I acknowledge that old age is inevitable, and it sneaks up on you. It never came beating drums, never did announce itself.
I hope you answered some of the most fundamental questions of our time. You know the obvious, like where do boobs come from? What makes them tick? Do they see eye to eye? Do they give each other the nod when they pass each other? Do they become breast friends? How come they always win? Ok, I like boobs. Or rather my writer alter ego does.
My deductive reasoning tells me that there’s a lot that hasn’t changed, even at sixty. I bet you still watch Bond and De Niro movies, though I’m sure they don’t make them like they used to. I bet you still listen to Dylan and binge–watch Family Guy. I know you are probably still silly and trivialize everything.
I’m still trying to figure out what it actually means to be happy or successful.
There’s something somber about the future, and it exacerbates my morbid fear of oblivion, of never amounting to anything.
I hope you always put God and family first and found a balance between doing what you have to do and pursuing your dreams and passions.
Not every wind that can blow a man from his anchorage, he thought. When you dream, when you are in an abstracted reverie, you get too caught up to think about consequence, he thought, and we are never prepared to wake up.
I’m sure there was a number of big moments in your life, but I’m more interested in the little ones. Like that first time you took that old Jeep in your garage for a spin; how the engine hummed for the first time; or how the scent of the steel and the leather felt. Or how you felt when you shipped in that executive writing desk for your study; the feel of the dark coffee bean brown surface or the scent of the books around you as you sat there on that desk for the first time. Or that surreal feeling you experienced when you first held your new-born baby girl in your arms. I’m told it’s indescribable. Or when she first said your name or took her first steps. Dude, if you cried, I don’t know you.
I hope you found a girl who gets you and was crazy enough to spend her life with you. I hope you checked her mental health when she agreed.
I wish that you managed to make some sort of difference in the world. Am I naïve? Because you are looking at me like I have no clue about the world. Maybe I am. I guess there’s much you don’t know about the world when you are transitioning from law school into the job market.
I hope you have lived a good life, and got to see Muqdisho, and Makkah and New York, and traveled the world.
I hate politics, I think it stinks.
I have no idea what it feels to be homeless and reduced to a number, a statistic. To line up every other week in the hot sun to just to get a cup of corn and a spoonful of salt.
This particular one, they called her Astur, seemed like trouble and generally full of life. Her name struck me as well, it means to conceal or to cover or to keep something pure. It’s unique, cultural, powerful and poetic. She had wide eyes and this sweet innocent demeanor that all little girls have that is just inexplicably powerful. You know that look that could make you do anything for them?
She might skip right from childhood to middle age. She might become another messed up graceful warlike angel, like her mother and conceal scars and stories beneath her eyes.
I don’t want to love the world too much; there is a danger in that. But I also don’t want to live in oblivion. There is a line in between, I think. I hope I will find it.
We take a lot of things for granted. We take homes and life and peace for granted. We feel entitled to have these things.
We forget that we live in a world that constantly sinks further and further into unimaginable violence. What it means to be at home as a human could change in an instant. Everything we have could change at the stroke of a pen, and we could find ourselves in a situation where “home” will not mean the same thing it does now.
We all subconsciously hope for the best and are terrified of what lies ahead. Perhaps it is human to experience a sense of rebirth or new beginnings to remind us to adjust our sails accordingly and to take stock of the journey we’ve so far come…
As you grow up, you will grapple with the question of whether you are more Somali than Kenyan and vice versa. Will you be less Kenyan? Where is the line between your nationality and your historical identity? Is there a line at all?
If you find camels a tall order (pardon the pun), people will definitely question your ‘Somaliness.’
The camel is a reflection of you, a brilliant metaphor. You share a lot of common traits; the calm exterior, the resilience to survive anywhere, the tallness, the somewhat regal aura,
Then later on, it’ll be the world that’ll misunderstand you and will be quick to judge you even though they can’t really figure you out. People do not like weird species unless they are on NatGeo or something, in which case it’s totally fine. They like to judge what they can’t understand.
But I have some bad news for you in this regard; you will not know how to dance. Unfortunately for you, you’ll not be the sharpest tool in the shed when it comes to this. You will be blessed with two left feet so you’ll haplessly move your arms and nod occasionally.
You’ll also probably not know how to make out, like the rest of us. What the hell is that right? Our forefathers never did this, and they still made plenty of strong healthy babies. Camels don’t make out either and you share a lot of traits with them, so there must be a reason. You are actually picturing camels making out, aren’t you? You really need help!
People would look at you weird. This is expected, so don’t panic. You are weird and so it’s normal for people to react that way.
There’ll be so many tights, piercings, skinny jeans, tattooed bodies and cleavage for you to process. How come we don’t have this back home? Hehe. Animal print clothing will drive you over the edge. Blood red lips will have you terrified of women, thinking they must drink blood in broad daylight.
You want to fade into me so you could feel me close enough? Be careful what you wish for love. I am afraid you might not surface again. You’ll be lost, in me.
Sometimes all you’ll need is to just spend a few days tending to the camels and breathe in the hot dry air. You’ll take in the bright blue skies and the sight of bony acacia trees and the thorny bushes and you’ll feel great. It’d feel calm and natural. Everything will make sense in that moment. It’ll be one of those perfect moments of your life and you won’t waste one moment of it.
You’ll feel trapped and lost in between two places, not fully at home at either. Conflicted, lost even.
Your twenties have been shaping up to be the toughest time yet. A cloud of unnerving anxiety broods over. You get the feeling you’re shipwrecked deep in the North Atlantic, aboard the Titanic. Like Leo, you are holding onto a raft, trying to stay afloat, in pitch darkness, as unforgiving waves crash against you, trying to drown you. But unlike Leo, the waves, in this case, are not of water, but those of isolation, confusion, anxiety and depression.
No amount of schooling can help us tackle the angst of being a young adult.
Now, grow a pair. Seriously. Grow a pair, of balls or boobs or whatever. And handle it. You’ve faced untold challenges throughout your life and you managed to overcome them.
Unclutter the spaces of your mind and heart. Think of your mind and heart as your house. Clean them like you clean your room, getting rid of the things that are cramping your space. Negative thoughts, unreasonable expectations, “the one”, crazy exes, stalkers, whatever it is.
Do the things you love doing the most.
There is something off about love. There is something awful about it: it is not a science.
Pay attention to cliches. There is a reason they are repeated. They hold powerful truths, I assure you.
Hang out with yourself. Avoid harambees.
You are the best company you know right? It’s not narcissistic. Don’t be afraid of solitude. Only spend time with folks whose company is better than your solitude.
You see, the envelope (which is used to carry “important academic documents and resumes”) and the newspaper are a powerful symbol of education and sophistication in North Eastern Kenya. You are likely to see them being flaunted in any urban street that side of the country because it shows you are a class above the other locals. In fact, if you manage to complete your look with fashionable spectacles, very nicely tailored trousers and “open shoes”, you are considered serious and learned. You are quite the catch; highly eligible. In fact, any elderly mzee worth his nuts would be willing to give you one of his daughters who are waiting to be married. Dowry will be “discussed later.”
She [anjeera] lies before me. I dig in, with bare hands. Goodness, she’s a beauty! Screw you, table manners. She talks to me, whispers to me. I savour the taste, moaning almost erotically, in a delicious throng of sensations. A few minutes later, five to be exact, the two plates are clean as a whistle.
Poetry was meant to be understood only by the hopeless romantics- those deep wandering souls that feel that feel alone in the masses, that live for a spark of magic.
I can’t help but feel envious of his innocence and uncorrupted mind. I’m reminded of the first time I came to the city, several years before. Did I have the same look of inflamed curiosity at the city’s artistic elegance? Did I feel intimidated by the imposing mien of the skyscrapers, out of place even? Did I persistently ask what this or that was? Have I gotten used to everything so much so that nothing shocks me anymore? Is my sense of curiosity so lowered that I don’t appreciate the beauty displayed every day before my eyes anymore?
It will interest you to note that a lot of Somalis who were born in the 70s, 80s and even 90s were born thanks to the panty-dropping (or should I say dera-dropping) music of the legendary Samatar! So he is quite an influential figure, because, by inference, he is the ‘father’ of almost the entire middle-aged Somalis spread all over the world.
For the most part, however, being low-key is a great thing. Being placid is worldly.
The curious thing is that no one blames you for not being passionate about something, which is wrong.
It’s crazy how people expect you, because you are Somali, to wear a macawiis (that incredibly comfortable sarong-like garment we wear around our waist) or a large shuka, and not to forget to flaunt a colorful turban around your head or wear the koofiyad, (embroidered rounded skullcap), and complete your look with a very nice pair of fashionable sandals (flip flops for my American friends) with a miswak (traditional natural toothbrush) hanging nonchalantly from the corner of your mouth (cue James Dean comparisons.)
Passion, fortunately, however, is not particularly frowned upon within the Somali community; making out and talking about sex are, oh and condoms too.
Admittedly, I’m one of the laziest folks unabashedly roaming the earth, if not actually the laziest.
Folks, do not forget to remember this cliché: for you to achieve anything, you have to put your heart to it. Where can I register this as a proverb? Anyone?
But at the end of the day, the value of putting yourself out there outweighs the dangers. There is a duty to share our unique, diverse perspectives.
This is where I sign off. You’ll excuse me because I’m having a ravenous craving for camel milk.
Image source: www.oxford-royale.co.uk