Our people utter proverbs when the truth is heavy on their tongues.
How easy it is to roll out lies, like someone casting groundnuts into their mouth, one goes in, then another, and another…and in between pauses, words are uttered, but no breath taken. These people could turn into ashes and I would walk over them sizzling hot and grey.
They say I drink.
You see the women scrunch up their noses whenever I approach them on the road. One path for the drunkard, another for the righteous gossip. The one who wags their tongue faster than their breath for it’s better to talk about your neighbor’s woes than it is to lend a helping hand.
I dream of ashes.
I dream in grey.
My Salama…my beautiful piece of the moon, cast away…bloated, pale and never to smile or call me “Baba.” Oh, these ashes call my name…‘Baraka!’ they taunt and chant and whisper in the dark and I drown them with the one thing that works.
Oh, this is the best gift these ashes ever made…they act like people, demand to be treated like gods but are ashes, piles of grey…oh how my feet yearn to trample on them simply to behold my Salama.
Our people say that the forgiven are free.
Our people forget about the ones who cannot forget.
They say that memories weigh us down like sacks of maize on our backs. Salama went to the river to fetch water but of those whom she walked past, greeted, fetched water with…no one can tell me how it is that the same river swallowed her up without them seeing.
Who is to be forgiven when everyone here says they never saw or heard her cries? How is it that the river, this river before me…brown, raging but always still…how could it swallow up my moon while the sun was shining?
I dream of ashes but most of the time alI I see is grey smoke…I have lost her eyes, smile, smell…the seasons come and go but nothing remains of her. Every season takes away bits of my Salama, now I have her voice but even holding onto that does not stop me from seeing grey smoke.