, who spoke of ‘home’, which meant South Africa, as being the place where ‘family’ was an umbrella of safety and a source of comfort, and the other reality of what ‘home’ meant was the reason I was born in exile in the first place, the country that had become a pariah of the world, with its brutal, oppressive system of Apartheid racial-segregation.

Now this may seem odd from today’s historical vantage point, but back when I was growing up in India and Egypt, there was a definite sense that we would never see ‘home’ again.

The hopes and aspirations with which my parents lived by, and probably had to live by, was that freedom would come in our lifetime. But a lifetime can be a long time, so there was also the possibility that we may never see the end of Apartheid, and this fear, which I think is shared by exiles, refugees, and all displaced human beings, was always just below the surface.

This ever-present and often repressed fear was fuelled by the deaths of fellow exiles who passed on before South Africa’s transition from Apartheid state to democratic nation took place in 1994.

I recall an old ANC comrade, an elderly man in his 60′s, who lived with us in Cairo in the early 1980′s, and to whom I became quite close, who later took ill and passed away in a Cairo hospital.

I was 8 years old at the time, and even though my parents did not tell me that ‘uncle’ had passed away, I knew it. I sensed it from his deteriorating health earlier, and from the grave expressions my parents wore for months after ‘uncle’ ‘left’.

My parents carried their own feelings of guilt and pain, of leaving behind a young son and daughter (my siblings Azad and Tasneem whom I did not grow up with) in South Africa, who grew up with my maternal grand-parents in Johannesburg. My parent’s guilt and pain never left them, and I remember my mother as she lay bedridden with Motor-Neurone Disease almost 14 years after freedom still carrying the anguish of the separation of parent from child.

My father still carries the pain with him, and I think even more so today because of the difficulties and emotional minefields that he has to navigate through knowing that he did not share his two eldest children’s childhood, and only now, after all these decades, are the relationships being strengthened, and that too is still a work in progress.

I can only imagine the pain, emotional trauma, anguish and heartbreak that my sister Tasneem, and my brother Azad felt growing up knowing that their parents were out in the world, yet remaining separated from them.

It is a legacy of pain, of homes and of families split up and separated that remains with us today, of Apartheid’s continuing brutalisation of South Africans.

These complex and conflicting issues that we as family, and we as a nation have to deal with may still yield some measure of peace, if that is at all possible, given the weight of the past.

I have so much more to say, dear reader, but it can wait for later.

I can say that my experiences growing up here, there and everywhere have been a convoluted scattering of disjointed places, of half-remembered faces and of many a restless night spent contemplating the questions of identity, home, belonging and of what ‘anchors’ a person.

Perhaps there are reasons for the times when that vagabond exile blood gets restless and that itch, that impatience, that urge to move, to flee, to rejoin the nomadic community surfaces.

And perhaps, there are reasons too, for my ability to suppress the sometimes fiery urge to trade quiet suburban stasis for the unknown path of the unnamed exile.

I leave you, respected reader, with a poem I scribbled some time ago:

Freedom – The Unfinished Dream …

The shackles have been cast off.

The chains broken.

A people once squashed,

under the jackboot of Apartheid,

are free.

Free at last!

Freedom came on the 27th day in that April of 1994.

Freedom from prejudice.

From institutionalized racism.

From being relegated to second-class citizens.

Freedom came and we danced.

We cried.

We ululated as we elected

our revered Mandela.

President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.

Our very own beloved ‘Madiba’.

Black and white and brown and those in-between.

The many hues of this nation,

rejoiced as we breathed in the air of freedom and democracy.

Today we pause.

We remember.

We salute.

The brave ones whose sacrifices made this day possible,

on that 27th day of April,

24 years ago.

Today we may dance.

We sing.

We ululate!

We cry.

Tears of joy and tears of loss.

Of remembrance and of forgiveness.

Of yet to be realised reconciliation and of the ghastly memories that still torment us.

Today we pause.

We acknowledge the tasks ahead.

The hungry.

The naked.

The destitute.

Today we reaffirm,

that promise of freedom.

From want.

From hunger.

From eyes without promise.

Today we reflect.

On unfulfilled promises.

On the proliferation of greed.

On the blurring of the ideals of freedom.

Today we say:

We will take back the dream.

We will renew the promise.

We will not turn away.

Today we pledge:

To stand firm.

To keep the pressure on.

To remind those in the corridors of power,

that we the people still need to savour the fruits of the tree of freedom*.

And till that time,

when all shall share in the bounty of democracy,

We shall remain vigilant,

and strong.

And we shall continue,

to struggle.

And to shout out loud,

“Amandla – Awethu!”**

     ________________

* – final words of Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu before he has executed by the Apartheid regime in 1979

“My blood will nourish the tree that will bear the fruits of freedom. Tell my people that I love them. They must continue the fight”.

** – “Amandla – Awethu” means “Power to the People, and was a rallying slogan during the struggle against Apartheid.

President Nelson Mandela’s mother and my mother 1950s demonstrating against the imprisonment of political prisoners

dawn slides 




momentary slides,


of lifes’ exquisite times,


at times,




are dusted, burnished,


shedding the weight, baggage,




of random strings,


at once,




flinging me opposite you,


in a dream i relished,




not long ago,




so know this, if nothing else,


those moments within me reside,




today, now,


as timely as the coming in of each dawns tide … …

leaving it all behind 

.

.

leaving the din of this city far behind,

away from the strangling grind.

she asked me “what are you hoping to find?”,

“you”, ” i said,

“if you don’t mind” …

.

.

Love Concedes






love concedes … … …




love concedes, through bitter travails,


love recedes, into closeted wardrobes,


love exhausts, lover and loved alike,


but,


love endures, through the years,


traversing valleys of tears,


dispelling untruths,


exiling paralysing fears.


Artwork from Google




talkin’ love’s hues unblues …



Scarlet roses infused in your breath, marmalade kisses passionate and sweet,


marshmallow clouds our embracing canopy, your ebony hair my silken sheet,


showering honey-dipped butterfly kisses, your sensuous form showering me with a nectar, ever so delicious as our bodies meet.




Turquoise skies beckon us, as we lay together on the cooling forest green,


the emerald grasses a carpet of embroidered emotions, felt deeply within the crevasses of our hearts, remaining unseen,


as a bronze dusk etches the heavens above, mingling with the crystal waters of our tender shared stream.




We soak in the pallette of colours all around us, our dawns morphing from dark night into hopeful pastel hues,


our days as soft as my velveteen fingertips, gliding over your form, as we lay knotted together, hugging our love which we have promised we will never lose,


and as we slip away into dreams of passionate embossed sketches,


we know,


at long last,


that we have banished the detritus of yesteryear’s blues …



Artwork from Google

repost: LOVE: Access Denied

Artwork from Google 🙊



LOVE: Access Denied.



Love, snarled on the information superhighway,

a few dashed off emails,
a few hastily typed out instant messages,

a shared meme,
a forwarded self-help quote –

a couple of sentences here and there,

unlike real conversations, infused with true love and with thoughtful care.



I am guilty – mea culpa – no two ways about my falling for the same,

where a few fingerstips spell out words of hasty ‘I love yous’,

where love feels like a to-and-fro tennis game.




mwaahs …

💜 …

gonna b l8 …

more mwaahs …



Now I know I’m an old dude from back in the day,

when we committed pen to paper whenever we had a something to say,

with rose petals between the pages of a handwritten letter,

and as all oldies look back,

that seemed so much more sensual, so much more personal,

with many drafts discarded, many ink stains on my fingertips,

much ‘Parker Royal Blue’ spilled,

many ‘HB’ pencils with blunted tips.




Now don’t castigate me for not being ‘down’ with the times,

for I find word-processers just brilliant,

with that ‘del’ button manna from heaven,

and ‘copy and paste’ just too fine,

especially nowadays where I fail to realise how quickly disappears,

all my time.




Yes, I am just an oldie, with selective amnesia and hazy wistful thoughts,

of a time when I was younger,

awaiting my beloved’s letter with palpable hunger,

yes, I am just an oldie yearning for what for me was a simpler time, a less rushed world,

when I spent hours, and hours more,

on how my “t’s” on blank parchment,

danced and swirled …



Artwork from Google 🙊



Artwork from Google




you found me …



Sidestepping thorny shards on the pathways of my life,


rambling between alleyways of splintered glass,


slipping in the deep night of lonely despair,


shattering this soul,


this heart of mine, wanting to only be part of a whole.




You found me, torn on the cold frigid ground, you picked me up when fragments of hope were nowhere to be found,


your gentle love embraced me, as we stood shoulder to shoulder,


your warmth an exquisite cocoon, enveloping me, your caresses unshackling the knots, setting me free.




We loved each other with a passion unrestrained, you bathed me in the cool waters of a renewed life, you healed the wounds cleaved by that old lonesome knife,


our famished hearts feasted on a shared love, discarding the veneer of sight, our togetherness felt deep within our beings, unfettered from the chains that once suffocated us so tight.




Yes, you found me, you picked me up when all hope had fled, you loved me when I lay famished, naked, as my very sense of self I had shed.




Yes, you raised me, you embraced me as only the truest love can, you steered me away from the maelstrom, as we together lay in each others arms, beneath our solitary palm tree, on the soft gentle sand,


Yes, you saved me, you opened my eyes to behold the new dawn’s light, and we held each other with all of our love’s might.




Today, decades down the path, we still revisit our solitary palm, basking in its shade, your head resting on my chest, on our beach of talcum sand,


yes, today, decades down the path, we still walk together, shoulder to shoulder,


into the sunset,


hand in hand …





Artwork from Google



Artwork by Banksy




life, injustice, and a clean 

shirt …





we are entangled in the bog, as we sweat, as we slog.



the crumbs we receive, with fanfare do deceive.



the 1% whip up emotions of hate, as they remain buffered in their ostentatious state.



we the people are confined to sweatshops, grinding away, for 18 hours a day.



they dock our pay if we dare fall ill, sewing our tongues shut so we may not talk, as long as their designer labels get paraded on the catwalk.



we have been subjected to this and we may never leave, as our mothers and fathers before us, into whom the talons of greed did gnaw and cleave.



they stoke our passions, of race, gender, religion, to whip up hate, blinding us so we may not see that we all share the same fate.



we are stuffed into offices, while they withhold our pay, while they strangle us until we bleed, our families discarded, for who are we to breathe and to feed.



we are expected to endure this hell, of indignity, of injustice, of tattered souls, of inexpressible hurt,


as we are repeatedly kicked down into the dirt.



but the news tells us that all is well,


the stock-markets are rallying,


the market robust as their coffers continue to swell,


as their billboards entice us with that haute couture pair of jeans, that impossibly expensive skirt,


just so that we clock in,


day in and decade out,


in a crisp clean shirt …





Artwork from Google


Artwork from Google




what is love for me?



Love is your head laying on my chest, beneath a swaying palm, love is the solace we offer each as a soothing healing balm.



Love is not swallowing what society wishes to us feed, love is wanting each other and not the illusions of material greed.


Love is knowing that the skin will age and wrinkle, love is knowing that the celestial star of togetherness will never cease to twinkle.


Love is knowing there exists no pristine hearts or souls, for we are all so very far from commercialised perfection, love is acknowledging that always, and in our moments of quiet reflection.


Love is truly and deeply loving each other, warts and all, love is kneeling down to lift each other up whenever we slip, whenever we fall.


Love is never thrusting ones beliefs unto each other, love is appreciating and embracing the differences between one another.


Love is not being constrained by race, religion, nationality, caste or tribe, love is knowing we all bleed red, and from a common fountain we all do life’ waters imbibe.


Love is honestly being content with what we have to share, love is never allowing the rat-race to us ensnare.


Love is not merely oaths taken, vows spoken, love is living and tending for each other when one of us feels lost and if one of us is torn, or broken.


Love is so much more than kisses and making love, though that is always oh-so good, love is nourishing each other with the truest emotions, the bounty of soul-food.


Love is having differences of opinion, of engaging in robust debate, love is not just agreeing with everything we say, love is not living in that sterile state.


Love is taking a stand, in this iniquitous world, love is speaking truth to power, love is never ever merely accepting it all, love is not us shielding ourselves so that in inured inaction we cower.



Love is your head laying on my chest, beneath a swaying palm, love is the solace we offer each as a soothing healing balm …



Artwork from Google

The Rivers of a Life

Art from Google



The Rivers of a Life …





Bracing for the rapids ahead, clutching onto filaments where salty tears sting the places we have bled.



Hold on!



The rapids will stutter to a meandering stream, our brittle souls heaving sighs of relief as a glimpse of hope waltzes on a sunbeam.



Hold on tight!



The stream opens itself up, slipping into the wide waters of the river at peace, soothing our beings, the stabbing pain now beginning to cease.



Let go!



The mouth of the river yawns as it approaches the endless expanse of the sea, hushing us, stilled by knowing we are but an infinitesimal part of what we thought we could be.



Free at last!



beyond us the unseen future, right now we soak in the truths of the present,


behind us we leave the detritus of the past.




Artwork from Google



alone, together



Baobab Tree artwork from Google




alone, together …





The rays of the summer sun peek between the canopy of green above,


we walk hand in hand through the thicket searching for our sensual place of love,


a small pond and a gentle waterfall comes into view,


as we abandon all shrouds and wade into the soothing waters of blue.




Our bodies intertwine, flesh on bare flesh,


skin against skin, light years away from the city’s raucous din,


as we share light kisses, enmeshed in each others arms so close, so very tight,


while we float in the lyrical waters, eyes closed as all we need are tender caresses so exquisitely light.




We taste each other, sipping the nectar of passion with a desire that we need no longer restrain,


with the orchestral sounds of the jungle, swirling in their symphonic refrain,


our lips meet, we feel the thud-thudding of our hearts merging,


in harmony with the sublime feelings so wildly surging.




We whisper odes, we imbibe our hungering need,


as the meandering waters envelope us in their calming sheath,


we tenderly become one, restraining for now our insatiable greed,


and as our bodies writhe, we feel our shuddering deep inside, a quivering dewy leaf.




The sun slowly dips and swoons, we wish we could share these precious moments for many more moons,


but alas, the here and now calls out, drawing us out of this magical reverie,


as we find each other back amidst the cacophony of real life,


where we pine,

where we ache,

where we wish only,


to be together,


free …





Artwork from Google








True Detective Season 1



( for ‘True Detective’ Season 1 fans )


for rust & marty …


you see there may come a time when all of what we yearn and ache and pine and lie and cheat and kill and maim and hurt to attain may turn out to be as worthless as the lives we hurt and took and raped and pillaged and tortured and slapped and abused and molested and plundered and then we shall be seen for that what we all essentially are:

sentient meat. no more. no less.

               ________________



rustin’ away …



swept along tugged by the currents that weave cobwebbed chaos hurling us tossing our malleable forms further into the poisoned seas as tide after merciless tide batters and shatters our mortality thrusting us deeper into the bowels of asphyxiating numbness and dumbness that has numbed down and dumbed us even more so because we need the charade to persist for our egos will and shall not whittle away as flesh decays and in that sliver of the blink of an eye is the hysterical maniacal orderly randomness of it all in its naturally-selected symmetry of nothingness because how am i supposed to wake up tomorrow or next weekend if not for some hardwired tripswitch that shuts all critical thought albeit for an instant but in that instant and in each of those instances the ego keeps on cashing in on deluded overtime and we you her him i us yes us all don’t even know that its happening all the time and that it has happened since the manufacturing of the illusion of time and that it is happening right now to me and perhaps to you too yeah hmm …



and …



channeling rustin cohle …



yeah so okay it’s all just horseshit this damn grinder of souls enmeshed in sordid dreams of twisted consciences lost along the highway of shovelled lies spawned by the inebriated copulation of the gelatinous whole this whole hysterical theatre of bits and bites of neurons sparking all just electricity just plain damn old electricity seeding grief sorrow pain loss ache death life hiroshima where the living envied the dead yes that place this place still this place that exists as large as castles in our collective so called human minds collectively speaking of course but also force-fed the illusion of individual choice … 


        __________


Life’s barely long enough to get good at one thing. So be careful what you get good at” – Rustin Cohle (True Detective)



True Detective Season One

The truth of our Love

Artwork from Google




The truth of our Love …



1.




True love rests upon countless whispering leaves,


one by one falling to the ground,


the truest love is carried on dandelion seeds,


fluttering within hearts here, there, and all around. 




True love that settles and binds two souls,


intertwines emotions, with a comforting tenderness so rare,


as we trudge on, having long shed the expectations of togetherness,


in a cold callous world, in this grinder where flimsy connections flicker past as we lay our souls bare.




True love afloat on the breeze found me, when your soft caresses tremulously wafted into my life,


as you fanned the dying embers into a furnace, gently warming my entire world,


for when we walked hand in hand, on the beaches of our loves’ distilled truths,


a kaleidoscope of feelings were within us both, gloriously unfurled.




2.




We have shared a lifetime of embroidered passions, with gentle flourishes and scribbled verse,


we have held each other, in moments of desire, soaring into the boundless open sky,


we have stood shoulder to shoulder, as the tides of pain battered us, as the ache of the twisting talons of fate gnawed us, almost apart at our very edges,


we have weathered the howling winds of adversity, as one, we have nurtured the flame of our bond, in those bleak moments when it threatened to die,


yes, our love has cocooned us together, where words seem unnecessary, for when true love finds you,


it needs no oaths, no promises, no dotted lines to sign, no rehearsed, mumbled pledges …





Artwork from Google

We are one Race = Human

Artwork from Google



We are one Race = Human …



1.



The bigots on all sides try to inflame our petty egos,

to inflate our hollow pride,

bigots on all sides try to abuse our beliefs,

so blinded by our puffed-up arrogance –

“my country right or wrong”,

“my religion and never yours”,

“the colour of my skin and not yours”.


Politicians on all sides try to divide us,

their narrow ambitions riding on our emotions,

trying to pollute all that can, if unquestioningly followed, tear us apart:

nationality,
language,
religion,
gender,
tribe,
race,
sect,

drumming up fear, always fear,

of my fear of you,
of your fear of them,
of our fear of them all.


Their hypocrisy is stark,
as jarring as a rabid dog’s wailing bark,

their intentions far from noble,

their hope is to keep us all, shivering with trepidation,

in the dungeon of racist,
nationalistic,
sectarian,
religious,
casteist,

notions of superiority,

as we throw punches,
as we hurl abuse,

at each other in this purposely infected dark.


The clergy on all sides as well, want us huddled in fear in the deep suffocating well,

of carefully crafted sectarian hate, of artificial religious walls,

of dogma and of semantics, of only picking each other up,

if they are one of “us”,

but never if one of “them” slips,

and falls.


We have danced to these toxic tunes for far too long,

we have served their diseased interests for ages,

dictating who can belong,

allowing the blood in our veins,

to be boiled as it ceases to flow,

and simply rages.


The monsters of Capital and of greed,

have kept us all in line, shackled by the fictitious belief,

that trickle down wealth will bring us all some relief,

while amassing fortunes and sending the young to war,

for their invasions of plunder, of opening up new markets,

even as the gravely wounded soldier knocks on death’s door.




2.



No more!

The future is ours and it will be built with our bare hands, though not as before,

because we stand today as one race,

the human race,

we stand together today,

and their batons and bullets we are prepared to face!


No more!

The times ahead are ours, and the furnace of meaningful change burns bright in our collective core,

for we stand today as one race,

the human race,

we stand together today,

to banish the old and build a new world in its place!


No more!

The years ahead shall be filled with trials and tribulations, but we will let the light shine as we open every locked door,

for we stand today as one race,

the human race,

we stand together today,

and we shall reclaim our commons, our wide open shared space!


No more!

Tomorrow the healing will begin, of countless a festering sore,

for we stand today as one race,

the human race.


We stand together today,

we stand firm and we stand tall,

firm in our convictions that we will always lend our hands to all,

to never again, to never let, another human being break down and fall …




Artwork from Google

H O P E – a new year



from google




H O P E – a new year …



May we be gentler, softer and generous in spirit,


may we raise our voices against injustice whenever and wherever we see it,


may we treasure the love of family and of friends,


may we not be suckered into the million and one new trends,


may we speak truth to power in this world that is veering to the ominous right,


may we hold on to our basic humane principles strong and tight,


may we embrace the other without being bombarded by politicians’ peddling fear,


may we realise that all races and religions and genders belong equally on this earth so dear,


may we struggle for mother earth and may we heed her cries,


may we realise that without her everything dies,


may we continue to stand and fight for gender-rights and equality and justice and peace and hope and dignity for all,


may we be more willing to lend a hand to those who slip and fall.




May we finally realise that all the blood that has been callously shed –


is of one colour,

for we all bleed red …




from google







a happy new year?




so it’s that time of the year again, as we all drink to numb the pain, lost in a haze of intoxicated numbness, we try and hope that the year ahead will bring something different, something better, some peace of mind and peace on earth, while all the changes is passing of yet another year, leaving us bamboozled and at times quaking with fear – fear at all that may be in store for us, fear of being the last once again to board the bus, fear that tears are the soul, as we booze it up to just feel whole, thinking and believing that as the calender and the clock turn, the heartbreak and ache may cease to our beings burn, scalding us as we crawl around this world we each have carved out for ourselves, the callousness of us for us and they for themselves, while all along we clutch onto that sliver of hope that tomorrow will be a whole new day, without the angst and mortgage and bills, hoping that the year ahead will pour peace within until our lives it fills, oh but what can I say about myself, tattered and sweating it out on a sea swept island, alone as most of us do feel, even as we on our knees pray and exhort as we kneel, begging the powers up on high, to bless us with love and mercy and not being made to work to the bone, as our fellow humans walk stiffly around us, unfeeling as stone.


tonight as I stare at the clock of time, churning out more and more depressive and disjointed rhyme, I still hope though hope has abandoned me so many new years past, that the reverie of the countdown never seems to even after a minute after midnight last, while I sink deeper into the quicksand of fate, torn and battered and always knowing I’ll just be that little bit late, but why am I spewing these sad words to you, my friends? perhaps to find kindred spirits who feel as I do, perhaps to realise that I may not be so alone, hoping that not all of us are hardened as stone, praying that we can start afresh this coming year – hope and hoping and beseeching the gods above – to bless us with simple love. 


love, that elusive feeling that binds two souls together as one, love that renders us not singular creatures, love that we can feel and hold and touch and kiss, the love that we all crave and so very much miss,


but alas I have seen many a new year come and go, so I kind of maybe just a little bit know, that tomorrow will be just another day,


and tomorrow I will still be unable to keep this deep ache at bay 

art by banksy





freeversing new years blues …





… and so it has come to pass, this year that rendered trumped up egos as brittle as glass, the hubris of the few who have so much that it is grotesque, it is obscene, while the many billion souls are seen as chattel to sweat and die as they are relegated to the bowels unseen, and who would have believed it, that it is the year of our lord 2018 – and now the world awaits the pomp and the razzmatazz to usher in 2019, inebriated and inured, as the few use us all as pieces on a chess board, where billions of sewage-odoured cash are made off the perspiration in those barbaric sweat shops, and as the world is glued to the telly screens harrumphing as this stock and that bond drops, on that vile ticker seem everywhere it seems, allowing the few to purchase their penthouse of dreams, while once more the many are expected to work work work and never complain – damn your unions and collective bargaining for better pay and humane work conditions, we’re now in the era of ftz’s and coupons as daily rations.


it sickens me, as I know it does you, to smell the reeking greed of the 1% who fling around a million or ten to the slaving few, ah such generosity from those whose collective wealth could put an end to poverty and misery and preventable diseases if they only cared, if they only by some miracle or knock on the head realised and chose to accept that there is more than enough to be equitably shared – so that hunger and deprivation and indignity stalks our streets no more, yes yes yes, but who could care less, as they imbibe their largesse behind countless an endangered mahogany door.


so 2018 is coming to a close, and we are expected to intoxicate ourselves like some ancient gladiatorial charade, we are expected to be sloshed and staggering, singing and dancing expecting 2019 to be so much different than the year that is showing us the door, lost in a daze and a haze of alcohol fuelled excess, drowning the fact that we were driven to be deadened consumers in 2018, and who are we fooling, expecting a change in 2019, as dismembered hope and savaged dignity is swept off the stage, as the machinery of war and occupation and profits over people and petropolitics and diamonds and golden greed to cease, all the while the greed within us continues to ravenously feed, and as the rancid tumour of capitalism without conscience continues to multiply and breed. 


now, who am i to spew such self-righteous claptrap, i feast and enjoy the frills shaved off the innards of the profit-mongering beast, so who am i to slam the ways of this callous cold and heartless world, while i too don the tuxedo and have my partner drink champagne as to the music we have always swirled, so who am i to have the gall to even attempt to be a mouthpiece of the 99%, while every morning i as i pass by the dregs, it is i too who fling a couple or just a cent – i am you, i think, as we both guzzle down another fancy rainbow coloured drink, while cauterising our consciences, if we even had one, as long the the fine print is sealed and the deal done, so the booty can again and again and again be lasciviously won.


well, perhaps not you and i, we tell ourselves, we certainly don’t fit that heartless mould, where its buy buy buy and sell sell sell – sold!


then who is culpable?

who is to blame?


who is guilty of the pernicious non-rules of this endless i want more and more game?


it’s the leaders and politicians we holler, it’s the capitalists and corporations we shout, it’s the old money made off the backs of slaves we say, as we absolve us all, already, for 2019 and a day.


so here comes the end of yet another year, but by now our eyes are dry, incapable of shedding a single tear, not that tears are what is needed, if we could only turn off the blaring music and fireworks and hear the billions of empty stomachs that rumble, all around us as we of our saville row tailors do grumble – is there any hope at all that twenty19 will usher in a more kind, less harsh year? as for me I don’t think so, I fear. 


for as long as the system is as it is, gaudily consumerist and selling unfulfillable dreams, the world will be still tearing at the seams, where hunger continues to stalk the avenues of excess, where the crisp notes of money will be all that determines our success, for it is the system itself that fosters greed (not to give us all a pass), it is this corrosive system that has sunk its talons all around our no-longer very green earth, so what do we do to bring a better world to birth.


this is not a question but an indictment on me, who traipses around thinking that i am free, it is a slap in the face of my cocooned being, choosing what to ignore while seeing all that i wish to continually be seeing, oh yes indeed, it is i who am culpable of feeding this sewer of a system, that fills plates with caviar, while sucking out the very food from the hungry mouths both near and far, yes it is i who salivates over the next big thing, never pausing to even consider that as a united world, we may just be able to usher in a new spring.


a spring of hope and of justice and equality and gender-rights and freedom and dignity for all, it is within you and i to lift our heads which are so deeply entrenched in our comfortable sand, so that we may understand that cliche – that alone we fall but united we stand.


and stand we can, equally and as one, if we only accept that this system is vulgar and putrid, that this system consigns our fellow human beings to the cauldron of profit and of capital, and that the time has long passed for us to take up the long long long delayed battle, the battle for a gentler way, a kinder path where we all may tread, where no one in shame needs to ever again bow their head, for all to stand tall and proud, and perhaps then we may actually sing that we have overcome – that we have overcome the worst aspects of our human nature, tapping into each heart and releasing a wellspring of compassion for the sick, the infirmed, the elderly and the alone, but until that time we shall all be just divided, trying to draw water from the exploitative stone.


so, how possible is this new way, where humanity will hold sway? 


not possible at all unless the system is torn to tatters and set ablaze, to awaken us all from our consumerist daze, where charity and philanthropy are the order of the day (though i cannot say much for i do not lend a helping hand), and within this noxious system it is charity and philanthropy that “assists” the many, while i walk alone but with countless other – goose-stepping in silent compliance that is harks back millennia and that is so similarly uncanny.


no, it is the system that must either consume itself or be razed to the ground, all so that we may all plant new seeds all around, and yes it may work or it may not, and yes it will be chaos for quite a while – but what is the alternative?


for us all to continue to be servile?


wishing all a very happy 2019 …





a Southern African philosophy of the interconnectedness of all living beings

free as the wind





free as the wind …




your strength, your resolve,

your resilience, your warmth,


real, tangible, fiery,


sparks afloat in the wind,

unshackled, free,


to soar the boundless skies,


and i,


i am fortunate,

to have shared a moment or two,


and i am lost, blinded,

if it weren’t for you,


a gentleness sublime,

shared,


in stolen moments,




when,

my unseeing gaze meets your deep, inviting eyes.




from the Nelson Mandela Foundation

from the Nelson Mandela Foundation



2019 …



twenty-nineteen beckons,

our final years of being teens,


but will we ever grow up – will we ever heed the words of the peacemakers, will we ever learn from the lessons of history?




unfortunately not – for we do not heed the words of the peacemakers,


and we have yet to learn from the lessons of history –


we have yet to value people over profits,


the earth over corporate greed,


the most brutal capitalistic ‘measures’ over that which is good for all of us,


that which is good and fair and does not fling humanity into the rubbish heap of shredded dignity.




will twenty-nineteen be any different?


will we share more and hoard less?


will we give more and take less?


will we abandon the ever slithering of the metastasised notions of racial superiority,


will we eradicate the infectious sickness of religious fanaticism,


will we shake the foundations of economic systems that heap obscene wealth to the few, while discarding scraps to the many,


will we smash down the hetero-patriarchy, and with it the malignant misogyny that denies gender-rights, that promotes female-genital mutilation, that pays women far less than their male counterparts doing exactly the same work.




will twenty19 be any different at all?




perhaps, if only, with the simplest act – 


of lending a hand to those who stumble,


of eradicating the need for children to have their stomachs rumble,


of together not letting each other fall:


of together,


standing tall …




from google



common fountain … …




in a world tugging,

pulling, drawing and quartering,


each soul apart,


and as mercy, humanity, love,


effortlessly, and resistance-free,


depart,


embracing ignorance, hugging credulous unreason,


fracturing human bones,

cartilage, tendons ripped,


shattered hearts, broken minds,


there can be but one answer,

simplistic as it may sound,


teach respect, not creed,

worship shared humanity,

shun lecherous greed,


then, and I believe only then,

may we truly, as one,


from our common fountain feed …



I refuse 



i refuse …


to bow

scraping for scraps in the dirt



i refuse


to kneel

cowering before the altar



i refuse


to lose

hope for a better tomorrow



i refuse


to stop believing

that love will gently prevail


where mirth peace respect may again walk tall


in the very places


where once roamed nothing but sorrow …


“The Immigrants Void” – Sculpture by Bruno Catalano

http://brunocatalano.com/sculpture-bronze2/sculpture-en-bronze-bruno-catalano.php?galerie=1





migrant feet.




bleeding feet.

bare,
alien,
calloused feet,

that bleed,

trudging,
scraping souls,

seeking paths that lead,

somewhere,

anywhere from here,
from the horror of the now,

wiping bloody sweaty tears,
of grandmothers’ brow,

seeking refuge, sanctuary,

from bullets,

from epithets that wound,
that slay,

from men, always men,

puffed-up, inflated,
stuffed with raw venomous hate,

to be flotsam and jetsam,
adrift on the seas,

crammed into boxes,
clutching onto every choked breath,

seeking another fate,

not an asphyxiated blueish death,

tossed, seasick,
wracked and pained,

inside,
cattle-cars, slave-ships,

modernised mechanised terror,

the horror of self-righteous zeal,

nations, cultures,
tribes, traditions,
creed,

stoking the flames,
sectarian, communal,

the fuel on which bigotry must feed …


tiny feet, old and cracked,
all kinds of blistered twisted feet,

a death march along the treelined street,

seeking only alleyways of peace,

and,
perhaps,
perhaps, a bite to eat,

as gleaming chariots roll on by,

and if you’re thinking you’re safe,

if you’re thinking it isn’t us, its them,

him, her, they, those people,

for now,

think again,
and think how,

“… first they came for the communists … ” *



      
           _____________

* Pastor Martin Niemoller

http://tinyurl.com/oo45esm



Jesus Christ” by Woody Guthrie …





Jesus Christ was a man who traveled through the land,

Hard working man and brave,

He said to the rich, “Give your goods to the poor.”,

So they laid Jesus Christ in his grave.



Jesus was a man, a carpenter by hand,

His followers true and brave,

One dirty little coward called Judas Iscariot,

Has laid Jesus Christ in his grave.



He went to the sick, he went to the poor,

And he went to the hungry and the lame;

Said that the poor would one day win this world,

And so they laid Jesus Christ in his grave,



He went to the preacher, he went to the sheriff,

Told them all the same;

Sell all of your jewelry and give it to the Poor,

But they laid Jesus Christ in his grave,



When Jesus came to town, the working folks around,

Believed what he did say;

The bankers and the preachers they nailed him on a cross,

And they laid Jesus Christ in his grave.



Poor working people, they follered him around,

Sung and shouted gay;

Cops and the soldiers, they nailed him in the air,

And they nailed Jesus Christ in his grave.



Well the people held their breath when they heard about his death,

And everybody wondered why;

It was the landlord and the soldiers that he hired,

That nailed Jesus Christ in the sky.



When the love of the poor shall one day turn to hate,

When the patience of the workers gives away,

“Would be better for you rich if you never had been born”,

So they laid Jesus Christ in his grave,



This song was written in New York City,

Of rich men, preachers and slaves,

Yes, if Jesus was to preach like he preached in Galillee,

They would lay Jesus Christ in his grave.







Merry Christmas to all friends!

H O P E





though pummelled by cantankerous day,

embracing encroaching night,


the desolation lifts,

glimpsing a shimmer in the tunnel,

of hope’s eternal light … … …



In your eyes #5






in your eyes #5





whittling down reason, drawing out a rhyme,


searching for the truth,

hurtling through time,


in your eyes, i find my answer, my refuge from the incessant rain,


in your eyes, i sail upon the ocean, devoid of pain …

In your eyes #4
in your eyes, i see,

waters of turquoise,

pearls in the deep,


in your eyes, i drown,

swept by the currents,

banishing my sleep,


in your eyes, i feel,

a yearning for peace,

beyond the tears we weep …

In your Eyes #1.




1.



As another day recedes,


enveloped under the shawl of night,


allow me to drown,

in your eyes.




Moments fleeting,

fickle hands of time unseeing,


allow me to seek solace,

in your eyes.




The trodden path littered with each shard,


regrets this heart wishes to discard,


so allow me to seek refuge,

in your eyes.




i have walked through twisting boulevards of life,


seeking simple joy, away from desolation, strife,


so allow me to find peace,

in your eyes.




2.




In your eyes,


i find,

the gentleness left behind,


away from superficial smiles,


away from fatigue of the walked mile.



In your eyes,


i feel,

at home at long last,


your love caressing away the restlessness of the past,


stepping out of the shadows to embrace pure contentment,


though a bit player,


in your life’s theatrical cast.




In your eyes,


i touch,

the flame of promise radiating through your loving light,


that is why,

i no longer dread,


the vacuum of encroaching night …

May your embracing warmth,


be forever by your side,


may you walk the soft beaches of the fates, at the coming in of the tide.




May life shower you with love, laughter, truth, peace, health,


your spirit a wellspring of ceaseless wealth.



May your dreams be boundless soaring through hopeful skies,


the hopeful skies residing,


swirling, bubbling,


in your eyes …




I was fractured, my mind in tatters, my thoughts asunder, raging with bellicose thunder, till you stilled my angst, my wayward selfwrath, you took me in, firm and with harsh love, you mended my soul, and I may not have thanked you, so belatedly, thank you for helping me back to being whole … … 





caressing seductively swaying marmalade roses …


teasing stealthily approaching moonbeams,


the smell of you lingers,


on,

and on,


awake,

emotions a-wander,


thoughts of you, seduce soul,

mind, body, whole,


basking,


intoxicated,

transfixed,


warmed,

fanning embers of your furnace,

this ravenous fire,


this healing glow,

enveloping your being entire …






nonsensical raving …



dreaming of unfettered tomorrows, with no weight of the now bogging us down, no more plasticine smiles, stuck on fake faces, all worn to get through a single day. no more vacuum sealed desires, to be consumed within three days after opening, the sham of it all boldly apparent, mirroring our cardboard selves.


when does it end, this gold-plated facade, this charade of having it all, and having it all together, without cracks on the edges, as unnatural as neatly trimmed hedges.


where did we go so wrong, our vocal acquiescence to the shimmering glittering circus that breezed through town some day decades ago, promising gags whilst gagging us to what should be real, ripping out our souls as we gleefully smiled, inured to the amputation of feeling, draining us slowly as our very selves were left reeling.


and what of today, as we glide through aisles, trying on this or that face, being ever egged on to join the rat race, without which we are rendered impotent, as barren as the desert of hope, while we are still, perennially, expected and aspire to smile and to cope …




sapphire sky





sapphire sky.





in the distance

flickering softly


warm hope

yawns


bathing this

soft morning


with

birdsong


whispering tales of journeys done


beneath the canopy

of

boundless


sapphire sky






a cry as another year beckons.





where hatred flows like raw sewage, where intolerance festers in fungal minds, where every ugly stripe of prejudice is on proud display,


may we all stand up and be heard, may we all rise up and be counted, may we all shed our cloak of apathy, may we all cease to be active participants in this grotesque play.



where vicious poverty tramples human dignity, where gnawing hunger leeches humanity, where human beings have been cast out of their lands, of their houses,


may we rattle the corridors of power, may we fight for equitable change, may we scream our outrage, may we forge the bonds of solidarity, may our collective voice be hushed no more, may we shake each other so that humane ideals from slumber rouses.



where violence is rained down on people of a different colour, of a different religion and creed, of a different caste, of a different sexual persuasion, of women everywhere every night, where the shadows of pain grow ever longer,


may our lips not remain sewn shut, may we remain complicit by silence never again, may we know we are more, and being more, we are all the stronger. 



may we link arms across this pained world,


may we all see the banner of hope unfurled,



may we cease to look the other way,


may we strive for a more just day,



may we lose our petty differences, casting them into the sea,


may we reclaim our humanity, may we set our loving thoughts free,



may we always strive and struggle and battle for what is right,


may we never give in to despondency, may we not sink into the quicksand of feeling helpless, may we all arise and fight the good fight,



may we never forget the sacrifices of those who have passed, of those who have shed their blood, of those who made the supreme sacrifice so that we may today be here,


may we always honour their legacy, not in words and poems and songs, but to truly honour their lives and their scattered bones, by picking up their baton they so fiercely held, by raising their standard they so courageously held aloft, by getting our hands dirty as we rattle the 1% and their ostentatious thrones,



may we accept that the battles ahead may be long and hard, may we acknowledge that power never cedes, it’s metallic talons digging into our flesh so deep,


may we send them a message loud and clear, that nothing shall ever again dull our common resolve:


now.


today.


and in the tomorrows that yet to upon us creep,


may our message be clear:


we the people have awakened,


and we the people shall not be driven back to sleep.




all power to the people!



the struggles continue!



amandla!**

awethu!**

** – “Amandla – Awethumeans “Power to the People, and was a rallying slogan during the struggle against Apartheid.








whispers, seeking respite,



drifting away,


ablaze on a canvas of breathtaking smiles,


bidding adieu,


to the endless,

treacherous, manic miles,


strapped in,

closeted,


in the constant gurgling of the crowd,


cushioned,

buffering,


inuring the conscience,

far too placatory,

far less backbone,


while ego huffs and buffs,

loud brash and pompously proud,


so,

even though the open skies may be boundless,


clearly cloudless,

still,


the stubborn loyalty to gravity,


rooted, terra-firma,


choosing to weather the chaos of elemental fury,


accepting of the scars,

the blood not yet spilled,


the long cold humid icicle stormy battles of which there shall be more,


and that shall be fought,


reigniting a hope,

nourished, nurtured,


on the precipice of being realised,


not merely peripherally,


exalted, inflamed,

thud-thudding,


within,

my hearts core …







turquoise turret … … …




bubblegum clouds drizzle cotton-candy floss, blurring my view,


liquorice asphalt twists, a slow burn, igniting memories of she, ashenly charred, akin to her tresses auburn,


as i peer from atop my turquoise turret, all that lies between i and she,


are walls well secured,


surreptitious defences obscured




the owl 





the owl …




perched atop a tree stump,


it watches.

it sees.



seeing through ancient eyes,


it watches.

it sees.



shuffling its feathers,


it watches.

it sees.



its free skies stolen, its branches broken,


leaving just stumps to sit on,



having seen too much.






Masks






Masks …



Fingers,

clawing at my face,

slipping beneath the facade,


tugging, tearing, flailing,


stripping off the veneer,

exposing the fragmented decay,

cloaked,

under this mask I wear today.


Hands,

groping for another layer,

embroidered on my thin skin,


peeling, rotting, searing,


shaving away the truths,

entwined in a jagged kiss,

revealing,

the vacuum of an emotional abyss.


Fleeing,

from myself yet again,

bound for nothingness,


desolate, cold, empty,


lost on barren pathways,

bruising my heart as I tread,

shuddering,

at the horrors that lie ahead …







on saying farewell




tender words don’t sting, gentle words hardly stab, or jab,


you and i have walked the paths, together, sharing each other, the magic and the drab,


now though the time may have come to part, i respect you, for you have always been true, a woman of substance, through and through,


so as we weave and traverse the alleyways of life, looking perhaps for a fresh start,


let us be gentle, kind, tender, to each other, before we depart,


leaving behind memories that don’t tear, feelings that won’t scar,


memories of moments spent together, between the tears and smiles,


know this, i shall always carry within me, a part of you, however near or far ….






dreams.





simple dreams of us, not of riches, gaudy and plush,


dreams of the exquisite tingle of our lips brushing – of being swept away, imbibing that intoxicating rush –





dreams of soaking up our shared copper sun,


your silky hair bathing my face,


through whispering rivulets of streams, our haven, our secret place –





dreams of souls knit together, of yours, and of mine,


extricated from the numbness of this plastic pantomime –





dreams afloat on streams, on the ripples of our murmuring desire,


alive, inflamed,


forged in our cauldron of love, sensuous, fiery, never tamed –




simple dreams




sometime,

someplace …



your back to me, feeling my warm breath on your neck,


i part your luscious hair,


i kiss your neck without any care,


my fingers clasped with yours, you smell like parched earth after a rainshower, intoxicating, wild,


as i nibble your ear lobes, whispering sweet nothings in your ear,


feeling the desire rise, after many a year, we have at long last found ourselves together, here,


my mouth hungers for yours, our unleashed passion like a furnace roars,


i turn you around, my lips against yours, for this for me, is sacred ground,


our hands explore each other’s fiery bodies, after all these decades in between,


our tongues find each other, greedy, thirsty, lingering as i nibble your lower lip,


for we had fallen so long ago, there is not a care in the world if further we let slip,


soon we find ourselves together, entwined as one,


skin on skin,

flesh on flesh,


sweaty longing kept under wraps for far too long,


we give in to each other, our bodies one, our need for each other far too strong,


we sprinkle kisses on each other,


i lap and lick, my tongue swirling,


leaving you breathless, your pleasure peaking,


we ride the waves of sensations long pent-up,


we crest the waves of sensual release,


as your head lays on my chest, my fingers running through your hair,


finally,


we have surrendered to each other,


free, and without a care ….





awaiting her breathy murmur,


a voice lost in gnarled memories,


of less desolate nights.





awaiting her dusky whisper,


adrift on the breeze

of time,


thawing gnawing gloom.





awaiting her lucid memory,


surfacing, filling voids,


the crevasses of years passed,


stilling cacophony of banal din.




awaiting her deep kiss, when our souls fused into one,


for in all this world, 


it is that kiss,

that i most miss