Friday 30 December 2022


Is the year roaring to an end for you? Will it begin with a whimper?

Or are these anthropomorphic ideas of the tiger and the rabbit? Water tiger turns to water rabbit in a day. Or, more accurately, on January 22nd. I will be travelling on that day. I think that bodes well? A return home from faraway adventures. Air borne. Lupus in flight. 

It is two thirty am. I am eating a slice of chocolate cake - fudgy, the kind I love. The house is silent. Luckily, Milo, the Tayabali Tamaruke, is asleep behind a closed bedroom door. Would he have barked if he'd seen me? Or padded comfortably down with his nocturnal mate? He has slept in my bed, on my bed, for many nights this holiday. 

Oh, did I mention I am in Singapore as I type? I remember my first blog post about the big travels I (and Mum and Dad) made in 2010, for my younger brother's wedding. And then again, to visit my year old nephew. Time hasn't flown. It has grown. We have become more of ourselves. Some parts of our lives are weightier. Some parts baffling. I cried tears of loneliness tonight, even though I am surrounded by those I love. The human heart is a mysterious thing. Hence art. Hence poetry. Of which I have written so little, I'm unsure if I still qualify as Poet.

Qualify. That word is my nemesis. What am I qualified for? I recall at my university interview, the Head of the English department asking me why I wanted to do English at university. What's the point? he asked. And he wasn't even challenging me. He seemed to be in need of answers himself. Which annoyed me. I flashed altruistic reasons at him. The purpose of literature, the transformational nature of accurate, good journalism. The need for truth in a world of propaganda and prejudice. The power of persuasion in devious, megalomaniacal hands. I remember the professor's name was John. My youthful nature must have amused him. But now, looking back, I see how one can become tired and worn down by repetition and indifference. 

What am I trying to say? Oh yes. Qualifications. Success. And the stunning necessity of art, beauty and goodness to live alongside and within, and without. I have been blessed all my life to be surrounded by art, in every home. My parents' art in homes around the world. My siblings creating artful homes, which I want to enjoy forever. My eyes have troubled me this trip. New surroundings take a while to adjust to. Once the sun sets, I falter. But a helping hand has almost always been near. Can you qualify as a successful human being if you always need help? Thich Nhat Hanh would say yes. That is interdependence. I will be travelling home on the day Thây passed into continuation. There is significance in that. Perhaps.

I hope your last day of the calendar year 2022 has some joy and peace interwoven. And that our collective unknown 2023 ... well, what can we wish for? More green on earth. More ease after darkness. For our better natures to prevail. And for those who suffer, to have the possibility of play. To play again, someday.

Monday 7 November 2022


September, October and now into November. This week marks the anniversary of the first week we walked into our Cambridge home, twenty nine years ago. People move houses like chequers on a board nowadays. And here we Tayabali mice are, scuttling up and down our corridors of old.  

Autumn is here, in the crunchiest of golden leaf. Dad can hear it as he strides the lengths. "Posture!" I remind him, half bossy, half loving. And then instantly correct my own. It's easy to turn into a wee gargoyle these days when you are still partially isolating from a virus you have managed to avoid. 

This may change in the near future... I have done the wild and bold thing and booked tickets to Asia for Christmas. I am flying into the future with the least amount of confidence I have ever felt - because since the pandemic began, I have had two vitreous detachments. The second one only occurred last month so my brain has not yet caught up to normalising these maddening floaters and black wasps whizzing across my visual landscape. 

Did you know that anger and depression/ despair are two faces of the same coin? If you could pick, which would you choose? Let me rephrase that... given a choice, you'd pick neither! If you had to pick... which one? One morning I woke up with a clear intent to embark on a PhD in Anger. Women and Anger. I'd have material galore!

Then I heard a quote by Ocean Vuong, "Care is anger evolved." So I'm thinking about it...

Summertime was Dog Central in the Tayabali household. We had Nikei the Italian corgi, Buddy senior the giant Akita, Sandy the miniature cockapoo and most recently I had Tess, an impeccably trained Labrador who had me throwing a ball 8,542 times. "Who's training whom?" said Mum, with perspicacity.

Sammy the cockapoo is still the clear favourite, and treats our home as his - he always has the air of a returning grandson. He continues to give us joy with his therapeutic hypoallergenic cuddly coat, and ability to curl onto my lap even though he doesn't really fit. 

What am I trying to say? Not very much. Just a wave hello from my falling leaf days to yours.

Artists in order: Hilma af Klint, Mary Cassatt, Helen Frankenthaler, Yayoi Kusama

Monday 22 August 2022


At first, when the month approaches, I think of hiding. As though I can out run or camouflage myself against my own birthday. Why would you want to do that? you may ask. I’m not sure. A cumulative sense of feeling unanchored, lost, a questioning of the new self - are you the one I was supposed to be? Or have I let you down? 

But there were garlands woven by my mother, and my hands clasped, and kissed in the old Arabic style by my father, and his extravagant praise for the worth of his daughter in his life. 

A day earlier had seen us at Badger’s Wood, despite the heat and drought… the redwood stood tall and resplendent and the unbonsaid bonsai looked spectacular. 

Colette and Joseph made my birthday a day of delights and tales and cake, Mary Oliver poetry recited by me, a giant bear cuddled by Dad and even a tiny muntjac flew across the bottom of the lawn by the pond, just a little birthday wave. 

On the day of, I had afternoon tea with Victoria and Freya, and later dinner again with Mum… in between a gentle massage at the Grenville hotel spa and even my first delicious Margarita by myself on the hotel lawn, not a soul in sight, just Deborah Levy and I…

Dad’s blessings came earlier in the day. Later I found myself walking into the incense of St Paul’s Cathedral Church as evening Latin mass drew to a close. I wished the best for my loved ones. I thought of suffering. And I prayed for guidance in my own life, moving forward. Where to now, dear self of 44, where to now? 

Sunday 31 July 2022


Spring turned to summer with the house full of the sounds of children - some of those children being forty years old, calling out ‘Mum! Dad! Dinner!’ Yes, we cook for our parents now... and photograph them by the T-Rex in the World of Animals park… 

There were dog days aplenty … Nikei, the Italian street diva (corgi mix), Sandy the cockapoo with instant love to give, Buddy the Akita who shed too much for Perveen’s liking, Pepper the well trained one, and of course, Samwise ‘the original’ Gamjee…

What does Cambridge have to offer, I often wonder, when my four children enjoy so many wonders in Singapore and Malaysia … the answer comes in the green shires - cows, tents in the garden, riverside walks, jam and chocolate wafer sandwiches, but most of all, the being together part. En famille, unbroken. 

It was heaven for Dad, who has always known this is what he wanted. Children and more children, and togetherness. Until it’s time to let go, and begin again, half living perfectly in the now, and half waiting for the next time we are together again...