Tactless Ex-es

My ex will not win any prizes for tact this lifetime. I have suffered enough for his tact throughout our marriage but mostly during the awful times around our divorce. It could have been worse, of course, had I at any point contested the divorce, asked for more child support or a better settlement.

One of his most awful deeds at that time was forwarding the acrimonious emails of his mom and his older sister to my inbox. The emails had been intended for his eyes only, hateful words against me from people who hardy know me, that might have massaged his pride and given him the support he “needed” in a predicament he most certainly asked for. I was extremely hurt by his action at the time-which I assume was his intention in the first place. Nevertheless, this action went unpunished on my side because at the time I still cared, and most importantly I still needed him to look after Robert while I tried to get back to work. To tell the truth I do not believe I could ever punish my ex for anything because I am fully aware of my son’s love to him and I do not want to be the one to demonize his beloved papa for him; soon enough he will get to know him by himself and make a judgment. I will not extend the same curtsey though to the mother and older sister of my ex, I still want nothing to do with them and that relationship will never be salvaged. My rationale is that my son has only one father but more than one aunt and he has a loving grandmother already. Maybe it is also my way to punish my ex indirectly since I cannot get him directly.

Today featured the latest installments of tact from my ex. He dropped off our son with me while I was attending a baby shower with the girls. I noticed a yellow envelope in the front pocket of Robert’s baby bag. I took it out to see writing that looked familiar. On one side of the envelope it said: “From: Duzi* (brown-noser)” the other side said: “To: XXX (boss)”


I could not believe my eyes, it was a birthday card I had given him in 2004 or more likely in 2005 (the year I first attempted to split up with him).  What is the purpose of giving it back? I have no idea and I do not care. The card however gave me an insight into the woman I was five or six years ago, feeling the pain, the pressure, the joylessness of my life and still trying and struggling to put a brave face on it, and still loving in my own helpless way. It definitely did not make me miss that marriage.

At the time I was helping my ex run a service station in the Eastern Cape and he was my boss. It was perhaps the toughest few years in my life both personally and professionally. Not even getting thrown out of my home with a six-month old baby comes close, because in the Eastern Cape I was oh, so alone. I had no friends, and no support whatsoever. It is no wonder that in the end I sought the help of people who were almost strangers to me, to make my break and escape.

In the Eastern Cape I visited a therapist for the first time in my life. During that maiden session I poured out my disappointment and grief about a marriage that has never really given me any joy. I spoke of a husband who almost always undermined me. I will never forget the therapist asking me whether there was anything good in that marriage, and me finally admitting that there wasn’t. I haven’t been to a therapist again after that. That session was a watershed experience and set in motion my escape out of that marriage. Soon after that I drove from the Eastern Cape to Cape Town. My ex, having realized that there was no stopping me changed his tact at that crucial juncture and started prying on my emotions my still present love – or dependency, on him.

It was to be the beginning of a couple of years where I remained torn between leaving and staying, and I ended up deciding to stay once our son was conceived. It is ironic that after all that the final decision of divorce was forced upon me, but it was the correct thing to do. I have never looked back. I do not look back unless the memory is forced upon me like it was with this card.

I will just post it here for the record. It meant something in its time, but it is now just a piece of history. All I can say is, why the heck does he return the card and not return the books I gave him as presents all these years, now that would have been something I can use.

*Duzi is the nickname my ex gave me. I never looked it up and now I think he meant doozy.  It is given many meanings in the urban dictionary among them: bizarre, daunting, but also extraordinary. Knowing my ex I doubt he ever meant it in a nice way. It was rather an expression of how odd he found me.

Frogs and Beasts

I have many problems in my life, big huge headaches that are not going away anytime soon.  For once in my life though I do not have men problems, I am happy to spend some time completely without the company of a grown man. For the time being I am sure they bring more problems than they are worth. I really, really do not need a man in my life at the moment. My life is so full with my little boy, caring for him, and coping with the demands of his active body and mind, I hardly have time for myself. Besides, I am constantly battling with this feeling of transiency and looking for permanence to our life-style. A permanent home, career, and long-term goal. At the moment there is only Robert for me, and if I was to be honest he is also sufficient as destination and a long-term goal, but humans are greedy, and I do need a little more..

For some reason, however,  some men look at me and figure that all I need in my life is a man to “help me”.  At the moment there are two dear little guys hovering in the background who are trying to convince me that this is what is actually lacking in my life. Although I am always pressed for time I explained to these two separate men that I am not even remotely interested in a relationship. I even went as far as saying that I am actually happy and relieved I do not have a man in my life. Yet each of these men thinks that my mind will miraculously change if I sat with one of them over coffee.

All god’s people are equal, they are in my eyes. But I seem to attract men who are in terrible financial straits.  And I really do not want to talk about my octogenarian admirer, or the elderly workers from solid waste who occasionally try to flirt with me on the taxi. At least these two men are younger than me, one is a refugee, and works for a charity organization. The other is a work colleague but may also be a refugee judging by his messed up country of origin. I have no doubt that each of them is a lovely person in his own right. But I am and old duck, a hard-working, middle-class woman, I do not need to be burdened further by a hard-done by man.  If I were a princess, maybe I would have had the time for the charming penniless fiddler or could have bestowed a loving kiss on a frog. But please, I am almost a frog myself and if I ever wanted a man, then he will have to be a prince who can fish me out of this rut.

Not bloody likely.  The fairy tale world tells us that only male protagonists can risk being beasts and frogs and still be redeemed by the love of a willing princess.   Now if these boys think I am one, then they have a huge problem with their judgement. Then again, I have yet to find one man with a completely sound judgement.


As I sit here near the Southernmost tip of Africa wearing shorts and sandals, my sister still perches north of the Arabian peninsula and dons her headscarf to go out shopping.

When I first heard about my sister’s conversion to become a newborn Muslim, if I may use the expression, I was fuming with anger. How dare she, I thought. It is the ultimate betrayal of women’s rights and liberty to bend to the needs of society and cover one’s head. It is absurd, since the head and the face are neutral parts of our anatomy and cannot be considered seductive. Not even the thickest and most bouncy hair can be considered sexually alluring, or am I thinking again in the logic of western societies?

I grew up in an Arab country, where Christians and Muslims live side by side. The increasing religious zeal was apparent as I grew up. It has resulted in clear distinctions between the so-called secular or non-practicing Muslims and the orthodox faction. The absolute majority is orthodox and their pressure on the rest is very strong. After all they have the voice of Allah on their side and literally the threat of hell.

If you couple this with the prevalent misogynist view of society, you come up with a situation where the morality of society is dependent on the way women dress. I have been brought up to the tune of : “Men are creatures of lust and they cannot control it, it is a woman’s duty and obligation to put a stop to their advances”. Women kindly dispense of such advice to their daughters and female charges, while turning a blind eye to the dalliances of their sons. I think it is ridiculous to expect women to carry society’s morals on their shoulders, as if they do not have feelings and desires like men. Men are secure in the knowledge that they aren’t the ones to get “caught” and therefore, and in true male fashion they just pass on the responsibility onto the female.

The society I was born into does not give evenhanded instruction to young men and women when it comes to sexual knowledge. Women are prohibited from any sexual adventures prior to marriage, yet it is acceptable for men to have such an experience. It is purposely overlooked that this sort of experience will only come about with willing female partners. Whether these are frustrated married women or poor girls who are willing to go loose for a new item of clothing, or just girls who have slipped once and no longer need to preserve their image of purity. Regardless of what sort of woman gives the man his first initiation into sex, her existence makes this patriarchal society even more distrustful of women. Therefore men try to enforce veils on their women, to prevent other men from ogling them. This is another one sided solution that does not require or expect the participation of men in enforcing morals. Women are forced, coerced, or convinced to cover up in the manner of the last century, while their husband walk alongside wearing the latest fashion. They would never dream of wearing the ‘dress’ of the prophet and his ilk except to prayer. And while their own women are safely covered there are hundreds others whom they can freely ogle. The fact that they are not covered up labels them as available and willing prey for flirtation and maybe more.

Women need to carry the weight of children and family, in addition to keeping the integrity of their marriage. They are also responsible for the immorality, women are the root of all evil. Meanwhile, men can contemplate this sad state of affairs while watching scantly clad women on satellite television, or while conversing with other buddies over tea and bubbly (water pipe). What a wonderful life.

For starters

The initial panic is over for me and for my black cat. We are sitting in the big new flat, surrounded by things, most of which have stories we know nothing about.
For my part, I will try to make peace with the past, where it came from does not concern me, as long as it does not suck me in its undertow, it is fine.

I am who I am, and being without baggage and without possessions is my choice, I adopted my partner’s possessions and I will enjoy them for what they are. Possessions will never claim me, but I can still appreciate them.
The cat is quite a different story, the cat has to learn its territory, and accept its limitations.

My husband also has to accept me and the cat. Contrary to what he believes, he is not the only one making compromises. I know that I would personally prefer a much simpler, barer existence.
If this is our new start, I would rather start on a fresh canvas, put in my own shades and colours.
The apartment I lived in before we came back together, might have looked to him like a dump. To me however it was a work in progress, an unfinished canvas. My time, and the emotional roller coaster I was riding on prevented me from completing it to my liking, but I was going to get there one way or another.
The canvas that I would have drawn would have included soft fabrics, knitted throws and crocheted cushions – things like that speak to me more than a leather sofa, rosewood furniture and fine china lamps; I have no use for those. I prefer scented candles and incense sticks.

I spoke to two of my friends today, they saw that my husband and I have two sets of conflicting values. The question is whether we can compromise between them or not.

Petey the cat has walked outside to the kitchen balcony today, sniffed around and stretched tippy toeing on his hind legs to peek over the balcony wall. He was quite funny, stretched tall there and supporting himself against the wall with one paw. I wish I had my phone camera handy.
Eventually, I will take him down to the garden and he will be happy. Ron still protests tells me it would make life more difficult – compromise ? where is his compromise?

Remains to be seen.

Cruelty – Bitter Medicine Against Bad Karma

A friend of mine broke up yesterday with her new boyfriend. It wasn’t something that was going on for very long, but the man took it really hard.
Monnie herself is unfazed, she was starting to feel suffocated by the possessiveness of an older guy. I rest my case, it was the story of my life.

Today is the birthday of who will hopefully become soon my ex-husband. I am surprised that I feel nothing. Really, am I numbing my feelings of pain and sorrow over him ? I like to think that I am a kind person by nature, but this time it was my life or his. I chose mine. There was simply no competition. And like once I had my reasons to carry him into my heart, today I have my reasons to shut him completely out of it, and dish out cruelty – there are no maybes in this game : You either want to be with someone, or you don’t.

Somewhere along the road, the vision of us growing old together blurred, and then completely disappeared. Even when we had that short interlude together two months ago, I had problems picturing us together for ever and ever after.

Today I started picking up the pieces of my new life. First was a stop at the traffic department in Green Point.
During our earlier correspondence Ron wrote to me how bad it was and how many trips it took him to get it resolved. His negative attitude made me procrastinate this mission until today.
So I went, carrying my ugly-looking black-and-white pictures with me.
The eyetest was a breeze and so the fingerprints, I thanked the guys for their efficiency. They gave me a pitying smile which I didn’t understand until I faced the 20 metre queue in front of counter No. 8.
I took a deep breath and thought, well I might as well stay. In front of me was a large number of people, which did not seem to be moving at all. The people giving up on what seemed to be an endless wait, lightened it somewhat. Actually, the rate of people leaving the queue to the exit, was much higher than those proceeding to the counter.
Sometime after half an hour or so I started chatting with Mr. Negativity in front of me in the queue – He was going on how he will never pay a fine again, and never apply for another driver’s license. I was just laughing and making jokes with the others in the queue. I yelled Yay, everytime sombody made it to the counter.
It was amazing but this helped a lot. Soon enough there were three windows processing the long queue. I had arrived sometime around 10: 00 and I told Mr. Negativity that we will make it just before twelve, and we did. Maybe it was my imagination, but the moment Mr. Negativity left the queue things started moving faster again.
I could not help but breath I sigh of relief, I was married to a version of Mr. Negativity. It is so draining to be around this sort of person.

At the counter, an efficient woman hammered on the keyboard and gave me presently the bad news that I was expecting from Ron’s report. I was registered at the traffic department with a temporary ID which is the traffic registration certificate. And now since I had a South African ID document, I needed to get the two merged at the civic centre in town.
I took a deep gulp of air, and asked the lady nicely whether there was a queue there as well. Of course she could not give me this information, but gave me directions where to go, and stamped a paper for me so that I can come back straight to her counter and not via the queue. I was so grateful to her I could have hugged her.
I was getting tired, but still I managed to trek up the road to the civic centre probably three kilometres or so. The lady at information asked me about the traffic registration document, which I did not have – and had very little chance of getting anytime soon since it resided with Ron’s papers in East London. Nevertheless, I chose to proceed to the counter and state my case.
After a 10-minute wait I was at the counter. The woman asked about the document but I told her plainly that I was divorced and had very little chance of getting it.
She just sighed and gave me that look. Africans often give it, you don’t know what it means actually.
In the end she did it. Merged my details, changed my address and smiled. I was faint with relief.

I was again at traffic department within 30 minutes, and within five minutes had my temporary driver’s license in my pocket. Life is good, the angels ARE on my side.
Next was a stop at the bank and the shop. I was home at two, a good day’s work.
I accomplished, with patience, honesty and a smile – in half a day, what Ron failed to do over a week of struggling and complaining and fighting with people.
My luck is changing ? You bet. Ron was bad Karma, and I had to cure it with the bitter medicine of cruelty.

All is God’s will.

Cape Town Season of Heartbreak

Tomorrow, I will meet Ron, my ex, for the first time in over two months. I still cannot imagine myself rebuilding a life with him, but he seems to be dedicated to the idea. I thought I might as well give him the benefit of the doubt. I am interested to find out what my reaction to him will be after all this time.I am not the only one who is suffering relationship trouble these days. Three of my friends are going through breakup at the moment. According to my best friend, Jackie, who should be an authority on the subject, it is a seasonal thing in Cape Town. October and November, are apparently the Capetonian seasons for broken hearts. Summer makes people yearn for change I suppose. It is also the time when all the rich young guys from Johannesburg drive down here in their Lamborghinis and Ferraris.

One of the three breakups brought an interesting aspect back into my life. Mr. Aquarius is single again. I almost feel guilty that the thought cheers me up, but I tell myself that, of course I am relieved for his sake. His was one of those yo-yo relationships where the up and down come at regular intervals, which is nerve wracking and emotionally draining. I should know because I have been there. But I am not telling the full story.
The real story is that, shortly after arriving here, I developed a crush on Aquarius. For whatever reason, he became the new flush in my cheeks, and the spring in my step. I enjoyed every moment of it – the childish blushes, falling totally silent or resorting to diarrhea talk, whenever he was around. I was so obviously infatuated, yet I did not mind. When my friends bickered me about him I just laughed; I knew enough to appreciate how special these fleeting feelings were. Things were put into perspective shortly thereafter. He was not interested, he had a girlfriend, and what the hell was I thinking anyway. I kept him in my mind, in one of those small back corners, reserved for my rare brushes with madness.

Jackie and I met him today for breakfast. Before the food order arrived, Jackie excused herself for a minute to buy some medication, and that is when he brought up the subject of his breakup with the girlfriend. I babbled like an idiot for a few minutes, as I usually do when I am left alone with him, and mercifully Jackie arrived before too long. He must know the strange bend in my mind. If it bothers him, he will find a simple way of avoiding me. Eventually, I will grow up and act my age – like I always do. I have always been cynical and pragmatic even in matters of love. My moments of madness were very few and far between. Yet I come from a culture which recognises about 50 different degrees of love, and sometimes I think that the love I read about in those classics does exist. And If it does it isn’t it a waste to settle for the mediocre ?

Aquarius might not be the real thing, but maybe I can relive those feelings again, one day, with another man ? I doubt that it will be possible for me to feel them for Ron. I should be working right now, but I find my mind always going back to Mr. Aquarius. He has resurfaced from the dark recessess of mind, demanding my full attention. The timing is strange. Why should it happen now, when Ron is trying to make his way back into my life ? Is Aquarius my defense mechanism against the past ? It remains to be seen.