On my father’s balcony the stars envied us,
We would spread our mats and nets and gaze at them,
And they would spread their beauty up above and wink at us.
On this balcony the gentle breeze is our ally as we swat away
the flying devils seeking blood,
No, we are not intimidated by the mosquitoes, no, we are fiercer,
Our thirst for story is stronger as we hungrily huddle together
listening to stories after stories.
I was born into a lineage of story tellers,
a torch passed from my ancestors to my father’s lips
where my fingers snatched her first script,
luring me to expand the narrative as my imagination stretches
and now, my daughter puts me to bed with her own stories long after mine is told.
where I come from we do not hide from thunderstorms,
we play hide and seek in the rain.
We do not ignore our pain but find healing in our vulnerability
And when darkness reigns we light our space with each other’s lamp
Where I come from a bell rings
Just twice but its power has taken us miles
In the morning it rings for praise and at dawn its thanksgiving
We do not forsake faith but dig deeper even when the well seems dry.
Where I come from children giggle at nothing and for nothing
They dance with priceless freedom and laugh at bata dance moves
teaching the old the new makossa and shoki
Where I come from my sister’s struggle is mine
We would go the whole nine yards and more, leveling mountains for love
This is priceless freedom
Where I come from.
© shola Amaraibi