Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Facilitator (Fiction)

Organized crime is just like every other organization, some small scale and some large scale. Business is business.

She smiled as she parked her car; if this had been anywhere other than Sudan, she would have had to take precautions against being recognized or photographed. Home, sweet home; no worries.

She walked up the stairs to an office, noting that the building was identical to dozens of others in downtown Khartoum. Nondescript can be a good thing, she thought. She pushed open the partially opened door and found herself in a miniature lobby. The kind that should act as a reception but oftentimes didn’t, an administrative wasteland.
A man got up from his desk in an inner office, indicating the direction she should take.
She walked in and without further ado, she said, “Her name is Arwa Ahmed, she lives in Al Manshia”, as she sat down in front of the desk.
“I’ll find her”, he replied.
“How much?” she asked, clutching her purse.
“No charge, a little treat for the boys, they won't want any money”, he smirked.
“And you?” she asked, “What's your charge?”
He looked at her and she could see him lick his lips for a moment, as he pretended to wipe his brow.
“This heat!” He exclaimed, deciding against making any remarks that would get him in trouble with the Doc. “You come from the Doc and you want to pay me? I am honored to be of service.” His intense stare indicated that this quote was to be conveyed verbatim.
Back to business, he asked, “Any special requests, a video perhaps?”
“You know what to do,” she said, “I won't tell you how to do your job.”
She stood up and stuck her hand out matter-of-factly, not flinching as he gave her a firm yet gentle handshake, gauging her reaction. She looked him in the eye, “I'll know when it's done, you don't have to call me. Good bye.”

She allowed herself to sweat as she walked back to her car. She turned on the air conditioning and locked the doors, then pulled out an antiseptic wipe and disinfected her hands, then her face, neck and arms for good measure. As she wiped off the encounter, she couldn't help wondering if she would have found the Facilitator attractive in another setting. Dark, big, burly but she quickly dismissed the notion. His round shoulders were a turn off.

Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction and in no way refers to real characters in Sudan, Khartoum or Manshia. Get over yourself.

Monday, June 13, 2011

What No One Told Me About Having Kids

  1. The moment you hold your child you know with all of your being, that you will kill anyone and anything to protect your baby.
  2. You will be periodically covered in spit-up.
  3. There will come a day when every family member is sleeping in the same bed.
  4. You will touch poop with your bare hands.
  5. Children can go without food for days.
  6. Constipation, constipation, constipation.
  7. Their pain physically hurts you more than your own.
  8. A smile will turn your heart to jelly.
  9. Innocuous objects take on horrifying "potential hazard" status.
  10. There is no “off” button for mommyhood.
  11. You pray for your children’s health and safety with every breath you take.
  12. You do not comprehend how other people do not find your child enchanting.
  13. The sight of children in their pajamas never gets old.
  14. You develop a supersonic sense of hearing.
  15. You can identify individual potty requirements via smell.
  16. Tantrums pass.
  17. Neither Dr. Phil nor Supernanny will always approve of your parenting methods.
  18. You will translate for your spouse and other people what your child said, puzzling at the fact that they did not understand it in the first place.
  19. You will kiss your children till they squeal or cry.
  20. Children can and will cause you considerable bodily harm but you will sit patiently as they try to gouge your eyes out, tear off your ears, bite your nose and jaw, stamp your feet and dislocate your fingers.
  21. You will never be able to tell your children how much you love them.
  22. Your children will think you are ridiculous very early in their lives; it is not an adolescent thing.
  23. Your heart will stop when you look into your child’s eyes.
  24. Nothing is more fun than the games we make up with our children.
  25. The only thing more beautiful than a sleeping baby is a baby waking up smiling.

Things you will be thankful for:
1. These tiny personal miracles.
2. Pampers.
3. The fact that children are 100% washable.
4. Unsolicited hugs and kisses.
5. Your parents.
6. Barney.
7. Spacetoon.
8. French fries and chicken nuggets.
9. Naps
10. Daycare.
11. Doors.
12. Time out.
13. Laughter.
14. Help.

At least once a day, you will…
1. Only pretend to listen to your spouse and/or children.
2. Hide from your children in undignified ways.
3. Wonder how on earth you got here.
4. Tell yourself you never signed on for this.
5. Do a double take in front of the mirror.
6. Think about death
7. Experience a moment of pure happiness and love, like no other.
8. Cry for no apparent reason.
9. Doubt yourself.
10. Know with absolute conviction that you have made the right decision, contrary to popular belief, expert opinion, textbooks or Google.
11. Take photographs with your mind.
12. Throw your head back and laugh.
13. Rack your brains to answer a simple question posed by your child (“Why” and “What is that?” are the original pitfalls).
14. Observe your child in complete awe.
15. Think of your parents with newfound love and respect.

We hope we have been of service. Send us some of your own Marriage and Motherhood Facts.

This too was written in June 2010. Also never published, and I will sue your rear end if you try to plagiarize this or any of my work. Thank you:-)

What No One Told Me About Marriage.

You Are Not Alone:

First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in a baby carriage.

So, goes the saying. But they left a large chunk out.

Marriage; there’s a reason it’s called an institution.

I will not say I walked into this institution bright-eyed and na├»ve. I like to think I kind of knew what to expect. I was so wrong. The following is what I did not know, which is surprisingly everything. I have been blessed, I know, and I am thankful for my husband and children. No harm in some humorous analysis of the situation. Wives and mothers may relate to some points and not others. Husbands, this is how it looks like from where we’re sitting. You’ll get your chance to state your perspective too. As for those on the verge of beginning this venture, please take the time to educate yourselves.

If you think that getting married means living a continuous whirlwind romance, with a boyfriend for life, you are wrong. I will outline many of the misconceptions that strike a newly married woman. Some she comprehends immediately, while others take a while. Some days, some of these realities are more relevant than others, so, in no particular order, here we go…

A husband does not catch his breath and tell you how beautiful you are every time you dress up. He will probably just nod his head, and ask, “Can we go now?”

When you sit in the dark crying, your husband does not wipe away your tears. Contrary to our Hollywood/Bollywood expectations, he will not wipe away the tears gently with the back of his hand, cup your face, gaze deeply in your eyes and tell you, with absolute conviction, that everything is going to work out, just let him handle it. He may ask (with a touch of exasperation), “What’s wrong now?”(Sometimes the ‘now’ is silent).

A husband is very different from a boyfriend. A husband may spend an entire day thinking of you, but not in a good way.
Listening to Freddie Jackson over the years, may cause you, very very early on in your marriage, to wake your husband up in the middle of the night, to tell him that you can’t sleep. Don’t. He will not think it is charming, he will not ask you why nor will he try to talk it through with you, as you drink the glass of warm cocoa he got up and prepared.

As a modern woman, in modern times, you probably had lengthy discussions prior to marriage, broadly outlining each spouse’s “responsibilities”. He will have stated various preferences, with varying emphases. You will have stated specific chores that you are not comfortable with, or delightfully ignorant of. Some days, these “discussions” are light-hearted, pedantic and specific. Other days, they became heated; phones were shut, doors were slammed, and text exchanges ranged from pointed comments to, eventually, conciliatory text messages.

When you move into your love nest, you will congratulate yourself on having “agreed” on all the important issues. Too soon. You will then find yourself in a situation where you soon discover: your home, your responsibility. However much you may enjoy the initial bickering and loving banter, you will wise up to the fact that if something is not done it’s your fault (“You didn’t remind me” is a phrase men actually use with a straight face) and if you want something done, it is easier or more effectively accomplished when you take the reins. (The term passive-aggressive comes to mind, but let’s not start labeling the menfolk just yet).

Having your kingdom “just so” is nice. However, there are some days when your house is not picture perfect, and that is just fine.
Contrary to popular belief, modern science has approved the following: you will go to bed angry. You do not have to resolve each and every issue just in time for everyone involved to get a good night’s sleep. Recent studies reveal that it is alright to sleep on it, and thank heaven for that, because good luck finding a man who wants to talk about your relationship issues late into the night.

You may be blessed with the best husband in the world, and some of the above statements will still be applicable. Marriage is a two-way street, and we are only human, regardless of our husbands’ insistence that we are angels:-|, this fact we must concede. Unlike many of our regional sisters, women in Sudan are blessed with a voice we are not afraid to use, loud and often. I like to think that our men do not consider us inferior, and treat us with respect.

The reality of marriage is vastly different from our original expectations. The sooner you realize the existence of differences, embrace the changes and implement them into your life, the happier you will be. Celebrate the differences.

I believe that the most important aspect of any venture is a positive attitude. Laugh more. It will lower your blood pressure, and draw positive people to you. Put your family first in your priority list. Take the time, make the effort. I guarantee this is one venture where you will be generously rewarded.

And, finally, when it comes to marriage, there are no guarantees.

I wrote this article June 2010 but it was never published.