archive - issue 18
All Things Being EqualBy Ross Fleming
Picture a sunny Saturday morning in upper Bishopscourt. It's Springtime. Mrs God is down at the bottom of the garden hunting under the washing-line for a missing clothes peg. Not ten paces away across the boundary fence, Mrs Allah is pruning her roses when she senses a pair of eyes drilling into her back. Not one to be fazed by the limelight, she studiously ignores the daunting gaze, until there is an audible clearing of Mrs God's throat. Mrs Allah, being relatively omniscient, realises that there is a loose thread in her Cashmere cardigan, and, being sensitive to these things, she also realises that Mrs God would like to help.
At this stage let us just say that Mr God is shooting his customary Saturday 18 at the Heaven's Half Acre Golf Links, and is thus unable to remind her of her duty to uphold the flag. Similarly Mr Allah is down at the local orphanage, supervising an ad hoc meeting of the Financial Committee in his pro deo capacity. His usual attention to fatwa has been eclipsed recently by the need to raise finance for a new climbing frame, as the old one has been deemed Dangerous To Children since that shark Abel Jones claimed back the dowels that held the thing together.
But let's return to Mrs Allah's loose thread back in Bishopscourt. Ever keen to promote interpersonal communication, Mrs God bursts into conversation with 'I know a dinky little tailor who can, I kid you not, put a matching outfit together in the twinkling of an eye, cheap too, just below Wynberg Main Road?'
A sharp intake of breath at the implied opening.
'I know Edrich! The only guy South of Zhauns who can sew denim without breaking the frigging needle.'
They both share a moment's silence visualising Edrich's legendary belly-button ring and his reputation for going to great lengths for his clients. Hmmn... that six-pack!?
Brought back to reality by The Great Satan revving his Harley Davidson in the adjoining plot, they both remind themselves guiltily of their husbands' insistence on preparedness. Mr Satan goes over the top with a roar next door. Mrs God and Mrs Allah silently lock eyes in understanding commiseration.
'I don't know why she puts up with his nonsense. He's eternally claiming UIF and doesn't do a stitch around the house! In my book she's a saint'.
Again the sensitive pause at the mention of 'my book'. 'My chiropodist reckons it's a co-dependent relationship'. Mrs Allah this time.
'Yes she needs to put some boundaries in place. It's all about assertiveness. Our husbands need training, without exception.' Mrs God's jaw firms at this statement of a communal burden. There is the glint of battle in her eye.
Mrs Allah nods agreement. She ventures onto a new tack, novel in the history of the known universe. 'I wonder whether the Satans would be open to Family Therapy. I could broach the subject with her given the right environment. We could hold an Avroy Schlain party. What Little Satan needs is a good dose of Clearasil and a decent gym membership. Have faith, sister.'
The light bulb goes on. Invitations, catering arrangements and commission are arranged in seconds. The women grab their Blackberries and the appointments are bluetoothed and synched. The eternally amenable Mrs Buddha will, they affirm as one, offer her lounge as a neutral venue. They BBM her. Heaven murmurs a soliloquy of praise as the Blackberry network is suddenly up again. The meeting is meant to be. Mrs Buddha agrees. The scene is set.
Both women are now on a mission. Great Satan has now moved his attentions elsewhere and the homely waft of singed boerewors indicates that the customary Saturday lunchtime braai is hot and happening at chez Satan. Little Satan and his sister Tiny Satan are currently setting out on their weekly project to drive Great Satan to drink by bouncing a golf ball against the other side of his garage wall, repetitively, systematically. It works like the Ancient Chinese Water Torture. i.e. a great success. A string of curses percolates over the Vibrocrete wall. Mrs Satan has taken to her bed with a headache. Can we blame her?
Back amongst the blessed Mrs God sets the gardener onto painting the South-facing wall of the garage something a bit more welcoming. Something between Sea Breeze and Burgundy, with Mushroom undertones. Not to be outdone on the magnanimity scale, Mrs Allah goes straight into her boudoir and emails her maintenance team at PAGAD with a directive that the current missing pipes plumbing problem at Heaven's Half Acre needs our best attention please gentlemen can I remind you this is a code red SLA! The gentlemen at PAGAD respond quickly and nervously in the affirmative. The sky is truly open above Bishopscourt today. Mrs Allah in business mode is not to be trifled with.
Messrs God and Allah come home too exhausted to pick up that something is going on. A week in politics is a long time, even for the best of us. Mr God looks out on his garden, and all is as it should be. The glass of wine and morsel of matzos left at his elbow by his adoring wife is not necessary, as we fortunately now have endorphins. There begins a light snore that floats gently over creation. Eighteen hole's-in-one, the usual. But Mrs God has plans afoot...
Likewise Mr Allah spends twenty minutes playing pool in the entertainment deck with his grandchildren. He normally lets them win but it is becoming increasingly obvious that multitalented little Mohammad has a very bankable skill in this sphere. Hmmn... maybe the UCT Graduate Business School can wait. Mr Allah checks the all share index on his iPhone. All is well. His armchair is again the siren call of Paradise. The men are taken care of - but what of the women?
Mrs God has primed her telephone prayer-chain on the situation at the Satans, and by Sunday lunchtime Little Satan has become the object of intercessory prayers, visions, dreams and prophecies. On Sunday afternoon a mysterious delivery of piping hot samoosas and a free Foot Spa Treatment compliments of Kurt materialise at the Satan household. Mrs Satan comes out of her bedroom for the first time since Easter. She has a turn in the garden in the cool of the evening. The birds are tweeting in the twilight.
Mr God is in a singularly good mood due to the resolution of the long standing pipes problem. In addition, his lawnmower now starts first time every time, and some kind little fairy has cleaned up the tool shed in his absence. He catches himself whistling that gay little tune from The King and I while walking down the passage and Mrs God has made a point of telling him that he looks distinguished in his new corduroy jacket. Yes it's a fine day to be alive.
Mrs Allah seems to have stopped her daily complaints to Mr Allah about the racket over at Great Satan's place. She seems more contented, purposeful, and even happy?
The Buddhas really come to the party a week later with a complimentary feast of Thai Curried Chicken on Basmati rice with guacamole and red pepper sauce (Mrs Satan's favourite). The Avroy Schlain party thus evolves into a Sunday family meal of reconciliation and harmony. Everybody pulls in. Mrs Satan, barefoot in a bikini and beach-sarong, is the life and soul of the party (with thanks to Prozac). Her husband has reined in his language, and when an umbrella-stand drops on his little toe, his call for help to Mr God implies..., well, let's just say it has implications for the future of the universe. The Gods' unmarried son, resplendent in long hair, leather sandals and khaftan, teaches Little Satan and Tiny Satan the joys of Rock, Paper, Scissors, and, Lo, He lets them win. Little Mohammad joins in towards the end. The extended Buddha family, with their many relatives abounding, are gracious and accommodating hosts. The swimming pool is a hive of interaction for both young and old. A Good Time is had by all.
All things being equal, if 'The Powers That Be' were more in touch with their feminine, might we perhaps have a little more equality, communication and compassion as opposed to warfare, hatred and damnation?
Ross Ian Fleming devotes his days to testing Telecoms software, satisfying his wife’s need for fast food, and educating his three kids. At night, however, he dreams of Poetry. He has written six small volumes of poems, all available on Amazon Kindle
Although occasionally inhabiting an imaginary land beyond description, in reality he lives in Cape Town, South Africa, the next best thing in the chain of being.
He has published work in Itch and New Coin and has won 3 online writing competitions at the SA Writers College over the past 10 years. Also see Slipnet for more.