Defend Truth


If you love yourself – even just a bit – do not film yourself playing sport


Haji Mohamed Dawjee is a South African columnist, disruptor of the peace and the author of Sorry, Not Sorry: Experiences of a Brown Woman in a White South Africa. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram: @sage_of_absurd

In the year of our Lord 2021, in the month of August, as spring draws closer and closer and as the months get warmer and warmer, my wife and I, finally altogether healthy, set foot on the tennis court once more.

First published in the Daily Maverick 168 weekly newspaper.

Transforming your winter body to tackle the summer season is not a new trend. People have been doing it since the beginning of time.

I suppose even back in the Victorian era when women had to wear a million underclothes so that they could wear severely bad-looking overclothes, they, too, worked on sculpting their perfect bodies so that their corsets could tie much tighter in the summer months.

So in the year of our Lord 2021, in the month of August, as spring draws closer and closer and as the months get warmer and warmer, my wife and I, finally altogether healthy, set foot on the tennis court once more. Now we’re not necessarily binge-players. We’re pretty consistent when it comes to sports-balling of this specific kind. However, like I inferred, we have been sick on and off, so we hadn’t played for almost two months.

There we were, healthy but unfit, energetic but … unfit, and enthusiastic but … unfit.

The first step to your best body is literally just pointing your foot in the direction of the gym, right? Or the court in this case, and so off we went. It wasn’t long before we realised that it didn’t matter how much our hearts were in the right places, our bodies simply were not. And this point hit home really, really hard when, for the first time in our five-year marriage, we decided to film ourselves being physical together, playing tennis.

This was all decided on the spur of the moment. It was like the universe pushed us to a tripod we didn’t know we needed and that we now wish we’d never met.

That mischievous, three-legged demon sat tied back and suspended against the fence on court two – a court we never play on, but, on this fine day, court one was being used by a “very important man” who needed to walk around on it to take a call.

The camera stand beckoned to us: “Let your phone sit in my lap. Hit record.”

It was as though Eve was offering us a free apple in the kingdom of heaven with zero consequences. Or so we thought. But, readers, there are no free apples.

It started with a smile at each other. A gracious thank you to whoever had forgotten this sweet piece of equipment so we could record our play and watch it back and realise that we do actually look as cool as we think we do. What with all the tennis we play and all that, why wouldn’t we look semipro, or, at the very least, like advanced beginners?

“It’s my dream. I have always wanted to film myself playing,” said my wife.

And so there we were. Perching a phone on its pedestal and before you knew it … “Silence please. Play.”

There was a definite unspoken expectation for each of us to perform at our personal best. We ran more. Got out of breath. I even broke a sweat. It is very, very hard for me to break a sweat playing tennis. This is not because I am fit. It is because I am just really bad at sweating, as in I don’t do it. No, I have not asked my doctor why.

Before long, we rushed home and reviewed it. And readers … My good god!

That night we both slept horribly. The image of two fumbling beluga whales trying to hit a ball in slow motion played over and over. It haunted us.

At first I thought maybe we did record in slow motion. Alas, the cars moving at top speed behind us disproved that. There was no excuse. We sucked so bad.

Do not, I repeat, do not, if you love yourself, if you even like yourself just a smidgen, film yourself playing sport, let alone a sport you have played all your life and you absolutely worship.

Watching the reel back will break you. If you’re having a particularly bad time and find yourself on the edge of insecurity, watching the recording will push you right off that edge and, if you feel like a beluga, when you hit the ground, it’s going to be really, really sore. It is really sore. Still. DM168

This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper which is available for R25 at Pick n Pay, Exclusive Books and airport bookstores. For your nearest stockist, please click here.


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