My teen years were intertwined with the sounds of ABBA, a pop group made up of four talented people: Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, and Anni-Frid Lyngstad. Their tunes often echoed within the walls of our home as all of us loved dancing and singing to their tunes. The songs were not only played in our home. Each year my aunt hosted a New Year’s party and one of the “must play” songs was Dancing Queen. I remember all of my family members – aunts, uncles and cousins – getting up to sing and dance to this song. Hearing these rhythms brings back such good memories of this.
If my sisters, friends and I wanted just to sing the song we could not resist singing was Knowing Me, Knowing You . We would stand with the imaginary microphone in our hands singing our hearts out.
And of course Fernando was included in our repertoire because of a teenager’s need to sing ballads:
As I left my teen years behind me and ABBA disbanded to pursue their individual interests, I still enjoyed listening to the sounds of this Swedish band.
Now when I hear these old songs, good memories come to my mind of my adolescence and family get-togethers.
When my cousin brought out this rosary, I knew immediately to whom it had belonged.
I recall her holding the silver beads in her hands while praying. I remember as well running the beads through my fingers, admiring the workmanship. Often as children we would admire the small silver purse that the rosary was kept in, exclaiming in delight at the small chain links.
When I look at my grandmother’s rosary I see not only the craftmanship of years gone by, but I also see her face. I recall her voice and her smile. I think of the moments we spent together when she came to stay with us. It is memories such as these that keep her close to me in my heart.
What things remind you of loved ones that are no longer with you?
Christmas is less than a month away and the shopping fever has begun. As I write this, there are those who are perusing flyers for Black Friday deals; and those who have already grabbed their place in a line waiting for the stores to open. From this day forth, malls will be filled with shoppers searching for an affordable gift to give to someone on Christmas day. Tempers will become frazzled and children will cry from tiredness. Christmas music will accompany shoppers from store to store as racks are perused and shelves emptied.
Christmas is a time to give. The giving of the season, however, has been overshadowed by the retailers’ desire for the shopper to buy more. The giving of a gift should be symbolic of the love and time you wish to give to that person. It is not about how expensive a present one can give – or whether one receives the latest electronic gadget on the market. A gift that has been thoughtfully chosen – or even made – can mean more to a person than something that is picked up, with no thought, off the shelves of a well-known store.
As I venture into the stores this shopping season, I focus on those that I love and with whom I shall spend Christmas day. I already know what my gifts shall be and, in the knowing, will avoid much of the headache caused by overcrowded malls, tinny music and frazzled shoppers.
There are times when I enjoy watching the adverts that break up a television series. Some of the funniest I have seen were the Castol ads from South Africa – they never failed to make me laugh. (Castrol is a motor oil that is used for cars). There were a series of them featuring three characters: Boet, Swaer and Moegaai.
The adverts reflect the typical accent of South Africans and represent a caricature of the Afrikaner and the black man.
Looking at these simple and short ads bring a smile to my face. This might be because I am South African and it brings to mind so many people who are reflected in these characters.
The one for Worker’s Day sends a message to all workers in SA to take their day of rest:
The following brings in another caricature and a play on words:
To enjoy the following advert, knowledge of the tokoloshe is required. According to Zulu tradition, the tokoloshe is mischievous spirit that can bring you harm. One way to keep the tokoloshe away from you is to put a brick under each leg of your bed.
Their encounter with a Frenchman:
And with a little tongue in cheek:
Even mention is made of the change in South African sports:
Watching these video clips bring back a little of my South African memories. Sometimes I wonder whether Castrol ads are still run on South African TV.
While growing up there were not many raggae songs I listened to. There was one artist, though, whose songs I enjoyed: Eddie Grant. I remember singing (especially the chorus!) and dancing to the song I don’t wanna dance:
There was one song, however, that was not played over the airwaves in South Africa because of its lyrical content: Give me hope Joanna. The song refers to the Apartheid regime that was in place at that time in South Africa (Joanna being a reference to Johannesburg). I first heard the song when I was in Mauritius and we were dancing in the evening at the hotel. We had so much fun dancing to the rhythm and, of course, singing the chorus. What was ironic is that most of the guests at the hotel were South Africans – the very people that the government did not want to hear the song.
This Eddie Grant song holds many memories for me: the time spent with people I love in Mauritius, the fun we had dancing the nights away while we were there, the parties we had at home with family while singing and moving to this beat (of course we brought a copy of this song home).
She was a woman whom I admired a lot. My grandmother, Odette. She was the matriarch of the family and everyone wanted to spend time with her: children, adults, and even in-laws. She came from an era in which women were expected to behave as ladies. And she always did. Polite. Friendly. Able to hold a conversation. A woman with a sense of humour and a beautiful singing voice. She knew modern music and opera – singing both to the delight of young and old. She could hold a conversation on current events, and also talk about the past or anything that interested the person she was speaking to. She was the glue that held my family together – my aunts and uncles, cousins, in-laws and family friends. We would do all we could to please her and to make the time she spent with us memorable.
When I began university, I made two decisions: to learn French, and to spend more time with certain people in my life. Ma grand-mère was one of them. With her not only did I practise my fledging French, but I also got to know her as an adult. She no longer was a grandmother, but a friend. I would cook with her on the weekends we spent together: sifting through lentils in search for stones, cleaning the leaves and stems of the Chou-Chou plant so she could cook them, watching her as she created magic tastes in the kitchen. I spent many Friday afternoons with her talking about her past experiences, listening to her advice, telling her my hopes and dreams. Time spent alone with her was magical and I never thought it would end.
I now think of her almost everyday; telling her the thoughts in my mind. I think of things that I know she would have enjoyed. I think of things I know she would have been proud of. I look at the photograph I have of her on my table and know that I would like to age as gracefully as her. She is still a role model to me and I can only hope to live my life out as she did filled with love and a warm heart.
I told told him I would never do this! It went against my beliefs – and definitely put me out of my comfort zone. Ever since I began to about these issues, I believed that women should be admired for who they are – as God made them. I believed that women should be admired for their intelligence, and that they should get what they deserve based on their merit. Up to now I have lived out my beliefs. I have refused to dress in any way that encourages manly attentions. I have not flirted to get ahead. And I have definitely not made myself seem less intelligent to make others more comfortable!
And yet here I am. In this glittering room. Dressed in heels and a non-dress (I don’t know what else to call it!). Attempting to participate in small talk. I look desperately at Brandon, my eyes beseeching him to take me away from the old bore that has attached himself to me. Brandon just smiles and gives me a small thumbs up. How did I ever let him talk me into this?
Brandon. My saviour in this sea of unknown social expectation. Who would have known that my research and subsequent book would become the much-loved TV of the year? I never elected this fame – and certainly not the responsibility to promote the work of my team. And that is where Brandon swept me in. There is not much I would not do for the team who has been with me from the beginning. It is not only I who have benefited from our research being feted: Melinda and her family have been able to buy a home in a good neighbourhood, Dan has been able to hospitalize his mom who has Alzheimer’s, Betsy and Ian have been able to marry – finally! I do this for them – for the group of people who have become my family.
I nod and smile politely at the old gentleman at my side. I have certainly learned my lesson. Never say never as you never know what life may throw at you!
What have you done that you thought you would never do?
The water broke and I was reminded of what my body had been preparing for during the last nine months. The wetness encouraged me to change quickly, pick up my overnight bag, and drive quickly to the hospital with my husband. Admissions, and then the bed – all this while experiencing the contractions that were a precursor to the actual delivery.
The delivery … There are a few things I remember: the anchor of the motif on the t-shirt my husband was wearing; the contractions and my efforts to breathe through the pain; holding onto my husband’s arm with all the strength that I have; the faint bustle of the nursing staff and the commands of my doctor. All this, however, faded into the distance when I heard my daughter’s cry and saw her wrinkled, pink body for the first time. Holding my baby in my arms, I realized I had become a mother, a mommy, a mom. The delivery of this child was my second task – the first was carrying her safety for nine months. I prayed that I was up to the task that lay ahead of me.
My little one is now a teenager and we will celebrate her fourteenth birthday in a few weeks. I look at her, as well as my second, and feel that I have been blessed to experience motherhood with these two wonderful girls. Motherhood has not always been easy: interrupted nights, decisions to be taken, sacrifices to be made. But would I give it up? No, I would not. Motherhood is an experience that I do not regret and one that I look forward to continuing.