the mind of a self-proclaimed كنداكة

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Entry #15: how do i love

Note: This is deeply personal to me. I kind of just wrote it because I just love so much. It’s laden with references that only parties present would understand. It’s very very very very personal to me.

I love the idea of love but I don’t know how to love.

But what is love?

It could be mama’s work toab thrown across the living room couch while she stirs the mulah at 6 pm, barely making it home in time for lunch.
Or is it my baba’s calls of “Inaam!” when he brings in a fresh bunch of grapes from the local grocer?
No, it’s my brother’s replies to reckless Snapchat stories of hazy nights with my best friend
“I don’t like this.” He types.
“Ugh, he’s so annoying.” Seven dimensions away I sigh.
It could be my sister’s text this morning
10:52 am
I’m barely awake. But she knows.

No, I don’t think it’s any of those.

I’m lost. I’m so fucking confused. I love love but I don’t know what it is love. I keep finding love. How do I find it when I don’t know what it is? Where it is?

Where is love?

Is it in the arch of my foot when I shift my weight to my toes and elongate my body to wrap my arms around friends’ shoulders?
Or does it pump the adrenalin through my system when I realize mama hasn’t come back from “court”?
I think it might be in the corners of my nephew’s mouth as he flashes his tiny square teeth emphasizing the “i” in “Homi”.
It must be in me cradling his head peppering kisses across his forehead in the backseat of his car
Because I can’t show him how much I love him outside
And I don’t know how to show I love him otherwise
And I do
I think I do
I know I do
Do I?

If I don’t know how to love, then how do I love?

How do I explain the tingling in my toes as we sing Beyonce in a classroom with no teacher, knowing that this is the only lesson that matters?
How do I understand the warmth in my chest when we video chat across a multitude of time zones that feel like one?
How can I interpret the calm in my soul as we hide in the back of the balcony, chain-smoking shisha behind our parents’ backs, trying to collectively drown our misery and strengthen the chains that keep us together?
How would I justify the excitement in my body when they say, “Asali okhtik wa akhok namshi natghada wein”, and it finally feels like your family is complete for the first time since 2009?
How do I explain the wrenching of my gut when I remember September 2013?
When I hear “Ilz”? “Mushtageen”? “Roll thru”? “We?”?
What does it mean?

No, I don’t think it’s that I don’t know how to love. I think I love too much. I never learned how to love because this to me is love.


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Entry #14: love?

Hands to temples to chest, nervous lips mouthing verses from the Holy Book.
My God is Love and my God, do I love Him
I worship Him everyday, five times a day.
I love Him.

But I love him too.
And I let him go.
Then I let Him go.

I baptized my throat with the holy water of Night and begged His forgiveness.
I begged Him to take me back.
To love me again.
And He did.

I burnt my mind and my lungs, and purged my soul of the sin of being.
I cried for You to let me in.
And You did.

I bleached my heart and bleached my guts and tried to find myself.
I tried to love myself.
To be worthy of my love.
But I was not worthy of Yours.
And I’m not worthy of yours either.

I fell to my knees in worship of his being and showed him how love can feel if he just let me into his temple.
My knees haven’t since touched the ground to remind You how my love feels.
I let him rip my soul from where my thighs loved each other and show me that You are real.
My palms haven’t since cupped the air and thanked You for the blessings you hand me.
We sang a symphony of desire written in bass and soprano in reverence of each other.
My lips haven’t since recited a hymn for You.
I pressed my body against his in search of a worship I could finally be good at.
My lips cried out his name in pleasure and sin, and all the in-betweens.
My lips cried out Your name in desperation and love, and all that came out was a deafening silence.
Why don’t you love me anymore?
Do You still love me?

They say love is a form of worship
But how is love worship when you worship Love itself?
How is love worship when they say Love does not let you worship through love?
How do I find you?
How do I worship what You’ve given me?
I love You.
I think I love you.
But do You love me?
Do you love me?

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Entry #13

The cobwebs brushed against her smooth copper fingers which were welded by years of weekly dilka scrubbing. The emptiness inside her resonated too loudly for her to pull them off her hands in the fear that she usually would respond with in such a situation. Complying to her fiery nature, she continued sifting through the box for old letters and photographs with an unexplained anger. Every photograph looked so painfully redundant, nothing looked too unusual: her mother wore a flimsy headscarf, barely displaying her kinked locks twisted together to form two neat plaits on either side of her head. Despite the bi-coloring and resultant monotony of the picture, the richness of her mother’s brown skin emanated intensely to the observer, her protruding eyes showed a peculiar depth that alluded unconditional kindness, and her long jar-jar appeared to reflect the sunlight that was shining on it in different hues of its otherwise coal-black color.

Why did her mother have to be the opposite of what she was, and punish her for it? The photographs screamed at her what her mother consistently told her during the peak of her rebellion:

“Do not set foot inside my house with that nose ring and box of cigarettes ever again!”

“Ya biti, how many times do I have to tell you to not express your political views so openly to your disapproving minister uncles?”

“What are you doing with your life? Thirty-one with a foreign husband and no child?”

Annah shrieked in frustration; her mother spent a lifetime tormenting her only daughter and now, she couldn’t shed a single tear at her own mother’s funeral. And how dare her mother tell her she’s proud of her on her deathbed?

“Ah-nna, are you alright?” A familiar voice asked from behind. The anglicized pronunciation of her name always bothered her but at the moment, she preferred to be Anna over being a girl given a name that meant mother in her native tongue when her own mother despised her.

“Uh, yeah, I’m just looking for something that I doubt exists.” She scoffed to herself, angling her face slightly in her husband’s direction, displaying only half her face and a faint smile. The hostility painted across her face would seem despicable to outsiders not directly experiencing her struggle.

“Alright, we’ll be waiting for you downstairs.” He told her before closing the attic’s door, carefully tip-toeing around his wife to avoid upsetting her in this volatile state.

Hearing his footsteps as he walked away from the door incited a sense of urgency in her. She needed to know what her father meant before anyone got suspicious.

“Your mother was a lot like you: a rebel and revolutionary defying social constructs. She behaved and dressed however she pleased, and spoke whatever and however she pleased. Your grandparents, who you know were freedom fighters, couldn’t be prouder of their little independent thinker. She was both a biological and intellectual product of their union, a masterpiece that they valued above all else. I met her in college in 1970 in a protest. I was not only mesmerized by the sharpness of her beauty, I was in awe of her burning passion. I fell in love with your mother so deeply that it would hurt me to tell you what happened to her when you were only a year old. It changed her immensely. You’ll find your answers in the box labelled the 1980s to 2000.”

The ambiguity in the ending of the short tale her father told her earlier this morning fueled her even more. She decided she would only look for letters, they’ll explain in greater detail than the pictures would. Annah continued ravaging through the box so violently until it toppled over. A loosely sealed envelope with the words “BURN AS SOON AS READ” slipped onto her lap. Curiosity whisked her away as she tore through the envelope and gripped the letter placed in it.

Dear Yusuf,

I wish I could start with the niceties I would usually use when I begin my letters but all kindness has been drained out of me. I’m sorry I haven’t been home yet but I can’t let you and Annah see me like this.

It’s been a month and my recovery is slower than I thought. Seeing you wouldn’t speed it up, it would only slow it down. I still have dreams of the torture chamber they threw me into, only they remembered to seal the window shut in the dream. I was a fool to believe in guerrilla intersectionality, I should’ve have listened to you.

I need to cleanse my mind, body and soul. I need to change my ways and find my way back into the light. They threatened to kill you and Annah if I didn’t cooperate with their cause. I can’t keep challenging them and have you both alive.


The letter fell out of Annah’s hand as her eyes trailed the last sentence over and over again. An understanding of her mother’s behavior slowly sunk into Annah’s brain. 

Ummi didn’t want me to go through what she went through.

WAAAAAAAAAAAY!” A symphony of booming voices suddenly engulfed Annah’s subconscious into realization: her mother’s corpse was ready for burial.

Annah hurriedly tucked the letter into her pocket and stormed to the bottom floor. She was met by a parade of shrieking women running after four boys carrying the bed supporting the wrapped body.

“LET ME THROUGH!” Annah pushed through until she reached her mother. “Put her down, NOW!”

The boys obliged instantly. Annah dropped to her knees beside the bed, her head falling forward and grazing the body covered in white cloth.

“I’m so sorry, Ummi.” Her broken voice whispered. “Now I understand. Please forgive me. I love you.”

Annah slowly raised her head in perfect synchronization with the boys lifting the bed once again. As the bed ascended to its designated position, the wetness of the cloth where Annah’s head rested brushed against her goose-bump-covered bare arm.

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Entry #12: the fat, black woman

This is a voiceover introduction I did for a presentation on Grace Nichols’s “The Fat Black Woman’s Poems”. I used lines and stanzas from poems by Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes and Warsan Shire, merged and edited them as well as added to them for artistic purposes.

Inferiority Complex. It makes us feel that in order to be someone special we have to put everyone else beneath us. Are we so insecure in ourselves that we can’t feel good until we pull someone else down?

For instance the negro.

Sweet and docile,
Meek, humble, and kind:
Beware the day
They change their minds!
Written down in history
With bitter, twisted lies,
Treaded on in the very dirt
But still, like dust, the negro rises.

They should no longer be apologetic for their blackness. They should be respected in all their blackness. Because they deserve to be.

And the woman.
An objectified human.
A belittled person.

It’s not her responsibility to be beautiful. She is not alive for that purpose. Her existence is not about how desirable you find her.

You should understand
Just why her head’s not bowed.
She doesn’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see her passing
It ought to make you proud.
She says,
It’s in the click of her heels,
The bend of her hair,
the palm of her hand,
The need of her care,
‘Cause she’s a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s her.

She should no longer be apologetic for my femininity. She should be respected in all her femaleness. Because she deserves to be.

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Entry #11: i dont know what to do or say

They tell you your first love is one you’ll never forget, but they don’t teach you how to deal with the heartbreak when it ends. As if it weren’t obvious, I’m having a hard time coping with my first break-up. Sometimes the right thing to do feels extremely awful and hurts like hell. But c’est la vie, I guess.

This is for all the fellow broken-hearted people.

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Entry #10: A heart that is too heavy to bear

The horrific things happening in the world right now, the U.K., Afghanistan, the GCC, South Sudan, Yemen and more, just wow. My heart is so so heavy. Hearing Philando Castile’s murderer has been acquitted was the final straw. Don’t you ever tell me that institutionalized racism doesn’t exist. Don’t ever tell me that black lives hold the same value as white lives. Don’t you EVER tell the Black Lives Matter supporters that it should be All Lives Matter because we don’t owe you a lesson on slavery (which deadass still exists) and the comparative worth of black lives. Black people will never know peace, ever. I just want to know, when I move to the US will I have to continually explain my worth and justify why I deserve to exist? Will I have to shield myself and make sure I don’t look suspicious (whatever the hell that means) so that I don’t get shot for being black? Tell me, when is it going to end? When are black people going to be able to breathe and live? “All men were created equal” suuuuure. It’s messed up to the very core when blatant homicide isn’t punished. Black people will never be safe anywhere.

I lost all hope in everything. Last year, when I met the British ambassador to the UN, I asked what is being done to help Sudan. He told me lots is being done but they have more pressing issues. I understand there’s a lot on your plate but no particular UN effort has been successful recently in my opinion. You tell me we just don’t matter as much, I bite my tongue and hope that your efforts elsewhere are working. But they’re not.

I’ve been avoiding talking about politics and social justice recently because I feel absolutely helpless and angry. The world we live in is gradually getting worse and no amount of countering we can do will ever be enough. I’m tired, you’re tired, everyone’s tired. I can’t even properly articulate myself anymore because all that comes out is anger and tears. I’m completely over it. But I will embody the angry black woman trope until my dying breath. Solange Knowles simply and eloquently sang, “There’s a lot to be mad about.” No truer words have been spoken. I cannot rest with a mind buzzing like this. I cannot rest with a soul that is THIS heavy. I cannot rest until we all know what peace is. As we’re not able-bodied middle class white cisgender heterosexual men, we’ll never know peace. To everyone who has ever been oppressed by the system or screwed over by a tragedy, my heart and soul are always with you. I’m always behind you. Until then, we need to find a strength to fight everything that’s thrown our way. I love you, always and forever. All I can say for now is rest in power, Philando Castile. You deserved better. Black people deserve better. The world deserves better. #nojusticenopeace

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Entry #9: Men are trash

1. If you’re saying women are trash in retaliation to the men are trash wave, then you’re trash.
2. Same narrative as black lives matter. We don’t need to say that all lives matter because they do but what needs to be reiterated is black lives matter because they seemingly don’t to authorities in America. So, when we’re saying men are trash we’re saying that the way women have historically been and are currently being treated by men is inherently, for lack of a better word, trash.
3. We don’t necessarily hate men. We resent the system. Do you hold black people accountable when they’re mad about something “white people” do? No? Because of the institutionalization of racism.
4. If you’re not a feminist, i.e., you don’t believe in gender equality and equity, then you’re not a human rights advocate. You’re an oppressor. Being a non-feminist female is worse because you’re perpetrating patriarchal rhetoric about natural and traditional gender roles and condoning sexism and misogyny.
5. I respect all opinions but your opinion is oppressive, and I will not have it.