The Insane Saint

 

The women with cartons of fresh milk pass by me each morning. They grow quieter as they draw closer, the wind without a scroll and the barrow’s wheels that skip on the rocks fill the space between us. I pray that today they will look at me. I do not seek their gifts or laughter, but only to be looked at, to know that I am still here. But like yesterday, and every day since I saw crimson, they have forsaken me.

I have been tied to this tree since the end of Ramadan. In my long days alone, I’ve pondered this timing. Had they waited till the final days hoping my cure would come in that blessed month? Or did they seek to prolong my torment for a day that was lesser than holy? Does such calculated timing ease the regret for treating another human this way? It must be so, for they have left me here between these two trees, only bringing my two meals and water, but never speaking to me. They tell me that the water is for ablution, but I always drink it instead.

I sometimes wonder where God is.  On days that the sun has mercy, I try escaping from the rope around my ankles, but this rope has woven in it, curses that leave me defeated. When the children are released from lessons after the afternoon prayer, some walk by me on their way home. I stop struggling to escape when I see them, for I do not want to frighten them. It always burns, and blood sometimes trickles to my heels. I don’t resume fighting for freedom until the flesh has turned to scar. Sometimes the scars form quicker than usual, and on those occasions, I know God exists.

I try not to ponder, for my own introspection often brings me greater discomfort than this physical disposition. Questioning this circumstance won’t shift my fate. Whether it be day or night, I am void of dreams. I have little hope, despite the promise imprinted in the patterns of my shawl. Patience is my only possession.

Things were not always this way. Hooyo could not bear any more children after me, and unlike the ordinary men in our village, this did not upset Aabo. He did not demand from her body more than it was willing to give, and our surplus was scarce, so this was a rightful omen. We had little, but we never complained. We were different from the other families in the village. My Aabo would cook and clean with Hooyo, and Hooyo would herd animals with Aabo because she never wanted him to feel lonely in the fields, and while Aabo enjoyed his solitude, he enjoyed my mother’s company more. Between the three of us, we carried more than half of all the love in the village, and for this, we were envied.

Some of the villagers say it was the evil eye that destroyed my family, others say it was my father’s grand lie, but neither is the case. The people did this to us. They did this to me.

It all began three years ago after Aabo’s misfortune. He had gone to the fields alone as Hooyo and I went to the market. He did not come back that night, and Hooyo would not wait for morning to question his whereabouts. She would not rest without her beloved. Alone, Hooyo left in the bleakness of dark night to find him. To her, fear was but perfume to the hyenas, so she guarded her spear in one hand, and prayer beads in the other.

I finished my chores alone that next morning. The camels were milked and I had blisters to show for the washed garments. Later in the day, as I sat by the steps of the kitchen door, I saw three figures approaching. They were back.  I squinted to see clearer and realized the smallest of the three was Aabo. He was bent over and carried by Hooyo and Adeero Bishar. Forgetting my sandals and shawl, I ran to them.

Aabo had fallen from one of the rocky hills, fracturing his skull. Hooyo said his head painted the rocks crimson. This made me cry. The elder women who visited our family later in the day inspected him and said that his injuries were not life-threatening, as he could still speak and eat. They said his pain would dissipate with time and that he would be normal. Normal. Aabo was never again normal. In the year following his accident, our family became well known among even the neighboring villages.

Aabo had begun to have visions. Some proved to be true, others did not. I knew it was all guesswork, but the villagers thought his unfulfilled prophecies only needed time to yield to fruition.  How could they be so foolish! Could they not recognize that he was but a man with an injured mind? They deemed him a saint on the day he said it would rain although it hadn’t in 5 months and not a cloud was in sight. He spoke of rain just like all the other random things he’d mention in the same breath, “Rain, cows, lentils, pomegranates, goats.” Nothing but the words of a farmer, and yet they called him a saint! I wish it stopped there.

His fatal prophecy came.  He envisioned that he was immortal. He told the villagers that certain saints were safe from the angel of death. He followed by saying that anyone who tried to kill or steal from a saint would damn themselves and their unborn lineage into the pits of hellfire. On one hand, my father was now insane, but on the other, he was smart enough to arrange protection. But he was more parts insane than he was smart.

As the days went by, the people conspired to test his sainthood and held a feast in his honor. There were lentils of all sorts and pomegranates of all sizes. Then one by one, the village council proceeded with questions for my Aabo. First, they asked if saints were always truthful, which to this he said yes. Then, they asked if he had extraordinary physical powers, and he confidently proclaimed that he did. Finally, they asked him to describe them. At that moment, everyone seized to breathe, the goats did not move a hoof, nor the birds a feather. Then with the smile of an insane man, my Aabo announced, I can fly.

My heart dropped.

In the night I begged Aabo to take back all that he had said, but he did not know between a dream and fib. He had never been the same since his accident, and no amount of rationality could help him reason beyond his mental destruction.

The next morning, the villagers sang songs and beat drums as they followed behind their new saint. Hooyo and I followed behind the crowd, in fear and confused about where Aabo was taking the villagers.

Hooyo grabbed my hand tightly and said that the rocks beneath her sandals felt familiar although she had never come this far.

After the sun had sunk into the midline of the sky, Aabo told the village to stop, and we stopped. He then said he would climb up the hill to make a speech. My mother shouted for him to do no such thing, but in a loud voice, he ordered her to be silent. Hooyo’s face became red with furry, Aabo would not dare utter anything but poetry and compliments to her, this man on the rocks was not really her beloved and not my Aabo.

He stood in silence on the rocks and put his hands on his hips whilst looking into the sky with his eyes closed. The villagers egged him on, chanting his name. We watched him with our mouths open and our hands cold. What was he going to say? What would he do?

Aabo then began his speech. I looked to Hooyo, there was no focus in her eyes, she became a prisoner in her own body, eager but unable. She then broke her stillness and grabbed my arm tight and dragged me to the side of the crowd. The people were still chanting and cheering—deluded by their conspired superstition of Aabo. Hooyo then stopped and immediately, her eyes began to swell. There it was. The crimson rocks. She screamed, and at that moment, he jumped to show the village he could fly. And on that same rock, his head was no longer as God made it. He died that way.

On that same day, Hooyo’s heart broke, and she too died.

I became the orphan.

The village never spoke of the day again, while they easily chose to let go, the events followed me without solicitation. I went on to have terrors about what I saw become of my sweet Aabo. I would not speak when I was spoken to, for I could not forgive anyone for making a pawn out of my father’s insanity. I would not eat so that I could remind myself of the pleasant hungry days before sainthood’s poisoned wealth. I would not shower, for I had no desire to be presentable. This went on for some time.

The village women would visit me, some because it was the social expectation, and others because their compassion was genuine. But eventually I had no visitors, even the compassionate have their priorities. Only the wandering goat would sometimes find its way through the opened kitchen door, and its visitation made me joyful, although I had forgotten how to smile. Maybe that’s why it too stopped visiting.

My isolation became sickening, my thoughts pulsed louder and I would scream in order to diffuse them. When the screams started, the villagers began to remember me, but this time, they decided to deal with me.  First, they moved me into a widow’s home. She had three adult children. Two of them I still pray for, as when I became violent, they were patient. It was the elder son who visited on Friday’s that I resented. It was him that advised his mother to take me elsewhere, and as widowed mothers do when their eldest son speaks, she agreed.

I did not wish to always be violent, but it sustained me. My force was the only proof of my bodily autonomy, for despite that I could never control my rampant thoughts, my fist would land exactly where and on who I wanted it to, and that meant something.

This is why I ended up here. On an off-road land where I could scream without disturbing someone in prayer or slumber, where I could sit without harming, and where I could exist and be forgotten.

On days where death feels closer, I am happy that Aabo at least got to be free in the air, perhaps such is better than dying on a bed or grounded to the limits of some surface with no latitude for the possibility of sailing or soaring.

***

Months later, heat and hunger overtook the young girl tied to the trees. Below is a poem she wrote in the sand before her departure from this life.

***

Betwixt and between the tree I am tied to & the remains of the dead bird at my feet

I am not in eternal slumber but nor am I in flight

At the mercy of how my people see me, at the mercy of what they decide to do with me

This is how I will remain until the angel of death calls for my soul

and gathers the meddlers of my fate to their accountability on judgment day

 

Peace & Blessings,

Karima Osman

Two Things

I really like gold. I like to sleep in my gold, & to shower in it. Of course, that would then suggest that I’m practical about the amount of gold I wear. Dainty necklaces and rings suffice for daily wear, perhaps a bangle or two on days I want to feel more put together.

I only wear gold gifted to me. I don’t wear my pieces unless they carry sentiment. That isn’t to say I wouldn’t buy gold for myself someday, but when I do, know that I am celebrating some momentous occasion in doing so. I never wear jewelry for the sake of extravagance, I’m not so concerned with a reputation endowed by what dispensible wealth can acquire. I will not be like the aunties on wedding days who decorate their chests with gold heavier than the infant who must be fed. My jewelry must be as modest as it is beautiful. The question that then begs is why gold? Well, there’s no other way for the daughter of Munisa. I cannot be without my gold.

I also like the smell of burning charcoal. It carries me to the streets of Hargeisa, to my harsh ayeeyo, and to the goats that enter the open kitchen door. I remember smelling the same scent in New York, and another time whilst in Uganda. It is unparalleled. I wish I could leave a washcloth in Hargeisa’s streets and let the trucks run over it, or the people with sand buried in their toenails kick it out of their way. The cloth would collect all the filth and all the particles of burnt charcoal,  the ashes of my people’s troubles. I would then guard that washcloth, for fear if the rain washed over it, the uncontained stream would redistribute the unsolicited dirt and tribulations among the people. No, I wouldn’t let such a thing happen! I would sleep with that cloth by my feet and smell it each morning to renew my promise to my people.

Peace & Blessings,

Karima Osman

Protect Yourself

Like the wood anemone that grows in bounty,

she widens her spirit with a rolling pin & throws it out the kitchen window.

Letting it roam vast oceans and municipal roads,

deciding for itself whom to love and where feels like home.

 

After days of unassisted travel, her spirit boomerangs back

& splats against the kitchen window.

She smiles, knowing that her spirit feels most honored behind the ribs in her chest,

not imprisoned, but guarded against the ills of the world’s unrest.

 

Peace & Blessings,

Karima Osman

V

how beautiful are the birds that soar in a V through the cotton candy sky?

how forbearing is the leaf that holds to its branch irrespective of the wind that wants it damned in flight?

what good are tears that don’t bring resolve or relief to the desiccated parts of the heart?

Stop expecting from them what they haven’t learned to give.

Don’t nurture another’s potential when you can manifest the validation you crave from within.

Peace & Blessings,
Karima Osman

Love Thy Self

This is a message by me for me.

One major disclaimer. If anyone in my inner circle listens to this and feels any type of way. Don’t! This is all about me being more intentional in showing up for myself and being accountable for my own emotional growth. Much love xoxo

And above all, I Love you Karima. (wow that felt weird to say, but it SHOULDN’T) lol

Peace and blessings y’all!  😉

 

 

(Beat by yonder)

The Pangs of Love

When the steed of my heart aches in weariness,
slit its throat with the sword of your tongue.
Move me with your wisdom, I can handle it despite that I am young.

Allow my blood-soaked sins to trickle into the river of purification.
Then bring your lips to the incision you made, and with your affection, make the pulsing pangs of this world dissipate.

You’re never too far for me to feel,
but if the cries of my steed prevent me from hearing,
call to the wind and convince her of all the goodness a union like ours could bring.

& if we are deserving, she will whisper your message to me.

 

Peace & Blessings,

Karima Osman

👁

In the desert of my soul, I know there is truth.
It may be hard to find, hidden in the sand dunes.
But if the wind that carries my faith is strong,
then the weighted grains of desires will fall,
leaving uncovered, the light that I’ve searched for all my life.

Now that I have it, my ankles shrink slim and free
from the chains of why’s and what is or isn’t meant to be 
the clarity is blinding
…Now that I have it, how should I handle this?

The Observation of Shamsa’s Spouse

Every night, my dear Shamsa awakes from her sleep.

She does not leave the bed from hunger or an ill dream.

Nor does she speak to me as she untangles herself from the sheets.

Verily this is her routine.

 

She does not know that I see her in these late hours of the night.

But my adoration for her grows tenfold with the prayer mat she unfolds.

Never have I seen an insomniac so pure.

Never do I forget to thank my creator for a lover who lights the darkness with her noor.

 

Peace and Blessings,

Karima Osman

*sigh*

I hold back on writing to you because enough people give you praise.

What weight would my words hold? What difference would the ink of my love make?

 

I hold back on writing to you because I want from you the devotion I’m too tired to give.

At a command, a branch will not offer a fig. One must pull and work for it.

So, won’t you work for this?

 

I’ve already reasoned with your shortcomings.

New curtains have been hung, and the Turkish cupboard has been dusted.

 

For you, I am ready.

I would dream of you but the moon is a woman and she won’t let me.

 

I have learned not to rest in a home built from strings of words.

Periods prove no point, exclamations marks don’t excite me, and

a grammarian’s suitcase does not have enough commas

to embrace me when your promises fall short.

 

I hold back on writing to you, because your heart isn’t ready to listen.

The Ink of the heavens now rests, so when our timing is rightfully positioned, make an offering to me with conviction.

 

Peace and Blessings,

Karima Osman

(Y’all this shit right here is mad corny, don’t know what got into me)

 

 

 

Jazz Lady

She moved like Jazz.
Newspaper boy wanted her bad.
Upgraded his bike and basket for a caravan so he could show her that he was the man.

She didn’t pay him any mind.
He asked her why.
& she said, “When you depart from this world your caravan will stay behind
so what then is your worth?”

Newspaper boy felt her words
& started reading the papers he once sold.

He found what money couldn’t buy.
The fruition of the mind.
Arsenal of the soul.
The real power in this world.
The more you know the more you’ll soar.

He came back for the jazz lady,
not on wheels, but with new wings.
He asked to dance, and she looked to the piano man and told him to stop his song.
She told newspaper boy that she knew he’d return, for her intuition was strong.
She took his hand and said,
“Take us to the clouds so we can dance to what the birds sing, I want us to take from what we know and build a staircase onto the love our Lord ”

Peace and Blessings,

Karima Osman