By Shameelah Khan
This issue is dedicated to the memory of Hugh Masekela and Professor Kgositsile. May their blessed souls rest in peace.
Where there is death, there is also life. This issue marks the 2nd birthday of Odd Magazine. We would thus like to say a very happy birthday to Odd Magazine but also to thank all of the artists who contributed to the growth of Odd for the past two years. We wish to continue this relationship going forward.
In this issue, we have decided to look at the theme of age as an integral part of existence. In whatever way we choose to review age- it settles there on our dusty shelves like the books we so often forget to read, the unwritten poem or the song awaiting its composition. There is something very special about Age and Odd and the discovery of The oddness of age as it is interwoven in our daily narratives. I wanted to have a dialogue with the realness of age. The way this notion has constantly been explored through our previous issues but specifically in this issue- we needed to mark the profound age of art. Your art.
A few days ago, I sat with my mother in her room. She is almost 50, but if there is one thing that I cannot wrap my head around is her body. Her unchanged body. There are no marks that signify the birth of her three children. I cannot make out the stretchmarks or a single bit of fat that folds over the jeans that once was a perfect fit. I do not see the processes of motherhood on her skin. I see a body of divinity. Antiquity. Built and honed in spirituality. The years added youth. I see a sexy body that does all sorts of sexy activities. My mother’s body dances-all the time. It cleans a home to the soulful jazz on the radio every Sunday. It sways with the ocean every opportunity it gets. This body, I cannot begin to tell you of its strength. So petite. So Feminine. But so- utterly-strong. It assembled furniture after a Divorce. It coaches kids’ soccer in the week. It stays up making tea, nurturing and fostering growing people, some with nowhere to go. My mother’s body is Nature’s body. And like a tree, her body is grounded in Karma, in life’s song- that even in 50 years’ time, I could see the same image of my mother’s body- unchanged.
My grandfather has Alzheimer’s. I cannot imagine the idea of not remembering. Of displacement of self. I want to peek into his mind. I want to discover what made his historical line great. How he got to South Africa. Where in India was his father from? At what point did he lose his surname? I have too many unanswered questions. I had watched him at the dinner table on my sister’s birthday. His body was shrivelling into an ageing corpse. I felt the confusion sink in- I saw it in his eyes. The ice cream had finally arrived. I watched him pick up the spoon, ready to divulge it. He smiled. That’s a lovely taste. The cold against his tongue. Everyone sunk into conversations. He looked up at me, his piercing green eyes tucked into his fragile, but prominent, cheekbones. My immediate reaction was to smile, but then I spoke, “Papa, is the ice cream nice?”. He smiled and nodded, offering me some of his ice cream. That was a kind moment. A lump formed in my throat. I do not remember this man. I am ashamed and continue to eat my ice cream no longer wondering about the memories he is forgetting.
And years passed by,
I was asleep on the yellow-wood couch,
I woke to the rain,
You were reading a book,
With no name,
Then you spoke,
“my darling, your tea has gone cold.”
My uncle can no longer hear. The kids tease him sometimes. Every day he screams “take me to buy the newspaper.” A daily routine. He has his afternoon tea, sometimes followed by his afternoon whiskey. The Paper spread out on the dinner table. And then he says “Fuck this country hasn’t changed.” But he shouts it rather loudly.
“how much for the journal?” I asked.
“this one is made from a paper that is 100 years old, they had stories written on them before and we found them abandoned and ruined. It then went through a recycled process.”
“But- how much for it?”
“how much do you want to pay?”
My aunty wasn’t old when she had died. Neither was my cousin Waheed. They both had brain cancer. My aunty died when her youngest son was 1. Waheed died when he was 5. Waheed is an Arabic word and it means– One.
I take my journal and I write “2018”
And then I write
“If I am dead and you find this book. Pass it on to my dear friend Sumeya. My poems are for her.”
I begin to write a letter to my age.
In this issue:
The Light of Iya Valley – Shintaro Miyawaki
Tribute to Prof. Keorapetse Kgositsile – Philippa Yaa de Villers
I saw you walk toward something – Gabeba Baderoon
Noon Child – Lennox Raphael
Milky Memories – jec young
Lonely, wasn’t she? – Joni Norval
Odd Interview: Cape Jazz – Shameelah Khan
Age(less) – Nicholas Bruce
Knees – Solly Ramatswi
The End – Anonymous Poet
Couleurs abandonnées – Serusha Pillay
Hazy Habits – Juwayriya Bemath
This Man’s Jeans – Tshepo Masemola
Foot Finding – jec young
Timeline – Kgabo Mohlamme
Persian Poetry: Recalling Youth Days – Mehdi Bagheri