New Beginnings Beckon

Early this week I stated that my life is on autopilot and there is fair weather ahead. I think I spoke too soon. Less that 48 hours later I get news delivered to my inbox that might bring a monumental change into our lives; a change even more profound than what divorce wrought on almost three years ago. In short, we may be departing the South African shores in the next few months. I have very mixed feelings about this particular development although I worked towards it since June 2009. I have been living in South Africa since 1999 and although this doesn’t seem like a long time, it is still half my adult life, the other half I spent between my native Syria and the UAE. So when I leave it behind I will also leave a huge chunk of life, memories, experiences and very dear friends.  And without a doubt Cape Town will always be the place I call home, and where I shall hopefully return in due course.

As this happens my son has started at a new school. He is now officially a pre-schooler or Grade-R pupil. Initially I had some trepidations about starting him in a pre-school that uses German as a teaching medium, but I always wanted him to retain the connection to this language, and in my mind I wanted the German taken care of at school so that I can perhaps introduce the Arabic. Admittedly, having my child tackle three languages will be a challenge but I feel he has a keen interest and keeps asking about words and their meaning in another language. He often inquires what is this “auf deutsch” or what do you call that “bel3arabi”(in Arabic). He also asks me to play some of his DVDs in Arabic, or German (or even French and Spanish), so I am encouraged about capacity for learning language.

As early as his first day on Tuesday, he already told me that he likes this new school and prefers it to his old school. There are a few hurdles to conquer, though. On the first demonstration of “Play Ball”, one of the extramurals offered, he went into total strike and was the only child crying. Throughout the demonstration he sat glued to my lap and only approached the tasks of kicking the ball once or twice and very timidly at that. I tell myself that I distracted him with my presence and that he will do better next week, but I still worry about his shyness. It is largely my fault, I know. I have never been one for socializing, so he does not get the benefit of play-dates and parties very often. I am hoping this will change with time as he gets into his own character, but if social aptitude is genetic, he will probably end up on the reticent side, because he gets it from both parents.

It breaks my heart that I have to tear him away from the few friends he has. On Wednesday I watched him play naturally and spontaneously with Britt’s little girls, and this is something that had just started to evolve after many months of visiting. I wondered about the adjustment required of him in the future. I keep hoping that it will be easier for him than it will be for me, I know I will pine for my friends here and for my warmhearted Africa.

Music is the Shortest Way to the Heart

Today I was listening on my iPod to an archive interview with Johnny Clegg, one of the best-known cultural and musical icons in South Africa.

The interview sent me back on a journey down memory lane to the time when I first became aware of South Africa. This was in the mid 1980s, and I was a teenager, going to school in the oppressive environment of a small housing suburb located near an oil refinery but nowhere near any naturally inhabited city in the Emirates. Needless to say I had lots of time on my hand and the radio was my best companion, and I followed the British chart shows religiously. My favourites back then were Madonna of course and some other pop groups I am almost ashamed to mention by name today, but I was slowly developing my preference for rhythms and style that were not strictly western.  I remember being charmed by the message and rhythms of songs such as Something Inside So Strong by Labi Siffre; Gimme Hope Jo’anna by Eddie Grant, and Paul Simon’s famous album Graceland.

But it was the dance music of course that got me going best, and still does on those slow days. My favourite was this song by Johnny Clegg, the Scatterlings of Africa which went to become a major hit at least in Britain and other European countries.

Many years later I would meet my ex husband who was heading to this part of the world and I would take more active interest in the music and the culture but I think those songs were the hook that captured my imagination and brought me eventually here. I adore the music, and cannot resist humming along to Shosholoza, or tapping my foot along with the gumboot dance. I am always enthralled by pure African voices breaking out in spontaneous song.  There is a an undeniable magic there, and certainly the millions who were charmed by Waka Waka would agree. It is, after all, the only World Cup Song that became a bona fide hit.

And since we are speaking about music that speaks the heart I cannot resist including another video that came out of the World Cup hiatus, Helele by Velile Mchunu and the Safri Duo; a beautiful song with scenes from the mother city.

I’m Posting Every Week in 2011

When the year started I was busy with a translation project but the blogging challenge of 2011 caught my attention and I loved the idea of participating, but as I mentioned in my previous post I was too timid and too cowardly to go through with it at the time.

My life is now on auto-pilot, a stretch of turbulent free weather ahead, and hopefully it will continue this way.  I have little heat, passion and anger to drive my blogging zeal; my best blogging days were when I moaned and whinged about work, my ex and the assortments of misadventure I seemed to be plagued with. For once though I want to blog for pleasure, for the exercise of writing and putting thoughts to paper. I tried to explain in a previous post my fears and what is blocking this venture, but I am determined to conquer them and going public with this challenge is the best way to “shame” myself into doing this.

A post a day, is a little to ambitious for me, so I am going with the challenge of posting once a week in 2011, I know it won’t be easy, but it might be fun, inspiring, and wonderful. Therefore I’m promising to make use of The Daily Post, and the community of other bloggers with similar goals, to help me along the way, including asking for help when I need it and encouraging others when I can.

If you already read my blog, I hope you’ll encourage me with comments, likes, and goodwill along the way.

Signed,

Robert’s Mother.

Blogophobia

I have been away from you dear blog for a long time and it makes me feel terrible. I am beginning to feel an onset of a new condition that I will call blogophobia.

There are many aspects to this fear of blogging in my case. Firstly, as of today I find that I have already skipped many key events of the past year without comment. There are also many half-formed thoughts lurking about as drafts, suspended in their own temporal dimension, as the weight of passing days buries them further away from the here and now. Whenever I start to blog they seem to reproach me at my tardiness, so I just turn my head away from the blog sighing that perhaps it is too much work and effort to dig this far into the past. When I re-read the half-formed thoughts in some of these drafts, I fail even to remember what I was on about, and in this case it is easiest to hit discard draft, but  I still have seven half-finished ones waiting to see the light.

The other aspect of my fear is that I am, as I often find myself in life, straddling some fine dividing line. I do not think I have anything profound to say, yet I find myself too proud, and too old to post just every day drivel. And caught between what I can write and what I aspire to write I just stay silent. My blogophobia gets worse when I read a terrible piece – How awful, I never want to sound like THIS. It deepens again when I read something brilliant – There is no way I can ever write like THAT; it is a vicious, and never-ending circle.

Like anywhere else in life though, it is useless to stay afraid. A day comes when you have to face your fear. So what if I do not have anything important to say? So what if I never come up with a profound thought or never blog a life-changing adventure or experience? There is blessing in being ordinary, and there are pleasures in blogging about toilet-training mishaps or toddler language and logic.

Even in the middle of all this ordinariness there bound to be a light-bulb moment, and a brilliant thought, but if I do not put my fingers to the keyboard to capture mundane moments and thoughts, I will never have the courage to articulate occasional brilliance.

I am hoping this will be the year to get this blog going again. Maybe I will take this blogging challenge for 2011.