This is daddy and I on a novelty photo badge we got at the Rand Show when I was five-years-old.
You can tell from my chewed-on smile that I wasn’t feeling particularly photogenic that day.
Today, I’m grateful my parents made me sit for this photo. It reminds me of all the things that link me to him; beyond personality, phenotypes and the fact that I love to wear hats just as much as he did.
Some Muslims have a tense relationship with photographs, especially those of their dead. I don’t.
daddy and me

My mum used to keep a songbook in High School. She’d listen to Springbok Radio and write down the lyrics of her favourite songs. I used to do something similar, except I had Google and printed out the words to stick into a plastic folder. Her method definitely had more romance to it. Her writing is also almost exactly the same today as it was when she was in Std 8 (She wasn’t sabotaged by keyboards). I didn’t inherit her legible penmanship.

mummy song book

These are my memories manifested; a badge and a notebook weighted with all the imagery and associations I osmositise into them. They’re just things though; easily lost or destroyed because of this tangibility. Short-lived signifiers. But their signified is tatooed straight onto DNA.

Note to self: stop wasting life playing Bubble Shooter.

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I am a writer and photographer (look up my work on based in Johannesburg, South Africa. I have an MA in Creative Writing from the university currently known as Rhodes. My writing accolades include winning the 2014 Writivism Short Story Prize and the 2020 Ingrid Jonker Poetry Prize for my debut collection, Zikr.

11 thoughts on “Roots”

  1. Grown up Saaleha looks a lot like her daddy 🙂
    Lovely post Saaleha.
    Yes, you do love your hats and you’re cool like your daddy so obviously was 🙂

    Thanks for sharing something so close to your heart.

    *hugs from 1000’s of miles away*

  2. Nice badge, agree with Salma, you do look like you have your dad’s nose.

    This isn’t good advice, but play Peggle if you haven’t already 😛

  3. Its the smallest things that have the most value. I love holding my mother’s pillow like a teddy bear, its smells of her…she thinks I’m a freak.

    We are our parents…and thats how they live on.

    Nice badge. Wishing my parents got me one 🙂

  4. Oh… Have a Rand Show badge too. With my mummy when I was around the same age as you in your’s 🙂 It might have been the gimmick at The Show that year? 😉 x

  5. I love this post, Saaleha. You -always- tug on my heartstrings. You were a really cute kid! 🙂 It might sound cliched, but you bear a strong resemblance to your dad. Nose? 🙂

    Love this post and how it all ‘makes sense’! Your mum rules for having a songbook! Your mum was kewl already way back then! Love it 🙂

    Thanks for sharing.

  6. for some reason, i imagined you to have thousands of notebooks and journals you have recorded your creative writing and poetry in with a chisel pointed pencil.

    your mom and i may have been teenagers at the same time?

  7. precious! this makes me feel like making more of what I have. Because although the meaning becomes more when you dont have it, the blessing to expound has been shifted somewhere else. Your mum is oulik! My mum wore mini dresses and bell bottoms and had hair until her hip and yoko ono sunglasses 🙂

  8. Nostalgic and so personal. What at times seems to insignificant and small, can give comfort and sense of peace. Fyi- bubble shooter is the debil

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