Tag Archive: Belief


greed is good*

art by banksy



Greed is Good* …

brands and little tender hands,
sewing and sweating,

in dinghy factories and in smoke-clogged stands.

Haute-couture and ostentatious labels,
black and blue whiskey on heaving sushi tables.

Greed is good,


it ‘enhances’ free-market competition,
as we blindly scamper from mall to mall,
devoid of a scintilla of compassionate vision.

Greed is good,
oh and it feeds,
on complicity,
apathy,
as we reap the rewards,
of the sowing of hypocritical seeds.

Greed is good,
yes it is,
as long as we can buy and buy and buy and buy,

and

as long as there’s gourmet coffee to be had,

and,

as long as there are oysters we can lasciviously shuck,

ohhhh yessss,
greed is good,
so we sew our mouths shut,
as we frolic,
as we party,

and,

as we fuck …





art from google


( * – title borrowed from Oliver Stone’s film ‘Wall Street’ )

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

(January 15 1929 – April 4 1968)

1.

You had a dream, of pastures of peace,

where children of all hues mingle like rainbows.

2.

They silenced you, yet your dream
resounds louder still,

in pastures not yet of peace,

where children of all hues mingle like rainbows.

3.

You said that you had been to the mountain top,

they tried to strangle your voice as you saw the promised land,

those pastures of peace,

where children of all hues mingle like rainbows.

4.

Today your dream is glimpsed in pastures,

not yet of peace,

for though they tried to silence your voice,

your spirit in our collective hearts does rejoice.

5.

Your spirit, your dream,

mingles in the winds of all those pastures,

over the valleys, in the oceans, across the mountains,

in every flowing stream.

6.

Today, your dream lives in the wind,

seeding the prairies, the steppes, the savannahs, the pampas,

pastures of peace,

where children of all hues mingle like rainbows.

7.

We remember you today,

with a shared pledge to nourish those pastures of peace,

in each of us,

where your dream may thrive,

blossoming into our shared dream,

bounteous, and alive.

8.

Your dream realised shall then seem,

where children of all hues mingle like rainbows,

when we give life to the promise of the radiance of your beautiful dream …

I am the Heartbeat of Africa …



I am the Heartbeat of Africa …

I am the heartbeat of Africa. The blood flowing through its veins, and I have seen much. I have witnessed the the pummelling of peoples under the jackboot of colonialism, the plunder of wealth, stripping bare the very veins I flow through. I have urged the collective to stand tall, amidst the horrors of history. It has not been easy, the tyranny of centuries has left scars, raw scabby festering sores, my thumping scarlet oozing out of myriad pores, rendering the great continent pained, hollow … but still, and yet, I course inside millions of souls, refusing to capitulate, thick with hopes for the day and the days after the day. I have placated the wounded, the multitudes forgotten, the bodies seeking respite from the loss, the anger, the deprivation of spirits undimmed by the splintered darkness of racial prejudice. I have seen so much, children torn from loving embraces, mothers holding on, as the world turns its face away, conveniently absolving itself of its crimes. I have felt the hardening of arteries, the will to fight on, despite the overwhelming odds.

yes, I am the blood of Africa. 

and I shall continue to flow, coaxing my people to rise again, to summon up the valiant spirits of the ancestors, to stand and to fight against the insidious doublespeak of tongues, silken tongues peddling instruments of death, shunning the divides that separate one from another, to rise and greet the fresh blazing African sun, each day, every day, until that day when the daily battles cease, when the battles are done. 

yes, I am the blood of Africa, and I shall flow ever on, sowing hope where desolation stalks the evenings, I am hope for tomorrows dawn, for despite and inspite of it all, the new day of peace, of renewed hope, must be, must be born …

with President Nelson Mandela and my father – Johannesburg 2008
President Nelson Mandela and my father – 1950s Johannesburg
President Nelson Mandela and my father – post Apartheid South Africa

My family – A journey through the Seasons.

Part One: Winter

There is a legend in Delhi that when a male-child is born, the parents are visited by a group of ‘Hijras’, a derogatory term used to describe the Transgender community. The troupe gather en-masse outside the home of the parents of the infant boy and sing and dance, and offer blessings to the new arrival, while in return a small sum of money is offered to the visiting party and all returns to the relative ‘normalcy’ that prevails in a home that has just experienced the birth of a child.

These were the early 1970′s, and this story was told to me in great detail by my parents, who themselves were recently arrived political exiles in India, having to leave South Africa, where my father was arrested along with Nelson Mandela and 156 others in the infamous ‘Treason Trial’ of 1956.

The ‘main’ “Treason Trial” lasted four years till 1960, though the entire trial lasted till 1961, when the 30 remaining accused (of which my father was one) were acquitted by the Supreme Court.

The outcome of the trial was that all 156 were acquitted of the charge of ‘High Treason’.

During the 5 years of the trial my father and his co-accused had to travel daily to court in Pretoria from Johannesburg, some 60 kilometres away.

The accused were all charged with ‘High Treason’ and faced the death penalty if found guilty. My father was the youngest accused at 22 years of age.

A Flash Forward –

Later, in 1963, when my father was arrested again and held at Marshall Square Police Station in central Johannesburg, my father and three fellow political detainees managed to convince a young Afrikaner warder, Johan Greeff, into helping the four escape from the downtown Johannesburg prison. He was promised financial remuneration for his cooperation.

The news of ‘The Great Escape’ embarrassed the Apartheid state at a time when it felt that it had crushed the African National Congress (ANC), with most of its leaders either in jail, or having gone underground. The ‘Sharpeville’ massacre of 1960 resulted in the Apartheid state declaring a State of Emergency and banning the African National Congress (ANC) and other political organisations.

My father, Moosa ‘Mosie’ Moolla and his three fellow escapees (Abdulhay ‘Charlie’ Jassat, Harold Wolpe, and Arthur Goldreich) parted ways and moved from one safe-house to another, until my father, heavily disguised, managed to slip through the border into neighbouring ‘Bechuanaland’, now the country Botswana.

Goldreich and Wolpe managed to disguise themselves as clerics and made their way to Swaziland, a British High Commission Territory, from where they flew over to Bechuanaland (now Botswana).

The South African authorities offered a reward of 5000 Pounds Sterling for the capture of any of the escapees.

Following the escape my father and His fellow escapees were separately sheltered by members of the ANC underground for a few days.

They then parted ways for safety reasons and Abdulhay Jassat made his way to Bechuanaland where he sought political asylum.

By the time my father made his way about a month after the escape to Bechuanaland, the two white colleagues ( my father and Jassat are of Indian-origin) Wolpe and Goldreich had flown over to Tanganyka (now Tanzania) where the ANC’s external headquarters were located in Dar-es-Salaam.

It should be noted that a chartered plane to ferry ANC students and Wolpe and Goldreich was blown-up on the tarmac by South African agents in the early hours of the morning.

Wolpe and Goldreich then flew over on another flight. Jassat followed suit.

An Interesting Fact –

My father and Abdulhay ‘Charlie’ Jassat were both born on June 12th, 1934, and the two were arrested and escaped from prison together, and subsequently lived 30 years of their lives in exile, and both men returned to South Africa following the release of Nelson Mandela and all political prisoners, and the unbanning of the ANC and all liberation movements, and the return of political exiles.

As I type these words, my father and ‘Charlie’ live a few kilometres apart in Johannesburg and meet fairly regularly – mostly at functions or events held to commemorate the years of the struggle for freedom and democracy in South Africa.

But more about my father in a bit.

A Flash Back –

My mother, Zubeida or ‘Zubie’, a nurse at the time, and expecting my brother Azad (which means ‘to be free’ in Urdu) was subsequently arrested and detained while having to endure interrogation about her husband’s whereabouts. Azad was born in late 1963, a few months after my father’s escape.

Thus my father did not see his first-born son till 5 years later in 1968 when my mother and young brother and sister reunited with my father on the Tanzanian border. My father had by then joined the Armed-Wing of the African National Congress, Umkhonto-we-Sizwe, or MK, ‘The Spear of the Nation’, which was formed in 1960 following the ANC’s decision to abandon non-violent opposition against Apartheid and to take up arms.

My sister Tasneem Nobandla, ‘Nobandla’ or ‘she who is of the people’ in isiXhosa was given her Xhosa middle name by my father’s comrade-in-arms and his Best-Man, Nelson Mandela, who couldn’t make it to my parent’s wedding because he was in detention at the time, a few years earlier!

My sister Tasneem Nobandla Moolla was born on October the 14th 1962

‘Nobandla’ was named when Mosie asked his comrade and Best-Man, Nelson Mandela, who could not make it to his wedding to name his new-born daughter. The two men had spent time in jail together in adjoining cells a year earlier in 1962.

Times were tough in those early years of exile, with my father off on military training with the newly formed ANC’s ‘Spear of the Nation’, and my mother having to shoulder the extreme difficulties of life in exile, in a strange country, having left her family behind, and having to essentially fend for herself and her two young children.

This led to a decision that continues to haunt my family to this day.

According to my parents, the situation in exile in those early years of the Anti-Apartheid struggle abroad was so dire, and my father being away training in guerrilla tactics and the like, while my mother worked as a nurse trying to raise two young kids, suffering from bouts of Malaria and being short on money as well, a decision was made to send my young brother and sister back to South Africa to remain in the care of my maternal grandparents, in the hope that when things in exile ‘improved’ or at least settled a bit, the kids would leave the care of their grandparents and join their parents abroad.

This did not happen, and this is one of the most difficult parts of our family’s history to write and talk openly about. Due to circumstances beyond their control, and due to a myriad other reasons, my young brother and sister remained separated from our parents, and grew up in Apartheid South Africa with my maternal grandparents in Johannesburg.

My mother, who passed away in 2008 after a lengthy battle with Motor-Neurone Disease, carried the pain and the guilt of that decision till she died. My father still lives with the guilt and the trauma of being separated from his children, and his family for over 30 years.

My brother Azad and my sister Tasneem, had to endure the unimaginable trauma of knowing that their parents were alive and on distant shores somewhere, yet being utterly helpless in joining them and living as a family, albeit a family in political exile.

The wounds are deep, and the trauma is still raw, all these years later, and my mother died broken-hearted, having to endure the separation of a mother from her children, as well as having to deal with a husband who was engaged full-time in the ANC and the anti-Apartheid struggle in exile.

It is only now that I can understand my mother’s strength of character and fortitude in remaining sane under circumstances that no parent should ever have to go through.

My siblings, on the hand, had to grow up with grandparents, and this has led to our family having to continuously grapple with the scars of a family torn-apart by Apartheid.

My brother Azad, a lawyer, is married with two beautiful young girls, and my sister, a teacher, is married with four beautiful daughters as well.

We all live in Johannesburg, and though some progress has been made in reconciling our family, it is very painful to say that there are many unresolved emotional wounds, which are completely understandable given the circumstances.

President Nelson Mandela and my mother – post Apartheid South Africa

My Family – A Historical Journey through the Seasons

Part Two: Spring

The narrative here is neither chronological, nor is it meant to be a complete history of my family thus far – that would be highly presumptuous of me to attempt – so what you, dear reader, are reading (praise be to your perseverance!) are the disjointed thoughts and memories and anecdotal and other stories that every family shares.

I must state that the facts about my father’s internment and escape are all verifiable using a web-search engine, as are the facts about my parent’s involvement in the struggle for liberation in South Africa, and my father’s subsequent appointment by then President Nelson Mandela as South African Ambassador to Iran (1995 – 1999) and later by President Thabo Mbeki as South African High Commissioner to Pakistan (2000 – 2004) in the newly democratic country that countless South Africans sacrificed their lives to achieve.

My parents often spoke of the privilege that they felt to be alive and return to the country of their birth after spending virtually their entire lives as foot-soldiers in the African National Congress, the liberation movement that included in its ranks giants of South African history – Nelson ‘Madiba’ Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki, Ahmed Kathrada, Dr. Moses Kotane, Dr. Yusuf Dadoo, Joe Slovo, Bram Fischer, Chris Hani, only to name a few, and with no disrespect meant to the many, many more that I have not named.

The ‘privilege’ my parents spoke about was that they were the ‘fortunate’ ones, the ones who lived to see the non-racial, non-sexist, democratic constitution being drafted, and a South Africa without the crime against humanity that was Apartheid.

So many comrades and friends and fellow compatriots did not live to cast their vote on that glorious April day in 1994, and to see Nelson Mandela being inaugurated as South Africa’s first freely elected black President, a President who represented the whole of South African society.

A Flash Back –

And so it was that I was born in 1972 in an India that had just been engaged in a war with Pakistan, which in turn led to the establishment of a new country – Bangladesh.

India at the time was the in midst of austere Nehruvian Socialism, and my parents who had spent the mid and late-1960′s in Tanzania, Zambia and Britain, were deployed by the African National Congress to India, where my father was the Chief-Representative of the ANC.

My early childhood years were spent in India, and I recall the sweltering Delhi summers and the torrential monsoons that offered respite, albeit briefly, from the furnace of the Indian summer.

When I was 6 years old, my father was deployed by the ANC to be its Chief-Representative in Cairo, Egypt, and to be the ANC Representative at the Afro-Asian Peoples’ Solidarity Organisation (AAPSO).

This was 1978, and as a 6 year old, I am afraid I have very few fond memories of Cairo – we lived on a meagre stipend and though we lived in an apparently ‘better’ suburb of Cairo called Zamalek, an island on the Nile, the flat we occupied was on the ground-floor of a high-rise apartment block and it was damp, dark, and had the unfortunate distinction of being right next to the apartment block’s garbage-disposal area!

This meant a steady stream of litter, literally being flung from the windows of our neighbours in the flats above us, and often landing with a crash of shattered glass right outside our tiny kitchen.

Cairo was also where I had to unlearn the Hindi I had learnt in Delhi and pick up Arabic, which I did as most 6 year olds do when required by circumstance to learn a new language.

I faintly remember the Presidents’ Sadat-Carter meetings around the time of the Camp David Peace Accord signed between Israel and Egypt and my days were spent riding my bicycle through the dusty lanes of Zamalek.

One memory that is particularly poignant is that of my mother, with her head in her hands, sobbing as she pined for her two children at the opposite end of the African continent. I remember many days walking back from school and before stepping into our apartment block, seeing my mother through the window of what was my room, head in hands, crying.

It is a memory that I carry with me still.

Another indelible memory is when we visited the WWII museum of the battle of al-Alamein, in al-Alamein. Walking past the graves of the fallen in the war against Nazism, we came across many South African names, and I remember vividly how my father explained to me what Fascism and Nazism meant, and how important it was at the time for the world to fight it.

As we walked through the tombstones of the WWII soldiers from all parts of the world, my father explained to me how Apartheid in South Africa was a scourge (though not in those words!) like Fascism and Nazism, and how just as the world had joined forces to fight Hitler and Mussolini, we too had to fight against Apartheid in South Africa, and that is why I was not at ‘home’ with my brother and sister.

‘Home’. That was something for a 9 or 10 year old to hear, because I had grown up always being told about ‘home’ being South Africa, which was as distant to me as the stars above the Pyramids. I was aware from as young as I can remember my parents’ sometimes angry insistence that home was not where we happened to be, at a particular time, whether in Delhi or in Cairo, but in distant South Africa.

I however, could not understand why ‘home’ was not where I was. In Delhi I spoke Hindi like a local, and had friends and felt that ‘home’ was our little flat on the 1st floor of a block of flats in Greater Kailash. But then came the move to Cairo, and in no time at all I completely forgot my Hindi, and learnt Arabic like a local, and had friends and felt that ‘home’ was our dinghy flat in Zamalek.

And then in 1982, my father was re-deployed from Cairo back to Delhi, and suddenly there I was, 10 years old, meeting my old friends and not knowing a word of Hindi!

So the idea of ‘belonging’, of ‘home’, of being rooted in a place and time was alien to me from a very young age. I remember dreading when the next ‘move’ would be, given that my parents were political exiles and often having to pack up our few belongings and travelling at very short notice. I do not want it to sound like it was particularly unpleasant in any way, because there also was the thrill a child has of the packing and the plane rides, and the new places that were so, so new to me. Cairo and Delhi probably had only the following things in common: the heat, the population, and the fact that both Egypt under Gamal Abdul Nasser and India under Jawaharlal Nehru were two of the four countries (the others being Sukarno’s Indonesia and Marshall Tito’s Yugoslavia) that founded the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) during the Cold War.

A Flash Forward –

The year is 1990, and my parents and I found ourselves in Helsinki, Finland, where in November 1989 the ANC deployed my father as ANC Secretary to the World Peace Council (WPC) which had its headquarters in Helsinki.

For the 17 year old that I was to suddenly, in a matter of weeks, pack up and leave high-school, friends and a girl-friend at the time, was particularly harsh for me.

I remember spending the winter of 1989 holed up in our two-bedroomed flat in Helsinki, not knowing what had just taken place. I pined for the girl I was (kind of!) dating back in school in Delhi, and I was thoroughly shocked by the below-zero temperatures of winter in Scandinavia, and thoroughly disheartened by the short days and long, long nights. I did love the snow however!

Then it happened. We heard the news that Nelson Mandela and all political prisoners in South Africa were to be released, unconditionally, and that the liberation movements and the ANC were to be unbanned!

This changed everything.

It was a chaotic and heady time, with high hopes and renewed life as the once impossible dream of returning ‘home’ was to be realised.

A very memorable trip was made by my parents and I, by ferry from Helsinki to Stockholm, Sweden. An overnight ferry-ride, the trip was magical, for we were to meet Nelson Mandela, free after 27 years on Robben Island and in Sweden to meet the President of the ANC, comrade Oliver Reginald Tambo, Mandela’s old friend, law-partner and life-long comrade in the ANC. President Oliver Tambo, who had been in exile for almost 30 years was a dynamic and charismatic and intellectual giant who had built the ANC in exile from being just another liberation movement in exile into the voice of the South African freedom struggle, launching successful campaigns to isolate Apartheid South Africa from the world community.

Unfortunately President Oliver Tambo had suffered a stroke and was convalescing as a guest of the Swedish government; themselves staunch allies in the fight against Apartheid. Nelson Mandela met his old comrade in Stockholm and we met the godfather of my sister, and the would-be best-man of my father in a hall in Stockholm. I have photographs of the tears and joy as Mandela hugged my father and mother, and as old comrades including Ahmed Kathrada who also spent 27 years in jail with Mandela and the other Rivonia Trial accused, met after nearly 30 years! I was overwhelmed, as were countless others to finally meet the man who had become the face of the worldwide struggle against Apartheid.

That my parents knew the Mandelas as young friends and comrades only made the reunion on a Scandinavian day all the more special.

There was a sense of vindication, of oppression though still not defeated, but definitely in its final moments, as we acknowledged that we all stood on the cusp of something so many had not only dreamed about, but dedicated their entire lives to achieve.

We spent a few days in Stockholm and Uppsala, and then hopped on the ferry back to Helsinki, to finally begin preparations for the return home.

The trip we made was on freezing November night, when we boarded a train from Helsinki to Moscow, and then flew to Maputo in Mozambique where we spent a night, before boarding a South African Airways flight to Johannesburg.

I will never forget the stifled sobs of my mother as the pilot announced we were flying over South African soil.

My parents and I returned to South Africa on a November day in 1990, as part of a batch of returning political exiles.

I was 18 years old and met most of my family members for the first time.

My father receiving “The Order of Luthuli” in Silver from President Jacob Zuma

My Family – A Historical Journey through the Seasons

Part Three: A Summer Digression

And now, dear reader (may your patience be praised!), I am going to steer this ship of memories as we embark on a journey of emotions – a subjective voyage through the feelings that I have felt, the emotions that I have experienced during the course of my 40 year old life.

You, dear reader, may stop reading right now if you find outpourings of emotion and wearing one’s feelings on one’s sleeve not your cup of Earl-Grey! If however, and I sincerely hope you do decide to read through this ‘summer’ of life’s memories, I assure you that what you will read will be savage honesty, however painful and hard it is to bare one’s soul for all to see the flawed human-beings that we all are.

And so it was that just past my 18th birthday in September of 1990, I found myself ‘home’ in South Africa, after 18. Years of dreaming what ‘home’ would be like and how my brother and sister and cousins and aunts and uncles would take me into their homes and lives.

I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and kindness showered on me, the ‘returning’ boy who was not really returning, but was dipping his toes into the early 1990′s, a period of South African history, just preceding the first free and democratic election in 1994 that was one of the country’s most trying of times.

The Apartheid regime, having unbanned all political organisations and liberation movements and releasing political prisoners such as Nelson Mandela and others, was still not willing to relinquish power, and had embarked on a cynical and dirty campaign of fomenting violence in the sprawling black townships in Johannesburg, Durban and other cities around the country.

There were killings and hit-squads that roamed and terrorised communities while negotiations between the Apartheid government and the African National Congress (ANC) offered hope and then broke down, and then were restarted until finally, on April the 27th, 1994, black South African, for the first time in their lives, cast their ballots which resulted in sweeping Nelson Mandela’s ANC into power, with Nelson Mandela or ‘Madiba’ as he is known becoming South Africa’s first black President.

I attended the inauguration of Nelson Mandela as South Africa’s first truly democratically elected President in Pretoria on a crisp May 10th morning along with friends and comrades, and we openly wept as the South African Air-Force flew overhead, the flag of our new ‘rainbow’ nation fluttering below.

A Flash Back –

My early days in South Africa were ones of family dinners and visits to relatives and old family friends and comrades in the struggle. My father started work almost immediately at the ANC’s headquarters in central Johannesburg, and I attended my final year of high-school, also in central Johannesburg.

Looking back now, I see myself then as a caricature of the immigrant who just wants to fit in, always being on one’s best behaviour, and under no circumstances allowing the turmoil within to bubble to the surface.

I was born to parents who were non-religious; my father definitely more so than my mother, who ‘believed’ in God, though was never one to make a show of it.

I grew up not really knowing what religion I was born into, as my parents never, and though never is a strong word, it is applicable here; my parents never mentioned religion at home.

My mom would cook up a storm on Eid-ul-Fitr every year, the feast that is the culmination of the fasting month of Ramadaan, but then we never fasted or paid attention to religious ritual or practice. I can say that religion was absent from our home, whether we were in India, Cairo or Helsinki.

I am forever indebted to my parents for having raised me with and this may sound pompous of me to say, humane values, rather than strictly religious ones, not that the two are mutually exclusive!

I attended a school in Delhi in the 1980′s, Springdales, an institution founded by two great humanitarians, Mrs. Rajni Kumar and her husband Mr. Yudhishter Kumar, both human-beings who possessed the highest qualities of compassion, humanity, and a burning sense of the need to tackle injustice, wherever and in whatever shape or form it was to be encountered.

My years at Springdales in Delhi, though I was hardly a promising academic student (having failed standard 8!), I now look back and am forever indebted to the culture of tolerance and respect for all people, regardless of station in life, religion, caste, gender or race, that my still-beloved Springdales inculcated in me.

The culture of Springdales School and the manner in which my parents raised me, has led to a life-long aversion to intolerance in any shape, colour or form, and a strong belief in the power of rational and critical thinking.

I thank my parents again, and my Springdales, for bestowing on me this invaluable gift.

A Flash Forward –

And so I find myself, now in the teen years of the new millennium, still always feeling that I am on the outside, looking in – and I find this vantage point to be, strangely, comfortable now, I must admit.

I do not have much time for religion or for cultural affiliations. Again, this is not meant to be offensive to anyone, these are the feelings I am comfortable with. I cannot stress this enough, just how my upbringing and my years at Springdales have hewn into my consciousness, and the absolute need for the respect for all.

I am growing weary of talking about myself, as I am sure you, dear reader, are as well, and so I shall stop this monologue with the words of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara who when responding to a woman who also bore the ‘Guevara’ name and who had written to Che asking him where in Spain his ancestors came from. This was Che’s response …

“I don’t think you and I are very closely related but if you are capable of trembling with indignation each time that an injustice is committed in the world, we are comrades, and that is more important.”

Thank you, dear reader, for your patience, and for your taking the time to read these ramblings of mine.

President Nelson Mandela and I – Sweden 1990

My Family – A Historical Journey through the Seasons

Part Four: Thoughts about Exile, Home, Identity, Belonging

A Flash Back –

I look back to that November evening in Helsinki, Finland in 1989, where the temperature was around -20 degrees Celsius, and we stood on the railway platform with our little luggage (mostly books, photographs etc) with tickets to Moscow via Leningrad (yes, it was still called Leningrad back then).

I recall my mother and father, by then already in their late 50′s, and preparing to return to their home, South Africa, after almost three decades living in exile all across the globe, from Zambia to Tanzania to England to India to Egypt to India again and then to Finland, and now following the Apartheid regime’s unbanning of the African National Congress (ANC) and other political parties and the release of Nelson Mandela and political prisoners, my parents were to return to a country they had called ‘home’ for as long as I can remember. South Africa was always; always home, no matter where we happened to be.

Whether it was in our ground-floor, bleakly dark flat in Zamalek, Cairo where we had to keep the fluorescent lights on during the day, or in our 1st floor flat in Safdarjang Development Area in Delhi, or in our cramped 2-bedroom flat in Helsinki, Finland, I was always told about ‘home’, about family and about the country that I grew up loathing (Apartheid South Africa) as well as the country that I grew up idealising, for South Africa was after all ‘home’, that mythical place where family stuck together and where my brother Azad and my sister Tasneem grew up, separated from their parents, and where finally, at long last, Nelson Mandela walked free after 27 years in Apartheid’s jails.

I often look back on my years growing up as a child of political exiles, and I am thankful, as I grew up without the hardships that so many fellow exiles had to endure.

I am also thankful, for the depth of humanity that I saw in strangers and friends and people who took us in, and loved us, and extended hands of solidarity and assistance and warmth when we were most alone.

I owe a debt of gratitude to so many people, ordinary folk, workers, labourers, academics, doctors and engineers, school-teachers and students, who chose to identify with the plight of the oppressed people of South Africa, just as they chose to support the cause of justice, of freedom and of self-determination in Namibia, Western-Sahara, and Palestine.

I can vividly remember the pain and anguish that my mother endured, being separated from her family and her children, and I remember her tears, her quiet sobbing when I used to return home from school, knowing that my father was away travelling, often for months at a time.

It is not easy to put everything down on paper, and indeed it is impossible to capture all of one’s experiences, yet I feel it is very important that I share these thoughts with you, dear and patient reader, not because of what I wish to say about myself, or even about my parents, but to honour and to remember and to cherish the strong bonds that were forged during those sometimes hard times, and to convey to all, that no matter what one hears about our differences as people, be it differences of creed, of colour, of nationality, there is a ‘human’ connection that I have seen that simply extinguishes the claims by the religiously fanatical, or by the jingoistic nationalists who seek to impose upon us a barrier, a wall, a divide that cannot be breached. I have mentioned what I am about to write earlier, and I only repeat it because I believe it needs to be repeated, so forgive me, dear reader, if I seem to be revisiting old ground.

The old ground that I feel I need to revisit now is that of a story that my mother used to tell me, repeatedly, and always with tears in her eyes, and always with her crying openly as she retold this story over and over again to me.

Let me place the story in its historical context. The year was 1971, and India had just been at war with Pakistan, and my parents had arrived in what was then called Bombay and had rented a small apartment in one of Bombay’s high-rise blocks of flats.

It is important to remember that India had gained independence only 24 years earlier, so the wounds and the trauma of the division of India (into Pakistan and East-Pakistan) were still very fresh.

My father was sent by African National Congress (ANC) to India, in order to work to further strengthen the support that the liberation movement had received from India.

My mother, who was a nurse by profession, had started working at Bombay’s Breach Candy Hospital, and my father was busy establishing links within the sizeable South African student community that Bombay was home to.

One day my father decided to jump over a railing, in order to catch a bus, and slipped and fell.

I shall now let my mother tell her story …

… Now we had just arrived in India, and though Mosie and I spoke Gujarati, we still didn’t know Hindi or Marathi (the language spoken in Maharashtra, the state in which Bombay/Mumbai is located), and here comes Mosie, limping and in pain. I am a nurse and so I took a look at his foot and it looked bad, but what were we to do? We didn’t know anyone, we didn’t have a telephone, and we didn’t speak the language. So I went and knocked on our neighbour’s door. An elderly lady opened the door and I explained in English that we were new in the apartment-block and that my husband had suffered a possible fracture. The old lady then asked me to sit. I sat. The elderly lady then asked me my name and I said ‘Zubeida, but you can call me Zubie’. I then told the lady all about South Africa, about how I had been separated from my two children, about Apartheid, about Nelson Mandela, and about how we were freedom fighters and were in exile. The old lady broke down and sobbed, and I cried too, feeling her warmth towards me, even though I was a total stranger. Then the elderly lady told me that they were Punjabis and during the partition of India, they had to flee their home in what later became Pakistan because they were Hindus. The old lady sobbed when she told me about the rioting, the massacres, the pain of leaving everything behind and fleeing with only the clothes on their backs, and then she grabbed my hand tightly and said that she understood everything, and she shared my pain, because she too had been a refugee once … (at this point my mother would be crying openly while telling me the story) … and that from then on, she was my elder sister. This from a woman who had experienced the horrors of partition, and who realising I had a Muslim name, chose to share her life story with me, and who could understand what we were going through. Anyway, we called a doctor who turned out to be a Parsi ‘Bone-Setter’ … (laughing between tears now) … and later when we moved to Delhi and her daughter Lata got married to Ravi Sethi and also moved to Delhi, she told Lata that ‘Zubeida hamaari behen hai’ (Zubeida is my sister) and that Lata should keep in touch with us. That’s how Papa and I know aunty Lata and uncle Ravi …

Hearing my mother tell me this story over and over again, emphasising that aunty Lata’s mother had gone through hell at the hands of Muslims, and still she chose to see my mother not as a Muslim, but as a fellow human-being, who shared a similar life in the fact that my parents were also refugees, having fled their country, and that aunty Lata’s mother ‘took’ my parents in, and shared a bond that cannot be described sufficiently in words, as words would only dilute the depth of feeling that the two women shared for each other, only makes my belief in the power of the humanity that binds us all together that much stronger.

Yes, there will be those who will say that those were different times, and that nowadays things have changed.

Yes, there will be many who may call it idealism, romanticism, or simply burying one’s head in the sand, but I still hold on firmly to the belief that aunty Lata’s mother and my mother shared, one person to another, regardless of religion, colour, caste, wealth, status or any of the many other ‘yard-sticks’ that people are measured by, and by emphasising our shared humanity, rather than by highlighting our differences, that we can, and that we shall, indeed, overcome, someday.

Myself and my poem “Remember us when you walk this Way” as part of the permanent exhibition at the Lileasleaf Farm Rivonia Trial Museum – http://www.liliesleaf.co.za

Remember Us When You Pass This Way.

(Dedicated to the countless South Africans who gave their lives for freedom and democracy)

Remember us when you pass this way.

we who fell,

who bled,

remember us when you pass this way,

we who fell so that countless others may stand,

we who bore the brunt of the oppressor’s hand.

Remember us when you pass this way,

leave a flower or two as you pass along,

sing! sing for us a joyous and spirited song.

Remember us when you pass this way,

we who fell,

who bled,

remember us when you pass this way,

remember us in your tomorrows,

as you remember us today.

Comrade Winnie Mandela and myself – Johannesburg

My Family – A Historical Journey through the Seasons

Part Five: Thoughts about Exile, Home, Identity, Belonging

‎‎This scribble is going to be a rambling, not too coherent piece all about my thoughts on identity, belonging, exile, and about ‘home’.

So, my dear friends, I invite you to accompany me, with sufficient forewarning I hope, on this scribbled ramble…

Home

Looking back now, I can say that I grew up with two very separate yet entwined ideas of ‘home’ – ‘home’ being both the idealised country of my parents, who spoke of ‘home’, which meant South Africa, as being the place where ‘family’ was an umbrella of safety and a source of comfort, and the other reality of what ‘home’ meant was the reason I was born in exile in the first place, the country that had become a pariah of the world, with its brutal, oppressive system of Apartheid racial-segregation.

Now this may seem odd from today’s historical vantage point, but back when I was growing up in India and Egypt, there was a definite sense that we would never see ‘home’ again.

The hopes and aspirations with which my parents lived by, and probably had to live by, was that freedom would come in our lifetime. But a lifetime can be a long time, so there was also the possibility that we may never see the end of Apartheid, and this fear, which I think is shared by exiles, refugees, and all displaced human beings, was always just below the surface.

This ever-present and often repressed fear was fuelled by the deaths of fellow exiles who passed on before South Africa’s transition from Apartheid state to democratic nation took place in 1994.

I recall an old ANC comrade, an elderly man in his 60′s, who lived with us in Cairo in the early 1980′s, and to whom I became quite close, who later took ill and passed away in a Cairo hospital.

I was 8 years old at the time, and even though my parents did not tell me that ‘uncle’ had passed away, I knew it. I sensed it from his deteriorating health earlier, and from the grave expressions my parents wore for months after ‘uncle’ ‘left’.

My parents carried their own feelings of guilt and pain, of leaving behind a young son and daughter (my siblings Azad and Tasneem whom I did not grow up with) in South Africa, who grew up with my maternal grand-parents in Johannesburg. My parent’s guilt and pain never left them, and I remember my mother as she lay bedridden with Motor-Neurone Disease almost 14 years after freedom still carrying the anguish of the separation of parent from child.

My father still carries the pain with him, and I think even more so today because of the difficulties and emotional minefields that he has to navigate through knowing that he did not share his two eldest children’s childhood, and only now, after all these decades, are the relationships being strengthened, and that too is still a work in progress.

I can only imagine the pain, emotional trauma, anguish and heartbreak that my sister Tasneem, and my brother Azad felt growing up knowing that their parents were out in the world, yet remaining separated from them.

It is a legacy of pain, of homes and of families split up and separated that remains with us today, of Apartheid’s continuing brutalisation of South Africans.

These complex and conflicting issues that we as family, and we as a nation have to deal with may still yield some measure of peace, if that is at all possible, given the weight of the past.

I have so much more to say, dear reader, but it can wait for later.

I can say that my experiences growing up here, there and everywhere have been a convoluted scattering of disjointed places, of half-remembered faces and of many a restless night spent contemplating the questions of identity, home, belonging and of what ‘anchors’ a person.

Perhaps there are reasons for the times when that vagabond exile blood gets restless and that itch, that impatience, that urge to move, to flee, to rejoin the nomadic community surfaces.

And perhaps, there are reasons too, for my ability to suppress the sometimes fiery urge to trade quiet suburban stasis for the unknown path of the unnamed exile.

I leave you, respected reader, with a poem I scribbled some time ago:

Freedom – The Unfinished Dream …

The shackles have been cast off.

The chains broken.

A people once squashed,

under the jackboot of Apartheid,

are free.

Free at last!

Freedom came on the 27th day in that April of 1994.

Freedom from prejudice.

From institutionalized racism.

From being relegated to second-class citizens.

Freedom came and we danced.

We cried.

We ululated as we elected

our revered Mandela.

President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.

Our very own beloved ‘Madiba’.

Black and white and brown and those in-between.

The many hues of this nation,

rejoiced as we breathed in the air of freedom and democracy.

Today we pause.

We remember.

We salute.

The brave ones whose sacrifices made this day possible,

on that 27th day of April,

24 years ago.

Today we may dance.

We sing.

We ululate!

We cry.

Tears of joy and tears of loss.

Of remembrance and of forgiveness.

Of yet to be realised reconciliation and of the ghastly memories that still torment us.

Today we pause.

We acknowledge the tasks ahead.

The hungry.

The naked.

The destitute.

Today we reaffirm,

that promise of freedom.

From want.

From hunger.

From eyes without promise.

Today we reflect.

On unfulfilled promises.

On the proliferation of greed.

On the blurring of the ideals of freedom.

Today we say:

We will take back the dream.

We will renew the promise.

We will not turn away.

Today we pledge:

To stand firm.

To keep the pressure on.

To remind those in the corridors of power,

that we the people still need to savour the fruits of the tree of freedom*.

And till that time,

when all shall share in the bounty of democracy,

We shall remain vigilant,

and strong.

And we shall continue,

to struggle.

And to shout out loud,

“Amandla – Awethu!”**

     ________________

* – final words of Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu before he has executed by the Apartheid regime in 1979

“My blood will nourish the tree that will bear the fruits of freedom. Tell my people that I love them. They must continue the fight”.

** – “Amandla – Awethu” means “Power to the People, and was a rallying slogan during the struggle against Apartheid.

President Nelson Mandela’s mother and my mother 1950s demonstrating against the imprisonment of political prisoners

the air and the flute …

from google

the air and the flute …

… as air caresses the flute,

unseen,

leaving not a trace
of itself,

gently melodious notes
echoing,

fused,


by passionate breath mingling with air,

unseen.

… as does yours,


your breath and mine,

leaving fragrant traces,

of where your lips have been.

art by banksy

A Poem of Hope …

A Poem of Hope …

May we be gentler, softer and generous in spirit,

may we raise our voices against injustice whenever and wherever we see it,

may we treasure the love of family and of friends,

may we not be suckered into the million and one new trends,

may we speak truth to power in this world that is veering to the ominous right,

may we hold on to our basic humane principles strong and tight,

may we embrace the other without being bombarded by politicians’ peddling fear,

may we realise that all races and religions and genders belong equally on this earth so dear,

may we struggle for mother earth and may we heed her cries,

may we realise that without her everything dies,

may we continue to stand and fight for gender-rights and equality and justice and peace and hope and dignity for all,

may we be more willing to lend a hand to those who slip and fall.

May we finally realise that all the blood that has been callously shed –

is of one colour,

for we all bleed red.

Port of Call

“The Immigrant Void” by Bruno Catalano

Port of Call …

Barefoot on a talcum beach,

alone, not lonely,

with the breath of the ocean

a caressing balm,

soothing pained memories away,

to the swaying of a solitary palm.

Barefoot on a talcum beach,

alone, not lonely,

feeling the brushing away of past turmoil,

on a quest for solace ever so hard to find,

yet comforted by the crashing of the waves,

as the tide washes away pain,

leaving despair far, far behind.

Barefoot on a talcum beach,

alone, not lonely,

drenched in a sea-breeze of mist,

shushing aches of bygone moons,

tasting the salty tang on my lips,

as the burnished sun,

over the distant horizon,

swoons,

and dips.

Barefoot on a talcum beach,

alone, not lonely,

searching, ever searching,

for a slice of solitude,

as memory bids adieu,

reaching under the sea so vast,

and seeking comfort in the depths,

while embracing

tomorrows to come,

wishing that they be true.

Barefoot on a talcum beach,

alone, not lonely,

seeing my truths drown,

as they slip beneath turquoise waters,

feeling my heart ablaze,

with a passion that barely falters.

Barefoot on a talcum beach,

alone, not lonely,

knowing that I am home at last,

wishing the waves would wash away,

the defences that once stood

like an impregnable wall.

Barefoot on a talcum beach,

alone, not lonely,

I have found,

at long last,

my own port of call.

“The Immigrant Void” by Bruno Catalano

The African Rains …

The African Rains …

Soaking, the rains settle,

meandering over jagged faultlines of our memory.

Drenching, the rains settle,

streaming through veins, the thud-thudding of the heartbeat of Africa.

Absorbing,the rains that settle,

within each of us,

herald rebirth.

And, if you listen,

if you strain to hear,

while shedding the raucous noise of your inner turmoil.

If you listen, the whispers of the ancestors,

speak to us all, lending us warmth,

urging us to stand

even though we may stumble,

even though we may fall.

Talkin’ Bipolar Blues …

Talkin’ Bipolar Blues …

I’m just a-waitin’ around,

aching for that day,

when pain flees,

scurrying away,

when I’m not lost in this wilderness of desolation,

when life doesn’t feel like a torturous aberration,

yes, I’m a-walkin’ in my shoes,

just trying to shake off these bipolar blues,

aching for the day,

when pain flees,

scurrying away:

where bright days dawn,

where wild flowers grow,

in meadows of peace,

where placid streams flow.

I am fine, I say …

but actually no,

no, i am not fine,

i am just about as fine as a dung-dusted shoe is from a shine.

no, i am not fine,

i am lost,

I am lost between mangled dreams, and howling screams,

discordant, jangling,

being ripped agonisingly apart at the seams,

these blinded eyes drowning in torrential streams,

strangled, neutered, dull,

with just enough time to mull,

that every shard of emotion has been anaesthetised,

that every filament of feeling has been rendered null –

with every sentiment vacuumed into the frigid void,

knowing there can be no gnawing pain,

knowing that every neuron is of all static devoid

hope endures …

in the claws of grinding dismay, hope endures.

in the talons of savage reality, hope endures.

wedged deep the thorns may be, yet hope endures.

bruised bloody the soul may feel, yet hope endures.

beyond these words, hope endures.

past this paltry rhyme, hope endures.

soaring into the boundless sky, hope endures.

running free in fields of flowers, hope endures.

hope endures, as life batters the day,
hope endures, as today shatters the night,

hope endures, as it must, for the journey ahead

hope endures, as it must, for the avenues yet to be tread …

A dream as a new dawn yawns …

When our new dawn yawns,

may we lend our hands to those with whom these myriad paths we tread,

may we be kinder, gentler, of all animosity devoid,

feeling the spirit of uBuntu* embroidering us with a common thread,

may we reaffirm our oneness,
across cultures, faiths, races, and nations,

walking together in peace,

our love binding us for the travails that may lie ahead,

may we embrace the other, without conceit, knowing that we all bleed red,

may we lay down our egos, our barbed words,

our weapons by which far too much blood has been shed,

may we usher in a less cruel world with dignity for all,

may we tend to each others’ wounds, sewing together justice, freedom, equality, may we as one people, stand humble yet tall,

may we always pick each other up, whenever we stumble, whenever we fall.

When our new dawn yawns,

may our hands be clasped together, walking as one – the human race,

may we knit a bond transcending all that has imprisoned us alone, each in a vacuum of desolate space,

so that at long last,
we may see in each other,

a kindred human face

_________

* – uBuntu is a Southern African philosophy that espouses the inter-connectedness of all beings.

meagre rhymes of love …

art by banksy

meagre rhymes of love …

This love that has cocooned us, enveloped us,

in the warmth of its comfort,

is a love so rare,
truly a love beyond compare.

The middling years of our lives,

when this world has us jaded,

our love melts away the despair,

banishing the pain, distant and faded.

The feelings I feel for you can never be scribbled on paper with ink,

the sentiments swim free under the placid stillness of the seas,

my heart beating in rhythm with yours,

in orchestral harmony,
our symphony soaring with inexpressible desire,

as I find myself forever drawn to the blazing heat of your inextinguishable fire.

Through desolate moments that morphed into years, tears streaming down the  deserts of lonesome cheeks,

we had given up on love, accepting that it may never glide on the wings of the breeze,

we felt ourselves sinking, thrashed around as we drowned in the maelstrom of emptiness,

crashing, slipping, weighed down into the  crevasses, as we trod on, mile after barren mile,

at times gutted as we plumbed the depths of our souls, facing the horror of forgetting the ability to smile a simple smile.

It was then that we met, as our years began to pall, the wrinkles pronounced, the grey hair starting to fall,

it was then, when we met, that we began to live a little each day,

no longer merely existing, ensconced in our catatonic state,

it was then, when we met, when the confluence of our lives were tugged together by fate,

it was then, when our footsteps were slowly merging, ever gently forming a shared road,

it was then, so dazzlingly bright, I saw in you my my shelter, my much sought after abode.

The years we have lived, so alone for most of our lives, have exacted their toll,

even as we did not seek to mutter oaths, to sign vows of undying love on a paper scroll,

for no parchent signed and tucked away in an attic somewhere, or framed for all to see can ever be so bold,

as is our unspoken love, where there is no bartering for love, no settling for less, no going through the daily grind,

for the years have sprinkled starstuff on us, the starstuff of deep abiding love, almost impossible to find.

I am now old and grey, my wrinkles deep, my gait bent,

and I treasure every moment with you I have spent.

‘Tis true that you now lie beneath the ground, but still your laughter I hear every day,

your smile, your fragrant hair, your soft body are alive within me,

no advancing years can ever take that away,

and as memories of you are a soothing balm, you live in my thoughts, you are my constant, you can never truly go away

as I remember our gentle tender kiss, on our beach of promise, under the palm that sashayed,

under our palm, that will perennially sway.







art by banksy

The Journey …

uBuntu – The South African philosophy that espouses that all beings are inextricably linked to one another = I am because we are

The Journey …

Travelling along the myriad pathways of this life, side-stepping thorny obstacles, at times clambeing over jagged rocks, our bodies wracked and bruised.

May we pick up the crushed flowers, the dead leaves scattering these alleyways, may we reach and assist the countless souls, lying by the wayside, forgotten, torn, abused.

May we be human, more humane, less oblivious, less cruel, may we appreciate lives that stagger, inert, broken, inching forwards wracked by coughs, held back by pained starts.

May we be kind, more embracing, of the other, may we be less cocooned, less self-absorbed, with true respect,

knowing that all the world, and all living things, are nothing when alone,

for we are of this earth,
a sum of all its infinite parts …

“Let Equality Bloom” by Brooke Fischer

✊🏾

art by banksy

i am human.

you hardly spare me a glance, as you walk past me, a fellow human, whom you pretend not to see.

you send me off to fight your wars, remaining comfortably ensconced in your ivory tower, while in the trenches i shiver and cower.

you dock my pay if one of your fine bone china cups gets chipped, you withhold my wages, while the hunger in my children’s stomachs rages.

your children still call me ‘boy’ or ‘girl’, though it was i who changed their diapers long ago, but it is still i who is the recipient of the epithets that you and they hurl and throw.

you use my body for your carnal desires, throwing some money on my stained bed, you use me as a lifeless rag, then dispose of me in a rubbish bag.

you claim to be so liberal, so open-minded and progressive, yet you ignore my plight, you discuss poverty in your chandeliered rooms, as i prepare some beans in the dim candlelight.

you send your cheques to greenpeace and amnesty, perhaps to assuage your guilt somehow, as you refuse to pay me my overtime due, your body weighed down by heaving jewellery, in red and white and blue.

you see me building your glittering skyscrapers and your glitzy malls, my hard hat pummelled by stone and dust, as i eke out a living, my dreams turned to rust.

you walk and you talk, leaving me to scrounge in the garbage heaps, for scraps of this and that, while your stocks and portfolios grow ever more fat.

i am invisible to you, to your posh and pompous kind, and i doubt your humanity will be ever anywhere to find.

you see me, a festering sore on your manicured lawns, a piece of dirt living on ‘charitable’ rations, and the first to bear the brunt of your police batons.

i am human, though only barely just, easily interred, once my purpose has been served,

i am human, though only barely just, as i get buried in a heap of dust.

am i human?

art by banksy
With President Nelson Mandela & my father

With the National Poet Laureate of South Africa Comrade Mongane Wally Serote

An absolute honour and truly humbling that the National Poet Laureate of South Africa Comrade Mongane Wally Serote chose to write the Foreword to my book.

The following is the Foreword by the National Poet Laureate of. South Africa …

Foreword by Professor Mongane Wally Serote.

National Poet Laureate of South Africa.

Afzal Moolla-The Poet.

Afzal Moolla is a South African poet. He is a prolific poet. He grew up in a family, which, for the longest of time, was part and parcel of the liberation struggle in South Africa. That is to say, he grew up in a family of freedom fighters. 

You can imagine what he had to listen to at an early age. He absorbed it all.  His folks are elderly now. 

“…These were the early 1970s, and this story was told to me by my parents, who themselves were recently arrived political exiles in India, having to leave South Africa, where my father, Moosa “Mosie” Moolla was arrested along with Nelson Mandela and 156 others in the infamous Treason Trial of 1956…”

 He is young, living in a country which emerged from the depth of one of the most cruel political systems ever imagined by human beings. Nothing will allow Afzal to forget that, even as he may have been a toddler when that system was at its most vicious. 

And now at his adult life, some among us, seek to destroy a dream of the people. We must scrutinize what this poet says about those who do that: who are they if face to face with OR, Madiba, Che, Fidel… that they can ony be traitors.

As we read what Afzal says, we will also be engulfed by a progressive and humane attitude of human life. Afzal is of Indian origin, a South African, whose young mind was shaped by a people who had to strife with everything possible to be human.

The combination of poetry and prose in Afzal’s rendition, walks one in very rough terraine, not sparing one. He calls all this, his work:

STRUGGLE   EXILE    LOVE 

“…As we walked through the tombstones of the war soldiers from all parts of the world, my father explained how apartheid was a scourge like Fascism and Nazism. He explained how the world had joined forces to fight Mussolini and Hitler, and why we too had to fight against apartheid….”

Even when the worst of things are explored in this work, the optimism of the spirit from the poet, is still the basis to seek hope; to search for a way out of pessimism. A rare skill indeed.  He can express anger, or despair, even cynicism, as also he seeks an anchor in the strength which resides in the hearts of human beings. And therefore Afzal, refuses to let go of the humaneness of human beings. 

He then braves the challenge by referencing the reality of the beings of struggle as the names of the freedom fighters spread throughout the pages which carry the weight of his writing.

There is too much pain in Afzals work, but equally there is love, there is joy and as said there is hope. Afzal is a skilled artisan of things made of words that is, of things which become the writing on the wall: a history, a culture tempered in the freedom struggle.


“Searching. 

Searching,

in the debris of the past,

scraps of casually discarded emotion.

Searching,

in hastily trashed yesterdays,

an inkling of moments flung away.

Searching,

in heaps of rubbished words,

that tiresome sigh of defeated thought.

Searching,

in the layers of moulted skin

the wilting self that once was true.

Searching,

in the reflections between the ripples,

for the whispered pangs of roaring desire.

Searching,

in the blank eyes streaming endlessly,

an echo of the faintest sigh of new life.

Searching.”

There is no letting go here. Life is pursued relentlessly, with the knowledge that life itself is a struggle for life and living; but also, knowing from having lived in struggle and among freedom fighters that there is no alternative to freedom. That want and that knowledge is insatiable; it is only satisfied by the reality of the manifestation of the spirit, meaning, everything which is liveable and defining being free.

(About Timol-a name we know because its reality teaches about the extremes of human cruelty, but also about utter commitment to that unbreakable particle of the human spirit which forever defines, and forever seeks freedom. )

“today their lies have been consigned to the dirt.

They tried to murder an ideal,

the revolutionary spirit that burned bright in your heart,

they tried to silence you, not knowing your memory shall never depart.

They tried to kill you,

but they will never silence you,

for you live,

through the expanse of our land,

mingling in the rivers,

standing high upon our shared revolutionary hill,

they tried to silence you,

yet the hunger for justice will never be still,

they tried to silence you, but the memory of your martyrdom never will.”

—————————————————–

March 21, 1960 – Sharpeville

They shot you in the back.

The oppressors lead tearing into muscled flesh. The flesh of Africa.

They massacred you in Sharpeville, in Soweto.

Today we remember you.

We salute you…”

There is an isiZulu saying which rings of finality in its utterance, expression and thirst for freedom: si dela nina e ni lele (we envy you who have fallen). It is a battle cry. It is an expression of love and hope. It is a yearning which is insatiable which knows and aligns with the purpose of life that living life is a definition of Freedom. When Afzal names the freedom fighters, and as a series ofthese names emerge and spread throughout his poetry, it conjures that feeling and that understanding.

That is what defines “Dr Martin Luther King Jr. (1929 – 1968)

You had a dream, of pastures of peace,

where children of all hues mingle like rainbows.

They silenced you, yet your dream

resounds louder still,

in pastures not yet of peace,

where children of all hues mingle like rainbows.”

———————————————

” The Wind Carries his Name

They shot him down,

to silence a man of flesh and bone.

Even as the bullets tore through him,

the wind carried his name.

Far across the weary fields,

high above the stubborn peaks,

over the blood-soaked streams,

the wind carried his name.

They shot him down,

to silence a man of flesh and bone.

Yet the wind carries his name,

to you and to me,

to them and to us.

They shot him down,

but his name resounds,

as it floats on the breeze.

And,

still they try to shoot him down,

to silence us all,

to stifle an ideal.

But the wind cannot be stilled,

and the wind carries his name:

“Che” “

Afzal is here, with that ‘…they…”  referring to the international oligarchy, that “ …small group of people,,,”, who with mighty force control everything at all cost, against billions of people, indeed against humanity, who now, as Afzal warns us are pushing all of humanity to the precipice of a final and last war, if there are no thousands upon thousands of “Che(s)” who must emerge to stop them.

The world, humanity is once more, as the saying goes, that “…history repeats itself…”  faced by a great possibility of an international arms race. The oligarchy’s objective: to amass all the resources of the earth for the “…small group of people…” They are relentless.

Afzal’s work of poetry traverses human feelings fearlessly.  He is the child of Freedom. He is the adult nurtured by a series of names of people who carried the blood that has been spilled, whether in the street, or in the veld, or in the houses, on the bed or finally ill of health and having to bid a frail life farewell-nevertheless, life which sought to express the will of millions who have been trampled upon by the international oligarchy, “…a small group of people…” who will stop at nothing to burn the world and is content, turning it into ashes.

Afzal keeps “…Searching…” because he was brought up and grew up in the struggle for freedom. He searches, seeking to find  that particle, which no one can break because it resides in spirit-it knows peace, it knows being secure,  it knows the meaning of freedom. It is profound in it being simple. 

To OR: Afzal says:

“And then finally off to a new dwelling in a faraway alien land,

reeking and drenched in a foreignness so blatantly bland,

never fitting in, though always dreading being shut out,

singing paeans to hope scribbled in the sand.

You left your country, your home, your very own place of being,

you fled, into exile, far away from blinded eyes so unseeing,

and you held to a principle within, and you stood resolute,

till the shadows felt themselves in shame fleeing,

We salute you! And all like you, and the so many countless more,

into whose flesh the tyrant’s sword so cruelly tore,

We salute you!

You who fought at home and you who left to fight,”

To his mother, who is an experience and  voice of many women in South Africa, on Our Continent, and of the world; Victims of the powerful “…small group of people…” in the world, who tear it apart.

” For our Mother, Zubeida Moolla (1934 – 2008)

She left us,

with the thoughts of her embrace to warm us,

in frigid mornings of tomorrows yet to come.

She left us,

with words of tender truths to shroud us,

in the coming evenings of slicing sleet.

She left us,

yet she stays within us,

in our waking dreams, our restful thoughts.

She stays within us,

and of us she shall remain an abiding part,

of the love,

the pain,

the tears,

and for that, we shall never be truly apart.”

And of course Afzal the poet now:

———————————

As Evening Settles

As evening settles

may tender angels

ease the knots of tiresome day

and

may warmth embrace you

caressing your aches away

so, sleep softly

and

let the morrow bring

what the morrow may.

———————————————-

Overcast Skies

Overcast skies

when days seem bleak

and our shared sky is overcast

may you always be wrapped in warmth

enveloped in tender colours

for however dark the nights and days may seem

there is always hope

beyond the pain and the sorrow and the lies

there is always hope

there will always be a tomorrow

when a new dawn

a fresh sun

must

like us

rise.

Sometimes in my life,

I’ve trudged down cobblestone pathways,

walked on broken glass,

shed tears, had my share of dreams broken,

have had my quota of fears,

now the years have slipped away,

and a decade ago seems like yesterday,

but the moment I saw you,

something, something,

made me pause,

it was you. 

It is you,

and maybe, it will always be,

only you.

———————————————

For Wendy Cope

I may not have brought you flowers.

I know I was always late.

You tolerated my moodiness,

and my ever-increasing weight.

You said men were like buses,

and you had grown weary of waiting,

Of putting up with my quirks and my fusses,

though we barely knew we were dating.

Ah, but we weathered the squalls;

Your patience has always been saintly.

And now that old age palls,

our tiffs are recalled only faintly.

We laugh at youth’s follies and know,

the beauty we had sought unaware;

It’s as wide as a calm river’s flow,

and as timeless as our years of care.

——————————————

A Wish for You

May your smile never fade,

may you always be as you are now,

warm and kind,

true and filled with the generosity of spirit that defines you,

may your dreams soar into the boundless open skies,

and may the benevolent fingertips of time and of fate,

brush away any tears that should fall from your gentlest eyes.

May you forever stand tall,

may your head always be held high,

with stoic dignity.

May your past experiences be the stepping-stones that mark your path ahead,

may your heart be your guide,

your blazing beacon of wildly enthusiastic hope,

may your wishes be simple,

and may they come to be,

filling your life and your moments,

with joyous bliss,

where you truly feel free.

Free of the weight of yesterday,

free of gnawing doubt,

and may your being be infused,

with the softest serendipity,

so that you may spread your arms,

and to the heavens shout,

I am free,

I am me,

at long last,

I am standing tall,

never again to bow,

or to fall on bended knee.

This is a wish both simple yet elusive,

a wish that only you can make true,

by simply being,

the kind,

warm,

gentle person,

that is you.

———————————-

In Your Eyes

As another day recedes,

enveloped under the shawl of night,

allow me to drown,

in your eyes.

Moments fleeting,

fickle hands of time unseeing,

allow me to seek solace,

in your eyes.

The trodden path littered with each shard,

regrets this heart wishes to discard,

so, allow me to seek refuge,

in your eyes.

I have walked through twisting boulevards of life,

seeking simple joy, away from desolation, strife,

so, allow me to find peace,

in your eyes.

In your eyes,

I find,

the gentleness left behind,

away from superficial smiles,

away from fatigue of the walked mile.

In your eyes,

I feel,

at home at long last,

your love caressing away the restlessness of the past,

stepping out of the shadows to embrace pure contentment,

though a bit player,

in your life’s theatrical cast.

In your eyes,

I touch,

the flame of promise radiating through your loving light,

that is why,

I no longer dread,

the vacuum of encroaching night.

—————————————–

What all of these words say, which Afzal has crafted, which we dare not forget, is that we as South Africans, as Africans come from a poetic place, as do all of humanity who come from a “…Paean…” a ululation and praise of the relentless freedom fighters.

Professor Mongane Wally Serote.
National Poet Laureate of South Africa

With Comrade Winnie Mandela

Signing a few copies of my book “Struggle, Exile, & Verse”

My dear friends and fellow-travellers here on WordPress,

I hope that all dear ones here are well and keeping safe healthy during these harsh times.

I have been well, but have been so busy with work and more work and with house and home things so I’ve been away from this wonderful space for far too long.

I hope to be here more often as I miss all friends and your wonderful pieces.

Do stay well, and my love and warmest wishes to you and to all those loved by you and hoping and wishing and praying that this ghastly pandemic that has wreaked so much pain and grief and untold sorrow to so many may be soon less virulent and deadly as it has over the past year and a bit.

Hugs and love to all from Johannesburg in springtime South Africa 🤗🙏🏽✌🏾👍🏾❤️🌻

I may be off and on here given the pressures of work and home but my love and thoughts and deeply felt warmth of spirit is always here with my dearest friends and brothers and sisters in our wonderfully close-knit WordPress family

🤗💙🙏🏽❤️🌻👍🏾✌🏾✊🏾😊

The video of the launch of my book “Struggle, Exile, & Love“, published by the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation and with a Foreword by South African National Poet Laureate Comrade Mongane Wally Serote and a Preface by Comrade Ismail Vadi.

South Africa: Heritage Day 2021.

The Winds of Africa.

A poem by Afzal Moolla.

I am the winds of Africa.

I am the winds whispered to by the ancients of the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela,

the winds that have heard the murmurs of the ancestors at Great Zimbabwe.

I am the winds resting at Mapungubwe,
I am the winds of the Upemba,
I am the winds above Giza,

I am the winds of the Djenné-Djenno,
I am the winds of the Songhai,

I am the winds of the Numidia,

I have breathed across these lands,
these lands have breathed into me.

I have witnessed colonialists carving up my continent,

I have heard screams of mothers and children,

I have seen the slave-ships set sail,

I carry the memories of my people manacled, and bound in chains.

I have heard the shrieks of my people,
I have seen my lands plundered,

I have borne witness to genocide,
to notions of racial superiority,
to oppression,
to tyranny,

I have caressed far too many bruised bodies,
I have dried far too many tears.

I am the winds of Africa.

I embrace the hope my people carry,
I feel it thud-thudding in their veins,

I encompass my lands bathed with renewed spirit each dawn,

I encompass my lands infused with hope each morn,

as my Africa,
our Africa,
wraps us in her dazzling multi-hued, comforting shawl.

                    ____________________

– Lalibela is a town in the Amhara region of northern Ethiopia. It’s known for its distinctive rock-cut churches dating from the 12th and 13th centuries, which are pilgrimage sites for Coptic Christians. Carved out of rock, the subterranean monoliths include huge Bete Medhane Alem, and cross-shaped Bete Giyorgis. Many are joined by tunnels and trenches, and some have carved bas-reliefs and colored frescoes inside.

– Great Zimbabwe is an ancient city in the south-eastern hills of Zimbabwe near Lake Mutirikwe and the town of Masvingo. It is thought to have been the capital of a great kingdom, although which kingdom is not certain, during the country’s Late Iron Age. Construction on the city began in the 11th century and continued until it was abandoned in the 15th century. The edifices are believed to have been erected by the ancestral Shona. The stone city spans an area of 7.22 square kilometres (2.79 square miles) which, at its peak, could have housed up to 18,000 people. It is recognised as a World Heritage site by UNESCO.

– The Kingdom of Mapungubwe was a medieval state in South Africa located at the confluence of the Shashe and Limpopo rivers, south of Great Zimbabwe. The name is derived from either TjiKalanga and Tshivenda. The name might mean “Hill of Jackals”.

– Lake Upemba is a lake in Bukama, Haut-Lomami District, the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

– Giza is an Egyptian city on the west bank of the Nile, near Cairo. The Giza Plateau is home to iconic Egyptian monuments, including 3 tall pyramids built as royal mausoleums around the 26th century B.C. The largest, the Great Pyramid, is King Khufu’s tomb. The Great Sphinx is a vast sculpture of a man’s head on a lion’s body. The Solar Boat Museum displays a restored cedar barge found buried near the Great Pyramid.

– Djenné-Djenno is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the Niger River Valley in the country of Mali. Literally translated to “ancient Djenné”, it is the original site of both Djenné and Mali and is considered to be among the oldest urbanized centers and the best-known archaeology site in sub-Saharan Africa

– The Songhai empire, also spelled Songhay, was a great trading state of West Africa (flourished 15th–16th century), centred on the middle reaches of the Niger River in what is now central Mali and eventually extending west to the Atlantic coast and east into Niger and Nigeria.

– Numidia was the ancient kingdom of the Numidians located in northwest Africa, initially originating from Algeria, but later expanding across modern-day Tunisia, Libya, and some parts of Morocco

copyleft 2021 am moolla

It is not Kung-Flu. It is Covid-19.

What we need:

is compassion, not pity,
solidarity, not sympathy,
solace, not platitudes,
empathy, not charity,
understanding, not apathy,
tenderness, not blame,
gentleness, not promises,
truth, not obfuscation,
science, not false narratives,
vaccines, not doomsday soothsayers,
medicine, not conspiracy theorising,
oxygen, not hot air,
inclusion, not omission,
togetherness, not cocoons,
humility, not hubris,

kindness, not othering.

What we need is simple:

the humaneness of human beings
embracing our shared humanity.

What we need is simple:

as the South African philosophy of uBuntu espouses:

“I am because we are”.

IT IS NOT “KUNG-FLU”.

IT IS COVID-19.

And what we need,
are all of us,
each other.

us all,
to lend a hand,
when any of us stumble,
when any of us fall.

Delhi. A Funeral Pyre.

Delhi. A Funeral Pyre.

by her child with no name.

And as I sit here today, these countless waves away,

my Delhi, into whose mad, warm, gritty, welcoming arms I fell on that early autumn day,

is welcoming no more.

And as I sit here today with relief, that from her I am so far torn apart,

my Delhi, whose diyas of light that once lit up my heart,

is a funeral pyre.

And as I sit here today, just another child of hers with no name,

I breathe,
I can breathe.

And even as my mother chokes, the stench of relief that I feel,

of being from her so very far,
this vagabond child of hers with no name,

breathes with relief,

to his eternal, asphyxiating shame.

life now …

clutching, grasping,
holding onto,
gulping down, hungrily,
each breath, every breath,
fearing the onset of the years,
the splinters of time,
embedding,
piercing,
this moment, the very now,
numbed by repetition,
embalmed by trepidation,
of tomorrows yet to dawn,
suspiciously sifting through the strands of greying hair,
seeking clues,
the because to the whys,
the slow mornings,
restless nights,
jabbing reminders,
as years, decades,
scurry, scamper,
flee,
feeling it all slipping away,
standing, immobile,
stilled by the implacable sentinels at the doorstep,
these immovable sentries,
concealing the door,
that leads to today …

Victor Jara 1932 – 1973.

Victor Jara
1932 – 1973.

Trampled flowers sighed,
while your songs filled the skies.

All of nature trembled,
from the pampas to the desert sands,

the day they tried to silence your song.

That day,

all of nature rebelled,
each filament, all infinite strands,

for though they tried to strangle your song,

all that they could take,
were your hands.

adrift …

adrift …

a cast-away,
swept by raging currents,
adrift on so many  streams.

an outsider,
scarred by jagged rocks,
gasping for air beneath rapids.

a lost traveller,
seeking a shore of solace,
between decades being flotsam.

my journey,
all endless wanderings,
as rootless as the shattered twig.

my future,
a mirage of hope,

tight fists of trepidation,

seeking not much,
but to clutch onto,

filaments of elusive hope …

Sentinels.

Sentinels.

Behind the barricades, tucked away beyond the layers of the impregnable buffer,

secreted in the unshakeable edifice, hewn deep into the rock of solitude,

countless thoughts blur, hazily scurrying past,
adrift on the breeze, yesteryears embers that cannot last.

These embers, these flurries of memory, escape high above the ramparts of this fortress of stunted, shackled thought,

fleeing the fears, the tears streaming down eyes unblinking, eyes devoid of light, eyes rendered blind, leaving grainy photographs etched in the receding mind.

All these memories, this nostalgic tugging, sewn into the detritus of what was once beloved, of what was once dear and true,

all those sun-kissed moments, once woven by infinite tendrils of hope, lie strewn here and there, and everywhere in between, all those dreams now merely flotsam and jetsam, thrashed upon the waves of the ocean so jagged, so stinging, yet so boundless in its shades of aquamarine blue.

Yet there exists, in folded recesses, layered in shrouds, wrapped in papyrus,

armoured sentinels, mutely grasping, onto all that was once all of you, onto all that was once all of me,

armoured sentinels,

standing guard,
fiercely protecting against forgetting,

fierce sentinels,
holding firm onto the persistence of memory.

The Divergence of Time …

The divergence of time …

There may have been a time,
when tributaries flowed hither and thither.

There may have been a time,
when forks along the paths spread here, there and everywhere.

There may have been a time,
when currents tugged heartstrings strummed in discordant rhyme.

There may have been a time,

one time, one moment,
ever so fleeting,

when clarity was torn asunder.

There may have been times,
a few, some moments,
ever so fleeting,

when hopes and dreams coalesced,
for that filament of time.

There may have been times,
across decades, imperceptible seconds,

when all seemed concrete,
when all seemed complete,

ah, but illusions are phantoms,
just out of reach,

as intangible in the gale,
as elusive to grasp,

as many a yesteryears newspaper sheet.

… and when this shroud,
the skin we moult,

traversing eons, sipping kisses, lapping tongues,
mingled meadows of scarlet red,

the standard waves amidst,

the smoke, the swollen pollen, detritus of ills scarcely-forgotten,

to flutter on the ramparts,
aloft, again,

for the pot simmers,
and the light of hope glimmers …

Covid-19 Thoughts: Monday March 8th 2021

As we all grapple with this strange and scary new world we now inhabit, it makes one think of what is truly important in one’s life.

The love and caring of family has above all else become our new “normal”.

This is not to say that we didn’t love or care for family before this pandemic and before our state of lockdown but we had begun to take things and people close to us for granted.

The Covid-19 microscopic virus has turned our world as we know it upside down.

A tiny collection of cells so minute has laid bare our arrogance as human beings.

The world’s largest and most powerful countries have spent trillions on large weapons that rain death on innocent people, and now we see all of us – large global powers or small island nations being “levelled” by the novel Covid-19 virus.

This is staggering, for me at least, having grown up in the era of the Cold War with its doctrine of “MAD” or “Mutually Assured Destruction”.

The Novel Coronavirus has, in a matter of months, disposed off all that human arrogance of power and our beliefs in that we control life and death.

The Covid-19 pandemic has flung into the the garbage bin of history the conceit that we are alone in, and secure in our wealthy countries and in our wealthy homes.

We are facing the realisation that we are all fallible.

We are pummelled finally, by the understanding that we are one race – the human race – and what affects one certainly affects the other.

The South African philosophy of “uBuntu” or “I am because we are” – that simple yet profound understanding that all of us are linked by a common shared humanity.

For those who believe in a higher power, these moments are particularly poignant as “Allah” or any other deity or name the different religions refer to “The Almighty” as is being seen as almost “humbling” us all, His errant children who have strayed from the path of justice and equality and truth and tolerance, and frugality, and respect for one’s elders and the countless humanistic tenets that religions share and espouse.

For those who believe in “The Almighty”, these are moments of solemn humility and prayer – salaah – masses – prarthanas – as we implore our maker to forgive us our trespasses – even the ones we may be unaware of having trespassed.

Such deep philosophical and existential ideas all prompted by a lethal microscopic virus that threatens to wreak even more misery and death upon human beings – with of course the most vulnerable in our societies bearing the brunt – the poor, the destitute, the oppressed, the beaten-down masses who have been savaged by the capitalist “profit over people” motive and the prevailing worldwide accepted economic model.

But, I see light here. I see glimmers of hope. This may sound all very well coming from one who lives comfortably and does not have to eke out survival on an hour to hour basis as almost five billion of our fellow humans on this earth of ours have to do daily.

The hope I speak of is the true humbling of all of us.

We have been humbled and this tiny virus has us terrified.

We have also been exposed to being petrified.

So the hope I speak of is that perhaps, just perhaps, the human race will emerge from this indescribably brutal pandemic with at the very least, having pondered and reevaluated what we as human beings have valued and taken for granted all these decades past since we began to truly progress in the fields of medical science and information technology et al.

These are just a few thoughts on this Monday the 8th of March 2021.

I will endeavour to introspect more.

I want to be less arrogant about anything – be it religion, race, social status, level of education, and all the other yardsticks by which we have until this point in our history measured what “success” and “happiness” really mean.

Prayers and wishes and thoughts to all those battling this plague, and to all human beings, but particularly to the teeming multitudes who have been for centuries beaten down and trampled upon.

They are fellow humans.

They must be accorded the dignity we so blindly take for granted.

Afzal Moolla
Copyleft 2021

For the Merseyside Moptops …

They may have wished they were Paperback Writers, and yet they’d never Imagine soaring with Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds high above and across those fragrant Strawberry Fields Forever leaping Across the Universe With a Little Help from their Friends while running Helter-Skelter singing paths to Give Peace a Chance while Twistin’ & Shoutin’ their way to old Eleanor Rigby’s funeral with Father McKenzie, while all she craved was the human touch of Wanting to Hold your Hand when All my Loving Can’t buy her Love so Please Please Me and tell Jude not to be so sad cos’ the War is Over and its a Happy Christmas as the battles rage on and all we do Watching the Wheels go Round and Round, is saying Hello Goodbye to the Obla-dis Obla-daas leaning drunkenly on Penny Lane and being Working Class Heroes if only you’d Love me Do and if only we’d afford a Ticket to Ride to burn some Norwegian Wood Yeah Yeah Yeah cos’ She Loves You, because Yesterday we wore out our Rubber Souls strolling down Abbey Road soaking in The Ballad of John and Yoko while Letting it Be but only and only, once again, if we Come Together, at long long last, and striving, flailing to Give Peace a Chance …

the wanderers smile …

the wanderers smile …

sidestepping shrapnelled
shards of jagged life

cauterising
wounds
deeply veiled
fleeing from salivating strife

sewing a tattered soul
        fragmented
        mishmashed
       
        into
        a
        rainbow
        mosaic
            
        haphazard
            
a patchwork of forgotten lies spoken

a wellspring of
dreams broken

flung to the winds
cast away

the wanderer …

committing the crime

around
every bend

attemped rhyme
to inure time

mile
upon endless
mile

prepped
to bury pain

on cue
to mask loss

anaesthetised
sterilised

prepped
on cue

mile
after
mile

to paint on
the wanderers smile.

Covid-19 and the Collective.

Covid-19 and the Collective.

1.

We are floundering.

The world as we once knew it is being ravaged by a microscopic pathogen.

These are deadly times for many, and yet as always, it is the poor and the impoverished who bear the brunt of this invisible enemy.

It has been said how the Coronavirus is a great leveller. How it sees no race, no gender, no class.

But it does see class.

It does wreak it’s unimaginable havoc on the poor, the destitute, the hungry, those for whom the new buzz word of social-distancing means little or nothing at all.

The dregs of society.

The unwashed masses, in the “new normal” of sanitisers and gloves and masks and soap and of water.

Yes.

Water.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says:

“Billions of people around the world are continuing to suffer from poor access to water, sanitation and hygiene, according to a new report by UNICEF and the World Health Organization. Some 2.2 billion people around the world do not have safely managed drinking water services, 4.2 billion people do not have safely managed sanitation services, and 3 billion lack basic handwashing facilities”.

Yes.

Water.

The billions of our fellow human beings who are at most risk of the Novel Coronavirus are those who live in the “developing” world.

These are countries who have been ravaged not just by misrule, but by the incessant oppression of their peoples and the plunder of their bountiful resources by the North.

The Uranium of Namibia, the Coltan of the Congo, the oil of Venezuela, the the $1 a day – young women mostly – who stitch together designer label haute couture for the rest of us.

Yes.

Us.

We are those who don the garb of luxury, as well as the t-shirts that seem insanely cheap.

Yes.

They are cheap because they are manufactured in the East and the South where scores of workers, and again always mostly women or young girls, sweat it out for obscene lengths of time, and for a pittance, and of course with no “social-distancing”, even as the rest of us shy away from family and friends.

These are some of the billions of fellow human beings with whom we inhabit this earth.

The “lucky to at least have a job” folks.

Where are the sanitisers, the gloves, the masks, the keeping of a safe distance between these human beings who stitch our daily wear.

There aren’t.

Why should they be afforded the same Personal Protective Equipment we demand in our various lands.

This is the grotesque face of the politics amd economics of Covid-19.

This is the ugliness on display for all of us to see.

But not to unite as a collective and to demand in this most perilous of times the rights and the most basic health and sanitised protection for these – the forgotten, would be an abrogation of our very humanity.

“Flattening the curve”, we are told will be excellent for us in our different countries, and yet for the billions of souls who slave away in every industry imaginable, there exists no “curve”.

They are dispensable.

“oh there are tens of people just wanting their jobs”, we are told.

Yes, this is true.

Yes, it is the knotted thread of the vestiges of colonialism and imperialism and economic subjugation.

2.

So, where do we go from here, largely depending on how many of “us” make it out alive.

We must take this dreadful and most vicious of times to reflect, yes, and to argue, yes too, but above all, to unite in a way that only something as virulent of a plague that Covid-19 is to rally and to speak up and to apply pressure on all our governments to live up to what they keep telling us:

That this is the “new normal”.

There cannot be the pre-Covid-19 business-as-usual model, be it financially and entrepreneurially and societally.

There will be a “new normal”.

And this is where that sliver of a window of opportunity opens for us to take back all that has been taken from us all.

Dignity.
Wage protection.
Socialisation of all the basics human beings need.

Yes, the Novel Coronavirus is yet to rip through our world, cleaving its insidious scimitar into many more lives and families and societies and nations.

But, this could also be that moment, that comes rarely in history when we, the collective, the people united, the ones whom future generations will look back on and either ask –

“did they never learn?”.

Or,

“they did learn”.

And by learning,
by forging the links of internationalist solidarity,
by reclaiming our commons,

by taking this horrific plague to reaffirm that we are all one people,

and by most importantly, taking the reins of humanity back from the 10% and by somehow, as a work-in-progress, with failures and mistakes being made along that long road ahead of of us,

to retake that which has been stripped off us – human dignity.

And maybe then, and only then, may generations yet to come see us for what we were capable of doing, and of what we achieved in the post Covid-19 world:

A true coming together as a collective.

A true exemplification of the ancient humanist South African philosophy of “uBuntu” – I am because we are.

A philosophy that must flow in our veins now more than ever, that all human beings are intrinsically bound by a common humanity.

We may not succeed.

But we, at the very least, must try.

Patrice Lumumba: Assassinated February 13th, 1961



talking regurgitated impotent worldwide injustice blues …



I have been here so many times before, spewing forth words that must be by now a repetitive bore.

Scribbling this and that, having said it all so many times, these tired, paltry, meagre words seem to be just cobbled together into rhymes.

All my belched words appear impotent to me today, scribbled over and over again, reeking of stale garbage, stinking in the rain.

Words and emotions felt deep, gnawing at my being, spat out, to ears unhearing, thrust before eyes unseeing.

So I ask myself why carry on this wordy parade, of simplistic rhymes, of grammar unsound, yet feeling compelled to keep going on this endless merry-go-round.


All my walls shattered, my ramparts battered, yet still I need to throw up these words, hither and thither scattered.

I ask myself how can I stop, when most of humanity is used as a ragged mop, when the few like vampires feast on the human blood they suck, squeezing out sweat from the many who are condemned to bleed in the muck.

I see the good people all around me, burying their heads so they never may see, their religiosity on display for all to ooh and aah, while their own religions’ humanistic tenets they keep afar.

The curse of neo-colonialism, neo-imperialism, and of bonded labour, strangle the many, while the 1% their champagne do savour.

Misogyny, child-abuse, spousal and gender violence, hetero-patriarchy, female genital mutilation, in 2021 upon women everywhere is still what is endured, with all dignity slashed, while platitudes are spoken from pulpits, the sham of indignation hypocritically rehashed.

Governments the world over spending trillions on weapons of death, while pleading poverty when it comes to free, dignified, professional health.

The 99% still slaves to the tyranny of shameful wages, the same conditions that have tortured their ancestors through the ages.

Words of struggle and of principled defiance, words like ‘freedom’, ‘democracy’, ‘justice’, ‘equality’, have been cynically pilfered, by those in the corridors of business and of political power, while choking grimy dust across the planet does continually shower.

My mother is still paid so much less, than the very men who conjured up this economic mess, and if she demands higher wages she is castigated for the thoughts, while the business tycoons, the government men blather on about their newly-acquired luxury yachts.

The struggles of Nelson Mandela and of Martin Luther King, are neatly repackaged gutting out their sting, remodelled to be acceptable, while burying the essence of their revolutionary call, the demand for free education, health, housing, dignity, justice and work for all.

We wear these icons of resistance on t-shirts made in sweatshops in Bangladesh, the ultimate betrayal of their sacrifice, of the humane values they espoused, while the fires of resistance are with brutal, apathetic drivel doused.

This planet, our common earth, is being pummelled each day, nature itself is for profit ravaged, caring not that we shall leave behind an earth that has been for greed savaged.

When by the most powerful, ugly male egotistical, macho posturing is bleated out, beating the drums and threatening endless for-profit wars, the rest of us are petrified, for the mighty have long reaching claws.

Racist notions of supremacy are bandied about without a murmur of indignation, the evils of casteism, religious fanaticism, tribal and narrow sectarianism, grotesque nationalism, gay bashing, and misogynist sewage is poured with glee, and still we turn our collective heads, pretending we can’t see.

When speaking truth to power is deemed a capital crime, how impotent I feel scribbling yet another listless rhyme.

When societies are structured to create a craving for the materialistic trappings of capitalism, how easily tainted into swear words are the values of socialism.

What is demanded are not mansions of ostentatious gaudy gold, each replete with a marbled hall, but water, food, electricity, dignified work, health, education, housing, and peace and dignity for all.

They truly want us divided, on religious, caste, racial, narrow nationalistic, sexual orientation, male-female, and all the other lies, while all the while the hungry child for just some food cries.

They know if we break out of our narrow cocoons, they shall have to face the wrath of a united world, a world become one, for then none of their machinations shall suppress us, and only then shall our truest battles be hard won.

I may be a hypocrite for scribbling these rhymes, but then so are you for not hearing the bell tolling for a radical changing of the times.

How long will it take for us to rise, to dissent, to question everything that has been to us said, from the economy to religion to race, class, and to gender too, what will it take me to see what is right in front of me, and for you to see what is right in front of you.

When shall we cast off these shackles that imprison us, the shackles of apathy and of looking the other way, not realising that together we can and should and must strive for a better day, not perhaps to rid us of all suffering and all pain, all oppression, and perhaps not in one fell swoop, but at least taking our first steps towards progressive progression.

These scribbled, worthless words, seem nothing but an empty vessel drummed on and on each day,

but from the heart I do write,

about what I believe to be wrong,

and what I believe to be right.



Yet still the talons of grotesque for-profit dig deep,

buy one and get two for freemium today,

and all this under the benevolent gaze of Mandela and MLK,

Biko and Tambo and Sisulu,

Lumumba and Hani and Ché …

“Why him”, they ask her.

“Why him? “, they ask her,

“Why on earth, of all the oh-so handsome men, why of all the well-heeled ones, the well-lettered fellows,

why him?”.

She tells them that the day she met him, that day when they laughed and when they spoke,

that day when they stood under a leaking bus-stop in the torrential African rains,

she felt, for the first time,
that all she needed to be,

was herself.




talkin’ midnight ravings blues …

“I am fine”

no i am not fine,

i am as fine as a dung dusted shoe is from a shine,

i am not fine, i am lost, between alluring dreams, and silent screams,

sometimes a duet,

mostly a cacophony of noise,

white and bland and dull,

just enough to discern, that humanity is null,

with all humaneness void,

and of all conscience devoid.

Sapphire Sky



in the distance
flickering softly,

warm hope
yawns,

bathing this
soft morning

with
birdsong,

whispering tales of journeys done,

beneath the canopy
of our shared

sapphire sky.

She who is free.

she who is free …

I would have called out to her, across the the green fields she walked,

her silhouette fading in the distance.

I would have called out to her,

she who walked her own path now,

free from all the weight that caged her will.

I would have called out to her,

yet I remained still.

our shared strands

our shared strands
of light, of hope.

afloat on tendrils of starstuff,

whispering warmth,

hope may be found.

sketching memories,
painting tears,

falling like leaves,

etching reminders
of less warm times,

hope may be found.

time tenderly
infuses hope,

urging me,

and you, us all,
to embrace,

the here, today,

the now,

for hope may be found,

somehow.

The 15th of August 1934 and 1947

My mum with Comrade Nelson Mandela’s mother protesting against the imprisonment of my father and Comrade Nelson Mandela and all other political prisoners taken in the late 1950s or early 1960s

The 15th of August 1934 and 1947.

( dedicated to our late mother Zubeida ‘Jubie’ Moolla, and to all the women, the mostly unsung heroines in all the struggles for freedom across the world )

1.

Our mother was born on the 15th of August, an auspicious day, in the winter of 1934.

Thirteen years later, also on this auspicious day, in the summer of 1947, India cast off the yoke of colonial oppression.

These dates, though a decade apart are bound together in our family, hewn together by the happenstance of fate.

2.

The threads of the struggle for freedom, the hunger for liberation, the thirst for democracy, the ache of sacrifice, are intertwined.

3.

The valiant freedom fighters faced the brutality of the enemy head-on, staring down the barrels of the imperialists with chins held high, relinquishing the comfort of inaction for the battle for those eternally noble ideals – the struggle against oppression, the quest for human dignity, the emancipation of women, the conviction of being a part of a greater cause in the service of humanity.

4.

The struggle for liberation in South Africa and in India left many martyred souls, many more victims of appalling cruelty, the harrowing pain of families’ torn apart, the parents and children ripped from each other, the savagery of torture, the massacres of the innocents, the decades spent in prison, the years spent in exile.

5.

The names of the martyrs bear witness:

Solomon Mahlangu.
Bhagat Singh.
Ahmed Timol.
Rajguru.
Vuyisile Mini.
Prakash Napier
Sukhdev.
Steve Biko.
Victoria Mxenge.
Yusuf Akhalwaya.

Just a few names of the many more who gave up their youth, cruelly executed by the merciless foe.

4.

The torch bearers of the struggles, are forever etched in our minds, always kept close to our hearts, for these were the giants who inspired countless more to join the just cause for universal human dignity.

Their names are legendary:

Nelson Mandela.
Lillian Ngoyi.
Jawaharlal Nehru.
Sarojini Naidu.
Walter Sisulu.
Mahatma Gandhi.
Dorothy Nyembe.
Oliver Tambo.
Charlie Andrews.
Ahmed Kathrada.
Sardar Patel.
Govan Mbeki.
Nana Sita.
Chris Hani.
Aruna Asaf Ali.
Andrew Mlangeni.
Margaret Mncadi.
Sucheta Kriplani.
Ruth First.
Subhash Chandra Bose.
Joe Slovo.
Raymond Mhlaba.

These are but a few of our eternal flames – the flames that shall burn bright in the hearts of all freedom loving people.

5.

Our mother was born into a politically active family. Our grandfather a fierce opponent of racism and sectarianism in all its grotesque forms.

Our mother grew up in this cauldron of political agitation.

Our mother married our father and a daughter and a son were born, while Papa made his way in and out of jail, Mummy was left to tend for the infants, Tasneem and Azad.

Our parents were forced into exile, with their beloved young children left behind in the care of loving maternal grandparents, uncles and aunts.

Mummy as a mother suffered harshly and went through many breakdowns, being separated from Tasneem and Azad. I think only people who have been apart from their children will understand the pain of a mother.

People often think life in exile was easy. It was not. Papa was with MK and travelled continuously. It was mummy who was left with her thoughts, her grief, her pain and suffering knowing that her children were suffering by not having parents like normal families do.

People also called mummy ‘cheeky’ with a quick and bad temper, but can anyone understand the pain of being separated from ones own children and not becoming angry and feeling broken.

What Tasneem and Azad had to suffer through only they know. No one who has not been ripped away from their parents can ever ever know the effect that pain and pining has on the children. Today we see people whose kids go for sleepovers with friends and already the house seems empty and already the parents and the children miss each other and WhatsApp each other.

Tasneem and Azad never had that luxury.

May my nieces never forget the sacrifice mummy and daddy made and the pain of that time that can never really heal.

So may we try and spend time just thinking how it would be for the nunis if they had their parents suddenly taken away from them and then having to live with uncles and aunties, and grandparents.

These are the scars of history.

These are the wounds that never heal.

These are the sacrifices that go unnoticed.

These are the gnawing ache that history often forgets.

These are the experiences of countless mothers and their children.

This is the price paid dearly for the freedom and democracy we share today.

6.

The 15th of August, a day of celebration of freedom in India.

The 15th of August, a day of reflection for our family in South Africa.

Long live the Women’s Movement!

Viva the strength and power of the women!

( dedicated to Zubeida ‘Zubie’ Moolla, and to all the women, the unsung heroines in all the struggles for freedom across the world )

My mother with Comrade Nelson Mandela in Stockholm 1990

Johannesburg Blues.

Walking in this city of diamonds,
gold deep beneath my feet,

sleeping under her rainy skies,
embracing my newspaper sheet.

I had a life long ago, a woman too,
now I’m just a huddle of rags,

while the women walk past
never reaching into their Gucci bags.

She left me, or I left myself,
on these bleak Jo’burg roads,

searching for that fix at these desolate crossroads.

Now I stand alone,
these empty streets my bed,

my blood soaking the earth
with drops of beaten red.

So I wish you well, friends,
I wish you gold dust amidst the fray,

all of you who walk on and away,

leaving me to beg or borrow,
to get through another Jo’burg day.




Struggle, Exile & Love” by Afzal Moolla published by the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation.

https://www.kathradafoundation.org/






Foreword to my book by South African National Poet Laureate Comrade Mongane Wally Serote.




Professor Mongane Wally Serote.

South African National Poet Laureate.




Afzal Moolla-The Poet.


Afzal Moolla is a South African poet. He is a prolific poet. He grew up in a family, which, for the longest of time, was part and parcel of the liberation struggle in South Africa. That is to say, he grew up in a family of freedom fighters. 


You can imagine what he had to listen to at an early age. He absorbed it all.  His folks are elderly now. 


“…These were the early 1970s, and this story was told to me by my parents, who themselves were recently arrived political exiles in India, having to leave South Africa, where my father, Moosa “Mosie” Moolla was arrested along with Nelson Mandela and 156 others in the infamous Treason Trial of 1956…”


 He is young, living in a country which emerged from the depth of one of the most cruel political systems ever imagined by human beings. Nothing will allow Afzal to forget that, even as he may have been a toddler when that system was at its most vicious. 


And now at his adult life, some among us, seek to destroy a dream of the people. We must scrutinize what this poet says about those who do that: who are they if face to face with OR, Madiba, Che, Fidel… that they can ony be traitors.


As we read what Afzal says, we will also be engulfed by a progressive and humane attitude of human life. Afzal is of Indian origin, a South African, whose young mind was shaped by a people who had to strife with everything possible to be human.

The combination of poetry and prose in Afzal’s rendition, walks one in very rough terrain, not sparing one. He calls all this, his work:

                                                                 
STRUGGLE   EXILE    LOVE 


“…As we walked through the tombstones of the war soldiers from all parts of the world, my father explained how apartheid was a scourge like Fascism and Nazism. He explained how the world had joined forces to fight Mussolini and Hitler, and why we too had to fight against apartheid….”


Even when the worst of things are explored in this work, the optimism of the spirit from the poet, is still the basis to seek hope; to search for a way out of pessimism. A rare skill indeed.  He can express anger, or despair, even cynicism, as also he seeks an anchor in the strength which resides in the hearts of human beings. And therefore Afzal, refuses to let go of the humaneness of human beings. 


He then braves the challenge by referencing the reality of the beings of struggle as the names of the freedom fighters spread throughout the pages which carry the weight of his writing.


There is too much pain in Afzals work, but equally there is love, there is joy and as said there is hope. Afzal is a skilled artisan of things made of words that is, of things which become the writing on the wall: a history, a culture tempered in the freedom struggle.


Searching.


Searching,

in the debris of the past,

scraps of casually discarded emotion.

Searching,

in hastily trashed yesterdays,

an inkling of moments flung away.

Searching,

in heaps of rubbished words,

that tiresome sigh of defeated thought.

Searching,

in the layers of moulted skin

the wilting self that once was true.

Searching,

in the reflections between the ripples,

for the whispered pangs of roaring desire.

Searching,

in the blank eyes streaming endlessly,

an echo of the faintest sigh of new life.

Searching.


There is no letting go here. Life is pursued relentlessly, with the knowledge that life itself is a struggle for life and living; but also, knowing from having lived in struggle and among freedom fighters that there is no alternative to freedom. That want and that knowledge is insatiable; it is only satisfied by the reality of the manifestation of the spirit, meaning, everything which is liveable and defining being free.


(About Timol-a name we know because its reality teaches about the extremes of human cruelty, but also about utter commitment to that unbreakable particle of the human spirit which forever defines, and forever seeks freedom. )


today their lies have been consigned to the dirt.

They tried to murder an ideal,

the revolutionary spirit that burned bright in your heart,

they tried to silence you, not knowing your memory shall never depart.

They tried to kill you,

but they will never silence you,

for you live,

through the expanse of our land,

mingling in the rivers,

standing high upon our shared revolutionary hill,

they tried to silence you,

yet the hunger for justice will never be still,

they tried to silence you, but the memory of your martyrdom never will.


—————————————————–


March 21, 1960 – Sharpeville


They shot you in the back.

The oppressors lead tearing into muscled flesh. The flesh of Africa.

They massacred you in Sharpeville, in Soweto.

Today we remember you.

We salute you…


There is an isiZulu saying which rings of finality in its utterance, expression and thirst for freedom: si dela nina e ni lele (we envy you who have fallen). It is a battle cry. It is an expression of love and hope. It is a yearning which is insatiable which knows and aligns with the purpose of life that living life is a definition of Freedom. When Afzal names the freedom fighters, and as a series ofthese names emerge and spread throughout his poetry, it conjures that feelingandthat understanding.


That is what defines Dr Martin Luther King Jr. (1929 – 1968)


You had a dream, of pastures of peace,

where children of all hues mingle like rainbows.

They silenced you, yet your dream

resounds louder still,

in pastures not yet of peace,

where children of all hues mingle like rainbows.


———————————————


The Wind Carries his Name


They shot him down,

to silence a man of flesh and bone.

Even as the bullets tore through him,

the wind carried his name.

Far across the weary fields,

high above the stubborn peaks,

over the blood-soaked streams,

the wind carried his name.

They shot him down,

to silence a man of flesh and bone.

Yet the wind carries his name,

to you and to me,

to them and to us.

They shot him down,

but his name resounds,

as it floats on the breeze.

And,

still they try to shoot him down,

to silence us all,

to stifle an ideal.

But the wind cannot be stilled,

and the wind carries his name:

Che” 


Afzal is here, with that ‘…they…”  referring to the international oligarchy, that “ …small group of people,,,”, who with mighty force control everything at all cost, against billions of people, indeed against humanity, who now, as Afzal warns us are pushing all of humanity to the precipice of a final and last war, if there are no thousands upon thousands of “Che(s)” who must emerge to stop them.


The world, humanity is once more, as the saying goes, that “…history repeats itself…”  faced by a great possibility of an international arms race. The oligarchy’s objective: to amass all the resources of the earth for the “…small group of people…” They are relentless.


Afzal’s work of poetry traverses human feelings fearlessly.  He is the child of Freedom. He is the adult nurtured by a series of names of people who carried the blood that has been spilled, whether in the street, or in the veld, or in the houses, on the bed or finally ill of health and having to bid a frail life farewell-nevertheless, life which sought to express the will of millions who have been trampled upon by the international oligarchy, “…a small group of people…” who will stop at nothing to burn the world and is content, turning it into ashes.


Afzal keeps “…Searching…” because he was brought up and grew up in the struggle for freedom. He searches, seeking to find  that particle, which no one can break because it resides in spirit-it knows peace, it knows being secure,  it knows the meaning of freedom. It is profound in it being simple. 


To OR: Afzal says:


And then finally off to a new dwelling in a faraway alien land,

reeking and drenched in a foreignness so blatantly bland,

never fitting in, though always dreading being shut out,

singing paeans to hope scribbled in the sand.

You left your country, your home, your very own place of being,

you fled, into exile, far away from blinded eyes so unseeing,

and you held to a principle within, and you stood resolute,

till the shadows felt themselves in shame fleeing,

We salute you! And all like you, and the so many countless more,

into whose flesh the tyrant’s sword so cruelly tore,

We salute you!

You who fought at home and you who left to fight. 


To his mother, who is an experience and  voice of many women in South Africa, on Our Continent, and of the world; Victims of the powerful “…small group of people…” in the world, who tear it apart.


For our Mother, Zubeida Moolla (1934 – 2008)



She left us,

with the thoughts of her embrace to warm us,

in frigid mornings of tomorrows yet to come.

She left us,

with words of tender truths to shroud us,

in the coming evenings of slicing sleet.

She left us,

yet she stays within us,

in our waking dreams, our restful thoughts.

She stays within us,

and of us she shall remain an abiding part,

of the love,

the pain,

the tears,

and for that, we shall never be truly apart.


What all of these words say, which Afzal has crafted, which we dare not forget, is that we as South Africans, as Africans come from a poetic place, as do all of humanity who come from a “…Paean…” a ululation and praise of the relentless freedom fighters.




Professor Mongane Wally Serote.

South African National Poet Laureate. 

Johannesburg
January 2020



             ___________________________


My deepest gratitude to the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation for this distinct honour they have bestowed upon me by choosing to publish my scribbles of poetry and of verse.

Immense thanks to Dr. Ismail Vadi for his tireless efforts editing and taking on this labour of love from inception to completion.

My heartfelt appreciation and thanks to family, comrades and friends and all here on WordPress for being so kind and warm to me always.

This book would not have been possible without my “WordPress family” and the though we may not “know” each other we are connected by the common thread of humanity that binds us.

Thank you all!

Respectfully,

Afzal Moolla
February 2021





H O P E  for a New Year 2021 …

May we be gentler, softer and generous in spirit,

may we raise our voices against injustice whenever and wherever we see it,

may we treasure the love of family and of friends,

may we not be suckered into the million and one new trends,

may we speak truth to power in this world that is veering to the ominous right,

may we hold on to our basic humane principles strong and tight,

may we embrace the other without being bombarded by politicians’ peddling fear,

may we realise that all races and religions and genders belong equally on this earth so dear,

may we struggle for mother earth and may we heed her cries,

may we realise that without her everything dies,

may we continue to stand and fight for gender-rights and equality and justice and peace and hope and dignity for all,

may we be more willing to lend a hand to those who slip and fall.

May we finally realise that all the blood that has been callously shed –

is of one colour,

for we all bleed red …

The New Ballad of Bruce…

When I was Growin’ Up in that Jungleland, your love reached out into our Secret Garden, your love a simple Human Touch away, baby I’m on Fire, just a-Waiting for a Sunny Day, where chrome stars shine as we took a Leap of Faith, our Hungry Hearts wound and bound, taut as the music so stark, clinging onto each other, us against this callous world, us Working on a Dream, cheek to cheek Dancing in the Dark, vowing to each other that we’d never give in, making our way out of this Lucky Town, lucky for the few but not for me and you, lucky for those who basked in the promising sun, knowing all along that you and I were always Born to Run, slipping down the Tunnel of Love, clouded by a Brilliant Disguise, even as we were Blinded by the Light, stumbling all across those desolate Streets of Philadelphia, reaping the Seeds we had sown, trying and trying and failing and failing to believe the lie that We take care of our Own, when all they threw at us was that we were charmed, we were so damned fortunate, to be Born in the USA, all and all they beat us down, taking old Johnny 99 away, dumping him in the gutters of Nebraska, leaving us with no Reason to Believe, while we clung to each Spirit in the Night, drowning in the heartless debt of fate as the crows crowed, all along the mirage of that Thunder Road, seeking not much at all, just a helping hand, while the TV kept lying to us, all about The Promised Land, and as they took a Wrecking Ball to our homes and friends, my Bobby Jean out on her lonesome trying, just trying to make amends, no longer sitting with me on my rusty fender, still believing the oath of No Surrender, for while The River flowed, our splintered dreams cast aside, in hushed conversation with The Ghost of Tom Joad, still clinging, hugging, lying that I was Tougher than the Rest, shoveling crap Working on the Highway, never buying the lie that we would thrive, when all we did was thank the stars that We are Alive,

but deep in my heart, I knew I was Goin’ Down,

all the way back,

To that empty Darkness at Edge of Town…

Random twirls, Fresh swirls …

raspberry leaves whirl, as flavours of life,
yawning, begin to unfurl …

.

dusk falls, day palls,

each moment randomly twirls,

.

each minute unveiling fresh swirls …