Feb 27, 2012

The Nama and the San

The hunter-gatherers and beachcombers of the early Cape

Of all the African people living in South Africa one can probably say that the only truly original indigenous people remaining are the Nama and the San – small-framed, apricot-skinned beachcombers and hunter gatherers who walked the land for food and fished along the rocky shores in turbulent waters more than three hundred and fifty years ago.

 With a tiny physique, an earthy complexion and wrinkled appearance, the San have good eyesight, can see great distances and were skilled trackers who could study a pile of manure or animal dung and tell you which animal had made the deposit, the age of the animal, and the direction it had gone. The San had rock paintings all along the coast as if to dress up the places where they had been and left their signature; they were hunter-gatherers with a wonderful sense of poetry, music, and art.  

 Remnants of the San remain, and have been made famous in the well-known film by Jamie Uys known as The Gods Must be Crazy – where a Coke bottle falls from the sky and causes a tribe member to start walking to the end of the earth to return it to the gods. The act of trying to give back a Coke bottle to the gods is evidence of their delightful nature. The San speak both Khoisan and Afrikaans and make a click sound when they speak. Hunted by the early settlers in the 17th and 18th centuries, they fled north and disappeared.

The second group, the Nama, close in colour and stature to the San, who also had Mongolian features, originally lived around the Orange River in southern Namibia and northern South Africa in the mid nineteenth century. Before this, they lived in Namaqualand and were called Hottentots. 

Today, about 60,000 Nama live in Namibia, and an entire community reside in the four districts in the Richtersveld, a mountainous and stony landscape, in Eksteenfontein, Kubus, Sanddrift and Port Nolloth where they have houses along sandy streets with some trees, a café, a school, a church with a piano. The Nama, however, have their problems; alcoholism, teenage pregnancy, and fear that their culture and language will soon disappear. The children are uninterested in learning the language of their elders and many of them now speak only Afrikaans. 

What not to do on a first date

First dates can be mighty uncomfortable especially if you have just met the person at a party for ten minutes the night before and don’t know anything about him except his name and his dimpled smile. It is the hardest first minutes of a date and some people dive right into it and others take their time to sass out the situation. Remember that the other person is just as nervous as you despite a show of bravado and might be talking too much. There is a lot of self-consciousness on a first date. He is talking to you but wondering what you are thinking about, whether you find him attractive, whether you can see yourself with him. And you are tense as a guitar string wondering what the night will bring. It is a stressful, strangely sensuous sensation. 

Keeping on top of things

·                    Whatever you do, do not be bowled over by the situation and take him to your bed on this first date; not because you’re a prude or not a prude or because you might not come across as cool, but because you really do not know him and will feel disgust if you have sex with him and the date turns out to be nothing more than a one-night stand.

·                     Do not tell him your whole family history on a first date; in fact, there should not be a whole catalogue of events and family matters you discuss as you want to keep the date fun and lighthearted. 

·                    Don’t reveal your whole arsenal of tools; let him discover you slowly, hand out tit bits of information sparsely and keep the best portions for last. 

·                     Make an effort to look nice and don’t rush to tell him about the skin tag or wart at the side of your neck that is going to be removed. God knows what he has growing on his body and you as a woman will not run off scared by the sight of it.

·                    Do not pretend to be someone you are not. If you serve coffee and cake at the local café, don’t say something like, “I wait on people, but I also read books.” It says that you are embarrassed by what you do. He will know from your behavior that you are a girl of substance.

·                    When the date is over, thank him politely for a fun evening, and do not call him the next day to tell him what a great time you’ve had. He knows what kind of evening you shared. 

·                    If he does not call you and a week has passed, say quietly to yourself: ‘that’s why I don’t put out the first night.’ This is very old-fashioned stuff. A man who is interested in your spirit, is not going to wait for you to call; he is going to call you. We re social animals after all; we know innately how the game is played.


Feb 26, 2012

Any Red Gage enthusiasts who can report good earnings?

With the many sites that article writers can choose from, it is worth trying to determine if all of them are genuine and you are earning from them. Writing three or more articles a day and trying to manage all the peripheral details like writing, posting, researching, and so on you don’t want to waste your time and could spend it researching or marketing or trying out another site. I checked out the Red Gage site and as far as I could quickly assess, they offer to put your sites or your articles all in one location and they manage it for you. 

Comparing notes

My question is: with the little we already make, can one afford to have someone who does no actual writing just come along and skim the cream by consolidating the sites and then earning from it after the hard work is done? The hard work is in the topics or niche and the writing of the content. What is the big deal if you have earnings in different places? I kind of like the idea of going to the different sites and seeing how my articles are doing and how the earnings are increasing. Perhaps we could hear from some Red Gage writers with first-hand experience.

Interviewing for the job

As we all have to follow a process when we want to write for a site, it would be nice to hear some answers from Red Gage or their writers, or writers from any other site as far as

·                    how earnings are calculated,
·                    whether they are revenue sharing sites,
·                    how many sites you can post to after first posting on Triond,
·                    how to avoid getting penalized
·                    how to avoid getting fired
·                    If you write for Triond and repost to other sites, how many other sites can you have?
·                    how to juggle all your writing without breaking the rules,
·                    the truth about how to make at least fifty dollars a day.

The four sites I write for are all great, but at the end of the day the writer has to survive. With Experts Column I have made about a dollar a week. It is nice, but obviously not enough. I will increase my earnings with more articles, but will have to do something drastic to bring that about. Any realistic, do-able ideas for at least $50 a day? It would allow me to continue writing articles, but also to get back to writing my eleventh novel writing.


Feb 25, 2012

Are women hard to please?

It depends on who you ask. If you ask this of a current lover she is involved with, you might hear a lot of good things. If you ask a past friend, you might hear differently. People’s opinions are colored by experience. Still, to answer the question, most women are easy to please and will put up with a lot from a partner, will even overlook that time he left her stranded along the side of the road because he was late for the game, but a woman absolutely will not put up with coming home from work and finding a pair of skimpy, smelly panties lying on the floor at the side of the bed and it is not hers. Women go ballistic when men cheat. 

Second chances  

A woman, in most cases will give a man a second chance. For the panties incident, she will give you the usual silent treatment, not make you your favorite midnight snack, withhold sex and ignore you and pout around the house for a few weeks because you have cut her pride and brought another woman to the bed. She is disgusted with you but she is stuck, and eventually she will let you in because she has no other way. She will give you a second chance because it is just easier to get you to shut up than rehash your addictions and problematic behavior over and over and tell even more lies. 

Practical thinkers

Women are practical. They think of the school fees, the medical expenses for the second pregnancy, the job she might lose if she takes too much maternity leave, and the thought of doing it all on her own will force her into giving him a second chance. It is not out of the goodness of her heart that she is doing it; it is out of necessity. It is the usual sacrifice that women make; something for something. She is managing her life and not losing a paycheck. A woman can forgive a man and stay with him if it means that her children will be protected – and even if the forgiveness just lasts until the kids are eighteen years old. 

Natural givers

So it is unfair to say that women are hard to please. Some of them are because they have learned the lessons first hand. Women can see around the bend; they know the lines, they know the excuses, and have heard the ridiculous things men come up with when they have been caught with a finger in the pie. Otherwise women are nurturers and natural givers.


Feb 23, 2012

Change the way you think and let go of fear

Have you suffered in almost every relationship, whether it was professional or romantic because of fear? Do you freeze before an interview? Do you inadvertently wreck a relationship because you come across as needy and insecure? Well, you can change it all by changing the way you think and influencing your brain. Anxiety starts in the brain. You become hot and sweaty. You feel like you’re going to choke. When you don’t nip this in the bud right away, it becomes full-blown fear. And really, when you think about it, fear is just a four-letter word; how much can it hurt? It can hurt a lot and to the point where you choke up with and think you are going to pass out or die. You have an urgent need to pee or throw up, and become even more afraid by the proximity of people in the life, squirming and suffering and feeling so claustrophobic that you want to break down the elevator door.

Owning your fear

A writer posted a comment on my blog recently to tell me that she had so much anxiety that she was afraid to leave the house. I took the time to write to her and respond. She wrote me back to thank me for the article because she felt it had helped her. Fear is like that. It can come upon you suddenly, but it can also dissipate at the same rate. Your first thing to do here is own your fear. Have some time alone at home and think about your fear. Stretch the discomfort of revisiting those memories and images until breaking point. You will see afterwards that nothing has happened; that the sun is still shining and no one has harmed you. Own your fear. Thank your fear for having been with you for so many years. Thank your fear for being your protector. Tell your fear that you are grateful for what you have learned and how it has armed you, but that it is time now to say goodbye.

Mantra for change

When you get up in the morning, first thing is to thank God for another day you have survived. Thank God for providing you with protection all the years. Tell your fears not to worry about you anymore and then firmly and gently tell your fears that you can manage your life without its assistance now and that you want it to go away. Of course, you are talking to yourself, and are reaffirming certain things you want in your life. You are also creating a reverberation in the atmosphere. With the advent of the internet and instantaneous messaging, technology today has provided a way, with the click of a button, to give instant comfort. For that reason and no other, this writer is writing articles and not working as much as she should on finishing writing her new book.


RAYDA JACOBS - Writer/Novelist/Scriptwriter: Weight Loss, Lies, and Videotape

RAYDA JACOBS - Writer/Novelist/Scriptwriter: Weight Loss, Lies, and Videotape

Rayda Jacobs turns 65 on Tuesday, March 6th

"Thank you, Lord"

Feb 22, 2012

Sound values for a healthy family life

This is a subject that has such breadth you don’t know where to start. Practicing good sound values, however, should start with the family and at home. One can be judged by one’s company; so one can be by one’s family. Sound values are ideals we live by and which take us through life. To be without values is to have no moral compass. Charity starts at home and so must everything else. You must have God in your life; that is the first thing. When you have God in your life you are more apt to have respect for your elders, you will have something to believe in, you will have guidance and support if you seek it.

Here are some values to live by

·                    Compassion for others. Not everyone is as fortunate as you are. Some people complain about beggars and people asking you for things on the street. Give what you can. Buy someone a lunch. Give the vagrant on the corner two dollars. Don’t question what he will do with the money; give it unconditionally. 

·                    Respect for your elders. Have respect for the people at home and for people in positions of authority. Also have respect for those close to you, at school, and for whatever friends you may have. Having respect costs nothing and just helping someone carry her groceries or helping her out of the car, is a good deed. 

·                    Be honest. Start your children on the right path by telling them to always tell the truth, even if what you have to say is going to land them in trouble. Your parents will 

·                    Be generous. Not only with material goods, but with your time. It is harder for some people to give of their time, but it will mean a lot. Giving of your time could include giving someone a lift, taking a friend to the hospital, staying with someone at the accident scene to comfort the person; one can be generous in many ways.

·                    Forgiving your enemy. You know what Jesus said in the Bible about this. Don’t carry a stone in your heart forever because someone has harmed you. You will feel lighter having forgiven the person and you will be rid of dead weight.

·                    Give more than you ask for. You will get double in return. In fact, don’t expect anything when someone has helped you. Be responsible in your dealings with people and do not begrudge them anything.


How to instil discipline in your child

There is no set time for disciplining a child and some children are so well-behaved that they hardly get disciplined. Really, though, discipline starts when the child acts out of the norm, throws a tantrum, shouts back at you, and you have to take control or the child will think that he can manipulate you for whatever he wants. There is a difference between that kind of discipline and discipline where you just correct behaviour by ‘showing’ and no harsh tone need be employed. Still, children know instinctively that there are rules and know when they are being chastised.

The child’s retreat

A child know when he has misbehaved, even as a two-year-old, and is old enough when his parent calls a time-out because he is shouting at the top of his lungs or throwing his things around. A time-out is a gentle way to calm down a recalcitrant toddler. He understands what is happening, and in time settles down in his room. His room is his sanctuary and it is a place where he can retreat to. This is his space. It is where he has his bath and is being changed. He also learns independence right from the start. 

Mistakes parents make disciplining a toddler

1                    A child sleeping in his own crib learns independence from the start. Sleeping with his parents will create problems later on when he can’t fall asleep without his mother or father in bed, or without the light on, or he is scared of ghosts. It leads to co-dependency. However, this does not mean that there are not special occasions to crowd into your parents’ bed. Bonding is important and should be exercised on a regular basis. 

2                    Do not change the rules once you have made them. If you call a time-out, don’t give in to his charm or screaming to let him sit with the other children in front of the television.

3                    If he does not listen to you, take him physically to his room. If he comes out, put him back. Just because he is screaming and throwing a tantrum does not mean you must give in. Toddlers can be manipulative.

4                    Don’t shout and scream yourself. They turn on the tears or suddenly become charming to get what they want. Speak nicely and let the child know who is in charge. 

5                    Do not bribe a child; he will hold you hostage. If you resort to bribery he will know that you are not a person with conviction and will sense that you are weak. Be loving and caring, but show him who is the boss.

Discipline with love

Once your infant has been fed and changed, put him back in the crib. He will soon fall asleep. Remember, teaching him right at the beginning of his life how to behave will go a long way towards his future. Play with your child; it is very important. Read to your child. Have a story hour before he goes to bed. Then put him in his room. 


Feb 21, 2012

Know what to expect on a blind date

Blind dates are the best way to make friends. If you leave with that in mind, you can’t lose except if the guy is a complete idiot. Remember, the guy is just as nervous as you, only he doesn’t know it. He wants to be acceptable, he wants to make the grade; it makes him a more likeable person and a contestant – because it is a contest. You show off your looks and if it is pleasing, you get a chance to interview. That’s all a blind date is; an interview. If the interview works out you’re there for two hours or more; if it does not, you are in a taxi home soon enough.

How and where to meet

·                    If it is a girlfriend who has set up the date, make sure it will take place in a public place where there people around. A well-lit venue is better than a dark tavern. Make it local so you can walk home if necessary.

·                    Make sure you have cab fare in the event you have to get out, or he does not want to bring you home.

·                     Don’t be the one to be talking all the time and listen to what he has to say. If he is witty and funny and you like him, he might end up being a good friend. Remember, first sight attraction gets all the hormones going. If there’s nothing on his side, you can’t force it. Still, you should have a good time because there is a chance that he might become a friend – if for nothing else but to make you laugh.

·                    Don’t go to his flat or apartment and don’t invite him to your place the first night.

·                    Definitely do not drink alcohol as this might make both of you a little high and make you act on your animal instincts and have sex.

·                    Do not have a blind date for more than one or two hours. Take what you have heard and once at home you can dissect it.

·                    Do not give your phone number and street address to anyone. If you like him, you can do a back ground check on his past and find out if he has any convictions in other states.

·                    No matter how well the evening goes, do not take him home with you.

·                    Tell a girlfriend where you are and to check up on you at the restaurant. You might want a quick escape.

Blind dates can be a lot of fun, but one just has to be careful as well. Who knows? Your blind date may be so handsome and charismatic and savage – yes, women like a little savagery – you might want to be kidnapped by him. Change your thinking about blind dates and believe that you will meet a great guy.

Is your pickiness holding you back from having a lasting relationship?

We all know two or three friends with whom we have gone to school together, graduated, parted to start our different journeys and never lost complete touch. In our forties now, some of those couples have got married and had children, some have been married and divorced, and some maintain that they are still looking and have still not found the right person yet. The irony is that those very people who say they have not found the right one yet, have probably had the most attributes and qualities to have found a good partner. What then is the problem? Why are they still single and lonely? What is the new excuse now? Nobody seems to be good enough. No one makes it past the dinner drinks. When the last sip is taken they are already ruing the next day and thinking of what a bother it is.

Getting a grip

·                    If you are happy with your single life and truly don’t want a partner, and mean it, perhaps you are telling the truth and you do not have to read articles on subjects you secretly want to know about.

·                    Maybe you are even aware of your situation and are trying to fix it. Have you spoken to a psychologist? Do you dread the thought of a man in your life? Is there some past history which you should look into that is holding you back?

·                    Have you been in a relationship with a man that you really liked and wanted to be part of his life, and he left you, and you still don’t understand what happened? Deep down you know.

·                    Do you have unrealistic expectations? Do you want a man to wait on you hand and foot? Do you play games and withhold sex if you can’t get what you want? This is a favorite tactic of some women; they feel powerful when they get the upper hand.

News for you

Men know instinctively when they meet a woman for the first time what she gives up; meaning, is she a first-night kisser, is she anxious to be liked, is she desperate, does she put out on the first date, or is she cool and slow and easy and don’t take things for granted until they’ve been proven to her. Some of these reasons are why many people are in failed relationships and many too have not yet said marital vows. It is all right to be vulnerable; it means you do not know everything. The best way forward is to make a list of what you truly fear, see a psychologist, and then prepare a positive life plan which includes having a man in your life. If you come across desperate, men will sense that and take off. Remember, they are human beings too and have their fears.

Feb 20, 2012

Single parents and dating

Are there rules for single parents who have not been on the dating scene for a while and now decide to step out? There most certainly are. Times are tougher, women are braver, eligible men are scarcer and you have to have your wits about you. A woman’s first priority is always her children. As long as you consider their interests first, you cannot go wrong.

Times are tougher

Going out on a date for the first time in many years might be welcomed by the kids and the new beau might even grow fond of them. But what if they don’t like him and the date turns sour?  Their father is no longer in the house and they might wonder why you would want to spend more time with this man than with them. They will be jealous of a new person on the scene. Here are some things you can talk about to let them know they will be all right.

Kids come first

·                    Don’t bring the man home until you have been out several times and strongly believe that he might be a match. You don’t want your kids to be introduced to a string of men.

·                     When you do find that guy with potential, tell your kids beforehand that he is coming to dinner and that you want them to be nice to him and treat him with respect.

·                    Don’t come home late and have your kids worrying.

·                    Spend enough quality time with your kids; have a game night or play Monopoly. You don’t want them to feel different.

·                    If he has children, ask him not to bring them with him the first time. You want your kids to get used to him first.

·                    The dinner goes well and you decide you really like him. Do a back ground check nevertheless to make sure he is who he says he is. Don’t pry openly for information. You don’t want to find out you are dating a pedophile. 

·                    Pay attention to how your kids react to him and don’t express your feelings or be intimate in front of them. After the dinner is over ask them how they liked everything. 

·                    Have several of these get togethers before you introduce your kids to his kids. Children need time to digest what is going on.

Feb 19, 2012

A joint custody plan that works for both of you

If you and your husband live a tumultuous life and divorce seems to be the best solution not only for you, but also for your kids, it should be entered into with a clear head, a good lawyer and a willingness to be fair. Divorce can be a debilitating experience. If you think you had trouble just arguing over the bills before, you are now in for a fight. It is the kids up on the block. You are full of fear. Who are they going to choose? Are they going to suffer? Are they going to be scarred? One thing for sure, they will never forget it. Divorce is just the toughest thing for a child and the ones who suffer most are the children who struggle to understand why this is happening to them. They love both their parents; they don’t want to be separated. They don’t want to favor one parent over the other. The family structure has been interfered with. Against this backdrop, their interests and welfare should be considered and come first.

The amicable way forward

1                    This is going to be a tough one, but first you have to decide who the children are going to be with.
2                    Discuss week-end arrangements and school holidays and religious holidays and Christmas and come to an agreement as far as how long the children can be with the non-custodial parent during school breaks and holidays.
3                    Make sure you state in writing what times the children are to be picked up; this can become problematic if it is not addressed.
4                    Get out your laptop and list the children’s expenses: clothing, money for school projects, groceries, doctor appointments, school trips, school fees, allowances, and a small sum for contingencies.
5                    Discuss how the children are to be brought up as far as religion and culture. There are dietary laws, personal belief, and religious holidays that have to be respected.
6                    There is nothing wrong going to your places of worship with the children. Bible study and study of other books are good for children. By the time a child reaches three and four he should know who he is.
7                    Discuss the college you both want them to attend and meet with the principal. Don’t bring a new partner along.
8                    Agree on the kind of punishment the children are to receive when they step out of line and stick with what you have decided.
9                    In the event of an emergency decide who should be called if the two of you can’t be found, and provide telephone numbers.
10                Pick a lawyer, both of you, who can protect the interests of your children.

Reflections on first love

First love is a delicious feeling. It’s a new sensation to the body.  The body doesn’t know how to react. It feels light, giddy. You can’t eat. You have met a boy in school. He is the quiet, dazzling, good-looking type all girls want to go to the prom with. You are in the same class. He sits at the back of the room, and whenever you turn your head he is looking at you. You can’t concentrate on what the teacher is saying. You have no interest at that moment in mathematics or science. You know this boy likes you, and you like him too. You think about him in a way you can’t discuss with your friends. What would a first kiss be like? Will he ask you out? Will you go steady like Judy who already has a boyfriend with a motorbike who takes her home every afternoon after school?

 The deliciousness of first love
These were the kind of things that bounced around in my head when I met Colin my first year at high school. Colin was one of the teacher’s sons and came to school in a car. He was cute and looked smart in his grey pants and blazer with his dark hair combed back Elvis Presley style. The sixties was the best time to be in love. The nicest thing about his face was his eyes; they were curious. His right brow was always raised slightly higher than the left brow. When he looked at you it seemed as if he was pondering something about you but wasn’t going to ask. He was well behaved in class. After all, he was the teacher’s son. And he was clever. 

Happy Days 

I discovered very soon my first weeks in high school that most of the children in Standard Six were cleverer than I. I would not be coming first or second in class like I had in primary school. The pupils in my class had teachers and principals for fathers. I didn’t have a father living in the house. After regular school, I had to go to Moslem school. I didn’t read the newspaper. I read books and magazines. I didn’t know what was going on in the world except for the politics in my own country and what came on the news on the radio. 

Did Colin really like me or was I imagining it? One afternoon during English class, a note was passed up all the way from the back of the classroom until it landed on my desk.

“It’s from Colin,” Valda whispered. Valda was my best friend. She knew what a crush I had on Colin.

I looked at the folded note with Zuraida written in beautiful handwriting on the top. I blushed. Even though Miss Haggis was talking about prepositions and not starting a sentence with but, I felt that all the pupils were watching me. I opened the note. I thought I would pass out with delight. I like you the note stated. I folded it, turned to look at him, and put the note in my pocket.

The fickleness of the early days

I was the centre of attention during the lunch recess. Everybody wanted to know what the note said. I told them. We giggled like dizzy school girls, which we were. A few days later my friend Valda turned to me with a guilty expression. “I’ve got something to tell you, Zuraida. The note isn’t real. I was the one who told Colin to write you the note. It was just a joke. I’m so sorry.” I forgave her, of course. And years later when we had both moved from South Africa to Canada, Colin and I would reflect on our school days and remember the note. First love is delicious, but it can also be deliciously painful. It’s an experience you never forget as a young girl and something you would never have traded in for something safe.

Feb 18, 2012

Do you know everything you should know about your nanny

With the discovery of young children being abused by nannies captured on hidden camera, and seeing young babies being slapped and others being shaken, it is with horror that one recoils at the thought of an infant or toddler being hurt. With au pairs coming from other countries to fill nanny positions and stay with the children all day at home, you cannot be careful enough. Your child is everything to you. The reputation and work ethics of the nanny should be beyond perfect. There should not be a dark spot on her record. Children of one and two cannot tell you what the nanny has done.

List of requirements for a nanny to land the job

·                    The first thing is she must have two references. You will not take her word for anything at this stage, but will personally check out both references. You want to speak and meet with the person you are hiring.

·                    If you are new in the neighborhood speak to one or two neighbors to find out about everyone’s nannies and ask if they know anything about the girl you are planning to employ.

·                    Have a background check done to make sure you do not have a criminal in your house or one that has a record.

·                    If it is an au pair coming from another country, you will first have international calls with one another and then a visit by plane to your home for which you will pay to satisfy yourself on the personality and sensibility of the woman you are going to hire, and whether she agrees to come and stay with you.

·                    While you are overseas, find out from neighbors and people you meet whether she is the kind of nanny for you.

·                    Speak to agencies and people in the community who might know her or know of her. Your first concern is your children. 

·                    You will have your own list of requirements which will include a plan or a roster of the week’s activities. You will make sure she understands what you want and that she does what is expected of her.

·                    If she is good with the children, but a little behind with her chores, be easy and thank her for what she is doing and then remind her of what still has to be done. 

·                    Tell her that your kids are not allowed to watch television for more than an hour and that you prefer her taking them out for fresh air in the yard or go for a walk.

·                    Make sure she agrees to your terms and that she will do what is required of her, and then draw up a contract.

Mala's revenge

Mala sat at the supper table with her husband, Abdul, and watched from under her lashes as he glanced at his watch. For six weeks now he had come home from work, had a shower, and said that he had to go back out and oversee some after-hours installations. Mala had believed him. It was the week leading up to the American elections, and there was a rush for satellite dishes to be able to watch the event. But the elections had come and gone. The American president was being allowed a second term to see how many wars he could fit into four years.
After some weeks Mala remarked that seeing as so many satellite dishes had been installed, maybe she could get an increase in her allowance. Abdul gave her five hundred rand extra for food that week, and didn’t argue when she said she needed money for a new muffler for the car. He didn’t know, but from all her scrimping over the years, Mala had thirty-eight thousand rand saved up in a private account.
“Always keep a little one side for a rainy day,” her mother had been fond of saying. “And never tell a man everything. You tell a man all your secrets and you get beaten with the same whip.” Mala had listened. She was a God-conscious woman, but she also believed that a woman had to have a special “rainy day” account in the event of trouble which no one need know about. She shaved off a few rand here and there, and kept many of her secrets to herself. The secrets she told would not come to haunt her one day. Her mother’s advice had always been sound, and she sensed that there was precipitation up ahead. A storm was brewing.
          Watching him now all decked out and grand in a blue shirt and cream jacket, smelling of Drakar, she knew that while there might very well be a call-out for an installation, that that wasn’t the highlight of his night. She even knew the name of the woman. She knew because she had taken some of her hard-earned savings and paid an unemployed security guard to follow Abdul. “If you don’t find anything, don’t make anything up,” she’d said.
After two nights, the spook reported back with an address, and a sealed envelope with three photographs and a dossier. He told her that he had found her husband having a cosy meal with a young woman with red hair near the boats at the Waterfront. Mala hadn’t wanted to see the woman’s face yet; she wasn’t ready for the opposition yet and wanted to fantasize a bit about how she would handle the matter. She kept the envelope in her underwear drawer and waited until her husband had been followed for a week, before she sat down with his dossier. Her breath caught in her throat when she saw who it was. Without thinking, she lifted the receiver and dialled one of the numbers provided by the security guard and asked to speak to Ruby Davids.
“You bitch,” she said, when Ruby answered the phone. “Does your mother know what you’re up to? Having an affair with my husband? You’re my neighbour! You pluck chickens at County Fair, for God’s sake!”
“Fuck you!” Ruby said, and hung up.”
Mala stared at the receiver in her hand. She felt her legs trembling under her robe. It was real; not a suspicion anymore, but reality. Ruby hadn’t denied the affair. Abdul was cheating on her. There was no more evidence she needed.
She didn’t know what to do. She was trembling so hard, she didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. The bastard had cheated on her. And how many other women had he cheated with that she didn’t know about? She sat on the edge of the couch in the living room and watched the phone. A part of her wanted to call Ruby back, but another part of her said not to do it. Shouting and screaming wasn’t going to make things better. Abdul had to pay, not the girl, although the girl would learn some lessons the hard way, she hoped.
She had waited too long. A woman always knew and she had known deep down inside. She had made remarks, but not strong enough to challenge him. She had been playful towards him, even though she had felt nothing inside. Her own playfulness had taken flight long ago. You didn’t become playful with a man who no longer found you attractive. Women accepted their aging men with their fat bellies and dog breath without a whimper. But a man would betray you for a hot dog and a roll, and go on as if nothing had happened.
She watched her husband now. What did she feel about him? She had made steak, potatoes and salad, and watched him poke his fork into a pea. He wasn’t hungry, or was saving his appetite. She didn’t mind. She would not confront him. She had known long ago the kind of man she was married to. A wife always knew, even when she pretended that the marriage was fantastic, and in the privacy of her bedroom cried into the pillow. But it was a hard thing to acknowledge. She had never thought that the day would come when she would be unattractive to him.
As he fiddled with the fork on his plate she thought of the wonderful times they had spent together walking in the park with the kids, or gone out for a family dinner, and how she would rush to bathe the kids when they got home and put them to bed so the two of them could have their own time together. But that was in the past; it was all over now. She had noticed his renewed tricks in the bedroom. He was doing things with her he had never done before. There was a reckless come-with-me abandonment that excited her and at the same time made her feel sick. He was not the limp noodle he had been a year ago. He was adventurous. He touched her in all the right places and brought her to pleasure against her will.
“You’re all decked out. Are you going out?” she asked.
“More installations?”
“Uh huh.”
Mala got up and carried her plate to the sink. “I need four hundred rand for the doctor tomorrow.”
He looked up briefly. He didn’t ask what was wrong. He pushed back his plate, took out his wallet, and gave her the money. When he was gone, Mala washed up the few dishes, switched off the kitchen light, and went to the bathroom. There, she took off her robe, and stood on the scale. She was pleased. It had been a slow process, but worth it. She had lost five kilos in six weeks. If she kept up with her regimen of walking and healthy eating, she would soon reach her desired goal. She was looking forward to her appointment with the doctor her friend, Julie, had told her about. It wasn’t a proposition any of her other Muslim friends would have entertained. It was vanity, and wrong to perpetrate such an act upon the body. But she was determined to find out for herself. Julie was much older than her husband and had had her brow lifted, taking ten years off her age. Julie didn’t feel bad or guilty about it. It was buying insurance for ten more years at her job.
          The next morning Mala got dressed in an elegant cream dress which fit her for the first time in six years, combed her bobbed hair, and put on a black scarf. She drove to the foreshore clinic and entered the plush offices of Dr Leon Wessels overlooking the docks. She was nervous, and tried not to look at the other women in the waiting room. But she had seen everything in the few seconds it took to give her name at the desk and sit down. On her right was a girl in her twenties with some kind of dressing on her upper cheeks, on the other side was a woman in her fifties with arched brows and swelling under the eyes.
She picked up a magazine from an end table. It was like a bolt from the heavens when the first article the magazine opened to, was about a housewife who’d gone for a chin tuck, reacted to the anaesthetic, and died. She got a fright. What was she doing there in a plastic surgeon’s office? She was vain and scratching where it didn’t itch. And for what? To prove that she was still young, that a man might still find her attractive? She didn’t want to win anyone back. Why must you win someone back who doesn’t want to be found? And why was the onus always on the woman to keep things fresh and exciting? A woman doesn’t want a fat man with the intelligence of a jelly fish either, but she remains loyal, she keeps the home fires burning. She doesn’t want a gymnast in bed. She wants a man who will love her and be loyal to her and one she can share her innermost feelings with. Abdul might appreciate her as the mother of his children, but he had no idea who she was. He did not even know that her left breast was markedly smaller than the right breast.
A few minutes later it was her turn to go into the office. Dr Wessels was a tall, good-looking surgeon in his forties, with a boyish grin. She watched him smiling at her, making some small talk. She didn’t know how to start.
“I don’t know if I should even be here; it’s so embarrassing, being Muslim and having this vanity - but I’m curious. I would like to know if maybe I could do something about my face – freshen it up a bit. I always look tired.”
Dr Wessels smiled, and came to her side of the desk, and sat down. He handed her a mirror. “Show me what’s bothering you. What you would like to see changed.”
Mala looked at herself in the mirror, and pointed to her brows. “They seem to have dropped. And I don’t like this,” she moved her hand along the side of her jaw. It’s a bit jowly.” She didn’t know if she was using the right word, but was sure he understood.
The surgeon understood. He was adept at reading the little fears women presented when they came for the first time. He was in the vanity business after all and could smell fear the moment she stepped through the door. He could tell by her clothes and her manner what her procedure would be. He knew how her face might be improved, or her clothes to fit better, but needed the woman herself to point out what she wanted.
It was with great care that he chose his words. “Well,” he began, using both thumbs on either side of her temples, to gently lift the skin. “I could do a brow lift. It would open your eyes a bit more, and make a big difference.”
Mala looked at herself in the mirror. She had used her fingers in the exact spot to manipulate her appearance.
“I could also do some fat injections here,” he pointed to the deep lines under her eyes. “We take the fat from your body. It would get rid of that tired look.”
“Of course, it won’t get rid of this,” he continued, touching the side of her jaw. “You need a mini lift, and some lipo structure.”
“Lipo structure?”
“Yes. I would take out some of the fat here,” he pointed to a spot lower down on the cheek, and under the chin. “Your face will have a smoother look.”
“Is the mini lift dangerous?”
“There’s risk in all surgery. Infection, bleeding; anything can happen. But ten days before surgery, you’ll stop taking Vitamin E and some other medications we’ll tell you about, to minimise the risk. Are you on hormone replacement?”
          “You’ll have to stop that a good month and a half before surgery.”
Mala had other questions, and asked them. Dr Wessels handed her a typewritten sheet, and explained everything. Finally, there was only one question left.
“And the cost, doctor?”         
He smiled. “I’ll take you out to Theresa, who makes the theatre bookings. She’ll give you a breakdown.”
Mala thought it clever that the doctor left the quotations to another member of the staff. That way there was no bargaining for a better price.
“I have to think about it, of course.”
“Of course. Don’t feel under pressure to do this. Think about it all you want.”
Mala followed him out to reception, into another office, where he handed a piece of paper to Theresa, a perky, Julia Roberts type who was busy looking through a pile of accounts. There were no old or ugly people working in his office. The furniture was posh, the lamp on the corner table was antique, the carpet was cream with a good under-padding, the music, a classical piece by Albinoni, played in soft undertones; everything about the office spelled wealth.  
“This is Mala,” he said to Theresa. “Can you please give her a quotation for the listed procedures?”
Mala hesitated. “Can you add a lipo structure to that?”
“Of course.” A few minutes later  Theresa handed her a white envelope. It was all Mala could do not to open it before she reached the car. Her breath caught when she saw the amount: R45,000 if she decided to do everything.
She sat behind the steering wheel of the car a long time before she drove off. R45,000 was a lot of money, even for revenge. It was vain and wrong to cut into her body and carve out a new model. How could she justify spending that kind of money on herself? She could feed the poor. She could go to Mecca. She could leave Abdul and start a new life. Wasn’t this the rainy day she’d been saving for?
That night at supper, she was quiet. Abdul picked up on her mood. “Are you okay?”
She looked at him. “I need ten thousand rand.”
“Ten thousand? What would you need that kind of money for?”
“It’s for a worthy cause.”
“What is the cause?”
“You’ll know soon.”
He sat slumped in his chair, still in the same clothes.
“No installations tonight?” she asked.
“No. I’ve been working a lot lately. I’ve neglected some things around the house.”
She looked up. Had she heard him right? Her first thought was that Ruby had dumped him. What did he think? That a seventeen-year-old was really in love with him and would stay with him forever? Young girls take off. And it was too late for a conscience. She had become strong.
“Are you able to give me the money?”
“How much?”
“I told you; ten thousand.”
          “It’s a lot of money. Are you planning something big?”
He came to stand next to her at the sink. She felt his hot breath in her neck. “I’ll see tomorrow what there is in the business account. You want to come upstairs?”
Her toes curled in her shoes. “I have a few things to do still. I’ll come up later.”
He looked at her dressed in a black pants and a burgundy top. “You’ve lost weight. I like it.”
“Thanks. I’m thinking of going away for a few weeks with Julie.
She has family in London.”
“What? You want to go on a holiday? You never told me you wanted to go overseas.”
“We never talked.”
He looked at her curiously and then went upstairs. Mala stayed in the kitchen until she was sure he had fallen asleep. She went into the bathroom, and looked at her face in the mirror. Not an old face, she thought, but weary with the scratches of time. Was she going to do it?
Three weeks later, she got up at five in the morning, and spent extra time with her prayers. Her husband had had three installations the previous night and still hadn’t come home. She wasn’t upset; she wasn’t even worried that something might have happened to him. She simply ceased to care. She didn’t want sex out of pity. She believed that in some corner of his heart he loved her like a good pair of slippers one didn’t throw out, but it no longer mattered.
She heard a car stop outside. It was Julie, coming to pick her up. Her bag with the few items of clothing and toiletries was ready. Julie waited for her in the car. A silver Mercedes drove up and stopped in front of Julie’s car as she came out the front door.
Abdul looked guilty. “I’m sorry I’m so late,” he said. “I got held up.”
“Don’t be sorry,” she said, walking towards Julie’s car. “An installation that takes a long time is a good thing for you, isn’t it? Tonight I want to tell you my plan.”
“It is just after dawn. Where are you going?”
“I have to hurry. Julie’s waiting for me.”
“Is something wrong with you, Mala?”
She turned to him with her hand on the car door. “There was, but not anymore. I can’t tell you how great I feel. I’ll tell you my plan when I see you. It’s a great plan, Abdul. You won’t lose any benefits. We have a huge house, too huge for just two people. I’ll stay on if I get my own room, get the car transferred to my name and get ten thousand a month for housekeeping. I will still make your food and press your shirts and keep a Muslim home, but I’m not sharing your bed anymore. If you want sex, you can pay me a thousand rand for the pleasure. It’s allowed, isn’t it if the wife agrees? I hope so because I’m paying a lot of money to a doctor to get myself ready for you.”