Looking oddly tough in her wife beater and a pair of her husband’s checked boxer shorts, Van comes to sit beside me on her sofa. “Dinner” she announces, and then pauses. “Now let me think”.

She glances over at the armoury of cookbooks sitting unassumingly on her coffee table and heaves them onto her lap. “How do I make mushrooms?” she muses to herself as she flips through them one by one. “Butter, garlic and fry ‘em in a pan?” I offer but she waves away this suggestion impatiently in her search for the perfect recipe.

I settle back meekly on the sofa and look on in amazement at this tiny girl’s energy. After a long, hard day at work all I want to do is kick off my clothes and shoes and collapse on the sofa for a good hour or two with milk and biscuits. Van, though, gets right to work, starting with her twilight brainstorming session on the couch as she decides what to cook for dinner each night.

I usually judge people’s ages against how old they seem compared to me. Tellingly, I have a tendency to think almost everyone is older than I am, but Van is a conundrum in this sense. Her tiny stature, unflagging optimism and ability to keep up a steady stream of chatter no matter what she is doing makes me sometimes feel older and thus very protective of her. Still, her endearing naïveté is offset by the fact that she is oddly street smart. I say ‘oddly’ because she is literally so tiny that one just assumes that she would get pushed around. But Van will have none of it. I commented on this to her one day. “Good things come in small packages” she replied with a big grin. Continue reading Vanna.


She sits in debris.

Rubble presses into her thighs and she shifts, uncomfortable. She has always enjoyed mess but this is just so vast, she can’t seem to see the end of it. Picking up a shard of glass, she runs her fingers over the jagged edges knowing she will get cut. She does. It is not a deep wound but the spiking pain elicits an involuntary cry from her, even though she was expecting it. She squeezes her thumb, making the little balloon of blood swell and break, sinking into the fine creases of her fingerprint. Pretty, she thinks and then puts her thumb in her mouth, sucking on it like a child as she surveys the damage.

So much to do. So much to sort through. How could she possibly get through this mess? Decide what to store and what to throw away?

*          *          * Continue reading Liberté

On Attire and Temptation


Old fashioned, by visforseagull

As a journalist, there is almost no end to the diversity of people I meet on a day-to-day basis. Having worked a year and a half in the media, my experiences have almost all been good ones and I can say the same for the people I have met. I learned today though, that this may not always be the case.

I was covering an event with a colleague of mine and was accosted by a lady who asked to speak to me in private to which I agreed, thinking that maybe I could ask her for an interview after the event. She introduced herself as a counselor who worked with children and then proceeded to ask me a series of invasive questions – first, what my age was and then, if I was married.

I answered her truthfully and politely wondering where this would lead when she hit me with it: “Darling”, she said sweetly, patting my arm, “I cousel young children on their attire. Now, there are young boys and priests here and when they see you dressed like this, you give them temptation. And that is not good for you”. I was so appalled that, at the time, I couldn’t do anything but nod and take her card as she went on to offer me her counseling services.

I walked numbly out of the room, hardly believing what she had told me. I will not even mention what I was wearing because I think that is quite beside the point. As for the temptation part, well, if I’m a woman and attractive, I will not apologize for it.

I wanted to confront her as soon as I had my thoughts in order but she had left the place, and left me seething. I came back to office and wrote her the following letter: Continue reading On Attire and Temptation


Two women, awake when they shouldn’t be but unable to sleep, start to talk to each other.

Why are relationships so important to us?, the first asks, biting her lip. She is worried, sad about something, but doesn’t say what. They shouldn’t be.

The second shrugs. God knows. We should only depend on ourselves. Then adds ruefully, I used to believe that.

The two pause in their conversation, mulling over this strange phenomenon. The second breaks the silence, asking a question that she has pondered over for years:

I often wonder why love can make and break lives. Why we spend our whole lives in a search for someone to share it with.

Her friend doesn’t answer directly at first: Good question. I didn’t ask those questions when I was your age. I think it’s good that you are.

She hesitates before saying, I spent so much of my life looking for someone to love… and someone to love me. What a waste. Continue reading Conversation