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Image: Pixabay

I have a pile of assignments, but apparently I really don’t want to write today. My mind shies away from the task, alighting upon anything that isn’t writing. If I’m honest, this is pretty much any given day. I have a way to get past this: I write something else. A random scene, some notes, maybe a little journaling. I might write about the fact that I don’t want to write, or, if I’m really desperate, I might even write about writing. Here, let me show you —

There is a dictum in creative writing: ‘Show, don’t tell.’ This is worked into the details of a scene. For example, we don’t want to say ‘he tried to control his anxiousness’ (telling), but rather, we might say something…

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Saturday 29 September 2018, Cairo

After the past couple days, the word that I think best describes how I feel is ‘gutted’.

Quite enough has already been said and it is banally redundant for me to add these words to the tsunami of anguish and rage spilling from millions of women today, but I can’t not. I feel poisoned. I’ve tried to look away, but I’m glued to it. I’ve tried to refocus on other things, but the thoughts, the memories, the physical effects, are too intrusive and won’t release me. I can’t sleep through the night. Even from this far side of the planet, even with no personal connection to the unfolding events, the simple fact of the information being broadcast these past two days leaves me with a visceral personal feeling of being violated, of being abused and mocked, discounted and discarded, by men of impunity who have vastly more power than I. …

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The author’s mother, somewhere in France, 1966.

I am not a huge fan of the modern holiday; I find the overemphasis on the commercial and the knee-jerk obligation off-putting. There feels to be little that is holy or honourable or intrinsically meaningful in them. As a recently constructed and highly commercialised holiday, Mother’s Day would seem to merit a write-off. But not for me.

There are and have been many different ‘Mother’s Days’ in various cultures over the millennia, but the one we celebrate now originates in America, created by Anna Jarvis in 1908. …


Allison Washington

Journalist & essayist. Reporting from Cairo.

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