Marie Claire (South Africa) - - ED'S LETTER -

I don’t ex­pect en­light­en­ment at the check­out counter when gro­cery shop­ping. Mild bore­dom laced with anx­ious dread? Yes. Short sharp kicks to the gut ad­min­is­tered via a small rec­tan­gu­lar over­heat­ing plas­tic drain­pipe that sits in my wal­let as it comes into con­tact with the flash­ing alarm bells on the till? Sadly, yes. Hum­drum su­per­mar­ket trauma? Al­ways. En­light­en­ment? No. So the ap­pear­ance of a fully formed math­e­mat­i­cal ge­nius be­hind the till gives me pause. I met one the other day. The bar code on my cu­cum­ber was fail­ing to reg­is­ter, so the lady be­hind my till called out to the lady at till no 7,‘What’s the code, Squeeza?’ Squeeza promptly rat­tled off the nine dig­its that had been ran­domly as­signed to the cu­cum­ber. What? Seems she knows the nine-digit codes for prac­ti­cally ev­ery sin­gle prod­uct in the Woolies Hyde Park store. She also ap­peared to be fully in pos­ses­sion of all her so­cial skills. I say this be­cause I in­stantly thought: ‘Rain Woman.’ But no, she was not an autis­tic savant, she was sim­ply a savant. I in­stantly rec­om­mended a life in the casino for this lass. She was to­tally wast­ing her prodi­gious talent at the check­out counter. She should be hang­ing with Ben Af­fleck, count­ing cards and ac­quir­ing a life ban in Las Ve­gas.

But where is the en­light­en­ment in all of this, you ask? Well I went home, un­loaded the gro­ceries, started mak­ing din­ner and all the while I could not get Ms Arith­metic off my mind. She hap­pened to me at about the point at which the ab­duc­tion of the Nige­rian school­girls was hit­ting the global con­scious­ness. Like ev­ery­body and their aunt on so­cial me­dia, it breaks my heart that a bunch of id­iot men driven by lu­nacy and ex­trem­ism could pre­sume to cast such a hideous shadow of dread and doom over the lives of in­no­cent girls. I felt the averted fate of one Malala mul­ti­ply dan­ger­ously in an in­fi­nite cy­cle of de­stroyed lives – the bru­tal aftermath of mind­less atavism. As I write this, those girls have been miss­ing for two months. No amount of hash­tag­ging ap­pears to be mak­ing an im­pact.

But it sud­denly struck me that the fate of Ms Arith­metic is equally harsh. Come now As­pa­sia, you might say, don’t ex­ag­ger­ate for dra­matic ef­fect, she has a job, she has food on the ta­ble, she has the ad­mi­ra­tion of her fel­low work­ers. And I agree – there is self-re­spect and dig­nity to be found in ev­ery job well done, no mat­ter where it is lo­cated in the econ­omy. But think about Ms Arith­metic’s brain and its in­fi­nite ca­pac­ity for mem­ory and all the mar­vel­lous things she might have thought up with it had she just been given the chance. Ms Arith­metic was de­prived of a vo­ca­tion. My heart breaks for her stolen fu­ture. I don’t know at which point her ed­u­ca­tion was cur­tailed – I was too ashamed to ask. Be­cause I know that, just like her, so many South African girls drop out of the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem which fails them con­sis­tently year af­ter de­press­ing year, vic­tims of our ap­palling apartheid legacy and the sham­bolic ef­forts to rec­tify it. The next time we hash­tag #Bring­Back­Our­Girls we should look a lit­tle closer to home and make sure that we save our own girls too.

How spec­tac­u­lar is this neck­lace from Tin­sel? The lovely Geral­dine Fenn and Eric Loub­ser cel­e­brated their new sea­son with a cam­paign and asked me to par­tic­i­pate. Thanks guys, what an hon­our.

Wow, I was so bowled over by the tech­ni­cal prow­ess and sheer beauty of pho­tog­ra­pher Steve Tanchel and Sharon Becker’s win­ter won­der­land – step into the snow on page 69. We give you per­mis­sion to dream (even if you have no in­ter­est in...

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