Friday, 13 April 2012

The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness...

Well, obviously I couldn’t have put it better myself – it’s Dickens!

The last few weeks have been very fairly eventful and painful for me, but I'll refrain from writing about all the gory details – partly because I have enough integrity not to invade other people’s privacy and partly because I have a sense of shame and want to preserve some semblance of personal dignity.

Unbelievably, Mother’s Day was less than a month ago. I had a fabulous day with my sons – a trip to the theatre, a walk with the big son's dog and an Indian take-away.

Then the earth shifted. A phone call with someone close to me reminded me that not all the mothers I know were feeling quite so lucky and blessed - and that there have been moments when I didn't feel quite so positive about motherhood myself. On the same day, a note through my door informed me that my neighbour had died!

And then the edits on my latest book suddenly turned into major re-writes – the manuscript was too dark and sombre. Could I make it quirkier? Funnier? Shorter? Better!

I tried to find my sense of humour. Remember that old joke? Question: How many editors does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: Does it have to be a light bulb? I sent it to my editor with another ‘joke’ about considering the possibility of sticking my head in the gas oven. She sent back emergency chocolate and invited me out to lunch – but only after I'd done the re-writes!

I still wasn’t laughing. I probably took it out on those closest to me – my best friends, my oldest friends, the lovely sons – and I ran away to the mountains. Literally.

I am back home now. I have apologised. The re-writes are done – at least until the next lot. I will try to remember that like a good story, life is full of ups and downs – and of beginnings and endings.

RIP Kat.


  1. Thank you for sharing your best-of-times-worst-of-times, Malaika. For me, it's the glorious messiness of life that makes it so amazing, the ups and downs, joys and sorrows... I'm dismayed by the anti-depressant culture we live in, which tries so hard to knock the corners off. Celebrations, struggles, mountains, apologies... in my view, you're modelling a robust response to real life.

  2. Please remember that your stories bring joy to so many!