Monthly Archives: May 2013

THE PAINS OF REARING PETS: part four

kitty nursing

I was in a quagmire; I didn’t know what to do with Kitty. I knew if I let her go out there she would come back ‘knocked up’ and I wasn’t sure I wanted to take care of her progeny; was she even prepared to take care of them? We had ‘babied’ her so much; but at the same time I hated seeing her in that state. There she was, ‘burning up’ on the inside and the only solution I had was to give in to her wishes; hand her over on a silver platter to a stray cat that looked ferocious; and his horny state had nothing to do with his general appearance, he just seemed naturally wild. I had seen a few cats around but him? Never had I laid my eyes on him before, and the circumstances under which we met didn’t make the situation any better.

“What has Kitty gotten herself into?” I cursed desperately. I was just standing there at the kitchen entrance befuddled, as I watched our once innocent moggie cry incessantly to be freed, so she could go satiate her wanton desires. But even as I stood there, unsure of my next move, I couldn’t find it in my heart to be angry at her, or for the irritating groans that were driving me nuts. It was something even a modest feline like her couldn’t will away; nature had held her spellbound.

I knew sooner or later I would have to do something; I could only take so much, and I was already reaching my elastic limit.

Her inflamed state made her acutely aware of any slight movement in the house. She had realized we were holding her captive in the house, and she was determined to find a way out; it didn’t matter if it was through the windows, which were now closed or through the doors. The worst part about the whole she-bang was that even when I wasn’t keeping an eye on her, I couldn’t do anything constructive with all the noise emanating from her and the other male cat that was now perched on the kitchen window ledge outside calling out to his mate. The caterwauling alone was enough to get me to call the animal control department.

I can’t quite recall how long the madness lasted; all I know is that it went on for far too long. It all came to an end one morning when my mom was leaving for work. We had successfully managed to keep her indoors all through that tormenting period but when my mom opened the door Kitty dashed out. My mom notified me instantly that she had escaped. Furiously, I got out of bed, draped on my nightgown as I was still in my pyjamas and I left through the backdoor. The search only lasted for about two minutes, as I found her behind a water tank that was only a few steps from the door.

I sighted her on the ground, with her head down low, hindquarters raised high, with the stray male positioned brazenly on top of her… on reflex I tried to shoo them, but they didn’t seem to notice my presence; I bent down, as if to pick a stone, but they didn’t even flinch. I was in utter shock…

I skedaddled back to the house and woke my sister up, “Kitty sneaked out and she’s out back mating with the other grey cat”.

“What’s that?” she asked.

I knew she’d heard me clearly but I repeated it anyway, “kitty’s out back, with the grey cat!” We rushed to the kitchen window from where we could get a clear view of that blasted sight. The honey moon phase was already over and now the two moggies seemed like they were ready to bite each other’s heads off. Kitty resembled a savage; she was hissing, trying to claw her rival, who a few minutes ago was giving her a taste of heaven… For a minute or two I entertained the thought that she was acting out because of guilt and shame; perchance after sharing such an intimate moment with him she was now feeling dirty and used? Guess I’ll never understand animals.

Eventually her partner left and she was left cleaning up…my sister and I on the other hand just walked to the livingroom, awash with disbelief, waiting for the inevitable; kittens.

For our feline, life didn’t resume normalcy as yet; every now and then she would chirr but thankfully it wasn’t as intense as before. She spent so much time seated at the door, as if she was looking out for something. It’s like she was waiting for the grey cat to return, but he never showed up. Slowly she got the drift, he was never coming back and her disturbing yowls died down.

A few months later, on one rainy Saturday she gave birth to four little kittens. It was only six in the evening, but because of the dark clouds, it seemed rather late. We knew she was going into labour when she started pacing restlessly, meowing like she was in pain. I was nervous, confused; I didn’t know what to do to help her as I’d never been in that situation before and my sister wasn’t of much help either. She was as callow as I in that field. We just set up a box and lined it with newspapers for the delivery; but at the same time I couldn’t hide my excitement.

Watching Kitty in labour was unnerving; she would get out of her box, then get back in…she was frantic. We sympathized with her, but at the same time we were afraid of interfering; as kids we had been made to believe that if one touched a kitten during birth the mother cat would eat it. That thought alone rendered us onlookers. By midnight that day, our house had four new tiny residents.

Kitty’s maternal instincts kicked in immediately; she nursed and cleaned her little ones’ whose fur was barely visible. Three of them were mainly grey and white, and the fourth one was purely black; it died a week later. When the remaining three were old enough we gave them to friends, who couldn’t resist their charm when they visited us. Kitty didn’t understand what had happened to them; she’d call out to them, but to no avail…she moved on.

About three months later-which if you ask me was too soon- she was at it again; but this time around she was subtle enough; she did it away from home. The details I have of her second pregnancy are a bit scanty, all I remember is that she ended up with two beautiful kittens; we contemplated keeping them, but three pets? That was one too many. We gave both of them to our family doctor.

We had had enough of the moggie drama; my mom arranged for our pet to be spayed. She stayed at the animal center for two days, when she came back she had a huge scar on her belly. It was a sore sight, as the spot had been shaven completely, exposing the visible sutures. She looked depressed; most of the time she stayed in her basket, just observing our movement. At times she would bite on the stitches, clearly irritated by their unusual presence. She wouldn’t come to us, so we went to her. We stroked her gently; she seemed to appreciate it; she would nuzzle our arms. Our TLC saw her through that storm and before long she was back to her old lively self. Her fur grew back; she was as good as new.

Goodbyes are never easy. Later that year, in mid-November we moved. We’ve moved like six times since I was a kid and I find it a very nostalgic affair; leaving friends behind, moving to new places, meeting new neighbours. There’s nothing easy about it. However, this time it felt ten times worse; it was excruciating; we couldn’t move with Kitty. Pets were not allowed in our new neighbourhood; the estate management warned residents strictly against it.

A fortnight before that day, when we ascertained we’d be moving we made arrangements with our family doctor to come pick our kitty up. It would weigh heavily on her more than it did us, that we knew evidently. Cats don’t like moving, and now to make matters worse she was moving to a new home with a new family. On the eve of our moving day our doctor showed up and left with kitty… I felt we had betrayed her, but we were only victims of the circumstances…

The agony that washed over me wouldn’t have been any extreme if it was one of my family members I was leaving behind. The only comforting thought was that she would be re-united with her last two kittens as they had been taken by the same doctor…that solemn departure torments me to date…

THE PAINS OF REARING PETS: part three

kitty

After rearing a pet that didn’t last for more than two years, I almost despaired on such a great cause…but no, I had the strength to do it again. The little pawed felines were just too adorable to give up on. I couldn’t resist their charm. My sisters and I set out to find another moggie. Initially we weren’t so successful; but then, like an answer to our prayers, my small sisters’ twin friends brought her a beautiful pet: Her fur -like her ‘predecessor’- was white, but she had some burnt orange and black patches on the back. When she made her grand entrance I was in school- in my last year of high school.

Ironically she took an instant liking to me, but I had trouble reciprocating. I didn’t know her well enough to start chasing her around the house, even though I knew she would have loved that immensely. Luckily, the little setback didn’t persist because by the time my first day home was over we were hugging like two best friends who had known each other all their lives. We were even eating from the same plate-my plate; I would place spaghetti on the edge of my plate, leaving one end dangling and slowly she would chew on it.

I’m not too sure if it was out of languor or we were simply trying to honour the memory of her predecessor, but we also named her Kitty. I bet she loved her name because everytime we called her she would responds with a soft “Meow” and if she was some place out of sight she would come running excitedly.

Sometimes when she was bored she would perch on my leg and because I didn’t want to disrupt her peace I’d drag my leg with her still resting on it. I’m guessing she loved it because she always seized the opportunity to do that whenever she saw anyone standing.

At her young age she got used to our hugs, so whenever she was bored she would climb up our legs, like she would a tree. It was easy for her because most of the time we were in jeans so her tiny claws would dig into them, providing her with a firm grip. Slowly and steadily she would find her way into our arms. I found that amusing. However, I found it painful at times because she would decide to do ‘the climb’ when I was in a skirt or shorts…her claws would inflict some slight scratches on my skin. She was bright because if she felt her claws weren’t digging into something solid she would result to plan B; she would do a mighty leap, hoping to grab the edges of the skirt or dress…but that only worked if it was long enough for her to jump at; if one was seated she would climb up the couch then walk up to them and eventually rest on their laps.

I didn’t want her scarring my legs in an attempt to secure a place in my arms, so if I realized she was trying to climb up my legs I would just bend and pick her up. She loved it. As she grew up pretty fast, we realized she couldn’t do ‘her climb’ anymore; she was heavier than before; additionally, she couldn’t perch on our legs anymore as she couldn’t balance her weight on the small surface area. But that didn’t stop us from having fun…

If her target was standing she would lithely mount whatever surface one was standing next to, then she would stand on her hind limbs and tenderly she would lean on them, supporting herself with her front paws. We had already learnt to interpret her body language; that was cue for “Carry me, please”… if I wasn’t too busy I would give in to her wishes; I would take her in my arms, stroke her gently…reciprocating, she would rub my face with her paw. At times she gave me the impression she understood our unspoken words. Most of the time when she placed her paw on my face I was afraid she would claw me but no, that never happened. She was naturally affectionate.

When one was busy she somehow understood that playing wasn’t possible, so she’d just stay on the floor, walking to and fro, rubbing her smooth body against one’s legs carrying her tail high.

I remember this one time I was lying on the couch sick; and alone in the house. She was out playing. When she crept in through the window she walked straight to me. She stood there on her twos, with her front paws leaning on the couch, staring at me and after a short while she jumped up, curled up beside me and we slept…

After finishing high school, I had plenty of time to sleep, write, watch movies and stuff; if ever anyone left the bedroom door open she would walk in, jump on the bed, and there she would do crazy things just to get me to wake up; she would sit on me, lie next to me, kneading me…if that failed to work she would just purr…and if that failed she would just throw in the towel and sleep, curled up beside me. I loved her.

Everyone in the family treated her like she was one of us; like she was the last born.

When she was about eighteen months old, her hormones started raging, when a stray male moggie sighted her. I never thought I would ever get to see her ‘horny’…I must admit, it was the most disturbing experience ever; Kitty would lie on the ground, rolling on her back, restlessly, caterwauling. It is the latter that I found especially annoying. She would howl mournfully- letting out sounds of R’s- for hours on end. When she was calm her male interest would be there, outside our back door calling out to her in the same chirrs.

Interestingly, I had never seen a cat in heat before, but my instincts told me she was just ‘hormonal’…my mom and big sister couldn’t understand why she was in that state; at first they thought she was sick…but I assured them there was nothing to lose sleep over really; it was nature taking its course.

My sister and I tried to keep her indoors; but Kitty couldn’t resist the urge. She mounted counters in the kitchen groaning, tried to climb the doors that led outside, paced to and fro like a deranged moggie, all in an attempt to go to that male cat, who would ‘cure’ her off her carnal cravings…did I mention it was horrible? If I didn’t know better I would think she was going to meet her maker…she looked needy, helpless, confused…

Evidently she had lost control over her body; the only thing she was aware of was her desire to copulate… I had never seen her in that state before….

 

THE PAINS OF REARING PETS: part two

cute kitten

In ‘the pains of rearing pets part one’ I mentioned how much I love pets… I always wanted to have an animal I could call my own, but that didn’t happen until I was thirteen. One of my mom’s friends had a female cat that had recently given birth and since she knew how much we desired to have one of our own, she sent my mom to bring us one of the kittens when she went over to her place.

The instant we saw my mom walk in, with a carrier in her hands, we instinctively surmised what she was carrying; she had brought us a kitten; our very own pet. Excitedly, we pounced on her, anxious to get the little moggie out.  When we opened the carrier he was hesitant; he didn’t want to come out. He retreated to the back and when my sister tried to reach for him he dashed out, seeking refuge behind the nearest couch. We understood he was scared, so we gave him time.

In the meantime we prepared his bed, his litter box and poured milk in his bowl. I guess the aroma of milk lured him out because he came out to drink. His steps were unsteady at first; I imagined he was trying to gauge his surroundings. We stood still, afraid that any sudden move would make him go back into hiding. It worked perfectly. He walked towards his bowl, gaining momentum with each step.  Finally he got to it, and without further ado he extended his tiny tongue out, lapping up the milk with maximum elegance.  He appeared unperturbed by our excited gazes.

When he was drinking to his fill, we took time to study his features: his fur was mainly white with some grey stripes on his back, which extended from his forehead to his tail. He was beautiful. Soon after he was done drinking, he sat on his hind limbs, and embarked on grooming himself. He would lick his front paws with his rough tongue then use them alternatingly to clean his face. When he was satisfied his face was clean he went on to clean the rest of his body. We were fascinated by him. My sisters and I hadn’t picked out a name for him yet, so we unanimously settled for kitty.

Comfortable that he was acclimatizing to his new home, we let him be. Later when we were all sitted in the living room, he found his way to my small sister’s laps. She was ecstatic. Gently she stroked his back and he seemed to love every bit of it.

We had memorable moments with him: when packing up for school he would playfully tuck himself in our bags. At one time I vividly recall how my unsuspecting big siz came so close to carrying him to school, until- thankfully- she realized her bag felt abnormally heavy. She looked inside the bag, only to find him curled in there. She was flattered. Tenderly, she lifted him up and held him close to her chest in one arm, stroking her with the other.

He was playful just as one would expect, and when he was slightly over a year old, he started staying out late. At times he would come back home in the morning. We assumed he was out wooing his female acquaintances.  At about the same time he disappeared for a few days. At first we weren’t too apprehensive because we thought he would come back later as he had been doing for the past few months; but to our consternation he didn’t show up. The first day went by; each second dragging by…the angst only aggravated the situation. After two days we freaked out. It wasn’t like him to stay out for more than a night. We didn’t know where to start looking… we were distraught.

My sisters and I agreed to conduct a neighbourhood search. We walked around the houses calling out, “Kitty”, all to no avail. After a relatively long time doing rounds, we were almost giving up when after calling out his name we heard a familiar “Meow”… we traced his purrs to a nearby house.

Just to confirm it was him indeed, we called out his name and his familiar “meow” went up in the air again. We didn’t need any more proof; our neighbours had unmistakably kidnapped our kitty. Invigorated, we knocked on their door and the instant it flung open, kitty dashed out. We were furious at them for abducting our feline, but then the joy of finding him eclipsed the fury.

Apparently, he went straight to the house.

We took turns to hug him… kitty looked elated; when I held him he nuzzled my chin. I could tell he had missed home. When the excitement had cooled down, we got down to analyzing what would have led our neighbours to commit such an odious act. We didn’t know much about them, as they had moved in recently, and the two kids in question were both under six. The older girl looked five and the younger boy looked three… we easily surmised they had done it with their parents’ help; but for the sake of maintaining cordial relations with our neighbours we let that one slide; but if they kidnapped him again, we would retaliate…that we vowed.

I don’t know if that incident affected him, because his nights out reduced remarkably.

A few months later, when my baby siz and I were in boarding school, my mom brought us some egregious news on visiting day. We were sitted with her and our dad catching up on what had been happening for the past month and a half that we’d been away from each other. It is then that my mom’s face turned somber as she announced, “Kitty died!”

I took a few minutes to assimilate the news, before breaking into a sob… “Kitty died?” I asked, disbelief written all over my face. My baby siz seemed more affected by the poignant news than I was. In tears, we recounted some of the moments we’d shared with him.

Then, I realized I hadn’t spent so much time with him as my sisters and I were in school most of the time. When we went home for the holidays we would find he had grown bigger; it was evident as his tail appeared longer and fuller every time we closed school. He even felt heavier. Mom had been feeding him well…

 

 

 

 

THE PAINS OF REARING PETS: part one.

puppy

Ever since I can remember I’ve always loved pets. The first time I experienced that thrill of having a pet was when I was nine. My small sister and I had gone playing outside on a weekday, after school without my mom’s consent. Everything we did that day is so foggy, except for one bit; she and I made a very special friend. While playing earlier in the day we had bumped into a little pup. She seemed enchanted by us because she followed us wherever we went that afternoon. I can hardly  tell how old she was because honestly I’ve never stayed with dogs long enough to tell how old they are in relation to their breed and age, all I know is that she was so tiny and extremely adorable; but I doubt she was more than a month old.

See, our next door neighbour- Bette Midler’s ‘doppelgänger’ from my post titled staying in– had two big, fierce dogs. One was white and the other was black. They were locked up in their kennel all day long and would only be let out at night as letting them loose during the day proved a gargantuan menace. They would bark at visitors; growling ferociously, threatening to bite them if they didn’t skedaddle. It was excruciating to them.

The dogs didn’t vex us as such as they distinguished our scents from strangers’ but that didn’t automatically ease the situation. At night the air was saturated with their howls. I dreaded waking up from a nightmare in the dead of the night as there was that eerie silence disrupted by the excessive howls that echoed for miles. Every one of those nights felt like a full moon, with dogs from other neighbours joining in the echo… it was a canine conspiracy to torment humans.

Sometimes it was so bad, I had to cover my ears to keep their torturous barks at bay just so I could go back to sleep. It was horrid… I guess they made an indelible mark in my life as to date I dread hearing dogs bark at night. Good thing is that where I live pets of that nature are not allowed so for the moment I need not worry about being kept up by them.

It was for this reason that I developed an instant liking to this stray pup. She was warm and cuddly. We didn’t know her, she didn’t know us either, but she loved us and we loved her. She was the perfect playmate and a breath of fresh air. As the sun slowly sunk into the horizon, darkness crept in. we knew soon we would have to inevitably part ways with our ‘friend’ and that weighed heavily on our hearts.

Eventually, as we had feared, darkness fell and my sister and I found ourselves sitted on our front porch comprehending our next move. We knew the right thing was to let her go, but we didn’t know who she belonged to; she certainly didn’t belong to our next door neighbour’s dogs because they were both male. On the other hand my mom wouldn’t have let us keep her…and even if she was to allow us, how or where would we say we found her? She would know we were out playing.

We didn’t have to worry for long, as we saw one of our friends approaching from a distance. He was a pretty laid back guy who was four years my senior. He was looking for his dog’s pup. I was so relieved yet nostalgic at the same time; I didn’t want her to leave, but I couldn’t choose a better person to look after her…

 

 

CELEBRATING THE HOLY TRINITY

Holy Trinity

“Father, You Who sought me;

Son, You Who bought me;

Spirit, You Who taught me…”

This are lyrics to a song I’ve never heard, but my priest said he loves it…and judging by the words I can tell it’s a beautiful song. Just reflecting on the words immerses me in profound tranquility when I feel that deep connection with God, which comes with the realization that He plays a vital role in my life; I am who I am because He lives. The words reassure me of His unconditional love for me.

One of my best verses in the bible is Psalms 139; God knew me long before He put me in my mother’s womb; in His infinite wisdom He knew the days fashioned for me… His thoughts are more than the grains of sand on the vast beaches; they are limitless … His thoughts are different from my own; He knows it all…He even knows the number of hairs on my head…

His Son Jesus died on the cross for me; He paid the price for my sins by giving up his own life on the cross; He saved me from eternal damnation.

The Holy Spirit is the helper sent to us By Jesus…He inspires us. The talents I have, my reasoning, my understanding…all come from Him… When I’m happy, I know He instilled that joy in me; he inspires the virtues I practice. One of my favourite prayers for the Holy Spirit is one which says, “…Lead me to the way of my Father, reveal Jesus my Saviour to me, open my eyes and my heart to the word of God, teach me to pray, help me to love as Jesus loves…” He is indeed my teacher.

Today, 26th May, we celebrate The Holy Trinity- God in three. All through the bible we see instances of God in three Persons: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit:

During the annunciation of the birth of Jesus in Luke 1:35 The angel Gabriel said to Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and God’s power will rest upon you. For this reason the Holy Child will be called The Son of God.”

During the ascension of Jesus, in Acts 1:7 Jesus tells His disciples, “The times and occasions are set by My Father’s own authority, and it is not for you to know when they will be. But when The Holy Spirit comes upon you, you will be filled with power…

During Pentecost, in Acts 2:1 The Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples, just as Jesus had promised them; He sent them a helper who would be with them after He went up to heaven-there he would be sitted at the right hand of His Father- so they would never be alone.

The Holy Trinity portrays unity incarnate; The Three Persons in God work together. In the story of Creation, Genesis 1:26 God says, “Let Us make man in Our own image…” He says ‘Us’, referring to God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

In our earthly lives the unity of three is emphasized in the family setting; a basic family is composed of the father, mother and the child. And looking at the universe, I’m not a scientist but in my understanding, the basic composition is water, land and air…

The Holy Trinity is a mystery… one might ask, we talk about God-HE, how do The Three Beings operate? St. Augustine, one of the greatest minds the church has ever had sought to understand it. He spent thirty years trying to comprehend the Holy Trinity. During that time he wrote fifteen books in an attempt to demystify the Holy Trinity; but none of those books were published.

St. Augustine’s friends, who knew what he was researching on didn’t understand why he would fail to have such great work published, so they ‘stole’ the books… but later, he explained to them that he didn’t publish those books because they were erroneous; his findings were flawed. He never got to understand The Holy Trinity; God in three Persons.

Personally, my basic understanding of The Holy Trinity is based on the information I have gathered over time. I think of It as a tripartite body; composed of three Beings…The three together are God. Think family… we refer to it as a perfect family when there’s the father, mother and children. With one of them missing it feels incomplete…but we (humans) are not perfect, that is why we still manage in the absence of any of the three. God, on the other hand, is perfection embodied; His ways are flawless…

I could sit here all night trying to find the best examples to explain an extremely complex issue, and fact is however much I try I will still end up feeling like I didn’t bring out the point clearly, like I’m feeling now. So I’ll just leave it at that…

God was never meant to be understood. He remains a mystery. He was there before the world came to be; when the world was formless and desolate (Genesis 1). In the bible He is referred to as ‘The Majestic!’ His greatness supersedes all. He is Infinite; our finite minds can’t comprehend such greatness.

In all honesty I can’t say I understand it myself; but I don’t beat myself up about it. My priest feels the same way too. Light-heartedly he asked, “Do you know when we’ll understand it?” Everyone kept mum, afraid of blurting out a wrong answer.

“When we meet Him face to face”, he continued. “That is when we’ll be like, ahh, so this is it!”

We might never get to understand The Holy Trinity in this lifetime, but one thing I’m certain of is that we don’t need to figure it out for us to love Him. He loves us unconditionally; in my view that’s all I/we need to know.

The sign of the cross honours the Holy Trinity: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

 

CONFESSIONS OF A SOAP-AHOLIC

confessions I did mention in a previous post that I love staying in… it’s a habit that has grown on me, now I just can’t shake it off. This little habit brought with it another wont: watching soaps. My memory’s awash with all the soaps I’ve been watching since forever… it is there that I met Austin Reed and Juan Pablo, his Mexican counterpart. He is a noble man, born with a silver spoon in his mouth, who doesn’t discriminate against anyone. He mingles with the affluent and underprivileged alike. I was also introduced to Paula- Juan’s old flame- who would do just about anything to keep him all for herself. Forget not, that Juan already showed her the door, but the thought of seeing him in the arms of another woman makes her cling on to him like a wet t-shirt.

Juan’s family tree is endowed with bountiful fruits; some mutated into nuts though; I met his malevolent mother; a self-righteous witch who has rendered old Juan a bachelor as she won’t consent to any of his relationships, alleging that his girlfriends are just out to suck every little penny out of them. The evidently wealthy girlfriends on the other hand aren’t graceful enough for a man of his son’s caliber. Sometimes she finds herself drawn to them but later finds out they were the real villains in the story.

In some soaps, telenovelas if you rather, Juanita happens to be the leading lady who every man wants to get a piece of. She’s acerbic in nature and only goes out with the men who will augment her empire. She perceives all her poor suitors as pure dirt, even though somehow, amidst the twists and turns, she ends up with one of them as she realizes money isn’t everything.

Then there’s the angelic Juanita. She was born dirt poor. More often than not she happens to be an orphan by design; she was separated from her parents by an old family friend who orchestrated a vendetta against them. She is a humble being who finds herself on the wrong side of the law every so often because she caught the eye of Alejandro, a self-proclaimed womanizer and the only son of an influential big gun.

Alejandro is mesmerized by her stunning beauty/personality. To his utter frustration he soon finds out that Juanita is a far cry from the other women he’s been with; she’s a respectable woman who isn’t fascinated by earthly riches; her dignity is all she has and would defend it with her life. Her goodness rubs off on Alejandro as he reforms into a strict monogamist. Alejandro’s family objects vehemently to his decision to marry Juanita but he stands up to them; he eventually marries her and they live happily ever after.

These Spanish characters are not from any soap in particular. It was my portrayal of characters as they have been painted in most of the soaps I’ve watched. The first time I watched a soap I was six or seven and ever since I’ve become a sucker for anything soap. Spanish soaps happen to be my favourite delicacy. I watched ‘Days of our lives’ for the better part of my teenage hood, until I realized it wasn’t going to end anytime soon…and ‘The bold and the beautiful’… the lure of the ‘PG 18’ disclaimer drove me insane as my parents wouldn’t let us (my sisters and I ) watch it; it was for adults. I had a really active imagination then. At my tender age I imagined all the possible scenarios that would make my parents so hell-bent on barring us from watching it…my mind would skip to nudity and moments of intense passion…my curiosity only heightened.

By the time I got to watch it, when I had ‘become legal’, I had already gotten used to Spanish soaps. Funny thing is when I finally got to watch it I couldn’t understand why they even had a PG 18 disclaimer then… based on the hype I’d built in my head, the show felt mundane… the most I saw were the basic kissing scenes, family members scheming against each other –I hate to admit it, but I see how such harmless pictures could corrupt a kid’s mind. I watched it for a while, loved it regardless but then I realized it was ‘incessant’…I didn’t have the patience to see who Brooke would end up with after all the bed-hopping, so I pulled the plug on that one too. That’s how I ended up with Alejandros and Juans exclusively.

I bet when they were shooting these soaps they had family time in mind because we watched them with my parents’ ‘blessings’… when we were away in school my mom would keep us updated… the only hurdle we had trouble  jumping over was my dad; he HATES soaps. He’s never understood why we’d waste time watching them faithfully. In his opinion, soaps are harmful because one has to allot time for them, and the fact that they continue for a relatively long time turns people into slaves; he recommends movies which will only last for two hours tops. I bet that explains all the action movies we watched with him while growing up… can’t complain though, it was fun.

Over the years though, I’ve realized that the script is the same one, only with a different cast. The main male protagonist -Alejandro- happens to be a rich guy who falls for a poor girl. Occasionally the girl happens to be scarred physically but he’ll see past the physical deformities. Not even his parents’ objections and an ex-girlfriend’s ploys will keep him from her. They end up happily ever after.

Many guys have this misconception, that soaps are a girls’ thing; atleast that’s what they used to think back in the day. No guy would openly admit he ever watched them; nowadays they seem to be singing a different tune though-they watch them as much as any of my girlfriends and I would. Ironically, after years of watching them faithfully I’m slowly losing my interest. I’ve watched every conceivable version of the ‘happily ever after’ script.

On average I watch atleast three different soaps a day. That, needless to say, has given me a lot to compare and contrast; that is in respect to real life, and after years of investing my time and money in them I’ve made a few deductions: the perfidious aunts who would sell their nephews/nieces to the devil in exchange for a hefty sum of money do exist in real life;

The protagonist’s bestfriend (frenemy) who snatches her fiancé right from underneath her, or schemes to drive her and her family to bankruptcy also exists in real life.

The wicked mothers who drive their children’s partners away because they don’t belong to their social class, or have some physical deformities also exist in real life.

Alejandro, however, as I like to call him-the knight in shining armour; the guy who loves a woman unconditionally, regardless of how scarred her face is, how indigent and malodourous she is; the guy who loves his girl for real, not because he expects her to sleep with him or because he plans to get anything out of it, like winning a bet he had made with his sleazy friend(s); that guy who will move heaven and earth, go against all odds to fight for the love of his life, even if it meant giving up his family in exchange… that guy, Alejandro, Carlos, or Jorge or whatever fancy names they use, he doesn’t exist; he’s just a figment of our imagination; the guys we would have if there wasn’t so much proclivity for physical beauty in the world; if men didn’t measure beauty in terms of how big a woman’s posteriors are, or how voluptuous her ‘rack’ is, how evident her curves are… Alejandro is the guy who sees past all that; he sees inner beauty.

Just for the sake of not shelving this book before I’ve read the last page, I’ll leave room for a little doubt; maybe Alejandro does exist. There could only be a few of him left, but maybe he does exist…

The most important lesson that I’ve continually gathered from all the soaps I’ve watched, is that holding on to anger and harbouring grudges, only corrupts the soul; additionally, revenge is best left to God… He’ll even all the scores and leave one watching contentedly, without an ounce of guilt…

MEN IN ‘SKIRTS’

men gossiping

Some things have become so synonymous with others-like skirts with women- that trying to interfere with the unwritten laws feels utterly wrong; but lately there seems to be some major revolution; things have taken a one eighty degrees turn from how they used to be: My maternal grams for instance, finds it unconceivable when my dad serves her tea, because she was raised in a very traditional setting, where women were supposed be submissive to men, who were deemed superior to the women; demigods of some sought. Wives were supposed to feed their husbands, run their baths… not of their own free will, but simply because that is what the society required of them.

Today, responsibilities have shifted remarkably; activities that our forefathers- literally- would have spat at have now become a norm. I’m thinking, if I were to tell my great grandpa, who exited this world long before my parents conceived-this crazy fruit of their love-me, that my dad cooks and does his laundry at times, he would spray on me whatever drink he’d be sipping at before exclaiming angrily, “what?’

I’m also imagining he would then convene the council elders for an impromptu meeting to discuss his grandson’s ‘malady’ and some possible remedies which I imagine would include dragging my old man into the forest so he can hunt down some big cat, decapitate it and subsequently have him display its head in his living room as a trophy, just to remind him that men don’t partake in petty household chores; that men should be macho, and that anything contravening that would amount to tremendous emasculation.

Personally, I delight at seeing my dad cooking… it makes me proud that he can walk into the kitchen and fix some snack; I perceive it as him trying to bring down the partition our forefathers so painstakingly erected, to divide men’s responsibilities from women’s… it fills me with hope that in the near future, simple acts as such will finally obliterate undesirable traits like male chauvinism, which undermine women dreadfully.

Irrespective of that, there are boundaries that should remain intact; gossiping for instance… that is one of the few things that should be left exclusively to women. In that regard, men should focus on perfecting their punches… not sharpening their words. Gossiping is just something that men should never be caught dead doing- ‘never’ being the operative word. From a woman’s perspective, it’s grossly unattractive.

My mind always goes blank when I find a group of refined men engrossed in a deep conversation, dissecting and analyzing a certain individual-for whatever reasons- so animatedly; high five-ing each other, using coded words and analogies so that whoever is not part of their conversation doesn’t understand what they’re saying, whispering in each other’s ears, laughing like rabid men… It is totally obnoxious! The revulsion such actions afford me wouldn’t be any different if I happened to sight two manly guys indulging in an affray, with one guy lying on his belly and the other sitted on his back pulling his hair, demanding that he apologizes for ,say, calling him names… that is so girly! They might as well go rock skirts.

Talking about other people is inevitable, and it would be ‘inhumane’ of me to discourage my brothers not to do it, but if they must, a little discretion would be in order. The infamous market women earned that term because they continually make it obvious they’ve no problem getting under people’s skin; they made it their business to callously stick their noses in other people’s affairs. I don’t know if there’s even a soul out there that’s pleased with them, but somehow we all manage to put up with them… I don’t want to imagine men being part of the scuttlebutt group. There’s just something so wrong with that picture. I guess it’s partly because they tend to overdo it… and still insist on being revered as men.

We’ve been busy breaking away from traditions which our forefathers put in place; women are now wearing pants, husbands babysit gladly… all that seems okay, but I’m thinking a guy won’t just walk into his wife’s closet and pick a skirt because his pants won’t fit or something of the sought; because it’s just wrong… if it’s not a kilt, then no freaking way.

That is what gossiping is; a skirt; reserved strictly for women. Manly men have no business giving women a run for their money on this one… it’s a no-go zone. Whoever wishes to partake in it can denounce his balls first; then there’ll be no qualms. Only then, can they wear these skirts.

MATTERS PARENTING-FROM A DAUGHTER’S PERSPECTIVE

parent  Everytime I talk about matters parenting, I always feel like I’m doing parents a major disservice; mainly because I haven’t walked down that road yet. Nevertheless, I feel I know reasonably much about parenting; I’ve watched my parents raising three daughters- me included- and even though I’ve only been watching from the sidelines, I formed my own opinion on the matter. If I may put in my two cents worth, parents should use a relatively soft approach on their kids. This however doesn’t mean they should be lenient; overlooking mistakes and all… Fundamentally, the idea is for parents to understand their children; to walk a mile in their shoes, so they can simply get the rationale of their complexities.

For this to be successful, parents would basically be required to lay the ground rules, which would be used to guide members of the family on what is/not allowed. Parents would also be required to put their feet down, just to ensure that the rules are adhered to.

The term ‘rules’, I realize, brings out the idea as a scheme by parents to tyrannize their children, but that is not it. The rules imply to simple things that are done in the home; for instance, sitting at the table together for meals, doing chores, running  errands… etc. Setting of rules would help parents keep their children in check, and this would help them identify any snags that would arise in relation to that.

In case you’re wondering how I came to this, I mentioned in down memory lane: my childhood sweetheart that I went to boarding school. I was only eleven at the time and I detested it with every ounce of my being. My mom thought it was the best idea though; there were many distractions at home and she felt boarding would counter all that. True to her suppositions, it did just that. She only intended for me to get good grades, which I did…

Looking at the bigger picture though, I impute most of the barneys I had with her as a teenager to that simple fact that she shipped me off to boarding school. See, when I went there I was quite young; at such a pliable age. It was then that I learnt how to spread a bed impeccably, do my own laundry… most importantly, I also learnt how to verbalize my emotions. Before I enrolled there, I was just an introverted girl; I kept to myself a lot. I didn’t bother standing up to other students because I knew all I had to do was squeal on them and my mom would take up the matter with the concerned teachers; I wasn’t bratty though, just that I didn’t find it necessary to engage in squabbles when my mom could easily intervene.  Every once in a while though, I’d find myself in messy fights with boys in my classroom and that would have my mom summoned in school. In the teachers’ presence she would vindicate me, so much so that I always got off the hook easily.  I don’t remember being chastised by any of the teachers on any one of those accounts; but when I got back home, she would set things straight. She would scold me sternly or give me whatever punishment she thought suited the nature of my transgression. She’s always been zero-tolerant to impertinence.

Sometimes teachers would find themselves at the receiving end of my mom’s backlash. If you ask me, they deserved it all… they were brutal! Students who arrived to school late were caned mercilessly with peeled tree branches, which only made it twice as painful. At times they would cut hosepipes into pieces of considerable length and those too would be used to inflict pain on us. Some teachers even went ahead to fill the hollows in the pipes with stems, to intensify the lashes so that whoever they landed on would never be tempted to repeat whatever had brought them there in the first place. My mom hated seeing us (my sisters and I) bruised or with our knuckles swollen because a teacher had hit us with a ruler, so she took it upon herself to discipline us. She didn’t want us to turn out unscrupulous, but at the same time she didn’t want others to maim us alleging corrective measures; therefore she made sure we grew up straight to prevent us from getting in trouble with them. She chose to personally, nip our wrong doings in the bud.

When I went to boarding school I didn’t have my mom to defend me. I only had my big sister who had gone there a year before I did. She’s only a year and a half older than I am. The good thing about my new school was that caning was prohibited. The headmistress was a distant grandma; a strict disciplinarian, who pervaded fear in the other teachers as much as she did students. From the movies I watched as a kid, she was the angelic version of Miss Tranchbul in the movie, Matilda. She embodied perfection. Stained tunics with hanging hems or torn pockets weren’t tolerated; socks and blouses had to be dazzling white; those with discoloured ones were punished. Seeing as the school was catholic sponsored, she made it unmistakable that masses were not optional. That regardless, didn’t exorcize the little ‘demons’ in the school; some of the older girls were brutes. Consequently, I learnt how to defend myself. Slowly, the introvert I was developed into an outspoken lass… no one would mess with me again.

Out of those eight years that I was in boarding school, six of them I spent in school while the holidays only summed up to two years only. During those six years a lot happened; that’s when I learnt who I was…I became distinctly aware of my emotions, formed my own independent opinion of things. I’m not sure if it was just sheer ignorance, but my parents didn’t seem to realize I had changed. Many are the times I felt my actions were misconstrued and anything I said only ignited fights. Whenever I talked with my mom a certain phrase invariably popped up, “You don’t understand me!”  Disappointingly, my parents never made any efforts to understand the ‘new’ me. I only learnt to adjust to my surrounding when I got tired of fighting.

That ‘phase’ I was in, as many parents would refer to it, is a crucial stage in children’s lives; that’s when parents who previously  were awfully close with their children find themselves so detached, feeling like total strangers. Not all parents send their children to boarding school, but the same scenario plays itself out when parents are too busy working that they seldom spend time with them. Sometimes parents fail to realize that kids grow up fast. A month, or even a week could be enough for a child’s perceptions to be realigned; even a day’s occurrence-if incubated- could slowly change a person.

In light of this, I feel that parents would achieve much if they focused more on trying to understand why their children  act the way they do as opposed to just jumping into conclusions- that they’re only going through a phase -and consequently grounding them or giving punishments…

 

MORAL DECAY-THE ROAD TO PERDITION

Bible “How many of you have phones?” the priest asked while giving his homily.  Ninety nine percent of the congregation raised their hands. My estimation here is based on the simple observation that every person my eyes landed on had their hand up, except for the kids who seemed like they were five and below.

Then came the next question, “How many of you have bibles?”  The number of people who had their hands up reduced significantly.

The priest didn’t stop there, he proceeded, “And how many pray every morning before they get out of bed?” To my astonishment, only a few raised their hands. From my estimation, there were less than fifty hands up. The humongous church which was packed to capacity had only a few people who showed that they did pray in the morning. I realize sometimes people, myself included, make assumptions subconsciously. For instance, before that day I had never spared a moment to think if people owned bibles or if even they prayed outside the church premises. Somehow I had unconsciously assumed that everyone in that church prayed in the morning just to thank God for a new day and to seek His guidance and protection. So needless to say, the results of that little exercise conducted by the priest took me by surprise.

Nowadays almost every person above the age of five has an electronic gadget which they use to connect with their friends on the social media. Having an account on any one or all of these sites feels like a basic need- to the best of us at least; I guess someone should revise the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in relation to changing times. Of all the eons since man’s creation/evolution (depending on what you believe in), I like this one best. I mean, I can connect with anyone, anywhere in the world just by the click of a button. The one thing that makes me appreciate social media is the fact that it has provided a global platform, where people from all continents get to interact.

On the downside though, this gadgets have been used to propagate social evils… young people use them to download explicit material from the internet and this has been one of the principal factors that I blame for the escalating moral decay in the society.  As a kid, I was made to understand that petty issues such as chewing gum and talking in the church were wrong. Nowadays I look around and I see mature folks busy chewing, others taking soft drinks and a good majority tweeting and facebooking. Does that mean the ‘ban’ was lifted? What happened to people respecting the sanctity of the church as it is the House of God?

What happened to people adhering to the Ten Commandments? I don’t know if God sent a chosen few epistles notifying them that it was right for people to break the laws , inscribed on stone, which have been passed down from generation to generation; but the things I see and hear… my heart bleeds!

A few months ago, I was made privy to some stomach churning information; some two teenage siblings I know had been engaging in aberrant sexual activity-incest if you rather- under their parents’ roof… I’ve never assimilated that information to date. Everytime I see either of the two, the sordid affair rushes through my mind but I always try to get my head out of that gutter; I know if I embarked on trying to understand how it all happened I would be lost in my own imagination… and just recently on the news, a few girls were arraigned in court for supposedly engaging in carnal knowledge with a canine!

At the risk of being branded a prude, the story left me in a state of utter shock. I’m fully aware that such things do happen in real life, in XXX movies especially, but I guess seeing it on the news made it more real… the details weren’t divulged really, but it’s my imagination of the whole she-bang that makes it so unsettling. I imagine the infections those girls risked contracting, and the mere thought of an animal sticking its ‘penis’ inside the young college women makes me nauseous.

The priest asked how many people had Bibles; I own one, and even though I don’t read it as much as I ought to, I peruse through its pages every once in a while. Of the many verses I’ve read the one that has made a significant impact on my life is John 8:7, where Jesus said, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”. Fundamentally, what He was implying here is that we (human beings) are all sinners; it doesn’t matter if one hit their parent, broke into a bank, murdered, told a lie, fornicated or sullied the sanctity of their nuptial by committing adultery… all those are sins. I was taught that there are venial and mortal sins, but the underlying point is that a sin is a sin. It’s for this precise reason that I don’t judge people; because firstly, I am a sinner and secondly, I wouldn’t want to be judged too… by God notably.

It would be really hypocritical of me to hurl stones at those girls, but at the same time I would want to give some insight on matters sex. Ever read Leviticus 18? The chapter highlights unlawful sexual relations; the sexual practices which God abhors. Succinctly, it contains laws related to incest, bestiality and homosexuality.

I look at the world today, and I see so much evil. We have deviated from good morals and worst part is that the society is so permissive about it. We’re not all Christians, so I wouldn’t recommend everyone to read the Bible. I have pagan friends too, but the fact that they don’t believe in God doesn’t automatically make them sinners, as some of my “religious’ acquaintances act like the better sinners in every sense of the word. From my Christian perspective though, I believe that primarily, people have drifted from God. We’re not praying enough and the best of us glorify materialism. For instance, the girls in the aforementioned story were caught shooting an X-rated movie. Basically they were doing it all for money- the sole ticket to perdition.

In the book of Haggai 2:8 God says, “All the silver and gold of the world are mine! The new temple will be more splendid than the old one, and there I will give my people prosperity and peace.” This means that all the riches belong to Him. If anyone seeks wealth anywhere else other than from Him, they would only be walking the broad road to perdition; a road that will bring them immeasurable misery.

I believe in the creation theory. In the book of Genesis 2:18 we’re told how after creating man in His own image, God subsequently created a woman from the man’s ribs when He saw the man was lonely. How then would one suppose He feels when He sees all that is happening? Brothers sleeping with their sisters, fathers with their daughters, girls with dogs… It just feels wrong. These things are not new to Him though; He saw it all in Sodom and Gomorrah, and just to jog your memory, the two ancient cities went up in flames. God gave us a chance to redeem ourselves, but we’re still following in those abominable footsteps. If you ask me, we’re testing His patience. We shouldn’t be surprised if the same fate befalls us. God forbid!

The world is vast, and half of the occurrences would drive one to a state of dementia if we didn’t believe in a Supreme Being; if we didn’t look at things through the eyes of faith. To me, God is that Higher force that I believe in. His Holy Spirit inspired those who wrote the Bible, so I believe that whatever is written in its pages was meant to be a manual on how to live. Just try looking at it from my perspective; when one purchases an appliance they insist on getting a manual; in the same respect, we were given the Bible so it could help us align our will with God’s.

I wrote this piece from my Christian perspective, and even though I would wish that everyone believed in God, I’m not oblivious to the fact that there are numerous religions that are subject to varying beliefs. God is aware of that too. He created us all differently, and He respects our will, otherwise He would have forced us all to believe in Him. Jesus said there are sheep and goats, and each will be judged according to his kind. Even if one doesn’t believe in God, of importance here is, are their actions morally right?

THE RICH AND THE POOR

rich and poorI don’t mean to sound prejudiced or divisive, but as it is common knowledge, there are pre-dominantly two classes of people: the haves and the have- nots. Simply put the rich and the poor. Again, those two classes can be further divided into two classes each: the humble rich, and the arrogant rich and the humble poor and the arrogant poor.

a)      The humble rich.

These are the people who have so much wealth but don’t let their affluence get into their heads; they don’t belittle the poor because they understand it’s not their fault that they lack but because for there to be a balance in the universe, there has to be wealth and poverty and unfortunately they (poor) had to be the ones lacking. With this understanding, they treat the poor with so much respect and so much tenderness so that they don’t feel discriminated. They even go out of their way to share whatever they have with the less fortunate, as they feel that even though there should be that ‘balance’, they can still lessen that gap. They are naturally virtuous, in that when they give, they do it without expecting anything in return; they do it from the goodness of their hearts.

b)      The arrogant rich.

As you may have guessed, these are the absolute contrast of the humble rich. They are conceited, vain…    in short, this is where you find the epitomes of evil incarnate. In their opinion, they were cut out to swim in luxury, and the poor exist only at their mercy. This attitude makes them condescending towards the have- nots. They regard them with contempt; they respect them as much as they do roaches. They relish in debasing them. If you ask them, the poor haven’t been favoured by nature because they are slothful so no matter how hard they work, they will invariably remain in that class; like pariahs. Occasionally, they stretch a helping hand towards the poor, but not without an ulterior motive; those who they help are forever indebted to them and like the devil himself, they will ultimately come to collect.

c)      The humble poor.

These are just the most noble of beings. They are diligent by nature because they know no one was born to suffer, so even though they lack, they are optimistic that one day God will bless them with wealth. In spite of the fact that they have very little to their name, they are so generous; they help those who are in a worse position than they. Their sorry state doesn’t harden their hearts. Whenever they are dealing with the haves, they only accord them the utmost respect because, like the humble rich, they also understand that everyone wasn’t meant to drive posh cars and live in luxurious mansions.

d)     The arrogant poor.

These, like the rich arrogant, are spiteful in nature. They regard the rich with rancour and suspicion and  are invariably bent on making their lives miserable; whenever the affluent visit their humble domains they will often hurl invectives at them because they ‘don’t belong there’ and should therefore ‘go back to their rich suburbs’.  Naturally they find it hard to believe that a rich person can stand being in the presence of poor people. Moreover, they find it unbelievable that a person would want to help another without ulterior motives. They conceal the predicaments stemming from their impoverished state behind a façade of pride. They often seem bitter and this, in a way, explains why they loathe the rich. To boost their self-esteem they often try to focus on the inadequacies of the rich. For instance, they will offer their services/goods at exorbitant prices and when the unsuspecting rich buy from them, they will, in their defence, say that they’re foolish; they don’t know how to haggle, so that’s why they are easily scammed off. More often than not, fate works in their favour, and they find themselves high up in the social ladder. They graduate into the rich arrogant.

 

Sometimes it takes Mother Nature’s intervention to tame the rich arrogant; they go bankrupt, relocate to some shack in some unpopular neighbourhood. From that position the fog clouding their judgement clears and they see things like they are meant to be; that we are rich/poor because God wills it that way and things can change in the blink of an eye, depending on how we use what He- in His abundant mercy- has given us. However, in some complex situations, Mother Nature’s intervention doesn’t always work; once the rich arrogant recover from the temporary impoverishment they find their way back to the streets they are only too familiar with- unadulterated arrogance, treating everyone else like scum.

I’ve often wondered why someone who was once poor would treat those who are still poor with open disdain, now I know it’s because even before they acquired that wealth they were wicked. It’s imperative that one conducts a self- assessment to know where they lie. You may not be entirely rich or poor, but how do you behave, in relation to whatever you have, or wherever you lie in that proverbial social ladder?