POETRY is the wind, the clouds of fragrance, the breeze, the breath of GOD, foul odour, the rotten smell of truth, the monstrous phallus, scrotum of the inner corridors of the vagina, luscious liquids, delicious meal, firm buttocks, inviting thighs, episodic fragments of LUST in love, the secrets of the aphrodisiac, the KAMASUTRA of words, the katap, the kitip, the kurup, the expansion of ambitious climes, the white teeth of the brown ZEBRA, the innocence of
Armed men converged on the city at the same time as rumours reached us that there was a lull in the war in our country. ‘It’s time to return home, Halay,’ my father said. He was the most elated of us all, for exile had broken him and he wanted to escape it. But I was reluctant to leave. I had begun to appreciate this new land, the nature and the people I had loved and drawn on the pages of my sketchbooks. But exile was a metamorphic realm where we would perhaps never be at ease, despite everything. Home was certain to offer us a sense of stability and continuity. I couldn’t help but question that stability, for I was leaving Nafisat behind, the one who fed my passion and made me want to be better and to perfect my art. Would leaving her not mean the end of that passion? And what would home offer us after such a long absence? My mother distributed what was left of her things among the market women who had fought her, and my father gave his fishing gear to a neighbour. The old lady returned to her house. ‘I am not leaving,’ she said. ‘I’ve seen enough of this world. I will be right here when they come. If they decide to kill me, so be it.’
Moments before our departure, we paused in front of the house that had been our sanctuary for a long time, and my mother heaved a sigh and without looking at me said, ‘Never forget what your ancestor did to prevent this war, Halay. We bear more responsibility than others. We feel more pain and suffering than others. Remember that.’
She said her life was an early evening, or an early dawn, and she was going to leave before it was night or before it was morning. She gave you the feeling that you were inconsequential in the grand scheme of things, and that if you stood in her way you would disappear without any effort on her part.
She left her things with me and departed.
I remember her face made me think of a wild animal gone extinct and come back miraculously into existence. “I am leaving,” she said. And the only thing I could do was nod. “These are my things,” she said, pointing to a trunk. “Keep them for me.” When I nodded again, she repeated, “Keep my things for me.”