Showing posts from 2017

Take Only What You Need

I have always been one to pack too much for a trip. I pack things I may need, just in case. Today I ask myself: why? I realize now... because I am anxious about what I am leaving behind. Pack the just-in-case suitcase NO MORE! Envision where you are going, know what you DON'T need. Leave it behind. Defy the gravitational pull of the way things were... Soar and breakthrough to higher ground with your suitcase lighter. unpacking = unlocking creativity. Mama Shujaa

Sunflowers and Bonfires

It is Saturday night . The bonfire is crackling, flames roar and fan the black sky. The kanga that your big cousin sister taught you how to drape over your head, leaving only slits for your eyes, is caressing your cheeks. You've grown used to draping, not to protect from chilly nights, but to watch kissing scenes on TV when Baba and Mama are in the room. And for Bonfire nights because you never know where conversations might lead, with all the artists-in-residence, who are now family. That way you can blush in private.  You and the artists are seated on wooden stools in a taught semi-circle.  Tonight there is one question smoldering. Will Gregory be punished for his rebellious act? Thud ! A log gives in. Hiss ! Sap foams from a wet branch. Battles fought and won. All eyes fixed on the coal, pearls in a bed of fire. Do you remember when Gregory first arrived from Denver, Colorado? Everyone was excited to welcome the first cultural-exchange-program-artist-in-residenc

Walking Blind

Nairobi, 1978   Don't open your eyes until I tell you to open them, he said. I squeezed my eyelids tight. I have a surprise for you, he said. He clasped my hand as we walked. The crunching twigs beneath our feet The scent of bougainvillea Bazooka gum at the corner kiosk The chatter of the passersby My senses were heightened even though He tried to distract me with the Convoluted circle we walked. Logs, branches came. We veered off the main road Ducked under a fence. Then I heard it. Humming, splashing, and gushing. The scent of water lilies saturated the air. Water drizzled on my arms. Now! His voice echoed in the clearing. I opened my eyes. Before us was a waterfall Water, like satin curtains dropped over rocks draped with moss. Water, like the gates to heaven where sins were washed away. I looked up at my brother.  His arms were crossed, right hand cradling left elbow, left hand cradling right elbow. He

The Shirt Waiting In The Closet

THE purple and white silk shirt in a plastic bag in my closet is waiting in perpetual uncertainty to be worn.   I bet I would have worn it with my pink platform shoes on December 24, 1979 when I squeezed through the bars of my bedroom window and jumped and landed on the flower bed. SAFI's welcoming tongue on my bare ankles gave me the go-ahead and her eyes shone with a glint of the moon as I approached the gate and the headlamps of the car waiting to steal me away to a birthday party in town, forbidden by Baba. BUT alas, the purple and white silk shirt compressed in a storage bag is weary of my happily ever after, it begs me to unfold it, it promises not to disappoint the encroaching years and my big boobs; it promises to steady my grip as I approach the doorway to the memories that form me. Mama Shujaa