Khamr: The Makings of a Waterslams is a true story that maps the author’s experience of living with an alcoholic father and the direct conflict of having to perform a Muslim life that taught him that nearly everything he called home was forbidden. A detailed account from his childhood to early adulthood, Jamil F. Khan lays bare the experience of living in a so-called middle-class Coloured home in a neighbourhood called Bernadino Heights in Kraaifontein, a suburb to the north of Cape Town.
There was a part of my world my mother would never experience and, to live in it, I had to escape her supervision. I had been in a psychological prison for as long as I could remember. Nobody around me could relate, nor would they ever learn to. I was a gay, questioning Coloured Muslim boy navigating one of the most notorious institutions of white supremacy in South Africa. I was locked out of desire for as long as I could remember. Reckoning with my sexuality had been a treacherous journey of shame and guilt long before the subtle rippling of my budding desires interrupted my childhood. Even before then, my access to the performance of desire was violently regulated by the stranglehold of heteronormativity. I have only known sexuality and desire as yearning. I have only wanted whatever lack was not. I wanted the opposite of fear – whatever that was. As a queer person, I never knew what I wanted, because what I was allowed to desire didn’t fit me. What I saw around me was everything that was designed to kill me. It was less not knowing what I wanted and more imagining what I could want. Nobody around me could ever understand the world I was stumbling through – least of all my mother. No amount of support and guidance she had for me could help me navigate that part of my life. It was my burden and mine alone to bear.