Sherin Ahmed is a published writer of both fiction and non-fiction. Her non- fiction has appeared in newspapers, magazines and work-related journals. Her first short story entitled “Nice girls don’t work!” appeared in 1983 in an anthology of women’s writings: Lip from Southern African Women (Ravan Press). Other short stories appeared in various women’s magazines including Fairlady and Living and Loving (see issues of 21 March 1984 and 26 October 1988 respectively). Her first major award was won in 2005: this was the Gcina Mhlophe Short Story Award presented at the International Time of the Writers Festival in Durban. She was the winner of the writing competition: Talking Adult Learning in 2005.
Her first full-length novel, which is set in Durban’s bustling Overport suburb, is called The Good Luck House (Solo Collective) and was launched in March 2007. An early draft of this manuscript was developed for a postgraduate Creative Writing Module at UKZN in 2003. Her award-winning short story “A Sealed Deal” was published in the Vintage Collection of Indian Writing (ed.Rajendra Chetty) in October 2010.
Sherin Ahmed is a social worker by profession and has a BA Social Work (Hons) degree from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. She is married with two children. She lives in Centenary Park, Durban. Her hobbies are theatre, travelling, reading and gardening. She has worked previously as a probation officer and a marriage counsellor and also in the field of children’s rights, gender issues and training. She has been employed by the eThekwini Municipality for the past 23 years in various social development programmes serving disadvantaged communities.
Extract from The Good Luck House (2007)
Each Friday and Saturday night, Tissong’s home was transformed into an illegal gambling den, for his weekend job. On weekdays, Tissong worked for a bookmaker in Field Street. The large double garage that the Parkers had occupied for many years on Auntie Julie’s property, became the weekend haunt for Overport’s gamblers who indulged in their favourite games of thunnee, rummy and brag. It was here that Tissong endured many raids from the local police adding greatly to the allure of the place. The night’s silence was often broken with the sounds of men arguing over bets and Jacks and Queens until Auntie Julie would open her window to scream, “keep the din down otherwise I’m phoning your grandfather.” Her false threats of calling the police fell on deaf ears as the men took the challenge of ‘busting the school.’
Tissong and his father had remained on the property after Bella left. The house was unchanged from the day she had walked out on her family and into the arms of Eric, her lover. Her absence - a woman’s absence - was noticeable in every bleak corner of the house. The attached store room served as the kitchen. It harboured a sterile white enamel two door cupboard with a matching enamel table on which an enamel, white bread bin was plonked. The bread bin said ‘bread bin’ in bold black. A small fridge grumbled loudly in the corner making gurgling sounds every couple of minutes. Four wooden chairs crowded around the small table - a table for two, with four chairs - for Tissong and his father. The two unoccupied chairs used to be for his sister, Sharlene, now married and his mother.
The garage had a long, loosely hung curtain, which partitioned the space into a bedroom and lounge. A brown dralon lounge suite huddled next to a huge radiogram which had a display unit. Woollen crocheted chair backs were draped limply over the lounge suite - the only feminine touch in the otherwise dispirited room. A tarnished light bulb dangling from the ceiling, held a creeper fern trained along a dusty string, unhappy with age. The serenity prayer underlined a pair of bronze plaster of Paris clasped hands on a sea-shell-framed frame. The words of Desiderata were not far off to remind readers of peace and still hearts. A vast assortment of records was neatly stacked on a wooden cabinet. The covers showed off Peter Tosh, sub-titled: ‘Dread or Alive’, as he stared sultrily, and the faces of Simon and Garfunkel and James Last smiled down.
It was here that Tisong cast aside his ‘I’m-fine-face’ at night and felt a quiet desperation which no one saw. He ached the pain his father should have felt, as he lay on his window-side bed while the moon flitted by effortlessly, taking hide-and-seek peeks at him through open curtains blowing in the breeze. The ruffled curtains like an un-still heart.
Tissong had inherited his father’s fine features and beautiful complexion. His clipped moustache, hollow cheeks and his near-sneer lips gave him an air of social inaccessibility. His dark eyebrows, which closely knit together, gave him an invariably aggrieved look. He had been only fourteen when his mother left. His promise to forever resent her, showed clearly in his face. He decided early in life that women were not to be trusted and that they brought truckloads of trouble, even when their fidelity was unquestionable. When quizzed about his singledom, he told everyone that he was happy and found no reason to exchange contentment for domestic drudgery, “No thank you, not for me. I’m not a willing chap for that sort of crap.”
The Good Luck House. 2007. Solo Collective