I remember

I remember sweet memories

Kindergarten.
Eating meals with me,
Waiting for me to finish
Me, in no hurry.
You, ever so patient
You asked a five year old permission
To leave early for your next appointment

Third grade
You waited for me at the bottom of the hill
Classic pose
My excitement was uncontained
As I ran to you

Fifth grade
Puzzles and prizes
Random homework checks

Sixth grade
Camping out in the living room
Screenings of the world cup
Passionate cheers in the middle of the night

Eighth grade
Night school
You, in your puffy jacket
Sporting a cane
I loved that you came for me
Walking
And back home
Arms linked,
We went walking

Fruits, I remember fruits
Enough to feed the entire neighborhood
Consumed voraciously
Never scolding never chiding
Finding 1001 things to do with fruit
But most of all
Just simply feasting
I blame my fruitaholic ness on you

New clothes
Cookies and candies
Filling up closets
In anticipation of Eid

Kelamfarekh & kerkasa
Gobez we nus
Anbessa ye anbessa lej

Two fingers in the air
You always knew
Ultimately it was you and the Almighty

Eighth grade
Hospitals
Restless nights
Empty houses
Screaming
Tears
Graduation sans toi

I remember….
Sweet memories
Dreams
Thoughts
Unspoken words
Unanswered questions

Fast forward 15 years
Today, I felt a breeze
Thought it might be you
Telling me, after all this time
You were still here
Witnessing precious moments
Graduations, wedding, birth of two grandkids
Praying for more blessings our way
We send them back

The umbilical cord is not broken.

Happiness-Quotable Quotes

1. Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself – George Bernard Shaw.

2. Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover – Mark Twain.

3. Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds you plant – Robert Louis Stevenson.

4. We don’t see things the way they are. We see them the way WE are – Talmud.

5. I have found that if you love life, life will love you back – Arthur Rubinstein.

6. The reason people find it so hard to be happy is that they always see the past better than it was, the present worse than it is, and the future less resolved than it will be – Marcel Pagnol.

7. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step – Lao Tzu.

8. Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is more people who have come alive – Howard Thurman.

9. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make, the better – Ralph Waldo Emerson.

10. Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like – Will Rogers.

11. I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been – Wayne Gretzky.

12. Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional – Anony-mouse.

13. Every man dies. Not every man really lives – William Ross Wallace.

14. Life isn’t a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, latte in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming ‘Woohoo WHAT A RIDE’!

15. There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle – Albert Einstein.

16. Uncertainty is the only certainty there is, and knowing how to live with insecurity is the only security – John Allen Paulos.

17. You are not in this world to live up to other people’s expectations, nor should you feel the world must live up to yours – F Perl.

18. How you do one thing, is how you do everything. Be aware.

19. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing – Helen Keller.

20. Life is not about kissing a**, it’s about kicking a**!

España

IMG_20140906_024919[1]

Bubble poppers and feet dippers
Ferenji atali’s & Zembe taher’s

8AM sunrises & 9PM sunsets
Confused body clocks
Hola’s, gracias, & adios

Trains & planes
Window seats and middle seats
First class seats and no seats
Horse led carriages
Parachuted boats
Metered cabs
Rented bikes
But most utilised – route 11
Trusted soles & tattered maps always leading us home
No matter the hour or route

Blue grass & green waters
Clear skies and wispy clouds

Tapas & paellas
Fruits of la mar
La quinta por favor

Stadiums, cathedrals, parks
People’s streets
Intricate casas
Rebuilt mezquitas
Decorated doors

Demons
Let out on
Beaches and benches
Courtyards & Rooftops

Insatiable questions
Random language lessons
Reprimands and mockery
Contagious laughter

Bubbles and burning feet
Satiated cravings
Ice-cream – in cups, cones and sticks
Naranja & nestea
Litres consumed
By scorching heat
Expelled by sweaty bodies

Proudly dipping feet
In waterways
Waterfalls
Pools and ponds

For untold stories
Listen to me brothers!
And…(wait for it…..)
…..sisters! (sheepish smile)

España – it’s not adios
Only – asta a la próxima!

A Letter to my Unborn Child

There were many who came before you
Who decided that the world they were born into
Was not going to be the one they would die in
Ones who dared to dream of another future
And woke up every day to realize those dreams
They didn’t need to be told their dreams were valid
 
I pray that this is the world you will be born into
One in which you’re able to chart your own course
Without seeking the permission of others
 
I pray that you will not know of days when
Our bodies
Were fragmented
Compartmentalized along with our identities
When the dignity, integrity and autonomy
Of our bodies which house us
Was up for negotiation
 
I pray that you will not know of
Violence, abuse and discrimination
At the hands of
Those meant to protect you
Your parents/teachers/partner/police or employers
And perhaps worst of all, by the society at large
Condemning your very birth and gender
 
I pray that
FGM
Child and forced marriages
Rape, widow inheritance
Breast ironing
Honor killings,
Will be foreign words to you
A taboo to the entire community
That the only culture you know
Puts your safety and well-being
Above all else
 
I pray that you will not know of a time
When bullets were more readily available than bread
When profits came before people
When industries were mined on our backs
When our own drowned in foreign shores
Searching for a life worth living
 
I pray that
Your realities will only be peppered
By the understanding that those before you
Overcame the most horrendous of sufferings
 
I pray, my unborn child, that you will only know days
Where those who used to be at the margins of our societies
Are now at its centre
 
Where gender parity and equality are not principles
In an idealist conversation
But rather your daily reality
 
Where you have an equal say, share and control
Of the resources this continent has to offer
Where your voice and your choice
May be questioned, but never threatened
 
Where we care for the earth
And the sustenance it births
 
Where your chances of becoming the next
President
CEO
Pilot
Scientist
Engineer
Media Owner
Is equal to that of your brother
 
Where the guns will be silenced
Where justice & peace are simply
The constant and consistent state of affairs
 
Where all people, everywhere
Are treated with
The Dignity & Respect
They deserve and were born entitled to
 
And I pray, my little sweet one,
That as I end this letter
And read it to others,
 
That they won’t dismiss it as the rantings
Of a mad idealist who dreams of an impossible utopia
I pray that they will wake up from their stupor
Wake into a state of consciousness that makes them realize
We can and we must refuse to accept things as they are
We must be mad and ‘dare to invent the future’
Another reality is not only possible—
It is necessary

After all, we are reminded:
‘Africa is still waiting for its makers to re-make it’
‘We shall be the ones we’ve been waiting for’
 
Together, we’ll create that world for you
And for those who come after you
 
And when that day comes,
My unborn child,
I can’t wait to welcome you into it

©Nebila Abdulmelik, November 2014

disappearing women

Originally posted on ku[to]starehe:

several years ago, i sat down in a matatu and a man touched my thigh. i told him to stop touching me. the man next to him told me it was because my skirt was too short.

i began to wear longer skirts.

two days after that, a man at odeon reached out and squeezed my breasts between his long fingers as if checking for ripe tomatoes. i told him to stop touching me. he told me my shirt was cut too low for him to resist.

i began to wear shirts with a higher neckline.

a few days after that, a man at work run his hand over my butt and smiled at me. i told him to stop touching me. he said my trousers hugged my butt very nicely, told me he was only being appreciative and if i didn’t want him to be, i shouldn’t wear such…

View original 525 more words

Dream Keeper

By Langston Hughes

Bring me all of your dreams,
You dreamer,
Bring me all your
Heart melodies
That I may wrap them
In a blue cloud-cloth
Away from the too-rough fingers
Of the world

United Nations Climate Summit Opening Ceremony – A poem to my Daughter

Nebila Abdulmelik:

This was so moving, brought me to tears. Thank you for speaking your truth, and for speaking truth to power!

Originally posted on IEP JELTOK:

On 23 September 2014, I  addressed the Opening Ceremony of the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit. I performed my new poem entitled “Dear Matafele Peinem” written to my daughter. My full statement, along with a live performance of the poem, can be viewed below, followed by the studio version, and the full text of the poem itself:

The clip below is a studio version which was recorded before the actual performance.

dear matafele peinam,

you are a seven month old sunrise of gummy smiles

you are bald as an egg and bald as the buddha

you are thunder thighs and lightning shrieks

so excited for bananas, hugs and

our morning walks past the lagoon

dear matafele peinam,

i want to tell you about that lagoon

that lucid, sleepy lagoon lounging against the sunrise

some men say that one day

that lagoon will devour you

they say it will gnaw at the…

View original 343 more words

Westgate, A Year Ago

It was a year ago on Sunday that we were at the Storymoja Hay Festival, an annual literary fest that brings writers, poets, filmmakers, photographers, Creatives, artists and journalists to Nairobi for beautiful sessions delving into the arts and encouraging creative expression and exploration. The likes of Teju Cole, Kwame Dawes, Warsan Shire and Wole Soyinka have graced the festival. Last year, the highlight was to have been Kofi Awoonor. Unfortunately that never came to be. He was shot down, alongside 68 others during a siege in one of Nairobi’s premier malls, Westgate.

Incidentally September 21st also marks the International Day of Peace. How do we have peace when our bodies are continuously and unapologetically used as battlefields for others to fight with?! When our collective humanities are discarded for other more superficial and divisive identities? Until we are able to see the next person, not as a distant stranger, but as a brother or sister, as a fellow human being, we won’t be able to see sustained peace.

Running Orders

Nebila Abdulmelik:

#InSolidarity. #FreePalestine.

Originally posted on Love, InshAllah:

free

Running Orders

“They call us now.
Before they drop the bombs.
The phone rings
and someone who knows my first name
calls and says in perfect Arabic
“This is David.”
And in my stupor of sonic booms and glass shattering symphonies
still smashing around in my head
I think “Do I know any Davids in Gaza?”
They call us now to say
Run.
You have 58 seconds from the end of this message.
Your house is next.
They think of it as some kind of
war time courtesy.
It doesn’t matter that
there is nowhere to run to.
It means nothing that the borders are closed
and your papers are worthless
and mark you only for a life sentence
in this prison by the sea
and the alleyways are narrow
and there are more human lives
packed one against the other
more than any other place on earth
Just run.

View original 146 more words

Bidding farewell – EID Mubarek

EID Mubarek to my entire Muslim Ummah. As we sadly bid farewell to the blessed month of Ramadan, I’m reminded that like was said with the death of Prophet Muhammed (PBUH), “If you worship Muhammed (PBUH), he is dead. If you worship Allah, He is eternal.”

Similarly, if we worship Ramadan, it is gone. But if we worship Allah, He is always.

May the end of this month bring respite to the unrest, the injustice and the indignity raging across our globe – and the love that we need to counter all of this ugly.

In solidarity and struggle – today and always.

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