Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Coz I'm keeping it real...

I find it strange and kinda odd how most people around the world have so much hope going into the New Year, especially since it’s that time of the year where there is always a shocking celebrity death and a catastrophic natural disaster of some sort looming.

If I courageously delve into the dusty cob-web archives of my brain, many things come to mind. It’s been quite an eventful year with the devastating Haitian earthquake, the Gaza flotilla debacle, horrific floods in Pakistan, Greece and economic turmoil threatening the state of the European Union, Eugene Terblanche found murdered, a phenomenal Soccer World Cup in SA, massive protests at Ground Zero surrounding the Islamic center / Mosque debate, Chilean miners trapped underground for months, Julian Assange & his Wikileaks, South Africa versus Shrien Dewani, positively the worst winter the northern hemisphere has seen in decades, the worst summer the Southern Hemisphere has seen in decades, Prince William engaged, and a few countries in Africa on the brink of civil war – that’s your 2010 in a nutshell.

It was the best of years, it was the worst of years. And I’ve watched, observed, often participated and learned my lessons, like I usually do every year.

This year I learned that sometimes my impatience makes me condescending – even though it’s never my intention to be all prick-ish. I HAVE TO learn to be more patient.

I’ve learned that no matter what you do to help others in whatever way possible, most of the time your efforts will mean nothing to them and they will either conveniently forget what you’ve done or they will simply ignore you and live in denial. And therefore any good we do in life must be done for the sake of doing good… not with the hope or expectation of reward or recognition.

I’ve learned that I can dance merrily for 5 hours straight drenched in sweat with limbs and muscles that ache to the point of anesthesia, but I have major issues doing 20 minutes on a treadmill.

I’ve finally learned something that my late grandmother told me around 2 decades ago. She said “to do the right thing is difficult. It’s always very tough and difficult and people will call you names and talk behind your back and no one will stand with you. But when you’re doing the wrong thing, those same people will cheer for you and you’ll be everyone’s hero. Do the right thing, fuck every one else because most of the time, they’ll only want to be there for the good times anyway”.

I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter who you are, we are all being tested continuously. This year I’ve been stunned and astonished to my core as I witnessed a few key figures in society fall from grace under the most horrific and scandalous of circumstances. Mind you, some of these people were the same ones who once-upon-a-time looked down upon me quite arrogantly. But I take no joy in their pain, if anything, it’s left me absolutely terrified because I think that if God could allow that to happen to some of those prominent holified folk, I dare not imagine what could happen to me. We reap what we sow and the higher you fly, the harder you fall unfortunately.

I’ve learned that behind the fa├žade that is Lady Gaga, behind the bad hair, behind the strange and outrageous apparel, behind the mask of make-up and over-sexualised innuendo, behind the assumptions and propaganda – there is a genius in the form of a woman who possesses a brilliant mind, coupled with profound depth and insight, heralded as one of the few true artists of our time, who is probably more “real” than any celeb Hollywood has ever produced.

I’ve learned that most of us are so colonialised that it affects almost every part of our lives negatively… not that every aspect of colonialism is bad or negative… but people cannot seem to reconcile parts of themselves, their cultures and faiths, without becoming walking contradictions and most of that internal conflict comes from colonial ideals ingrained in the very fabric of every society that was ever occupied or colonialised by a Western power. I don’t expect most people to *get* this one.
And perhaps, my most important lesson this year is that you can take people out into the sun, but you cannot make them see the light. See, there are different levels of understanding in this Universe, but we all haven’t been afforded the same degree of comprehension. And it doesn’t matter what you do or say to make the other person see this “light”, if they’re not meant to get it, they won’t.

You could physically show people the huge gapping hole in the road ahead but you cannot prevent them from not jumping in quite willingly. You could show them the pitfalls and warn them constantly about making those mistakes; but most of the time they won’t listen, make you look like the crazy one, and go ahead and do what suits them anyway. And the light will only go on when The Almighty wills it to go on… in Islam we call this hidayah “for any to whom Allah giveth not light, there is no light!” (Qur’an 24: 40).

It reminds me of a well known story: the story of Moses (Musa AS). From all the stories I’ve ever told on this blog, this is my absolute favourite. It’s less of a story – because a story implies an element of fiction – and it’s more of a historical account. So this particular historical account happens to be the lengthiest and the most detailed of all the Prophets (AS) in the Qur’an and for me, it’s a definitive illustration of Good triumphing over Evil. It is the ultimate story. An original.

What I love about the narration is how “human” Moses was. He was remorseful and repentant when he accidentally killed a man and when he was commanded to face the Pharaoh and his magicians in the court, he was genuinely scared! They said: "Our Lord! Verily! We fear lest he should hasten to punish us or lest he should transgress (all bounds against us)." He (Allah) said: "Fear not, verily! I am with you both, hearing and seeing (Qur’an 20: 45-46). In a life where I have many reasons to be afraid all the time, I always remember those words.

Anyways, the part of the story that strikes a chord with me is when Moses eventually managed to lead the Israelites out of Egypt towards The Promised Land of Jerusalem or Canaan as it was known then. And one day while out in the desert, he went up into the mountains – where he received the ten commandments and spoke directly to God Almighty – and didn’t come down for a number of days. When he eventually emerged, he saw that the Israelites had fashioned a calf out of a lump of gold and they were worshipping this calf, calling it their deity.

Now, seriously, after all the shit they’d been through – after escaping Pharoah’s soldiers and magicians and crossing the Red Sea whilst witnessing a sheer miracle granted unto Moses (AS) by God Almighty, with their own eyes, as he struck down his staff and the water parted for them long enough to pass through but then gushed together again so that Pharoah and his men all drowned – they STILL went ahead and decided to worship a lump of gold!! I mean, there they were, witnessing God’s work first hand and what did they do? They basically forgot all that He had done for them and rejected all belief, and substituted it with their own. And one can’t help thinking, how absurd, what kind of idiocy is that?!?

The Israelites never made it to The Promised Land because as a punishment for their shameless ingratitude and their transgression against God Almighty, they were left to wander around the desert for 40 long years.
Fast forward 5000+ years on, and the most tragic of all is that things haven’t changed much. The majority of people today are no different. You can try to show them the light, you can show them a better way, but they’ll be just as ungrateful, indignant, arrogant and obstinate as those Israelites were over five thousand years ago. I guess it must be human nature. Most people would rather wander through the deserts of life for all their years than to seek and accept enlightenment. Most would happily brew in their status quo because they lack the courage or fortitude to venture out of their comfort zones for the purposes of self-improvement – improving upon the self for the sake of oneself.

And with that, I will leave you to think about this. You may agree or disagree, that’s your prerogative. I’m done with all this shit.

But before I go, I thought it would be worth mentioning a few of the people that have made this year more than just a little bearable for me.

Fatima, a huge heartfelt thank you for always giving me an ear and listening to me bitch and whine throughout the year. You are one of the most unpretentious people I know with an amazing open heart and open mind, and you make it so easy for me to be myself too. I think I really do love you ;P

Prixie, a huge heartfelt thank you to you too, for listening to me air my frustrations about things that only you can understand and for always having a kind comforting word waiting for me.

Tazeen, my sister from another mister lol. I know I can always count on your objective point of view, your wicked sense of humour and your brilliant mind. You are the one person I can always turn to without fear or reservation. When I grown up, I want to be just like you :)

Zesty & Mezzaterra: Thank you ladies for your honesty and for being generous with yourselves. It’s always a pleasure to talk to both of you because I know that you ladies are for real.

I feel a sense of kinship that transcends geographical boundaries with all of the ladies because there are facets of my life that only you can understand. And each of you have given me something that I cherish the most in any friendship – that unpretentious honesty, openness and true generosity of spirit that is so rare and hard to find. You are inspirational and there is a part of me with each of you.

And I cannot forget the somewhat less vocal but equally present Honest Waffle, Shameema, Pserean: Thank you ladies for your input and for always being there.

I’d also like to thank a few of the gents: Dreamlife, LL, Mezba. Thank you for your comments, discussions and notes throughout the year. We may not always agree on every single point but you guys have the ability to make me question and challenge my own perceptions and see things in a different light. I value your input because it helps build a better me.

For the rest of the commentators, fans, email buddies and all the readers – a big thanks to those who’ve provided their input and feedback too. It’s always nice to know that we don’t live alone on existential islands drifting out to sea. I always welcome comments and emails because it reminds me that there are other people in this world too… and we are always more the same than we are different.
Geez this sound more and more like a goodbye post. Not that I have any intention of leaving or going anywhere or quitting cyberspace or anything like that; but if there is one thing I DO know is that anything is possible and life often takes us where our imaginations don’t.

And so, for the New Year, and all the years ahead, I wish every single one of you light and truth… not the kind of truth that’s convenient for you… but an authentic truth that brings about peace and clarity. May you live your absolute truth, and may you find the light, if you haven’t already.


  1. Here's to your light:)
    Ditto on Lady Gaga. She's astoundingly talented, braai-couture and all.

  2. The world around us continues to be a reflection of our reaction to the world around us - and the way we interact and "encounter" that world is a deeply individual experience no matter how many friends or family members we surround ourselves with. I think you see that, Azra and yes, in that you are more unique than you think.

    Happy 2011 - maybe better than the last, but it all depends on how YOU define better. One thing that I've learned is that the more sand drifts from the top of the hour glass, the more clearly you see through it.

  3. Whew-thank goodness for the disclaimer this isn't a goodbye post.
    And I feel so chuffed at the mention :-)

    I'm also thankful for the bonds created through shared words, & I hope that one day Missy, we will meet.

    May 2011 be a year of increased wisdom and understanding.

  4. I agree with everything..barring Lady Gaga *g*
    But I Do think she nailed the idea- if you can't be pretty, be eccentric instead.

    Thank you for the lovely mention!
    You were one of the first people I honest-to-god interacted with...and made me want to blog...
    Besides keeping me company during my iddat<-- brownie points for that!


  5. Whoah...that's a lot of things for a nutshell:)
    Here's to an awesome 2011 and hoping you continue to blog with your refreshing perspective outlook.

  6. Nice one Azra.. thanks for all the input on UK :) u've been helpful.
    Just to let u know we've finally found a flat. We'll be living in Ilford and moving on the 1st Jan insha-Allah.

    I always enjoy reading ur posts and I hope to see more of that in 2011.

  7. hahaha

    I am honored to be mentioned here in the list. I have absolutely no idea if I even deserve to be there but thanks a lot. You just made my day all the way across a couple of continents.

    PS: I am still going through the growing up phase. Will let you know how do I turn out when I am done :)


  8. ok here's my third attempt at this comment...

    I'd attempt to put everything I wish you into words but I'd come up short so know that I wish you everything I wish for myself.

    Here's to 2011, bring on the good times I say :)

    I hope to see you in Oz soon, 2011 is the year we meet, I've decided :)

    Thanks for the mention and keep those posts coming, you know I eagerly await them :)

  9. aw, damn... you gave me the sniffles, in a good way.

    and thanks goes to you, for being a kindred spirit. may you find contentment and wander lust fulfillment in the coming year!


  10. I finally got to reading this post and guess what? It's put me in high spirits for the year to come now :)
    I feel very honoured to be mentioned in this list! I'm very touched and not in the sweaty pervy way ;)

    Btw, I don't think you're whining and bitching :) Sometimes we just need someone to lend an ear! :) And I feel comfy telling you things too, and since I've got major trust issues, so yes, that's a positive for you! :)

    I have to say, that the ayat from the Quraan has resonated something within me. I think too often I forgot that. Even though I've stopped the New Years resolution thing years ago, I think I'm going to have one this year. I'm going to concentrate on my relationship with our Creator. If your intentions are full of goodness, everything should fall into place after that, right? :)

    Thank you for the compliments and thank you for inspiring me :)
    Love and Happiness to you :)

  11. Oh good grief! after 4 months of absence i come back to such a *sob sob* loving post. Oh Zesty thou art remembered in the blogsphere *feels humbled* although your lack of emails or any form of contact wouldnt suggest you missed me in the least *sniffs* :-P

    Love and *virtual* decadent chocolate desserts to you Az- xx

  12. Thanks for all the kind wishes people. Here's hoping for an excellent 2011. Coz we can ;D

    PS. RE: Lady Gaga is freakin awesome. Most people see meat, but what she sees and tries to convey (albeit in a disgusting manner) is the way most women are treated like pieces of meat. All her work and her clothes are pieces of art to be interpreted, each with a strong message. And some of her music... lyrical genius. Not that I'd ever dare go out with such apparel ;D

  13. And Zahera I do think you're being a tad dramatic Missy ;D ;D ;D