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Archive for March, 2007

Through patience and perseverance, one can survive the worst difficulties life throws their way. With a little determination, a person can triumph over many hardships and endure them resiliently. Sooner or later he/she starts to skilfully adapt to their surroundings and the great dangers that they pose. Whatever burdens one faces, with a strong will and perseverance one can survive them, whilst deep inside their heart, they constantly pray that the day that follows might have a touch of optimism to it. They dread the day that follows, but with that little extra courage and diligence, they can summon the belief that they can make it through, even it means fighting for dear life.

And through hope one can have aspirations and ambitions in life, and dreams of a better place. With hope one soon starts to take comfort in the fact that something worthwhile is decreed ahead. Hope is what pushes a person to pursue a path unbeknown, however surreptitious it maybe and keep at it, despite the prickly thorns, hoping that soon he will reach green pastures that lay ahead. But one cannot always dwell in the depths of despair and have nothing but hopehope that one day things will change – to cling on to. For every day that passes, a person’s conviction and likelihood of a particular thing happening or a situation improving decreases, if the situation doesn’t show any signs of fruit-bearing. And soon faith starts to decline, as one is pushed to the verge of hopelessness, and so does a person’s confidence.

Though hope is valuable and indispensable, at times acting as the prime mechanism that bounds a person together, and at times acting as his only method of survival, yet there comes a time when he/she become despondent in the face of daunting difficulties. Today there is so much happening in Somalia, that make one lose hope in an entire Nation. A Nation of failure! How long can one hope for the better? How long can one hope for a piece of land that he can call his own? How long can one hope for tranquillity of mind, when everyday occurrences drive one to despair? Surely, hope is bound to fade at some point, for it has been exhausted! After all, hope has turned out to be but a distorted perception of fanciful opportunities that never may be.

When will we be done with chaos, warlords, and bigotry?
When will this beleaguered population recuperate from the plague that engulfs it?
When will these ceaseless phases of instability fade?
When will we finally feel some freedom from strife?
When will I stop feeling hopeless yet homesick?

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The First Encounter
The Second Encounter

For centuries, men have always been the ones to take the first step and advance a relationship. They have been at the driving seat and still are, but sometimes it is satisfying just to take a step back and analyse the situation, without being emotionally involved in it at all. Most people have the tendency to rush into the first waiting arms they encounter, and thereby, with their high enthusiasm, dispel any hopes of a possibility of interaction and relationship. If nothing else, crowding your object of desire creates a sense of insecurity, which becomes immediately unmistakable. That is why I have given her some time and space – so as not to appear needy and wanting and leave adequate room for imagination.

Then I visited her, as the day was coming to an end. She was, as i always expect, at her usual place when I spotted her from afar. The closer I got to her, the more appealing she became and the more she glowed. Her back was turned to me, as she held a paper cup in her hand, talking to a colleague. I could her her laughter as she chatted away. Her colleague spotted me, looked at me for a few seconds and at once whispered something inaudible to Sacdiya’s ear prompting her to turn around.
“Hey, Shaafi, how are you?” she said in a rather lively manner.
“I am fine. How are you?” I replied in a calm tone, “How’s your day going?”
“It’s alright, not bad.” She said with a beautiful smile and look to accompany it.
“I see,” I said, observing her. Her eyes this time. They had something repressed, an inexpressible attachment or possibly anticipation.
“I’d like to taste them all,” I said, pointing to the Ben & Jerry’s ice creams displayed appetizingly in the glass container.
“Which one would you like to taste?” she asked
“I’ll have all of them”
she looked at me with her eyes wide. “All of them?” she questioned
“Yes,” my eyes fixed on her
“Are you sure?”
“yeah, why not?”
She smiled, just widening her lips without parting them completely, her eyes cheerful.
“How about I have a taste of your favourite one?” I said
She looked up. She wasn’t expecting it. I caught her off guard. I wanted to get to know her better, without asking her. Her likes, her dislikes, etc, and perhaps by talking to her more, I would even bring out her lurking doubts and anxieties. There lies within everyone, somehow or the other, a feeling of inadequacy that they repress by wearing a mask. What perturbed her, I wondered!
“I don’t really have a favourite one. They are all the same,” she replied, wriggling her thumbs and running her eyes quickly over the ice creams tubs.
She looked up at me once again, picked up a tiny tasting spoon and looked around. I followed her eyes, as they carefully went over each tub of ice cream on the display counter, carefully analysing each. There were sixteen tubs in all. She went from one to the other, as if tasting them each with her eyes and determining their texture on the palate, denouncing one then moving on to the other. She stretched her extended hand to a tub of Chocolate Fudge Brownie, and then retreated. Perhaps, I thought, she remembered what I told her on our first encounter – that I don’t particularly like chocolate.
“Taste this,” she finally said, holding a spoon of Cherry Garcia in front of me.
“hmmm..not bad at all,” I said, after recovering from the onslaught of the freezing dollop.
I lied. I didn’t like it. Cherry Garcia isn’t one of my favourite B&J’s ice cream, but The Vermonster wasn’t in stock, so I had to settle for something like this. It was rather bitter and too fruity, but I had to carefully conceal my distaste as her eyes cautiously scrutinized my face for a reaction. She picked, after some deliberation, her favourite ice cream and I didn’t want to let her down.
“What film are you watching today?” she said, after a while
I looked at her, studying her facial features, her lips, her eyes, the few strands of hair that managed to force their way through her black scarf, as if hunting for some fresh air, despite her constantly pushing them back to their territory.
“You” I said. God, how cheesy did that sound, I thought, but it was too late to take it back so I went ahead with it. I was on my way to North Greenwich station to meet some friends, but as they were late I though, I’d stop by the cinema and recapture some magnificence from her sight. Of course, I came to see her, and I knew she wouldn’t believe that I did, solely, come to see her. A clear case of “runtaa sheeg, beenta hala moodee” (utter the truth, so it may come across as falsehood) The cinema, anyway, was only about 3 minutes from the station.
She smiled at me, displaying the set of brilliant white teeth and looked down at the ice cream tubs below, still smiling. Her hand inadvertently rubbed the silver edges of the ice cream container, and then she stared at me.
“No, come on. Really, what are you watching”?
“I’m not watching any film”
Her eyes still stared at me, this time with an inquisitive look.
“I came to see you. You know – to see how you’re doing”
“Came to see me?” she said, half surprised and incredulous, half smiling, with a coy look in her eyes. I thought I saw a glint in her eyes as she said that.
“Yeah, I came to say hello. It has been a while since I last saw you, hasn’t it?”
“Yeah, I guess”
Her stare lowered, but still the smile was plastered across her face as if it was a permanent feature of her face.
“Why? Can I not even come to see you and say hello now,” I said light-heartedly
“No, no, no. Of course you can,” she replied quickly, baring her teeth with a smile again
“But how did you know I was working today?” she asked intrigued
“Instinct”
At that precise moment one customer approached, as if it was timed. A good timing indeed, and time for me to depart. How did the customer know I wanted him to interrupt me at that very precise occasion.
“I’ll see you another time,” I said and slightly moved back to make way for the customer and depart.
She half-extended her hand, as if stopping me or intending to shake my hand, and half-mumbled something unintelligible. I stood lingering, but with a detached mood, intending to emphasize the conclusion of the conversation. Her eyes shot at me. She was hesitant about something – she still wanted to talk and finish the conversation. Perhaps, my last comment had appealed to her. The customer stood staring at us both, waiting for her to finish. I smiled at her, and she reciprocated it with one alluring one and we parted – unwillingly. This should be an enduring spell that she can either reflect upon or keep her vaguely intrigued for some time.

Untill, next time…

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This bicentenary marks the abolition of one the greatest crimes against humanity – The Slave Trade. Last year, it was reported that Mr Blair was shy of a full apology, but it seems like he has done it. He has apologized. So did London’s Mayor, Ken Livingstone, and he also explained why he has apologized. But what would an apology do? Automatically erase the entire era of slavery from the minds of people, act as a recompense for the hideous crimes or simple be just another word from the mouths of politicians?

Slavery was barbaric and inhumane, so what’s an apology worth. Even the Holocaust is given much priority than Slavery! If slavery is anything to apologize for, it’s the Africans who should be apologizing for brutally capturing their brothers from the neighbouring villages and towns and selling them into slavery in the first place. Only thing is, sorry, is just another word!

By the way, who is this “sorry” going to? the buried ancestors or the living descendants?

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With knife crime sweeping across the country , the politicians are quick to mete out their hollow words. We need to be tougher on crime, they say, and the media picks this up and plasters it across its front pages. An amnesty will soon be in place to curb the spiralling wave of crime, as communities are devastated, and soon all will be forgotten – that’s until another victim falls on the street splattered with blood.

Any bus journey home, in any corner of the UK, could be your last. The streets are teeming with “thugs” who are bent on crime and intimidation. This is not something new – it has been like this for ages. And for a very long time too, the government has been trying to do something about it but all with empty promises.

What I am extremely irritated by, though, is the opinions of those people – (some) White people – who assume that this country is being degraded by black people and their cultures. As soon as the talk of crime gets underway, they already seem to know their suspects. Young, Black, Male, with nothing better to do than infiltrate this country with their crime and filth. I remember very well reading the Evening Standard, last year, when An Wilson said that “the only contribution” Somalis make to this society is “street crime and violence”! I am almost certain that when Mr Wilson wrote those words he was either highly intoxicated or his head was too far up his arse to make any sense.

This is the sort of racist tinge to crime, that Jackie describes here, I despise;

…there is a racist tinge to the reaction of the majority. People think, but don’t say, well, it’s only black on black, or Asian on Asian for that matter. It is one gang of uncivilised young thugs against another (though Kodjo was neither a gang member nor a young thug). Keep out of their way, and these murders will continue but won’t touch us. When the people involved are young and white, another defence mechanism kicks in: “Well, it happened outside a pub/nightclub in the small hours. If you’re not young, male and drinking in the wrong place, this won’t touch you.”

Crime has no colour, neither does wickedness. These youths understand the leniency this government has towards crime and are taking advantage of it – they know they will be out soon, with their “street credibility” up a notch. Prison is no deterrent whatsoever. And the poor mother lies in her bed in grievance. Another son lost, another mother bereaved. Over the past two weeks alone 14 murder cases involving knives were reported and just over this weekened alone there were 50 cases involving knives.

Imagine if this country had a National Service scheme – where every child, upon finishing his/her GCSEs, must go through a compulsory one or two years service in the Army!

I am all for bringing back corporal punishment in schools as well as capital punishment in the country. Anyone agrees?

An eye for an eye, makes the whole world blind, but sometimes it’s the best solution!

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“A mother is she who can take the place of all others but
whose place no one else can take.”
— Cardinal Mermillod

This public observance of Motherhood is rather pointless and insincere and has turned into a Birthday celebration. We are being gradually conditioned to thank our mothers on just that one day! One day for all the years of nurture, for all the times of tending to our duties, for giving up her life to give us life?

Mothers do not ask for any acknowledgement for being Mothers and do truly cherish the children and expect their children to do likewise – every waking day! They do not ask for any gifts and flowers, that will soon wilt, to decorate their rooms, nor do they ask for appreciation – they deserve and expect it. People are still hold the notion that buying expensive gifts, flowers and cards do more to convey one’s love for their mother.

In Somalia, we do not celebrate mother’s days, well, certainly, my mother has never heard of it and does not acknowledge it. As for me, everyday is Mother’s Day for me. From the moment I wake up to the very moment I close my eyes, she is there in my thoughts and I am forever thanking her for everything. She is thousands of miles away, and very little of my life has been spent with her due to necessity, yet I am indebted to her for… everything and can’t wait for the day I see her again.

If today we celebrate Mother’s Day, what of those who have no mothers? How would they feel? One cannot begin to imagine the loss of a mother, and the value of a mother is seldom known until its lost. Appreciate the value of a mother while you still have her, for there will come a day when she will leave you to deal with the world on your own.

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>> Read First Encounter here

The evening came and I was all expectations. The sun and its heat had descended down the horizon, and the few trailing clouds were following in sequence. A clam breeze, playfully wafting to and fro, restored the sense of serenity that has eluded me during the day. Maybe it was the enthusiasm and this newfound excitement about Sacdiya.

The cinema, as anticipated, appeared animated and dynamic. Several people lined up at the box office, again, displaying their usual carefree comportment at such a place. A little child, in a pink frock ran in circles between her parents, her golden ponytail bouncing in the air. Though I was displaying a somewhat convincing feel of placidity and composure, inside my body a fiery argument ensued. Why was I doing this? I was neither besotted with her to be behaving like this, nor so was I engrossed as to revisit her. It was a simple. There was nothing much there, well, except for her smile and her expressive eyes which, indicative of delightful times ahead, prompted a unique form of understanding and communication, implicit in its approach – partly because of her beauty and partly a self-induced embellishment.

I walked over, almost mechanically, to the Ben & Jerry’s counter looking here and there. But Alas! She was not there. A part of me sunk immediately, but kept staring into the delectable ice creams whilst conjuring up images of the day her bright smile sedated me. I walked to and fro, enquiringly, looking for her cocoa skin or her scarf somewhere behind the counters. Several minutes had passed, before I decided to look in a different place. I walked round to the Mainstand, an extensive counter mounted with several tills stationed in the middle of the sphere-shaped lobby of the cinema, and my eyes began their hunt. Dilated and deficient, their source of delight was missing, and find her they will if she was there by any means. It was not long before they found her, carefully scooping popcorn from the popcorn maker. Under the enormous light that looked down upon her, her skin glowed. She hadn’t seen me for a while, as I stood there, staring at her, exploring the contours of her body.

A long queue awaited at her till, all expectant customers, including myself. I advanced towards her, hands twitching, eyes bright, and face beaming. With one customer after another being served, it wasn’t long before the file shortened. Two people now stood between her and me and, no doubt, she had seen me. At once her eyes gleamed in gladness, or so I thought, and her wide smile took its natural form across her face, broadening it, shaping it and transferring it onto mine.

She hasn’t changed a bit. Her smile was still as captivating, her face still seamless, her lithe body unblemished, and her eyes inviting.

“Hope you weren’t offended,” I said as I came within reach of her and the two other customer in front of me had left. I knew very well she wasn’t offended, but this was to give her a chance to have a say about the incident and expand on it. It was what I saw fit to open the conversation with
“No I wasn’t, not at all,” she replied
“Are you sure, or are you just being polite about it?” I enquired, teasing her to say something and get a depth of her reaction
“Yeah.” Came her reply, timidly
There was a slight pause. She waited for me to ask the next question. I didn’t. Sometimes a slight interval is indispensable – it creates a room for imagination and leaves the person slightly lingering. It also creates a brief moment of discomfort and imbalance at this initial stage.
“I actually thought it was quite sweet,” she said, after that brief period, bashfully lowering her head slightly with a half-smile – a sort of an impromptu flirtatious smile which seemed so natural and hard to conceal.
“Thanks,” she added.
“Your welcome,” I said with a smile, though not a beaming smile so as to conceal my liking. “I just had to make sure, you know, some people have sensitive spots and might get offended by such stuff.”
“No, its alright,” she responded, still smiling splendidly.
I found her behaviour obliging and came across as greatly affable. The willingness was there and so was the openness and her guileless eyes could not do much to conceal her swelling appetite.
“What film are you watching?”
“Oh God, I don’t even know…What was it? Oh yeah, that’s it, Blood Diamond,” I had briefly forgotten about what film I came to watch and my friend who was in the auditorium already waiting for me. He came before me and I was to meet him there.
“Oh ok. It’s a nice film.” She replied.
A short moment of silence once again ensued. We looked at each other briefly, eyes staring at each other, following the same path in unison, and smiled.
“Can I have a medium tango please?” I said
“Why don’t you go large for 10p extra”
“I’ll have large one then, but bear in mind, I won’t be able to finish it”
She smiled and pulling a large Pepsi cup from the cup dispenser below started pouring my drink.
“You look exhausted,” I started, observing her sluggish movement, “had a long day?”
“Yeah I feel tired, I started at 2” she replied, placing her left hand on her forehead, furrowing her brow.
“What time are you finishing?”
“10 pm”
I looked at my watch – The short hand was on the verge of 9 and the long hand on 10.
“About an hour and you’ll be in a cosy bed I presume,” I said
I looked at her, now observing her as I always do. God! She is beautiful. There is a hint of naivety about her that is even more ravishing.
“Enjoy your film,” she said as she handed my drink and serviette, to which I courteously smiled a thank you.
I took my drink, went upstairs into the auditorium and reclined on the comfy seat, placing my drink in the holder. I picked the drink up to take a sip, as the trailers ended and the film was about to start, just to realize that I had forgotten my straw downstairs – with her!

Well, another chance to catch a glimpse of her, I thought – and before you say it, it wasn’t deliberate!

p.s It seems like a Third Encounter is well worthy here.

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A chair, an ageing rug, a wooden cupboard. A bed, a laptop, a bedside cabinet. An iron, a charger, a towel. A shoe here, a trouser there. A sock here a sock there. A plate in the corner, a mug on the rug, a plate holding the door. A bag under the bed, befriended by dust, besieged by wood. A jacket hanging on the cupboard door, suffocated by some shirts, neighboured by some hangers.

These chiefly constitute the contents of my room to a viewer. A room that looks bland and lifeless even at its most glorious days – the rare days when the brush and the mop pay it a gratifying visit. Nevertheless, here are many more things invisible to the naked eye – subtle things that, though beyond any meaningful description of words, alleviate my existence. As unadorned as it may seen, there is a decorative charm that uplifts this austere space and enlivens it.

Upon the four colourless, naked walls are my stories engraved – every conversation, every song I sang in high spirits, every cry, every moan, every element of elation, and every shriek of excitement. Here they are all, with my name neatly embossed in large print. The bed provides me some solace from the strain that has saddled me the day that passed, and there I repose in its comfort, the glowering grey clouds above my head replaced by the bright ceiling. My pillow gladly makes my confidante, with no recompense for the damages resulting from my firm grips in times of glee and fierce punches in times of gloom – it always seems to bounce right back up. My quilt clearly volunteers to become my shield, as I unload my inhibitions me at the door, allowing me to become myself without pretence or pose.

Inside these plain walls is a cosy and a warm place, even in the harshest of winters; a place affluent with countless comforts, though not seen or felt by anyone but me. A particularly familiar scent waylays my nostrils at door of this room every time I enter it. Not a scent like the scented blooms Primroses or Lavenders, but one well wrought upon the senses over the years. Without interruptions here, an unvaried cycle of life oscillates between the dawning of the sun and its dusking, eagerly awaiting my arrival everyday so I can share my proceedings of the day for them to record – for even my deepest thoughts can be heard by the washed-out walls. It is only in this room, this room of mine when I resign to, where my limbs renounce their fight, my mind relinquishes its protest to make sense of insanity and, eventually, the insatiable hunger for tranquillity is somewhat achieved, despite the clutter. It is in this room, that I have penned many of my favourite poems and passages of prose. It is this very room, which I describe here;

It is my only realm of independence
On which I retain my sole dependence

But in this realm of independence of mine, I have had several relationship problems and squabbles to gain freedom and at times wrote;

This bed’s comfort I have
But sleeps comfort I have none
This blanket that envelopes me like a glove
Is a tangled web of worry that cannot be undone

Like a ship capsized amid a blustery storm
And the tremulous seas turn and twist
While the hapless crew stick into form
And struggle for some air to subsist

But at times, the great joys this companion of mine gives me is expressed;

Like the bird that chirrups from its prominent perch
Safe and sound, on the thin branches of the birch
And the undulating melody that floats the air
Such is my sensation, when I lie in here

Only if the occupants of my room could speak would my life be out in the open, for it’s only they who document my comings and goings and my life’s minutes without fail. If only the pillow that bears the burden of my pain could be made to speak, would my silent wails be heard across the corridors of the house. Only if these colourless walls, that now stand mute, could be made to speak, would both my moments of merriment and melancholy be made known. If only the fractured mirror on my faded cupboard could be made to speak would my body be laid bare and only by opening its handle-less doors would my closest companions be uncovered, lying in heaps, one atop the other, all lifeless without me and I, bare with out them. If only permission could be sought from the door of this room of mine to open wide, and it would yield all its fruits, piled up, after all its years of harvest, for opening the door to this room, opens the door to my soul, thus making the invisible visible!

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