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Tuesday, 20 August 2013

The girls in my life

'...some friends are more equal than others.'

It has always fascinated me to look at the friendships that I have made over the years, those friendships that I nurture because they really add value to my life, the light anf fluffy ones, those that drain me, and suprisingly enough, I have even given a lot of thought to the ones that have brought me a lot of heart ache. I guess one could say, wherever two or more women are; there is bound to be some fireworks, whether it will be the spectacularly beautiful kind, or the kind that destroys things, is left entirely up to your own interpretation.

Women have different types of friends. We have our besties, who get us in all ways, they have either been around us forever or there are those friends that we meet later in life when we have been there and done that, and therefore have learnt enough to know better. I like to say that our besties are those girls that have seen us before we put on our make-up and we are quite comfortable for them to see us in our 'feed-the-dog-tracksuit pants'. Over the years I have less and less of these type of friends, so I am pretty sure that the 'best cream has risen to the top'.

Of course I also have another batch of friends, and by batch I mean three or four, these are my 'going-out and letting my hair down' type of friends. We can have fun together and I have probably had some of my best laughs with them. Sadly, I have also learnt that there are not on my speed dial when my geyser bursts and i need a place to bath for a couple of days. I cannot rely on them to drop everything for me, as they often have 'long-standing engagements' when one really needs them. If there is ever a lesson to be learnt in friendship, it is this one. Learn it quickly.

Not all the 'good' friends I made in my 20's are still in life. I have learnt the hard way that; its not always those that you love the most, that will love you back in the same way. And that's okay. That cliche about some people only being in your life for a reason, for a season or for a lifetime comes to my mind here. I made some of my biggest life mistakes in this area of my life, but thankfully they were not fatal.

There is no great point to this post, just me reflecting on the interesting, sometimes maddening, but mostly beautiful women that I have had the pleasure of calling 'friends'. A shout out to the ones that have carried me on their shoulders, a shout out to the strong women who have stuck around! I hope I have been as good a friend to you, as some of you have been to me!

To my girls!

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

'There's hope'- chance encounter with a homeless man

Walking in Company Gardens, close to St George's mall in Cape Town today; I met a man with the saddest eyes I have ever seen. Yet it wasn't his sad eyes that made me stop to listen to what he had to say, it was his spirit. Listening to his life story I was reminded of one of my favourite India Arie's songs; 'There's hope'.

"There's hope it doesn't cost a thing to smile, you don't have to pay to laugh- you better thank God for that, there's hope."

While taking a quiet walk in the park, I turned to the pleasant voice that asked from just behind me; why I looked so familiar. Now this is one of those strange questions that people on TV always get, and each time its a difficult one to answer. I politely said I'm not sure why I look familiar to him and I carried on with my walk. He kept walking behind me, and within a minute, he said; "I think you are an actress." I laughed and told him that I think he's right. All hope of a quiet walk with just my thoughts to keep me company, quickly dissipated then.

Michael Sasin (yes, I actually asked him to spell it for me), has been living in Cape Town for five years now. He is a well-spoken, tall, African man with a hard face that has been ravaged by the streets on which he sleeps; as well as the pain and turmoil that he has seen in his life. He says his Father was of Jamaican descent and his Mother was a Tswana woman from Mafikeng. He is an orphan whose mother died soon after child birth and whose Father died when he was just two. His grandmother couldn't care for him, so he was adopted illegally by a friend of his father. This meant that he spent a few years of young life living in Czechoslovakia. It was the last formally schooling he had, before he was deported back to South Africa.

The few years of his life in Mafikeng included living in abject poverty and caring for sick relatives who died because of AIDS. He says he was a slave, and his mother's family did not allow him to go to school, and lived in perpetual fear of the bullying he endured as a result of his only speaking English. He cried himself to sleep for many years, and learnt to grow a thick skin. He suffered a mental breakdown, which he described to me as brain damage. God stepped in just in time, and his foster father from the Czech republic came looking for him again. This time they moved to France and Michael joined the military; it is here where he learnt to read and write, and also learnt all sort of interesting things that have to do with weaponery, intelligence and warfare. He was too young to be deployed to any war zones, but I could tell from the way he spoke that those were the best years of his life.

I saw the light in eyes when he told me stories; and although I saw that he was hurting; what stood out was that he was positive, his stomach was empty but he had a strong will to survive. Pain was etched into his features, yet I still saw a light there that can only come from hope. India Arie's song played in my head the whole time I walked beside Mike and listened to him speak.

On our walk, we passed by a McDonalds and I walked inside. I only had a R10 note in my pocket because I had planned to buy myself a can of colddrink on my way back to the flat. I offered to buy him coffee, but I didn't have enough. Very embarrased about bringing him inside and not being able to buy him anything, I sheepishly looked at him and said. "I don't suppose you have like R3 to buy some tea?" As it turned out he had R7. We paid for his cappucino and he asked me if I had the time to sit with him while he drank his coffee, and so we did.

We sat for another hour in the warm restaurant shielded for a minute from the harsh Cape Town wind. I am so glad I spoke to him, because although he made my heart bleed when I heard all that he had gone through; I know that he was my reminder to appreciate even the little things that are so easy to take for granted. It was quite obvious to me that Mike just needed someone to talk to, cynics may even say that he saw a soft target in me and he was guilting me into giving him some money. What I choose to remember about this chance encounter is that when I asked him how it felt to live in the streets, Michael's response was one of the most thought provoking answers I have ever heard. He said; " It is like being a bird in a birdcage crying out for freedom, thrashing against the sides of the cage, not realising that the door has been open all along.

"...That's when I learned a lesson
That it's all about your perception
Hey-are you a pauper or a superstar
So you act, so you feel, so you are
It ain't about the size of your car
It's about the size of the faith in your heart...There's hope."

Thank you, Mike.