Hello, Molweni and Salaam my beautiful apricots, this post goes out to my amazing dad, the most fierce and scariest man I know.
Dad, I love you and you have raised me well. Your too-firm hand has however, caused me to be a bit of a deviant. I am terrified of disappointing you, and although you’ve reared me for more than twenty years, you’ve never really met me…and this breaks my heart because, characteristically, I am the carbon copy of you….
Now, depressing analogies aside, let’s get to it folks…I am a Muslim girl who was raised by two loving parents. My dad is a Sheigh, which is sort of the Muslim version of a priest or deacon. Throughout my existence, I have either been judged by society for being ‘too Muslim’-in other words boring and rigid- or lambasted by others for not being moral enough. I have always tried to make my father proud in each and every endeavor I undertook, be it academically or concerning my Islamic studies, a superfluous venture, I now realise.
Although there are many benefits to being a firm parent, instilling in your children particular sets of values that you hold dear, isolating them is not the way to try and achieve this.
Having open conversations with your kids about life and sex is essential. It is far better to be the beacon they run to in a storm, than the wicked dictator they keep secrets from.
Being raised by a strict father meant that I always led a double life. Something as simple as wanting to attend a friend’s sleepover would require manic ingenuity, fraudulent documents and a little bit of acting. Suffice it to say then that spontaneous road-trips had never been on the cards for me. Let’s just say that it’s hard to be impulsive when it takes you at least three working days to come up with a covert escape plan.
You guys may think I’m exaggerating, but my dad really is that strict. My life is like something out of Alias or Totally Spies. I’m like an angelic nymph by day and a disappearing ninja by night.
One of the biggest milestones my dad robbed me of has to be that all-auspicious Matric Ball. I even have tears in my eyes as I write this. Upon starting high school, every girl dreams of her senior prom: looking like a princess, eating delicious foods and maybe even making the guy she’s secretly in love with drop to his knees in awe-inspired amazement. Sadly, ladies and gentlemen, this is an experience I will never have.
A week before the event, a few of my friends conjured up a plan for me to be able to attend the ball after all. My cousin would do my hair and make-up, as well as organise my dress and shoes, I would get ready at Melissa- my best friend’s- house and two dear friends volunteered to have me drive with them to the venue, no small sacrifice as they were both secretly in love with each other. Everything was planned out, right down to the last letter-headed fraudulent document and fake emails from teachers. It was going to be a wonderful night.
However, as fate would have it, the day before the big shebang, my mother attempted to plead with my dad one last time to let me attend the ball after all, this was a big mistake as this only reminded him of the date of the occasion itself.
You see, my lovelies, my friends and I fabricated a plan that would require my lying to my parents and telling them I’d be attending our annual Lion’s Head hike (from which I always came from at about midnight) I wouldn’t have been able to stay till after midnight-much like Cinderella-but I would have had the Matric Ball experience, the gorgeous princess dress and the astonished gazes of many.
Being a freckle-faced, Tom-boy, none of my classmates had even seen in me in a dress, much less make-up or fancy heels.
My dream of looking like a princess, if only for one night, was shot to hell.
Till this day, I still have nightmares about that fateful night that should have been.
Okay, okay, my childhood wasn’t that bad. I just wish I didn’t always feel like an uncouth heathen for simply wanting to live my life and gain independence and freedom. Well, on the plus side, at least I’m not on drugs.
Well my apricots, I must thank you for indulging this self-pitying monologue. Remember, if you’re a parent: don’t push your kids to oblivion, if you’re an anxious youth with low-key Asperger’s Syndrome: It’s going to be okay, your parents love you and drugs are bad.