Tag Archives: Love

Lost and Found

The wind kisses my tender skin
It’s my 7th autumn, the summer’s gone
Sun’s rays slowly nesting in the skies
Temperatures caress the ground; change.

I’ve seen winter storms and spring blossoms
Braved the chills in my copper coat
Found warmth in the hands of man, soft
Passed from one to the next, my journey.

I’ve got two faces
Equal value, minted for the same worth
Taking me through pockets and purses
Palm to palm, fingers touching briefly.

Brief. Like the life I’ve spent at each stop
Completing huge sums, part of a whole
No you without me; not much of me without you
Completing huge sums, part of a whole.

Then I fell.
My copper coat met the ground
Our embrace forced by passing feet
Soles of leather; soles of rubber
Oblivious to this new dance they create.

Is this love? Is this nature? Is this the end?
Part of a whole, now all alone. This turn
I see more soles; I see one good soul
He picks me up. One last chance?

The wind kisses my tender skin
It’s my 7th autumn, the summer’s gone
I’ve found a new home in his hands, her words
My life has come full circle.

 

Linguere
18/10/2016

Lost in Religious Translation

At around the age of twelve, I made the conscious decision to become a Muslim. Maybe, what I should say is that I made the conscious decision to become a practising Muslim. Let me explain.

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I come from a society where, when children are born, they generally follow their father’s religion. This is easy to handle when both parents are of the same faith and the kids are naturally brought up to believe in the same things. It seems even easier when the parents are married and live together, as the religious beliefs of the child are not just theoretical then, but also learned and nurtured from watching these parents, if they practise. There are these cases, considered normal, and then there is my case.

I was born to a Christian mother from a family of staunch Catholics, and a Muslim father from a family with strong blood and social ties to one of the sects in the Senegambia region. On the eighth day after my birth, I was named, had all the rituals for a new baby performed and welcomed as one of the Muslim ummah. My parents unmarried, I was raised by my mother and her family who held on to their Catholic faith while making me understand that I could practise my Islam freely.

However, I (and my sister who would be born three years after me), spent our early years in church, following what we saw around us and practically living as Catholics. We became so absorbed in the faith that on days when our Catholic cousins would decide to skip church, we would dress up and join my mother and uncle for Mass. This was the life we knew and had become a part of. We were taught very little about Islam, though my grandmother would always encourage us to perform the five daily prayers. On Muslim feasts, we would also celebrate with my father’s family. We enjoyed the best of both worlds… until I was about twelve years old.

My decision was mainly triggered by a series of embarrassing sessions in Islamic Studies class at my primary school where, looking back now, I was never given the option to choose what religious class I wanted to attend. By virtue of being a Muslim, I found myself in this class that would always reflect my lowest grade, throwing shade at my position as the top student and giving my classmates a chance to throw jibes at my little- almost nonexistent – knowledge of the chapters and verses of the Quran. Even at that young age, there was only so much humiliation I could take among my peers, and I decided to act. With my sister on my side, I found a teacher who would come to our home several times during the week, to teach us Quranic lessons and Arabic. These classes went on for about a year and ended, but by that time, we had learnt enough to perform the mandatory prayers and build up enough confidence to call ourselves Muslims.

For me, it was also a chance at self-discovery. Being curious and an avid reader meant I would go beyond the lessons taught at home and school. I found books I could gain more knowledge from and taught myself new chapters of the Quran and their meanings. I gradually stopped going to church, though I grew up being very tolerant and respectful of all other religions, thanks to my background. In my little research, I did not just become convinced of the religion I wished to practise. I found love and peace in messages that I wasn’t even taught. I discovered the beauty of Islam, devoid of the many interpretations from men, that would sometimes distort the messages in their favour. I was content with learning at my pace and embracing the beauty of the religion in its simplest forms.

Last week, I was on a flight back to Nairobi from Eldoret, where I had been invited to attend the launching of The Girl Generation  Africa Project. The discussion with one of my hosts turned to religion and I shared the story of my mixed background and how it has influenced my world view, especially in these times. She paid much attention to the parts about my early life in church, then turned to look at me and ask ‘how could you choose to be Muslim after that?‘ Usually, I would have the perfect answer, ready to defend my religion. This time, I just sat there and thought about the question. In the end, my response was simply ‘I learnt about the religion and fell in love with its message of peace and tolerance‘. When she invited me to Christ, we talked about my love for, and belief in him as a Prophet of God. By the time we landed in Nairobi, we both agreed on the need for respect and tolerance, and explored the possibility of simply believing in a Supreme Being without the conventional attachment to a religion.

This is something I have thought about on several occasions, especially when my faith hits the dust and I’m searching for excuses to justify the dip. Yet, it makes a lot of sense to simply believe and pray to God, without having to subscribe to the many emerging schools of thought with different interpretations on how to worship God. If anything, it could shatter the stereotypes that abound on things that seem foreign to us. When my friend asked about my choice, there were subtle references to the killings and injustices being carried out by Muslims around the world. These exist, just as they exist among people of other faiths, but we rarely use the same brush to paint everyone in the same way as we do Muslims.

I think about Boko Haram, the Taliban, Al Shabab, ISIS and other groups using religion as a justification for their heinous acts and I understand how easy it can be to draw conclusions based on them. However, it would be unfair to the greater majority of Muslims to be seen and treated in the same way, even when they join in the condemnation of these acts that target innocent people. I do not wish to defend anyone today, especially after the recent shootings at the Pakistani school, that claimed the lives of 132 children and 9 teachers.

What I wish for, instead, is healing for this world that has become too chaotic. I look back on my earlier years and even hope that people would take the time to learn more about the different faiths, if only to do away with the misconceptions. In my readings, I have found that we are more alike than different and our beliefs are generally founded on the same principles of good, peace, love, mercy and tolerance. It is sad that the structures intended to guide and keep humanity together are being used to draw us apart.

The truth is that I am tired and drained out by everything happening in the world around us. When I pause and draw myself away, I can’t help wondering what it would mean to have a world where we’re not bound by any structures, but guided only by the desire and will to be and do good. Maybe, it will bring back the essence of humanity and promote peaceful co-existence. Or maybe, I should get down from my cloud and face the harsh reality we live with.

I believe we are one, regardless of what religion we choose to practise. Our relationship with God is sacred, but our relationships with our fellow humans say a lot about the former. After all, we were created in his image… or so I have read.

I don’t know why I wrote this post, but I was at a place where the written word was the only way to express what I truly felt. I hope we can simply endeavour to be and do all the good we can in this world, for humanity and for the love of the God we all share.

 

 

Till We Meet Again

Love. Memories. Loving memories of all the times we spent together.

When the night falls and the tears dry up, that is all we’re left with. To cherish and hold on to as our source of comfort. Alleviate our pain and fill this void that death has left in our hearts and lives.

When my mother shared the news , she started with ‘sorry’. I stamped my feet, screaming No, No, No in defiance. My spirit rejected the news, my heart got very heavy and I was blinded. That last No led me to surrender… to the truth of your demise, the stream of tears clouding my vision.

I was defenseless and I wished for only one thing: to be home where we would all share the pain and comfort each other just like you would have done. Mother said sorry, but I wanted to be there to tell her it will be alright. I know how much you meant to her, to us. Amie is heartbroken. We all are.

It hurts. It is difficult to come to terms with this new reality.

It is painful to know that when I finally come home, my degree in hand, you wouldn’t be there to cheer me on as usual. I think of this and remember our trips to get me registered into Junior and then Senior Secondary school. My mother left everything in your hands, because to us, you were another Mother.

I draw strength from your words on those trips, where you never hesitated to let me know how proud you were of me. I think of the day I left home and how we held on to each other, unable to control our tears, as you shared valuable advice with me. I listened and I practiced. Now I’m almost at the end of the road and you’re gone.

I woke up today, but the pain was still here. The tears still fall. The void remains unfilled. I try to be strong, because it’s what you would have wanted. I worked hard on my dissertation today… it will be my gift of success to you. My concentration flickered a few times, but I kept on, encouraged by the loving memories I had.

I remember the amazing summers we spent with you in Mansakonko, watching you work and serve the community. You were the nurse everyone came to, for your infectious good spirit alone could make the sick better. We were always reluctant to go back to Kombo, because in your home we found love, warmth and everything we needed.

I remember our trip to Tendaba, the joy you brought into our lives, the patience in dealing with a rowdy bunch of kids excited to be free in that natural environment. You were a natural at giving love and making everyone around you feel comfortable and happy. You were the life of the party and when there was no party, you still made it feel like one.

As my tears fall, I am comforted by the visions of your smile and the echos of your hearty laughter. Death took you away too soon, Aunty Marie. Too soon.

I’ve tried to be strong, to stop crying, to pray for you instead. When it all fails, I turn to my words. It is through writing that I find peace. It is through remembering the many moments we shared, each filled with love, happiness and endless laughter that I find the solace I seek.

I write to come to terms with this. I write for closure. I write because God is the only one I can talk to right now and so I will ask Him to take care of you. I will pray to Him to forgive your sins and welcome you among his righteous servants.

You are gone from this Earth, but we are comforted knowing that you have only gone back home to Heaven, where you belong. The Angels will welcome you in their midst and you will share with them the many gifts you’ve blessed us with while we still had you. They’ve won you now, but we still keep a piece of you in our hearts, where you’ve always been.

Take your rest now. You have done well on Earth and it shall be well with you in Heaven, by God’s mercy and grace. When you look down upon us, know that we grieve but still keep you in our prayers. We will miss you.

Till we meet again, Aunty Marie Forbes. God be with you.

Before I Die…

Here’s a poem I wrote last night for the Balafong Poetry Challenge. A mini-reflection on our relationships and taking advantage of life before death.

Appreciate me now, before I wither and die

Appreciate me now, before I wither and die

Treat me right…
Make me feel it before others do

I’m going to die a digital death
News on the internet even before my neighbour knows
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram beating Teletext
You’ll rush to change your profile pic
Before you let a tear fall
Making the world know how ‘shocked’ you are
How you’ll miss me and all the times we shared
I don’t blame you, won’t blame you
It’s the times we live in, I forgive you

For using my death to get more likes
More profile views, more retweets
Accepting messages of condolence
Responding to every ‘RIP’ with an ameen
Glad that you could remember me
Do that for me, even though I can’t see
I hope the prayers get answered
But now I hope for different

Treat me right
Make me feel your love while I’m still alive

Because it means more to me now
Than when I’m 6ft deep, a feast for worms
Can’t hear your wails, can’t feel your pain
Hug me now when we can share the pangs
Celebrate with me, let’s share a laugh
So when I’m gone and you write of missing me
There really would have been a reason to feel that way
So I ask that you

Treat me right
Celebrate me while I’m still here

For we never know what tomorrow holds
And regrets are the kisses death leaves when it’s done
Taking my soul, your soul, every man’s soul
Regrets for what could have been but wasn’t
Forgive my mistakes, I’ll forgive yours
For when I breathe my last, it would have been too late
All you’ll have is a picture of me, smiling
And memories that were never made
As you eulogize me on this online space

Treat me right
Before I die.

Reflections After Three Years of Blogging

Yesterday, Linguere turned three! Yes, it’s been three years since that cold February morning when I woke up and decided I would start blogging. It dawned upon me late last night and I wondered at how time flies. It has been one very interesting journey, but I daresay it’s been worth every word, sentence, paragraph and post.

Thank you for the support!

                                            Thank you for the support!

Writing has always been my favourite means of expression, and to this day, I still get mocked for choosing it over speaking at most times (I like to think I’m a great speaker when I take up that role too). My desire to write came from being a very introverted person while growing up, and so padlocked diaries and tiny notebooks were my best friends. It was an escape for me and a means of entrusting my secrets to ‘someone’ who wouldn’t share them… at least until the diaries got stolen or ‘mistakenly’ opened.

I was – and still am – a bookworm too, reading anything I could lay my hands on – from newspapers to books that were way beyond my age and level. I would even pick up scraps of paper on the streets just to read what was written on them. I grew up to love words and wanted to write like my favourite authors. When I wrote essays in school, my teachers would call me back to ask if I had any help writing them. I am not tooting my horn. This is just to say I recognise the gift that I have and understand that it has grown into a passion and stayed a means of escape for me.

Linguere was born at a time when I had much encouragement to take my writing seriously. I was also inspired by another Gambian blogger, Jatou Gaye, who ran La Femme Noire and Anything Baroque at the time. I was intrigued by her posts and read all of them in one night’s sitting. Unfortunately, she stopped blogging and I bemoaned the loss of that Gambian presence on the blogosphere. This gave way to questioning myself and asking why I couldn’t keep that alive. The idea couldn’t have come at a better time and convinced that I could make it work, even when uncertain of the experience, I started Linguere, hosted on Blogger. A year later, I would move to WordPress and here we are today.

It has been a truly amazing experience and I have learnt quite a lot within these three years. I’ve picked up tips on great blogging – how to create successful posts, how to get more traffic, how to stay ‘on top of my game’, the benefits of interacting with fellow bloggers and my readers and a host of other things. When I started blogging, it wasn’t so much for the attention it would get me as it was for my need to express myself and hone my skill. I ended up having both and am thankful for this. I’ll be the first to attest that my writing has improved greatly over the years and it can only get better from here.

It has not been all rosy. As a blogger, I’ve learnt to expect and accept criticism for my writing. It is definitely not easy, but I’m glad I’m open to it now. I’ve had my fair share of critics, though I must admit they are possibly the nicest ones around. I’ve gone through that blogger phase of writing a post and waiting to see how well it did and how many people it reached. I’ve caught myself getting excited because someone left a comment after reading. I’ve seen posts that I thought would do well go down the drain and others that I put half a heart into, do pretty well. I’ve been happy to open my social networks and see friends and strangers share links to my posts. As much as I’ve tried to make visibility less important in my pursuits, I welcome it now. I realised that my writing is usually very serious and carries important messages, as far as I know, and so it is important that it reaches as many people as possible.

Today, I woke up to two messages on Facebook – one from an ex-classmate and the other from someone I do not know. Both messages left me teary-eyed and the senders told me how great they thought my writing  was and how proud they were of me. The ex-classmate went on to add that he would be very proud to say he once sat in the same class with me. The second sender ended up asking for my number and calling me all the way from The Gambia just to say how proud she is of me. It is not the first time I’m getting these messages and I’m certain it won’t be the last, but it made me realise one thing. We never really know what impact we can have through our work, our actions etc. Some messages leave me surprised and thinking ‘Oh, s/he reads my blog too? Wow’. It was the same feeling when I met another classmate while on holidays in The Gambia and he asked ‘So when are we getting the next post on the Jollof Chronicles’. I didn’t expect that and was reminded that I could make a change through my blog, because people were reading and paying attention to what I wrote.

For these and other reasons, I’m thankful. I may not put up posts on a regular basis; I still struggle to keep my posts short and concise; I could go months with no attention for Linguere but I believe it is all part of this journey. I may not know everything there is to know about blogging, but I do not plan to stop anytime soon so there’s always time to learn new things. However, I’m not really one to stick much with the rules either and I believe one thing that makes Linguere different is the fact that I chose to do things exactly how I felt and wanted.

I’ve had readers from all over the world and I must say the interactions have been one of my favourite parts of my blogging experience. I’ve made friends whose contributions have been very meaningful. I’ve received much support from fans of the blog and admirers of my person. It could be very easy to lose myself in these acknowledgements, but I stay grounded and appreciative of it all. I thank you for reading, liking, commenting, sharing and subscribing. You all motivate me to write better. I am really grateful.

Here’s to another year of blogging, of sharing and interacting with you all. I hope we all live to see Linguere grow from this blog into the bigger platform I hope to turn it into. It began three years ago and shall grow over the coming years, by God’s grace.

P.S I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment and share your feelings about the blog, what you’ve gained from it, what you would like to see more of and remember to share with your friends. 🙂

 

 

What Scares Me

Still on topics from the Challenge, I wrote this piece last night. Let’s see what you are scared of too. The comment box is open to you 🙂

Scared of My Fears

Life…
And all it is and brings
New days, new experiences
Expectations as the sun rises
Disappointments as it sets
Challenges in between
Uncertainties fill the hour
I’m told life happens but
I’m scared of the unknown.

Love…
Of finding and falling in
Of loving till I can love no more
Of seeing, living, breathing another
Of hurting from the distance that separates
Of the yearning, the praying, the hoping and wishing
Of the taste that lingers in my mouth
Of breaking down my walls, welcoming
Of this other person, of new beginnings.

The Tongue…
For it professes love by sunrise
Denounces it before sunset
Soft as its whispered promises
Unfulfilled, discarded, shelved for another
Speaks the truth, yet spreads the lie
Builds the rumour, then spits out in disgust
Sings my praises, yet capable of chastisement
I’m scared of this tongue of man.

Love…
Of dreams and promises
Of two hearts beating as one
Of visions for a rest-of-life together
Of two becoming one, bringing forth three
Of rising and falling, strong on all fours
Of sweet whispers and loud quarrels
Of days spent snubbing, nights of cuddling
Of making up, loving strong, before the next storm.

Death…
Or maybe that should have read dying
For the finality it presents, giving no options
Leaving pain, tears, nostalgia and prayer
Bringing an end to life, to love, to this fear
Of what lies beyond the Earth, the Day
Scales that weigh deeds, no details missed in the books
I’m scared of living and loving; living, loving and dying
I’m scared of what happens after I breathe my last.

Yours Sincerely

Hey!
I thought of writing a letter addressed to you
Got caught in this dilemma, didn’t know what to do
Cos you and me, we’re no longer intimate
The bond that held us close not any more legitimate
So I wondered if I should keep it cordial
Or perhaps just opt for the formal
But you see, that didn’t even seem normal

I was taught to start my letters with ‘Dear’
But that’s too much pain for me to bear
With your memories still near
And the truth in your words forever rare
Makes me wonder if you ever did care!

I pick up my pen and stare at the blank sheet
Willing my mind and my heart to meet
Come to an agreement to keep me rational
For the venom in my words was fully intentional
I threw a glance at your goodbye note
Left sticking out of your only coat
Why you left it here, I still don’t know
But in the bin, that crap, I’ll throw!

A few lines of everything and nothing
Jibber jabber, yada, yada, the usual stunting
Then you end it with Yours Faithfully
Scratched and replaced with Yours Sincerely
Got me thinking ‘Did he really?’
Coz in my mind, it’s nothing but silly.
Talk of sincerity while peeping at that other beauty
Eyes squinting, your member bulging
As you watch her pop, lock and drop it
Your being consumed by that heat
Got you weak, couldn’t stand on your own feet

You say faithful, I see hateful, despicable
Going around doing the unspeakable
Come back home reeking of her perfume
But my attention, you’ll greedily consume
On your face I read the evident guilt
And I refuse to be contaminated by your filth

So here’s my letter to you, Mr not so true
My heart’s stolen and I’m up to sue
The court of love won’t give me my due
Coz the guys over there don’t even have a clue
For my justice, my vengeance, Dear one-time boo
Is to keep smiling, keep living, keep loving… Not you

This is from Yours Faithfully, Yours Sincerely, Yours Ever… Once upon a time