Archive for November 24, 2015

memories: Exile & Home

Mrs. Agnes Msimang,
ANC Stalwart and mother to countless South African exiles, during the struggle against Apartheid tyranny.

Long Live the Spirit of The Women!

Now that You have touched a Woman, You have struck a Rock!

All Power to the People!

( the photograph below was taken at Luthuli House, Johannesburg recently )


the photograph below was taken in Delhi, India, sometime in the mid 1970s


The Women

(for the countless women, names unknown, who bore the brunt of Apartheid, and who fought the racist system at great cost to themselves and their families, and for my mother, Zubeida Moolla)

Pregnant, your husband on the run,
your daughter, a child, a few years old,

they hauled you in, these brutish men,
into the bowels of Apartheid’s racist hell.

They wanted information, you gave them nothing,
these savage men, who skin happened to be lighter,

and white was right in South Africa back then,

but, you did not cower, you stood resolute,

you, my mother, faced them down, their power,
their ‘racial superiority’, their taunts, their threats.

You, my mother, would not, could not break,

You stood firm, you stood tall.

You, like the countless mothers did not break, did not fall.

You told me many things, of the pains, the struggles,

the scraping for scraps, the desolation of separation
from your beloved Tasneem and your beloved Azad,

my elder sister and brother, whom I could not grow
up with, your beloved children separated by time, by place,

by monstrous Apartheid, by brutish men,
whose skin just happened to be lighter.

You told me many things, as I grew older,
of the years in exile, of the winters that grew ever colder.

You were a fighter, for a just cause,
like countless other South African women,

you sacrificed much, you suffered the pangs,
of memories that cut into your bone, your marrow,

you resisted a system, an ideology, brutal and callous and narrow.

Yes, you lived to see freedom arrive, yet you suffered still,
a family torn apart, and struggling to rebuild a life,

all the while, nursing a void, that nothing could ever fill.

I salute you, mother, as I salute the nameless mothers,

the countless sisters, daughters, women of this land,
who fought, sacrificing it all for taking a moral stand.

I salute you, my mother, and though you have passed,
your body interred in your beloved South African soil,

you shall remain, within me, an ever-present reminder,

of the cost of freedom, the struggles, the hunger, the toil.

I salute you!

(for the brave women of South Africa, of all colours,
who fought against racial discrimination and Apartheid)

human. merely human …

Mere beings flailing through the quagmire of this life,

Embroiled in this world of emptiness so stark,

Hoping against hope that we find some solace, some peace,

As we stumble along in the fearfulness of the dark,

What are we if not just human…

Grappling with the incessant torturous grind,

The stab of reality that wounds us each day,

While we endure and persevere and with hollow platitudes,

Try to placate ourselves with the veneer of strength which we always portray,

What are we if not just human…

Embracing the world with all the trappings of its convenience,

Deluding ourselves that the trappings will dull the pain,

While innuring ourselves to the outer truths that do surround us,

As we lose ourselves within our very selves,

While we gleefully celebrate the meaningless ornaments that we gain,

What are we if not just human…

Just human,

simply human,

nothing much more and no less,

Praying and hoping for a salvation beyond this realm,

As we attempt to buy redemption with our false gods and our loftily mouthed intent,

While we crawl through the moments of apathy and moral inebriation,

Never truly grasping the very essence of what is to be simply content,

What are we if not just human…

Trying and trying and still trying some more,

To make sense of the senselessness that we feel inside,

While in truth the masks that we wear,

Shroud us more from our very selves, for it so often seems that it is from ourselves, that we choose to hide,

What are we if not just human…

Though we cling on to the scraps of hope that we find here and sometimes there,

What are we if not just human…

If we cannot stop, and think,

and begin to once again to,
simply care,

What are we if not just human…

And in knowing that we are just human,

rekindling the humanity that must reside in us all,

That refuses to smile and stand aloof, while others around us slip and fall,

What are we if not just human…

Finding our feet, as we trudge along the pathways of this life that seems so harsh and at times unbearable too,

What are we if not just human…

If we cannot see in ourselves,

the images of him and of her and of us all,

the images of me and of you…

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