My Grandmother, myself. . .

I am from generation X and I’m not sure what generation my granny is from, but watching the advancements women have made in past years, my granny is probably Jurassic.  She lived through the British occupation of Sudan and the World War II.  An illiterate woman who was wiser than any PhD holder today.  Simplicity is in itself wisdom.  I think we have over complicated life and now need to work back to simplify what we tangled.

She woke up at dawn and her daily equivalent of a jog was tending to the animals she raised, kneading and baking the bread, milking the goat or cow and tending to her large family and home.  She knew well where she belonged in the food chain; the top.  Modesty was a mark of a good woman and no woman of her generation boasted her power, rather they were humble with heads bowed low in front of others.  There was nothing to prove, because daily life was proof in itself.  Husbands could not make it without wives, children belonged to their mother and family members had full respect for other family members.

Until she died in 1999 my grandmother never once, not even by accident uttered the name of my grandfather who left her in 92.  It was a mark of a good woman to never say the name of your husband, a behaviour that reflected modesty and respect.  Even before they had children she called him ‘father of so and so.’  I found this to be very disturbing as a child and would not stop questioning why, but I never really got a good answer, and seeing my mother call my father by his name, nickname and anything that she felt like, I knew this was part of a period long gone.  

Some of the customs we are handed down really have no meaning, but at the time they must have made sense to those using them.  My granny made everything herself, the sheets the covers, the clothes for the whole family, the artwork in the house and this leaves me to wonder what the true value of education is.  Today we teach our youth literacy, numeracy and a whole load of other stuff that in reality is not sustainable.  They will get jobs but can they be self sufficient?  So what is more important; life skills or job skills?  If like some are already predicting, society breaks down and we must all fend for ourselves, what abilities do we have?

I will never forget one afternoon when I was sitting by the Nile with my mother, I was very bored and becoming annoying.  She asked me to go collect some palm tree leaves and sticks, and she sat me down and made me a doll.  That doll was the most beautiful doll I had ever seen because it showed me the power of my mother’s ability to transform the mundane into an exciting toy. We have a farm on the Suez and one day my nephew was bored and came and asked me to go to town and buy him toys, I wasn’t going to go to town, so I sent him to pick some sticks and palm tree leaves.  When he returned we made planes and cars and he was happier than I had ever seen him with a toy, and kept spinning and saying, ‘my auntie knows how to make stuff.’

We all take from custom what fits and drop what is uncomfortable, but if we look carefully at the details we will find the moral and meaning.  Not everything that is old is useless and not everything that is new is better.  What have you disposed of that could be useful?

Be blessed


A gathering of women

Often in isolation and with minimal resources women find it a challenge to rise in any society and need to work ten times as hard to begin to be recognized.  The art of writing – creative writing workshops for newcomer women is an initiative by the government of Ontario, in which women gather together and release their creativity in the safety of like minded women.   Our gathering is guided by a real warrior (Dr. Althea Prince.)  One instantly knows this is a winning group, led by a lady who does not know defeat.  Dr. Althea has an impressive biography and she very obviously is a selfless giver, always helping through empowering those who feel helpless or need encouragement.

We are of all shapes and sizes, colours, ages and backgrounds, but we are all brought together by that thing we all share: ‘woman,’ and the thing we all hope to find ‘creative writing.’  Dr. Althea has gathered us to bring our voices out, to tell our stories and maybe we leave that much richer and empowered than when we came in.  The consequence for those of us who do not achieve the finish line is yet unknown, but I have a strong feeling we will all come out winners on one level or another, if not by choice then by encouragement and support.

There are some of us who are new to Toronto, others renewed, and others simply lost or a combination of all of the above.  Some of us speak clearly and it is obvious that some of us have lost our voice.  Among women, women are safe, supported and rarely judged.  This is the perfect atmosphere to detangle all inhibition and let truth and creativity flourish.  I remain unsure as to what will surface but I am certain it will be well received.  Maybe reality infused fiction, maybe a novel cry for help, or even a funny genera that can only be told by a woman.  Whatever the outcome, I am certain a woman or some women will have broken free of some chains, if not forever then for that day she will be free and heard.

Fortunately or unfortunately I have no horror to retell or injustice to fight, but that may be because I am a person generally at one with my life.  Acceptance is a gift and through it one is able to achieve much more because the options are multiplied once the obstinance has been removed.  Perhaps I need to dabble with fiction and make up my own drama or perhaps what is rosy in my eyes is thorns to others.  Interpretation is an individual lens and I can’t wait to start letting my voice out of the coma it has spent its life in.

Today I pray that every woman, man and child on every patch of this planet speak from the heart and touch someone’s heart.


Be blessed