Friday, 27 May 2011

Coz the art of losing isn't hard to master...

I don't know what is it about winter and donuts. A slight drop in temperature and I need to have one, desperately. You'd swear that I've never seen a donut before, or that we've been going through a donut famine... but I'm strangely compelled by something larger than my stomach and ego put together. I suspect that it's a recessive bear-gene and the need to hibernate. You should see me on one of my donut hunting expeditions. It's like watching an episode of Tarzan and Jane. And I'm not Jane.

But come Summer, and I'll be like "Donut? What's that?". Total denial.

So, we've gone from high's of 25°C (77F) on Tuesday to 13°C (55F) two days later. Winter has finally arrived, a little later than usual, making her grand entrance and announcing her stay for the next four months. That's four months of deceptively bright brilliantly blue skies and 10 hours of pure sunlight every day. We have exceptionally beautiful winter days... they're like the beautiful evil bitches of a movie: captivating but deadly. And generally the more beautiful the day, the colder it is.

No matter how deceptively beautiful our winter days are, I still don't like them. I only ever like winter when I'm in the Northern Hemisphere. I prefer grey clouds. Lots of them. That way, you know what to expect. There's no empty promises there. During my stay in London, my body had acclimatized itself, and any day it was 13°C was considered a warm day fit for a picnic and I'd usually leave all the polar-bear apparel at home and enjoy the "warmth". Here, it's 13°C and we're dying, wearing everything that we can find, except Mother's curtains.

Amsterdam was worse. A midday high of -6°C (21F). In hindsight, it wasn't that bad. It's amazing what you can become accustomed to, and all you have to do is want to become accustomed to it. In fact, we became so used to the -6°C (21F) weather, that when we went to Paris and it was all of 6°C (42F), it was HOT! I can specifically remember complaining about how HOT it was!

I think what makes South African winters unpleasant is that we don't have the infrastructure to accommodate this kind of weather because we never needed it before. The result is that central heating is a foreign concept, not a standard. But with changing global weather patterns, our once mild winters are becoming a thing of the past and from tonight, we dip into sub-zero territory with -2°C (28F) as a minimum.

But aside from the cold, my number one problem with winter is the donuts. And my compulsions aren't limited to donuts alone. Basically, you can add any item under the category of "FOOD". Junk food in particular. It's like I don't eat the entire year just so that I can make up for it between May and August every year. And it's such total rubbish innit. I mean, there are people out there that can't keep warm in this miserable weather, and I'm complaining because I can't keep my mind of donuts!

It is quite ironic that I don't feel the same way in the Northern Hemisphere though. I've been feeling so nostalgic today, it's sickening sentimental poo.

I woke up this morning with a bloodshot right eye. I freaked out. "Please don't be conjunctivitis" I thought to myself. The last thing I need right now is to add conjunctivitis to my growing list of ailments. I still haven't recovered from my little waltz with Bronchitis and I was advised that it would be in my best interests to stay wrapped up indoors until all traces of it have absconded for better bacterial infection prospects elsewhere.

It was good advice seeing as I had 3 different family members in hospital with Bronchial-Pneumonia and several others confined to their beds; bonding, making new friends and forming wonderful relationships with their pillows and duvets. And I've been playing by the rules. I even declined fellow SA blogger Uzayr's invitation to meet up with some of his friends. He wasn't too pleased, must've thought I had a stick up me arse.

I just returned from a funeral. I'm still in shock. She was an aunt in my extended family, contracted Bronchial-Pneumonia a few weeks ago, was hospitalized and passed away suddenly. She was barely 40 years old. This is the second funeral in my extended family in the last month. The last one was also related to Bronchial-Pneumonia. It was also sudden, a shock. He was 16. There are 2 others still in hospital, although one seems to be recovering.

I feel somewhat paralysed. I don't know if it's because of the shock and the sudden-ness of it all, or if it's because I've become so numb to the idea of death, that I can't grieve. I've tried to understand death before. I've spent hours, days, weeks thinking about it... rationalizing, debating, trying to comprehend. I've even invited death over for tea to contemplate and ponder over the nature of loss. But for all my knowledge, it's still something I cannot fathom. I cannot wrap my mind around it. The concept eludes me. It's like I'm living in perpetual denial without my consent. I'm confounded. I'm dumbfounded.

I will miss her.

إِنَّا لِلّهِ وَإِنَّ ـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعونَ - Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'un "Surely we belong to God and unto Him we shall return" (Qur'an 2: 156)

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

--Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.
 ~ One Art by Elizabeth Bishop


  1. I'm profoundly sorry for your loss, my friend. Though I find it difficult to fathom loosing someone in that age range to pneumonia when there are such effective treatments available for otherwise healthy people.

    There's always tomorrow, life is in itself a promise and a gift -- and yes, an apple fritter is calling your name despite your preference for chocolate.

  2. Those are very untimely deaths. Maybe it's time to get a good doctor on the family payroll, with a particular expertise in respiratory diseases.

    As for death, I doubt it's any worse than the billions of years we spent before getting born. Those years passed really quickly, I don't remember being bored at all!

  3. LL - She had complications that compunded with the Pneumonia... some unexpected heart problems. I've had banana fritters before. Never apple though... sounds nice :)

    Mr. GB - We have good doctors Mr. but the problem is a particular strain of the flu that has been absolutely brutal this year. Almost everyone I know is sick to some degree - it could be described as a plague. Most are recovering well, its those with other health problems that have bore the brunt of this particular situation. My problem is that I don't rest enough and my blood cells are abnormal so healing progress is slow :)

  4. I'm so sorry to hear that, it's so shocking.
    I hope you recover fully, and don't have a relapse.

    This is worrying

    Take care!

  5. I'm so sorry to hear about your aunt.

    I know exactly what you mean about those cravings!! I crave sweet potatoes - mashed, baked, fried, ANYTHING sweet potato. We're such weirdos. :)

    Feel better soon!

  6. Death is one of those things that one can never get their head around. Though it is really the only thing we can be sure of in life, it is still so difficult to come to terms with. My condolences for your loss.

    13 degrees? It's about that much here in London right now :P.

    I hope you feel better soon insha'Allah.

    Take care.

  7. Salams Az.
    I always remember this poem by Emily Dickinson...

    The morning after death
    is solemnest of industries
    enacted upon the earth.

    The sweeping up the heart
    and putting love away
    we shall not want to use again
    until eternity.



    May your tomorrows be plentiful and brighter, ameen.

  8. I can so relate to the feeling hot in the middle of winter while in the Northern Hemisphere. I was in Berlin complete with snow and christmas markets and temperatures in the negative territory and a few days later I was in Rome 10 degrees and me walking around in a t-shirt

  9. BB-Aisha - Thanks for your concern. I'm recovering well Alhamdulilah. I just have to take extra precautions because I almost relapsed. I hope you're better as well and that your flu has dissipated.

    Michi - Thanks for your condolences. Potatoes! Gosh! I'm a nut for chips and french fries. I have to stay away most of the time otherwise I'd look like the size of a house. But I have my cheat days!

    Nas - Thanks for your thoughts and ameen! It was 22 degrees today... a sigh of relief but we're counting down the days to Spring.

    Pserean - Wasalaam. Ameen and thanks for the poem and consoling words.

    Edge - Haha. I've got a severe bout of wander lust now. I'm going through my long-haul flight withdrawal symptoms. I miss sitting like a sardine in a can *sigh*

  10. P.S. Thank you for your amazing comment! I enjoyed reading it very much, and I learned quite a bit! :) We're working on moving to Granada this summer (I'm keeping my fingers crossed!) so perhaps you can come visit someday! :)

  11. Michi - I meant it, I really did miss you :) & you won't have to ask me twice, I'm just waiting for you and your husband to get settled ;)

  12. I'm sorry to hear about the terrible loss.

    I hope you're feeling better

  13. Fatima - Thank you. I'm feeling much better Alhamdulilah :)