Those evenings with you

There were many hours we spent together,
Looking for answers and trying to remember.

You remember that time we spent,
Planning to stay in a tiny tent,
In that cold boat,
On the waves of that huge reservoir-y moat.
Hoping we would make it to the island,
Or to the small patch of sand,
As our arms were aching
And my body was shaking.

There was that other time,
You walked ahead and I was trying to climb,
The oxygen was scarce
And I was sure it was a farce,
Because I just couldn’t be dying,
That bloody night in the Himalayas.

After school, everyday of the week

School is over and we get home in the heat that I don’t remember particularly well. The boys talk, I listen, and as we pull up in their car I look at you. You are at the door. Somehow you were always there, waiting for us. I get out and am happy to be home. After washing away the sticky-sweaty day of children, we eat the yummy things you made for us. You always made it fun with your silly accents, and as we played with our food I was happy.

We were never messy, just silly, the lot of us. Serving ourselves, acting grown-up. How badly I wanted to be grown-up back then, driving that car like your best friend. Her Reva was a fantasy for me, somehow that has stayed with me, from age 8 to 18, it was a toy I longed for.

I think back, I remember the macaroni, the little samosas, the bakes, the meals you made so lovingly. What I remember more was the time you spent with us. The games we played. The kids’ shows you sat through. The art projects we embarked on. The visits to the park. The train journeys we spent hours of our lives on. The pooris we made together. The stories you read us. All the times you listened when I came home sad, the way you didn’t make my problems small. I remember those days.

It seems so long ago. Our roles have shifted. We talk to each other about our days, it is different. My thoughts are my own. You share more, I share less, but the balance has worked itself out. I am not a child, but I am your child. I cannot and do not want to forget that, even though you make me want to sometimes.

Something to do with writing

Writing has always been something that came naturally to me. While others groaned and moaned when perfunctorily told to  write 200 words on an obscure topic, I was happy to set out. Sometimes it seems like I have too much to write and not enough time to do it. How do you pick one thing to write about, when you have 10 ideas floating around your head, each muttering in a voice strangely like your own “Pick me, pick me”?

I never quite got the hang of brainstorming, that magnificent thing everybody swears by, I prefer a more go-with-the-flow style that led to a lot of scratches and striking out before my main method of putting thoughts into words became typing. Typing has made it so much easier for me to articulate all that I earlier couldn’t. Now I can have 20 documents with various topics, and I can get back to them whenever I feel like I need to get more out about whatever I am thinking. But, I wonder, does the fact that I can get back to it make me lazy to write or does it remove the pressure of finishing something even when my mind turns to mush?

The laptop allows for easy cataloguing of my work, but sometimes I think I would have been more motivated to write if it wasn’t so easy to open a file, find my place and return to the topic. I guess you have to see which outweighs the other, and use whatever seems best, just like when you choose one way of saying something over another.

The thin line between…

Nervousness and anticipation. I can’t go to sleep. My mind is doing that thing where I lie down and it starts pushing all these terrifying and edifying thoughts into my consciousness. I can’t ignore the plans and lists it wants to make, of what I accomplished and didn’t, the constant snippy little to-do lists it makes without my consent. Once it leads me down the path, there is no turning back. I cannot stop the activity that has to kick in when I am tired, but too aware of what is going to happen the next day.

Is it just nervousness, that annoying feeling that makes me feel a little nauseas, and a lot like the world might end if I don’t get something right? Is it only because I am afraid of what is to come?

No. I see the opportunity to excel, I see a chance for me to do something new, I see the possibility of my winning. I feel anticipation. But my nervousness doesn’t leave me alone. They take turns, alternately imbuing me with confidence and fear. My mental activity must be paused so I can get a little rest. It has been an hour since my head began its journey on my pillow.

So I plug in my earphones and fall asleep to the songs  I love, drowning out my thoughts.

The Silence Strikes Back

The running water is a faint thing,
The tarpaulin waving in the silent wind is oddly quiet,
The hum of the refrigerator is louder;
But inconsequential
As I wait for sleep to drown out the

Silence;

It mocks my wakefulness
Knowing I pray for it in the chattering morning,
Giving me what I want
Hours too early and yet too late.

The clatter of keyboards makes me happy

I have found that the sound of people around me typing gives me a new sense of happiness in my own work that I don’t usually have, when mine are the only fingers flying across a key-board in an empty room. I don’t know why I find the sound so inspiring, but when I hear the clack of innumerable keys, I feel like I should be typing faster and faster, as the words pour from my mind. For once, I don’t labour over every word and keep hitting the faded button to the upper right corner of my keyboard.

I am one of those neurotic people who is constantly aware of all the noises around me. Finding sounds around me motivating and inspiring rather than driving me out of my mind creates a very pleasant change.

The peculiar sound of typing on a laptop or desk-top key-board makes something in my mind click, and I feel the thoughts come to me in nicely arranged phrases. Instead of the solitary tapping of the keys, I hear a bunch of hands, creating music to my ears. I just keep on typing, until I have nothing more to write.

Responding to 678

There is this movie, 678, which is set in Cairo. Like every film that does something different, its release was controversial. I found it really raised the idea of class differences in situations of sexual harassment.

In 678, I think that class differences were shown to really impact the reception of sexual harassment. I don’t know how accurate the idea of middle class morality is considered today, but I think this makes sense in terms of the movie which is set in Egypt. When I use the term, it is based on my repeated viewing of My Fair Lady and readings of a few Victorian works of literature (naturally including Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion). Seba Sami represents the wealthy, powerful (her father is an important man in the city) upper-class, Nelly Roushdy is a girl who has been brought up in what appears to be a very forward-thinking, middle-class family and Fayza Abdel Maksoud is a typical Egyptian woman, who works and struggles to make ends meet. Of the three women, she is the only one that has two children, which might also indicate a class difference, since Seba, who appears to be around the same age, was pregnant for the first time when she faces the harassment that changes her life.

Seba is restricted from filing any complaint by her family’s position in society, as is Nelly to some extent, because of reputation and attention. On the other hand, for Fayza it is more about her daily harassment, and the fact that she can’t escape it as easily as the other two women; she depends on buses for transport, while Seba has her own car, and Nelly can at least get rides from her fiance or family.

Seba’s response to the harassment is very different from that of Fayza’s. Seba uses her resources to educate others about self-defense, which seems to me like something only a person with free time and resources could do the way she does. Fayza seeks help from Seba, and that leads her to take matters into her own hands, probably because she has absolutely no other supportive female or family member who would understand and help her. In contrast to both of the other women, Nelly is fully committed to standing up for herself and her values, she not only chases down her harasser, she also refuses to back down from the lawsuit until she absolutely has to, because she would lose too much.

As far as I could tell, all three women take action against sexual harassment, but the way they go about it is interesting to see. Seba tries to educate more women, Nelly fearlessly yells at those who wrong her (filing the suit, not letting men on the phone get away with anything), while Fayza becomes a frightened vigilante. She is so afraid of what will happen to her if she is caught, it seems like she feels more unsafe than when she was being harassed and she had no defense. This is sad, since she is basically just defending herself, but it suggests that her way of dealing with the harassment is not at all working for her.

There are clear differences in how the three women view the sexual harassment they face. Seba sees it as a complete violation that she must combat by prevention of the same happening to others. Nelly has grown up with a mother who encourages her to fight against harassment, and being a female comedian, she seems more willing to face other people’s judgments. Fayza’s reaction, when she finds out her husband was one of the men on the buses who harass women, shows how she sees the harassment. She can’t deal with it any longer, she doesn’t have anyone else to trust to protect her, and she takes matters into her own hands. She is familiar with the behavior of harassers, as we see at the stadium. She sees physically harming the harassers as the only way to get them to stop, Nelly sees publicity and the law as a good way, and Seba sees arming women and educating them about it as the best recourse.

There are clear differences between the women, in the way they dress and their attitudes to harassment. I don’t know how much other factors play into the differences in their behavior toward sexual harassment, but class differences certainly are important. Class shouldn’t influence how people react to sexual harassment, or even what constitutes it, but it does.

This assignment from one of my classes became something to think about, not to be completed and forgotten, unlike countless others.