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BLACK AND WHITE

BLACK AND WHITE DeltaWomen Literature and Art in the World of Women / Issue #5 /

DeltaWomen

Literature and Art in the World of Women / Issue #5 / April 2012

In this issue

in the World of Women / Issue #5 / April 2012 In this issue Page 2

Page 2

Is

Monochromatic?

A Tale About

Colors And Shades

Life

Page 2 Is Monochromatic? A Tale About Colors And Shades Life Page 9 The Elephant and

Page 9

The Elephant and the Goldfish

Colors And Shades Life Page 9 The Elephant and the Goldfish Page 17 The Onus of

Page 17

The Onus of Deeds

And Shades Life Page 9 The Elephant and the Goldfish Page 17 The Onus of Deeds

Page 21

Imen’s Moon

And Shades Life Page 9 The Elephant and the Goldfish Page 17 The Onus of Deeds

Page 22

Eastern Art

A note from the editor

What “Black and White” brings to your mind is nothing but an old

habit of thinking we have taken up from childhood.

Good and Bad, Wrong and Right, Black and White and even

Man or Woman are the wrong perceptions of things and people

around us.

Our leading Article written by Katherine Vasquez Tarazona digs

the old images of B&W out of your head and injects you a new set

of shades of colors.

A brilliant study of the complex relationships among photogra-

phy, racial identity, racial politics, and definitions of black feminity.

can be found in our stunning Photographs taken by Iranian Artist,

Effat

A must-have for anyone seriously interested in the

politics and sociology of B&W and how it has been perceived.

Love stories on Identity and B&W written by Kirthi Gita Jayakumar

and Ngoako Jay Morokolo move any reader of age, sex and

nationality.

Poems on Womanhood, Childhood and Color written by our

lovely contributors of this month alter you soul forever,

So don’t ever miss this stunning issue of DeltaWomen Magazine.

Elaheh Zohrevandi

April 2012

Photographs by Effat Allahyari Edited by Elaheh Zohrevandi Co-edited by Kirthi Gita Jayakumar

Special Thanks to:

Elsie Reed Katherine Vasquez Tarazona Viona Ong Ngoako Jay Morokolo

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Is Life Monochromatic? A Tale About Colors And Shades

Katherine Vasquez Tarazona

Monochromatic is said of something having a single color. If life were to be monochromatic, then, it could only be seen in a rather diverse range of a unique and single color. If this hypothesis were proved to be true, what color would yours to be? If given the choice between black and white, which one would you pick? Does it make any difference? If so, why is this? What are colors other than a perception? Indeed, they are a neural response to the light power and wavelength interacting with the eye (our light receptors). Consequently, our brain reacts to all these and identifies color with a certain tag, later known in language as red, green, yellow, blue, and so on. In painting, black is born in the absolute absence of light; being white, the extreme opposite. In a way, it comes clear to us that one’s existence just can’t be monochromatic. Colors are linked into our lives without been given a choice. They are present and real; I mean, as real as per- ceptions can be. Yet, in cultures and (especially) arts, colors have been used as a statement of life itself (i.e.: red for love, green for peace, etc.). I am certain that most people (if not all) can add a color to a particular sentiment, situation, or emotion. Our paths seem to be filled with vivid and diverse dyes. The palette is no longer limited with what the eye can reach. The connection between a thought and a given tint may vary depending on the education received or the surrounding culture, however it is there. And it is genuine to the point of the outstand- ing. Once I saw a documentary about how deaf people were very much capable of playing instruments and more than just fairly good. Researches explained that they perceived the notes as vibrations with colors, so they were distinguishable and playable. But then, how could life become monochromatic? When I think about all the hatred spread around and upon the fantastic colors of diversity, I can’t help myself to doubt and consider that maybe there are people wearing a unique set of lenses that somehow messes up with light and its spectrum, creating a one single color

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by Katherine Vasquez Tarazona

Is Life Monochromatic? A Tale About Colors And Shades

Katherine Vasquez Tarazona

reality, where alternative views, opinions, ideologies, and credos do not exist. To them, life is okay when everything and everyone are alike, seen as fixed figures. Dali’s views of the world would be too different and impossible to them and therefore unreal and unbearable. A person’s race, origin, color of skin, religion, sexual interest/ choice, gender, language, culture, or ideology are put under some sort of magnifying glasses, shredded apart, and tagged in all their parts, giving at last some kind of consensus of approval or censure. Since colors are a social statement sometimes, they have taken part of this bizarre equation. For instance, many cultures and religions use black & white refer- ence as behavior modification. Thus, white represents everything that is pure and somehow elemental; leaving to black the nasty (and infected) other side of the world. So, white is healthy and black is “sin” (most commonly associated to the dangers of the night, in popular stories and legends). At the beginning of this piece, I posed the question about color preferences. Children in Mexico were given the choice between black and white to set their take. The video (uploaded in 2011) showed a study about racism in the Mexican culture. Using white and black dolls, researches asked children about fear and self- identification. They were asked to identify which of these was “good” or “bad”. Most of them identified the black doll as the bad one. When asked why, they said “because this one is black” or “because I wouldn’t trust him” or “because this one hits”. Even more surprisingly, considering that the great majority of Mexicans are mestizos, kids identified with the white-blue-eyes dolls rather than with the black-brown-eyes ones.

To the editor: please add as caption, children featured in this video were part of the research explained above and their parents consent the diffusion of this video to raise awareness. Sadly, this video pictured a widespread reality throughout Latin

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Photo by Viona Ong

America. Racism is a fixed stereotype that attempts to define someone by his/her ethnicity; this, in my opinion, over sim- plifies the human condition, allocating one single channel (tone) to a person. Description is another way to understand someone’s stand on many matters. Have you ever heard someone refer to homosexuals as rather “colorful” people? This expression always made me smile (regardless the intention of the speaker). They are, in fact, very colorful people but not just them. I like to believe that everyone is (I certainly am!). All through history, creative people had been called names and been segregated from the “normal” community. And they have become with great solutions to great problems. I am thinking of Einstein with his math inabilities and chaotic uni- verse, monochromatics (this is how I refer to those wearing the lenses earlier described) may have judged and sentenced him before he accomplished his first discovery. But even black has its hues. Grayscale allows diverse focus and depth, depending on lights and settings. When it comes to monochromes (as such), I can’t help to relate immediately to photography and filming, where both black and white unite to create a new reality, adding a certain texture and subtext. Just look at the picture on the side. Black and white have had this dance going on for a while

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(alright, from the start). They complement each other, creat- ing breathtaking pieces of art (and I am not including my amateur pictures here). It is somewhat absurd to think about black in a negative way (sin and fear) and white in a positive charge. These catego- ries can be easily exchange as a writer sees the blank page with fear and jumps into the ink searching for some sort of tranquility and comfort. Earlier, I noted that life could be seen in a diverse range of a single color, without altering the concept of monochrome. If you have ever played with you computer programs, own a blog, or have edited a video or photography, you know that there are tens of options in just one set of hue. I’ve always found this rather appealing and have invested hours to obtain a certain outcome. It is of some relief to know that red isn’t just red, there’s wine, carmine, deep red, blood red, and so on. I think life can be seen like this too. Maybe you are an open-minded person and yet stare oddly at someone who just strikes you as extraordinary. Maybe you are a narrowed- minded one and find yourself making the most intense bonds with someone totally opposite to you. At the end of the day, hope lays in those shades, where the absolute truth remains unspoken and lived fully.

“life could be seen in a diverse range of a single color, without altering the concept of monochrome.”

~ Katherine Vasquez Tarazona

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7 DeltaWomen / Issue #5 / April 2012
7 DeltaWomen / Issue #5 / April 2012

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When a Woman sees the World in Black and White

by Elaheh Zohrevandi

Photos by

Viona Ong

“Most wars are between two sides, each stuck in the same kind of restricted thinking.”

Most of us have known someone who uses the style of “Putting things in categories” just to make her life easier. Sometimes this style works very effectively when used in a work environment. Managers who use this style are often seen as deci- sive and no-nonsense. Her co-workers know what

is expected of them and they often try to keep up

with the expectations.

In a worst case scenario, She is like a “bull in a china shop” because she seems like being unconcerned about the feelings of others.

When used in our personal lives, polarized thinking, can make someone appear stubborn, inflexible, and unwilling to compromise.

Our government and our political parties operate very much within the limits of polarised thinking, which effectively rules out most opportunities for compromise or consensus. Most wars are between two sides, each stuck in the same kind of restricted thinking but polarised in opposing positions with no room to move. (We are right, they are wrong and we must kill them to prove it).

We live on “Compromise” and if you are a woman who has just realized you are thinking in Black and

White, note that this kind of thinking, which rules so much of our life is not supported by reality. In between any two extreme positions there exists

a whole range of other possibilities. It’s just that polarity stops you from seeing them.

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The Elephant and the Goldfish

by Kirthi Jayakumar

I have no idea where I am, who I am, or what I’m supposed to do. The touch of a child’s hand, the warmth of the sun, the smell of rain and the magic of spring tease me from some- where behind. Identify us, they say. Come, dance with us, they sing. But I cannot take that step. Something is holding me back. All I see before me is a massive expanse of white snow, its fringes covered with a riot of colour.

The colours fight to come inside the white expanse, I see them struggle. But suddenly, a thin mist hangs over me. I forget how it feels to smell a rose although a wispy memory cries out from somewhere. I forget what a light summer day feels like. Sudden flashes appear. A face, a peal of laughter, a cry of pain. A baby’s cheek, a man’s hand, a wedding ring, strewn toys. And just like that, they are gone. Vanished. And

in their place stand wispy silver lines that make me forget whatever I saw and heard.

‘Goldfish.’

*

He let the word slip inside his mouth, loll about on his tongue, and finally settle in the tiny crevices between his teeth. She had called him that. He was horribly forgetful, she said, with the memory span of a goldfish. It warmed him from within, letting him know that his memories still carried the gentle touch of love and the magic of care. He had the little pendant strung to his chain. One elephant. Her, with Him. She had one too. One goldfish. Him, with Her.

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He looked down at his hands. The smooth fingers of his corporate filing harassed hands were fast filed into the annals of his past. A relic, once a part of his body. The work she had done for years to keep the family together had become his. The ground below him was full of leaves, fallen from the gentle touch of Autumn. Golds, reds, flaming scarlets. The soft pad of his feet as he walked was muffled by the carpet of leaves. Whispers rose in the air, the wind wafted heavily, as it carried his mem- ories silently behind him. He sat down at the bench and ran his fingers on the peeling paint that revealed patches of rusting iron. It reminded him of her. Pockets of remembrance hidden behind blotches of oblivion. Something hurt somewhere, but he was distant, disconnected. He wondered how life would be inside a bubble, where reminiscences were impossible, where it hurt to think.

*

I see you looking at me. You say some things to me, you tell me stories of things that are happening in someone’s life. I remember you from somewhere, I know. I want to reach out from behind this thick veil and touch your face, but I can’t. I know you from somewhere, I am sure, but where, I wonder. You bring some people along, some one or the other. I don’t know if they come all the time, but I know you do. I see you showing me some pictures, but I cannot construct a thing. I see smiling people from those pictures. I see people doing funny things in those pictures. They are so familiar. So near, yet so far. Who are they, I want to ask you. Do I know them? Do they know me? Nothing makes sense, I want to give up. I know noth- ing, I cannot understand why you are standing before me. I see something in your eyes. You are burned into the inside of my eyelids, that I see you even when I close my eyes, with that pain writ all over your face. Who are you? Who am I? Why are you so kind to me?

*

The irony never escaped him that she was his task manager, the proverbial anthropomorphic version of an organizer. He wondered how he crossed the hurdle of her meandering into a world of blurred colours. He used to call her an elephant, complimenting her memory by putting it on the same plinth as her counterpart in the animal kingdom. If he remembered an occasion, she would break it down further and come down to the details of what they wore, ate, and sometimes, even said. She remembered birthdays of relatives on his side whose names he had forgotten. She never let one occasion pass, his birthdays, the kids’ birthdays, and even anniversaries of their first haircuts and milk-tooth falls. Once, she gently eased the pressure on him by putting her own surprise birthday party, leaving no one any wiser of her hand in it. She never disappoint- ed him, if he had to be reminded. Ask my wife to make note, he’d tell friends who had events in line. Ask mom to remind you, he’d tell the children.

Ask my wife to make note, he’d tell friends who had events in line. Ask mom

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The Elephant and the Goldfish

I stare ahead when you speak to me. Some things you say become vivid images in my mind’s eye. I reach out, grappling with a fist. I want to hold it tight in my fist. But it’s gone the moment I lunge forwards, like water. I don’t understand what you mean. Do you remember, you ask me. Remember. I don’t know what to remember, I want to tell you. I don’t know how to remember, I want you to know. I am tired. I want to give up. But you want me to try, I want to try for you. But what should I try to do? My eyes search you for answers. Why is your face the only vague impression when everything else is but a filamental thread dancing away from me? Sometimes when I see you, my heart races. I want to tell you so much, suddenly. I want you to know so much, suddenly. And then that moment passes so quickly. I scream, I don’t know how

else to tell you that I did know you. I did remember you. But from where? What did I want to tell you? A dusty sheath of White settles in so quickly on the colours that I can’t see any of them anymore.

*

He dismissed it as stress when she began forgetting. Mismatched socks, sometimes none at all, when she put together his ensemble for the day. In a sudden moment she would stand staring blankly, looking into space. Forgetting the path from their room to the kitchen, missing out on major appointments splattered across the fridge in a barrage of notes with a host of magnets, the edges of her days were

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slowly erased into a foggy clump of blankness. Colours scuttled past the pages in the book of her life and hid behind the most pallid shades of grey.

Bit-by-bit, she slipped away from him. Tempers flew, as he and the children found her new forgetful ways irritating. Their daughter resented her for being aloof while euphorically narrating the jubilant details of her engagement. Their son showered her with profane expletives when she suddenly left halfway through his graduation ceremony at Med School. Bit by bit, she edged away, till she was far gone. Medication could do nothing, this was no computer with a back-up. She would shout, sometimes cower in fear thinking he was going to harm her. A full-time caregiving society was inevitable. It was a blow to him, coming home to an empty house that echoed with memories.

*

I see you finger the chain on your neck. It looks like some animal, that thing that hangs from it. Vague shapes

dance before my eyes. You say something, I don’t understand. I see your hand on that funny shape. I have one too, I want to tell you. I bring my hand to my neck, I put my finger on the thing that hangs from my chain. I see mine. It is a funny thing with eyes. You take yours off. I see you coming to me. You take my hand, and put yours in it. I don’t know who you are. You put your chain in my neck. And mine is not there anymore.

I look up. I need to tell you something. What is it? Tears come rolling out of my eyes. I see mine sitting in your neck. Have you done this before? Have you given me this moment before?

*

He watched her as she cried. Soft sobs and pearly tears gently patted the air around them. He watched her lie down, as her tiny frame shook from the crying. The elephant had become the goldfish.

air around them. He watched her lie down, as her tiny frame shook from the crying.

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13 Above:”The Suburb” 2012 - Effat Allahyari Below: “Loneliness Knows Me By Name” 2012 - Effat

Above:”The Suburb” 2012 - Effat Allahyari

Below: “Loneliness Knows Me By Name” 2012 - Effat Allahyari

2012 - Effat Allahyari Below: “Loneliness Knows Me By Name” 2012 - Effat Allahyari DeltaWomen /

DeltaWomen / Issue #5 / April 2012

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14 Above: “Indonesian Women” 2012 - Viona Ong Below: “Human” 2012 - Effat Allahyari

Above: “Indonesian Women” 2012 - Viona Ong

Below: “Human” 2012 - Effat Allahyari

14 Above: “Indonesian Women” 2012 - Viona Ong Below: “Human” 2012 - Effat Allahyari

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I Am Human

by Mellaney A.H. Rodriguez

I learn and laugh,

I cry and stumble,

I can be proud,

But I’m also humble.

I am not a saint,

Nor am I a sinner, Life’s lessons are long, And I am just a beginner.

I am human,

Forgive me if this offends, Life is learnt by trial and error, Mistakes are made until the end.

The end of life, Life’s lessons learnt, To prosper forever, or forever burn.

Life is not in black and white,

But all colors than can be found, From the valleys below, To the mountains above, My life to live,

I live to love.

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Crimson And Black

by April Avalon

I’d sell my heart in paperback, In verses for perverts to read. The crimson lines look good on black, Just like the world behind my lids.

For crimson is my poisoned blood You’d never want to mix with yours, For black is my denying heart That’s stained with lies and dead remorse.

Erase my love and drain my mind Until my memory is void,

I want to be completely blind To every trifle I enjoyed.

Your gentle touch is like a burn - I play pretend I’m fine with heat.

I’ve reached the point of no return,

I find my peace in self-deceit.

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The Onus of Deeds

by Pranvera Duli

Dissent against President Bashar al-Assad’s government has

been growing since March 2011 in Syria, and so has the brutal

suppression that has left many dead, in prison, or in hiding.

In the ongoing Syrian struggle for freedom from the current

regime, women activists are hiding in order to protect their

lives, whilst women committed to Bashar al-Assad are hiding

from accountability for their actions.

It is difficult to decipher the events on the ground as the

revolution is taking place regarding women’s presence in the

uprising due to limited access to the territory. Despite such

Men work on a large scale artwork

1940

ambiguity, it is clear that women are an integral part of the

movement. Many have been killed, jailed, or forced to flee

in order to survive, creating a morose view of the revolu-

tion. But there is another side to the Syrian uprising that

has been shaped by the rise of the women activists, such as

Razan Zaitouneh and Khawla Dunia. They are both promi-

nent figures of the revolution through their reporting of the

humanitarian situation to the international media. These

human rights activists are confident that Syrian women will

be at the forefront of the revolution and contribute to the

fight for their rights. To praise her work defending human

rights during the Syrian revolution, Amnesty International

awarded Razan Zaitouneh with the Anna Politkovskaya

Award. Concurrently, Amnesty International has called for

Syria’s First Lady, Asma al-Assad, to convey through actions

her claims of being an advocate of women’s rights.

Asma al-Assad has yet to break her silence on the current

situation in Syria, and despite a call to use her influence in

aiding women’s rights, she has not done so. Instead of speak-

ing out against the brutality of the Syrian government forces,

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Syria’s First Lady has only made public appearances to attest support for her husband. Following a series of leaked emails delineating the First Lady’s actions while her husband’s forces continually repressed the uprisings with deadly force. The emails, which depict the Assad family as apathetic to the uprising, led to an orchestrated appearance of Asma Assad on International Women’s day in an attempt to strengthen her image as caring and emo- tional. Another woman that

has emerged in the spotlight as the President’s supporter is western educated, Hadeel al-Ali. As part of the inner circle

of advisors to Assad, the email exchanges between Ali and Bashar Assad affirm Ali’s influ- ence in giving the President strategic advice and feedback on his speeches, confirming her commitment to the preser- vation of the current Syrian government. Subsequent to the

email revelations, Ali has not commented on her relationship to the President. As Assad is prevailing over the opposition through brutal force, the fight to oust him from power persists. Many of the Syrian opposition activists are women dedicated to making the revolution complete through their presence.

“Asma al-Assad has yet to break her silence on the current situation in Syria.”

complete through their presence. “Asma al-Assad has yet to break her silence on the current situation

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COLOR

Nominated for 2005 Best Poem

Lylin Aguas

When I born, I black When I grow up, I black When I go in Sun, I black When I scared, I black When I sick, I black And when I die, I still black

And you white fellows, When you born, you pink When you grow up, you white When you go in Sun, you red When you cold, you blue When you scared, you yellow When you sick, you green When you die, you grey

And you call me Colored

you yellow When you sick, you green When you die, you grey And you call me

Imani Coppola The Black And White Album

by Elaheh Zohrevandi

To understand this record, one must first understand the way a feminist looks through the world.

This is in fact mostly R&B and Divas give its credits to Macy Gray or Alicia Keys But on this album is exceptionally versatile, because there are also punky numbers, delicate piano ballads,dreary rock radio charts.

The combination and arrangement of the songs are quite Avant-garde style. Every Track pushes the boundries of feminism and the feminine side of Imani Coppola and finds it way into your head.

It all fits together quite well here, however, because the common thread is the voice of Miss Coppola, who knows, after seven albums now exactly how she has to use her impressive

body and as they multi-instrumentalist (guitar, piano, violin and more

the songs herself, she alone is the driving force behind this impressive album.

) and composed all

There are different meanings to Black and White; Michael Jackson has said it right but he sure hasn't said it all. If you ever wanted to listen to something witty with a powerful theme, just grab this Album and trust me, you won't regret it.

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Imen’s Moon

Dedicated to Imen Benanni of Tunisia

Leila A. Fortier

Moon Dedicated to Imen Benanni of Tunisia Leila A. Fortier How I long paint her world

How I long paint her world In a sweeping scandal of imagery~ In blazing Pigments of passion left to evaporate before her eyes~ For I do not wish to wreck her faith…but to exalt it~ I would paint her a Transdimensional moon~ A silver sphered orb of divination that she could Swallow the taste of her own luminosity… for this is where her God resides~ My Tender affection for her cautious abandon~ The gentle abrasion of her soft heresies A tip toeing flicker of light dances here in the corner of her mindful eye waking~ An Imperceptible whisper of an enveloping trance~ Her curiosity tempered by fate peers Through the innocence of her intellect that dares to ask “Why?”~ Where there simply Are no answers, but the murmuring palpitation of eternal questions swimming in utero Birthing unto itself and one within the other… this timelessness~ So I paint her moon In silver and sage~ Wash the night sky in her dreams of Prussian blue~ The moon That glimpses and hides into the night only to reveal herself in full bloom~ And This is how I see you…see you~ In the slow motion spin of seasons unveiling Belonging somewhere up there~ Nestled with the star threaded beads Of constellations~ You are tucked within the night that slips its Silken robe to reveal you~ And perhaps like God, we Could never comprehend your fullness~

Eastern Art by Kirthi Jayakumar DeltaWomen / Issue #5 / April 2012

Eastern

Art

by

Kirthi

Jayakumar

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Eastern Art by Kirthi Jayakumar

Eastern

Art

by

Kirthi

Jayakumar

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Compatibility

by Alicia Brauer

Black and white, why it is so tough to describe? from the deepness of the society’s heart, they both complement and shine.

White… time to express and to reflect, time to open your eyes to the universe, time to open your arms to receive the energy & light.

Black… the sensibility the world lacks, the mistery our lives track, and the lips I would smack.

Black and white, raising your eyes to the sky, starting your own flight, that never ends on the story you can write, like the strenght of a brave knight.

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White Rose

by Ashfak Siyal

5 White Rose by Ashfak Siyal In the storm Stands the white rose Tumultuous wave Of

In the storm Stands the white rose Tumultuous wave Of destruction abound her

Yet tall is the white rose Strong in the face Of the sensed doom around her And she does not bow down

Pure is the white rose In the compost earth Growing eternal strength In the nights that so hurt

I see not the white rose She is so far away But I long to protect her But only the words can I say

So I send her my words And my poets hurt to help her when there is hope to see her through

Be strong little flower Your heart will guide through And as long as you want I will always talk to you

“Arifa Karim”, 13 years old, earns title of world’s youngest “Microsoft Engineer “. Her most beautiful , prettiest and angelic face will always remind us that women can excel in walk of life . She wrote many poems and ” White Rose” suits best to the them “Black and White”. In her poem she has conveyed message of struggle , assertiveness and courage.

Self-worth is the ability to be able to identify limitations and qualities, in an attempt to constantly improve skills and competencies. However, so that I can value myself I need to know me first. This

movement to look inside, gives the name of self-knowledge. This mental activity is to lead the indi- vidual to think in detail: characteristics of your personality, skills that stands out most, strengths and

improve.

Self-worth and Self-Knowledge:

A look inside of me

by Daniela Silva

This way you draw your project of life, taking into evidence your talents and positive traits, thus enhancing your actions and attitudes on the personal and professional plan.

See a fable that illustrates this theme of self-worth and the importance of having self-knowledge in our daily lives.

The Peacock and the Crane

A peacock walked through the woods very proud of their beautiful feathers,showing them to

everyone. When it rained, he was admiring his beautiful reflection in the puddles and never tired of repeating as it was beautiful and elegant:

- Look at my tail! - Said the other.

- What combination of colors, lightness of movements! I’m sure I’m the world’s most beautiful bird!

The other animals were already filled to hear the peacock bragging, no longer stand it:

- We must do something! - Suggested the chicken.

- Because you can let’ll teach him a lesson! - Promised the heron.

The next morning, the peacock opens its tail was fan-shaped and as always showing when the crane came to his side.

- Observe how I’m beautiful! - Cried the peacock, with the usual air of superiority. - I pity you, crane, so devoid of charm and beauty. Why don´t you do something to change?

- Actually, your colorful feathers are more beautiful than mine, but are not strong enough to sustain yourself in the air. My feathers are common, however lead me to heaven.

Moral of the Story

Before you feel intimidated, recognize your own value.

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My Mom Is Black I Am Perfectly White

by Ngoako Jay Morokolo

‘Daddy! Daddy!’ Christine pulled my father by his trousers

as if he couldn’t hear a word. At age fifty-one, everyone still can hear. Perhaps the humming sound of generators and the human noise could be for blame. It is the weekend on which everyone does shopping. ‘Yes my darling.’ My father replied and picked her up as we stopped. ‘I want the baby doll, please daddy.’ We stood right on the shop window and stared. ‘Oh God! Christine! Dad, we’re not buying anymore ’

toys,’ I protested. ‘Anything for my beautiful daughter Without delay, we walked inside the shop with mom-Mavis pushing the second trolley. The shop was packed with toys of different shapes and colours. ‘Which will it be sweetheart…?’ Her father had asked. For a minute she seemed ambivalent. ‘I want the one wearing the leggings and beautiful nails,’ She pointed it out. ‘I hope that’s all because I’m hungry. Can we just purchase and go? Dad?’ ‘Perhaps your brother is right my angel. We’ll buy this one and we’ll have lunch at a restaurant isn’t that so Mavis?’ ‘Absolutely! And we can have ice cream afterwards.’ She brought herself at a level with Christine in a motherly way and she was convinced.

‘Dad, why mommy doesn’t she come eat lunch with us?’ Christine asked. ‘Mom’s very busy dear.’ My father said with disappointment in his eyes. Otherwise, we walked just a little further of the mall and found an open restaurant where we sat for lunch. ‘Dad am I hot or am I hot?’ ‘What hot?’ ‘Look at the girl on your right, she’s checking me out.’ ‘No she’s looking at our black companion, and what do you know about girls?’ ‘Nay, she’s not and besides ‘I’m still here in case you forgot,’ Mavis cut through. ‘Good grief! I thought she liked me. Anyhow, I’m just happy to get away from books, teachers after teachers. It’s good to spend time with all of you; mom-Mavis, Christine and of course you dad.’ ‘That’s very good my boy, and how are the studies by the way? Remember, next year you’re going to university. Your mother and I have saved money for your education.’ ‘Uh dad, do you even have to save up for anything? You and Trusty are rich.’

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‘I told you not to call her Trusty, she’s Trust and she’s your mother!’ ‘Yeah whatever, I promise; I’ll call her Trust now on.’ We all paused. ‘But what sort of a name is that anyway? Trust, like she can be trusted. She promised to spend some time with us, her family and she’s no where to be found.’ ‘She probably has other important things to do right this moment,’ Mavis said and my father ignored my remarks when he rolled spaghetti on his fork. Or maybe he didn’t. ‘Dad, can we have ice cream now?’ Christine was moaning like a child. ‘We should be gone by now, can I settle the bill and off we go? We’ll have take-away ice cream okay my angel?’

‘I want ice cream too! I want ice cream!’ I wasn’t sure I spoke these words. ‘Nate! Nate! Please wake up; mom-Mavis says you’re going to be late.’ I felt a light push on my shoulder and a very thin voice burst my ears as I come to life again. It was Christine, standing right at my bed side table. My time read half-past six! I am thirty minutes late for school. I checked by the bathroom before breakfast. ‘Hi’ I said to the boy on my bathroom mirror. I was just testing it if he could speak to me really. ‘Anyhow, my name is Nate. Nate Whitehead. I am perfectly white. I am doing my last year of high school. I am rich in case you’d ask! I am seventeen years old, who in practice, my mom is white and her name is Trust. I know and trust me; I’ve asked myself that question before. On the contrary, my mom is black. Her name is mom-Mavis—our helper. She finished school at Standard eight. In her years she’d be regarded as bright, she still is smart. She’s there twenty-four hours a day, five days a week, sometimes six. She prepares my meals, she washes my clothes, she picks me up at school in my car she’ll never afford herself, she attends parents’ meetings, and she takes us to the movies and McDonalds. She’s lovely, like a human being. My mom doesn’t believe she is, well, I guess. But she’s lovely, just lovely.’ ‘Mom-Mavis stays in the Western townships of the Southern Africa and she travels to my suburb every Sunday. My dad fetches her from the CBD. If you asked the naked Nate right now, he could tell you she’s his wife, but truth is, she’s not. It just happened that dad liked her and I like her too. Perhaps the reason he hired her as our helper some good seven years ago. She must have worked at his company as a tea lady or something; not really sure. My dad works as a Chief Operating Officer for a mass-market retailer and he’s pretty much busy all the time. His colleagues simply call him Phoenix Whitehead (Mr). Unlike Trusty… pardon me. Unlike Trust, dad creates time for me and Christine. Christine is my younger sister and she goes to pre-school nowadays, and she likes it. She told me over the diner table one day.’ ‘Mom is er — better if I said Trust. As known in the media, Trust is a powerful business woman. A woman on the leadership front, the much adored by many, though a child of apartheid stalwart, Steven Whitehead. Many young and old see her as a role model. She is an inspiration to those climbing the business ladder. She’s the CEO of the leading bank in Africa. Majority in the industry and otherwise respect and accord her leadership style. Her opinion can either heighten or drop the country’s interest rates for a day or two. She’s living from meetings-to-meetings and the only time I see her is at the dinner table or Sunday or Saturday, if I’m lucky. I’m failing to recall when the last time I actually saw her except on DSTV. Anyway, what can’t be remembered can never be important,’ right is that?’

time I actually saw her except on DSTV. Anyway, what can’t be remembered can never be

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She has regular body guards. She flies in and out of the county like it doesn’t cost her. Maybe it doesn’t. I just want a little time with my mom, is that too much to ask?’ ‘What are you still doing up there?’ Mom-Mavis called out. I heard the sound of her voice through the thick walls. ‘In a minute,’ I shouted back! Mom-Mavis was in the kitchen as I came downstairs in a hurry. The smell was great, like she’s cooking with magical flowers of different colours and scents. ‘Morning!’ I greeted mom-Mavis. ‘Good morning Mr. Now you sit down, have your food but make it snappy, we must be gone thirty minutes ago. I am going to fetch the keys and school off we go.’ Even though Trust was very rich, there was nothing we did together I could share with anyone, trust me. And so the whole afternoon I’ve listened to boys talk about their parents and the things they did together. The thought of telling them about mom-Mavis came to mind, but wouldn’t my friends laugh at me? Would they tease me? Am I selfish or

a momma’s baby to want her around, to talk about her like

I’m the only child? Perhaps Christine misses her too. I had a terrible day, I thought to myself, and days to come would be the same and Trust would still be busy on the next big thing, projects, conference to attend after another. I’m reminded some yesteryears when mom missed my rugby game, it was the biggest performance yet in my life. I saw

a black BMW series stopping just few metres away from us.

Mom-Mavis was waving a hand. ‘Guys, Mavis’ here to pick me up. Our helper!?’ ‘She’s a domestic worker, plain English! You like beautifying this language don’t you?’ One of my friends said rudely. ‘And she’s black,’ said another. ‘Yeah what ever! Tomorrow is another day. Cheers!’

‘How was your day?’ The first question mom-Mavis asked

everyday. A question that let me spit it all out and she’d listen to me, my problems. Today it’s a little different though. I’m still holding on to my old memory when my trusted mom never pitched for my performance and as always mom-Mavis is there, yet she can’t be my mother. Why is she doing all these for me? Is it because of money? What about her own children? I mean they need her too. She’s like my mother. I think she’s my other mother. She must be. ‘Nate?’ She questioned my diffident me. ‘I had a lovely day thanks mom-Mavis.’ ‘It doesn’t look like it to me. What’s eating you up today?’ ‘Nothing much, I’m just anxious about upcoming exams. That should be all.’ I lied right there. ‘What about that girl? Have you apologised to her?’ ‘Yes ma’am, I have, and I’m thinking it’ll take her some time before she could trust me again.’ ‘That’s what happens when you cheat yourself over binge drinking. Your problems can only exacerbate. Anyway, you’ll be just fine, be determined, believe in yourself and every- thing will work out for you.’ ‘Thanks mom. Is mom… ?’ I began again. ‘Is Trust coming home tonight? Do you know?’ ‘I’d be lying if I said I knew my boy.’ Mom-Mavis said as she pulled off in front of humongous garage doors. ‘I wish you weren’t leaving for the townships on weekend. I ’

miss you. We miss you; me, Christine, Phoenix ‘I’m always here aren’t I? Your dad’s here too, and your mother will be back.’

The new afternoons of September sun dragged their feet at my boredom. Hours seemed longer and the cooking was never-ending especially when Trust is doing the cooking. ‘I am hungry,’ I tell myself watching Trust run around the kitch- en aimlessly, wanting to perfect it as if she was preparing a

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condensed balance sheet. The unfortunate fact about her is that the food she cooks doesn’t add up even after a hundred trials, never in a single day. What makes things complex is that she’s the one to go for hours on end without touching the food and she’ll be as highly functioning human being as anyone after eight hours of sleep. Where does she get the strength to face all the men in the soaring financial sector? I’m definitely not like her and I don’t want to be like her. ‘Nate! Is that you?’ I hid my slim body behind the kitchen wall and gradually crept back upstairs. Once at the dinner table, ‘mom, dad, can I ask you something?’ ‘Yes?’ Trust replied slowly while my father continued to stuff his fork and painted the food with a black sauce. I’ll let you guess why it’s black. ‘Please promise not to be angry with me.’ They both stopped with Trust turning one eye away from the paper she was read- ing during dinner. It was written on her face that she thought I was going to come out as gay. Maybe she’ll treat me differ- ently. I should have told them about the troubles I’ve caused my girlfriend, but it is best they didn’t know. ‘I want to go to the townships with mom-Mavis for one weekend.’ ‘What? Are you drunk again?’ Her paper slammed the table. There seemed to be a thin silence hanging about. ‘Phoenix, talk to your son!’ She hardened her voice across the table, like a CEO. She always takes the power seat; a chair at the head of the table. She faces my father, while Christine and I sit on one side of the elongated glass table. ‘He’s your son too.’ Phoenix said without effort and stuffed his mouth with food to chew for a very long time. ‘Phoenix? Jesus, Mary and Joseph!’ Trust was becoming angry. ‘Mommy may I please go the bathroom?’ Christine was in fact pressed. ‘Shut up Christine!’ Trust shouted and we saw Christine wailing her eyes and my dad stopped chewing and brought himself to his feet. ‘Control yourself Trust’ Phoenix said at last. ‘No you control your son and that slut, mom, Mavis, whatever her name! I’m the only mom in this house!’ ‘Mom-Mavis’ not a slut!’ I defended. ‘Trust, what is this? Huh? Please calm down everybody. I’m the head of this family and stops right now!’ ‘You’re the one who hired that witch to get between us. What has she given you that you’d actually put her first before your family? She has given you something, hasn’t she? Come to think of it, you are the one who dragged her all the way up here in the wee hours of the morning when you told me she was to be our helper. She could well be your mistress and you two have been fooling around in the corners of my house for seven donkey years. Hell will break loose should I find any truth to that. Please call that Mavis now! Boykie, call Mavis from the quarters now!’ Instead I left the dinner table for my bedroom upstairs. ‘Nate! Nate! You come down here right now!’ she yelled from the hallway and Christine started to cry. I was going to lock myself behind the door when I learned mom-Mavis arrived in the kitchen. She must have heard the commotion from her quarters. I come down the staircase minding my steps with my ears on the ground. ‘Please sit down.’ Trust said to mom-Mavis. Phoenix had Christine on his lab. ‘Let’s get to the bottom of this once and for all. I had a little chat with you several times that when things happen in house you report it to me. Didn’t I Mavis?’

all. I had a little chat with you several times that when things happen in house

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‘Yes madam.’ ‘Now what’s all these nonsense I hear about my son wanting to go to the townships with you? First he was over-indulg- ing on alcohol with which you knew about and kept it to yourself for three days. I want to know how long this need for township visits has been going on for in my house.’ ‘I honestly don’t know madam. It’s my first time I hear his intentions to pay the townships a visit.’ ‘Alright, alright, it’s fine Mavis. But tell me this; what have you given my family lately? Mhmm? I mean, you’re the African woman, you cook for us, and it isn’t impossible for you drug my husband with umuti. He literally dance to your tune nowadays, my son is out of control and my poor daughter…’ ‘I will not allow you speak to Mavis like that.’ My father came to his feet again. The high ceiling seemed to echo his voice. ‘With due respect madam, I think you’re out of depth, you’re stressed. But I can tell you this, you only need to make time for your children, your family.’ I could see atrocious energy rising up Trust’s body, not wanting to accept her black opinion, a narrowed opinion that will never raise the interest rates. ‘Your family needs you. Right now you don’t know Christine, let alone your boy child. You don’t know what he’s going through, what he needs, his fears, his goals, his hopes… I’m sure you can’t remember what sport he plays in school, can you?’ ‘Don’t patronise me Mavis. I can have you out of this house by tomorrow if I wanted. And I don’t appreciate you insinuating my faults at parenting; you don’t know anything about raising children.’ Trust was touched in a very delicate part of her being and once again reminded her duty as a woman, a mother of two. ‘I have five children of my own, much older than your son. I have six black & white previous employers and twenty-some years of domestic experience. In other words, I know a lot more than you know about parenting.’ ‘You’re black. What can you possibly know about raising rich children?’ ‘Well, excuse me, but I thought all children are the same, rich or not. They all need the same things. Love, respect, care and guidance and some quality time with their parents. And that you are not able to do.’ ‘Mavis, I want you out of my home tomorrow! Pack your little things and go, do you understand me? No Phoenix! Frig her guidance with township ideals, frig her black love, and frig her respect, if my children have a problem we’ll get the best psychologist in the country.’ ‘Mavis’ not going anywhere!’ My dad said plainly. ‘I just don’t want to see her in my house tomorrow.’ ‘I second my dad and I’m sure Christine is. We love having her around because she’s like a mother to us. I get more than

is. We love having her around because she’s like a mother to us. I get more

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she’s paid for my growth. She gives us love, she’s fair, she’s open-minded, and she understands me. You don’t care about us but your frigging PhD and that fancy job. You don’t trust yourself with your own feelings. You fear black people because you don’t know them, you don’t want to know them. You are bottling the old past in your little heart, filling it with anger.’ I can’t believe I said that to her. ‘Is that’s what she taught you? You will not! You will not, never again talk to me like that Nate, I’m your mother!’ ‘Sometimes I forget that and think my mom is black.’ I said it again. ‘Hehe… and what makes you my boy?’ ‘I am perfectly white and understand where I stand. I want to be the one to bridge the gap between blacks and whites and I’m going to hang out with mom-Mavis in the townships.’ ‘Hehe… I can’t deal with these right now because I’m going to say things I’ll regret in the morning.’ She stood and left for her bedroom. ‘Trust please sits down.’ Phoenix said to his wife, but she strode across the living areas to her bedroom with anger occu- pying her. Her hair bounced on her neck with rage as she zoomed further in the passageways.

‘Honey, just leave him go, he won’t die in the township that’s for sure. I mean what could possibly happen? I know there are too many criminals out there, but Mavis lives there and she travels here all the time for the past seven years. Do you honestly think he would die?’ Phoenix speaks as he put on his pyjamas. ‘My father was shot on his stomach by black people in his chicken farm on the Westrand. I was there. I watched it all hap- pen; the blood, the smell of a gun powder and the sound it made and how quick his spirit faded. He fell headlong on the ground. Forgive me I am deadened by my future past, but he’s not going anywhere.’ Trust voiced out her tormenting recollection. ‘I know but that should not the reason enough to shut out every black person that comes into our lives. It’s been twenty-plus years since the incident. Surely we must put it behind us now. Look, Mavis is a good person and I trust her. She deserves your benefit of doubts.’ ‘You must be kidding me Phoenix! The life of my son could be in danger. That’s a bigger risk I cannot afford to take, not in this life time.’ She spoke as if about to die. ‘You are being a paranoia, nothing will happen.’ ‘Oh Phoenix, you’re too gullible, imagine if they heard that Nate was a child of Trust Whitehead, the CEO of thy bank, a grandchild of apartheid stalwart, Steven Whitehead. The very Steven Whitehead whom many believed was part of the group who killed their brothers and sisters in the old regime. What do you think will happen? God help you and that witch Mavis nothing happens to my child. I will see to it you pay for the rest of your life.’ She pulled up a thick blanket and slept while Phoenix sat on the bed in deep thoughts.

pay for the rest of your life.’ She pulled up a thick blanket and slept while

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by Effat Allahyari

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by Effat Allahyari

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by Effat Allahyari

by Effat Allahyari

Contributions

Katherine Vasquez Tarazona Viona Ong Leila Fortier Kirthi Gita Jayakumar Mellaney A.H. Rodriguez April Avalon Elaheh Zohrevandi Pranvera Duli Lylin Aguas Ashfak Siyal Daniela Silva Ngoako Jay Morokolo

Lylin Aguas Ashfak Siyal Daniela Silva Ngoako Jay Morokolo Staff Elsie Reed Kirthi Gita Jayakumar Effat

Staff

Elsie Reed Kirthi Gita Jayakumar Effat Allhyari Elaheh Zohrevandi

Literature and Art in the World of Women / Issue #5 / April 2012

Kirthi Gita Jayakumar Effat Allhyari Elaheh Zohrevandi Literature and Art in the World of Women /

Literature and Art in the World of Women / Issue #5 / April 2012