Thursday, October 01, 2009 

The Bus Accident !

As the bus drove through the main, road a loud bang was suddenly heard! The people at the front stuck their heads to the windows to get a better look. The people at the back crowded round their own windows to have a better view. The driver put his hazard lights on and stopped.

Those in the middle started murmuring and asking what the matter was.

Woman at the front: A car just hit a little boy.

Woman at the back: The driver could not break in time.

Man at the front: He was going too fast.

Man at the back: The boy came out of nowhere.

Woman at the front: It was the driver's fault.

Man at the back: It was the little boy's fault.

Man at the front: The driver should have slowed down.

Woman at the back: He was going at the required speed and had no time to slow down.

Man in the middle: Well, if the boy came out of nowhere then it must be his fault. This is a main road and the driver must have been going at the required speed.

Woman at the front: One day, these crazy young drivers are going to kill us all.

Woman at the back: I feel sorry for the poor driver. Can you imagine how he's feeling now?

Man at the front: How do you think the poor boy feels? How do you think his family feels?

Man at the back: His family should have taught him how to cross the road properly. It's partly their fault that he's lying there now soaking in his own blood.

Woman at the front: Is the driver related to you or something?

Man at the back: Fair is fair, my dear lady.

Man at the front: What is fair about killing young children?

Woman at the back: Don't twist things and make it sound like murder please. It was an accident and the kid was at fault.

Woman at the front: It is murder if the child dies.

Man at the back: You are taking things out of all proportions. If the child dies it would be accidental murder at best.

Man at front: Still murder though.

Woman at back: Would you be saying the same thing if the victim was an adult rather than a child?

Woman at front: I would say the same if it were a darn cat.

Man at back: Well, it is not the driver's fault. We at the back had a good view of the accident and clearly saw the child run in front of the car.

Man at front: No. We had a much better view at the front and saw how fast the driver was going.

Man in the middle: I bet the bus driver had a better view than most. What do you think, driver?

Driver: I did not see anything. I was daydreaming about when my shift will end.

Woman at front: See? All drivers are just dangerous. I bet the other driver was also daydreaming about something or another before hitting that poor child.

Driver: In thirty years of driving I have never had a single accident.

Man at the back: Don't listen to her. This lady has her own agenda and is trying to distort things.

Woman at the back: That's obvious. It is shameful to take advantage of such a sad situation.

Man at the front: She is right though. Most drivers are only interested in how nice their cars are and how fast they can go instead of public safety and careful driving.

Man at the back: That is not true.

Man at the front: Look at his car, mate. It is a brand new Porsche! Do you think someone that drives such a fast car, bought it because of its safety record? He is obviously a speed nut.

Woman at the back: What has his car got to do with anything?

Woman at the front: You can tell a person by the car they drive. Most drivers are egotistical maniacs.

Man at the front: Indeed. He is driving a Porsche, my good lady. If that means anything, it shows that he has more money than sense. I despise these spoilt rich kids.

Man at the back: You are using your prejudices to analyse this accident.

Man in the middle: Sounds like it to me.

Woman in the middle: Does the driver look like an irresponsible person? Can you really judge just by looking at him?

Woman at the front: Actually, he just came into view. He looks like a middle-aged man.

Man at the front: He does not look like the type that would drive such an expensive car!

Man at the back: He looks like a university professor or something.

Woman at the back: Poor man looks distraught.

Woman at the front: What's poor about that? He just killed a child!

Man in the middle: If he does not look like someone who would drive this kind of car then maybe he borrowed it and was struggling to work out how to drive it. These sorts of cars are very tricky.

Man at the front: If that is true, he really should not have tried to test it in a public road. Don't put other people's lives at risk just because you want to try a fast car.

Woman at the front: True.

Woman at the back: This is mere speculation. For all we know it might be his car.

Man at the back: Exactly. Besides, he would have hit that kid even if he were riding a bicycle instead of a Porsche.

Woman in the middle: I wish he were riding a bicycle.

Man at the front: I wish he were not, the child murderer.

Man at the back: Stop calling him that.

Man at the front: Don't order me around. Come and stop me if you can.

Man at the back: I have too much respect for the ladies present to start a fight with you.

Man at the front: Stop ordering me around then.

Man at the back: Just shut up and carry on talking the rubbish you were spouting all day.

Man at the front: How about I come over and reconstruct your face instead?

Man at the back: I would like to see you try.

Man in the middle: Gentlemen, gentlemen, stop this silly argument.

Man at the front: He started it, the big-mouthed coward.

Man at the back: I'll show you what a big-mouthed coward looks like

They jump on each other and start to fight. The middle man and the driver attempt to stop them. The police, who turned up to attend to the accident, see them and get on the bus to stop the fight.

Policeman: What do we have here then?

Woman at the back: He started it (pointing at the man at the front).

Woman at the front: No. He threw the first punch (pointing at the man at the back).

Woman at the back: Are you his wife or something?

Woman at the front: Fair is fair, madam.

Woman in the middle: There really was no need for all this trouble.

Man at the back: He was being aggressive towards me and I hit him in self-defence.

Woman at the back: Exactly.

Man at the front: We were having an argument and he got violent and used his fists.

Man at the back: You dared me to do it you coward.

Man at the front: Yes I did and I will again if you ever call me a coward again.

Policeman: Simmer down, gentlemen.

Woman in the middle: Is the child from the accident dead, officer?

Policeman: No. He's fine. He only has minor bruises.

Woman at the front: Was it the crazy driver's fault?

Woman at the back: Of course it were not.

Woman at the front: Was I speaking to you, lady? I was asking the officer. Mind your own business please.

Woman at the back: MAKE ME!

Man at the front: You people are very aggressive.

Man the back: Us people? You're a racist too?

Woman at the front: Oh here we go. The minute they get a chance they pull out the race card!

Woman at the back: I knew it. I just knew it.

Policeman: Everyone clam down please.

Man in the middle: This is getting silly. When is this bus going to be allowed to move? I have an urgent appointment in half an hour.

Driver: As soon as the police tell me to go, sir.

Woman at the back: Doubt if he'll allow you to go now. He needs to deal with that racist couple first.

Woman at the front: I am not racist, you opportunistic peasant.

Man at the back: Not just racist, you're an elitist too.

Man in the middle: I don't know about that, my friend. Do elitists take the bus?

Man at the front: Everyone is allowed to take the bus.

Woman at the back: Haha! He didn't understand what elitist means.

Woman at the front: And I suppose a peasant like you does?

Man at the back: Enough of that, lady.

Policeman: This is your last warning. If you people don't stop fighting I will be forced to arrest the lot of you.

Driver: How long before I move, officer? My shift ends in less than an hour.

Policeman (getting really fed up with all the noise): You can go now, mate. If any of these people fight again just drop them at the nearest police station.

The policeman gets off. The driver drives off and everyone gets back to their seats.

At the next stop, a new man gets on and goes to sit in the back of this quite and ordinary bus without realising how much the passengers hate each other.


The Day Sheikh Sharif moved to Villa Somalia!

Amid heightened security and great noise, the right honourable Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, president of Somalia and former Courts Movements leader entered Villa Somalia. Within thirty seconds of walking into the presidential lounge, he dismissed his companions and demanded to have a minute alone. The room was vast. The big western style sofas looked expensive. The faded blue curtains looked depressing. The Kashmir rugs looked comfortable.

He coughed and heard the echo of his cough reverberate around the room. He coughed even louder and the echo came back louder. A civil servant poked his head through the door and asked if everything was ok. The president waved him away and carried on surveying the room. As he did so, he thought about the task ahead. He knew that a lot of work would have to be done to make his plans succeed. He knew he’d have to make many compromises. He was sure he’d be ridiculed. But he was a man on a mission and he had a clear picture of how he wanted to proceed.

“First, I am going to get rid of these ghastly sofas” he said. “Then I am going to order two dozen pillows and a few mattresses,” he added.

He took a step back and started to examine the ceiling. He noticed some cracks from the endless bombardments of the previous few years. “Hmmm! We will have to repaint this and, we’ll also have to change those ugly curtains” he mused.

He walked to the centre of the room, stood straight and widened his feet. He looked at the empty space between his feet and said, “This is where I am going to put my plant”. He slowly swirled on the spot and took a look at all corners of the room. He seemed to imagine different people sat in various places. He beckoned an imaginary person to him and sat on the floor whilst facing this phantom adversary. He smiled, nodded, shrugged, stretched his arms in a besieging way, smiled again and then bid whomever it was he was imagining to bear with him for a minute and hear him out! He stuck his hand in his upper coat pocket and took out a miswaak. He beckoned his opponent to come even closer and pointed him to a spot on the ground. He suddenly gasped and was out of his reverie in an instant. “Sand! We need to have some sand here!” he said to himself.

Now the picture was really forming in his head. He will bring the outside to the Inside. His meeting room is going to be a replica of a Somali traditional summit! “The blue colour will have to go,” he said to himself. “We will have to blend sandy yellow with bright green,” he added.

He called for his assistant to enter the room and gave him instructions on how he wants things to be done. The assistant stood there looking at him with an open mouth and confused look.

“ What’s the matter, man?” Said the president.

“You really want to have a tree in the middle of the room, sir? An acacia tree?” asked the assistant.

“YES. Please see to it that it is planted here as soon as possible. I have no time to waste and have many other things to deal with,” Said the president.

“But, sir, can you not have the tree in the presidential garden? We do have a very spacious garden,” Said the assistant.

“Do you even know why I want the tree here?” asked the president, irately.

“ I am guessing you want to follow the traditional Somali way of sorting disputes, sir,” replied the assistant.

“ Good man. Good man. You are not as retarded as you look after all!” beamed the president.

“But, sir, I still cannot see why you can’t do that in the garden” Asked the assistant patiently.

“The garden will not do, man. Do you not understand? These are secret affairs of the state and I can not conduct such affairs in the open air, the wind has ears” reasoned the president.

“ I understand, sir. So, you want an acacia tree planted in this here spot and you want lots of sand around it, right?” asked the assistant weakly.

“Yes and yes. Hurry up and see that it is done as soon as possible” said the president. “Also” he added, “Make sure that all the other adjustments I asked for are done at the same time”.

The assistant disappeared out of the room for five minutes and returned carrying some urgent dispatches.

“What are these, man?” Asked the president.

“Some paperwork that needs your signature, sir” Replied the assistant.

“Later. Later. First let us get this place in total shipshape. You can’t expect me to fix the country if I can’t even fix my own residence?” He shouted.

“No, sir” Said the assistant.

“What is the presidential bedroom like?” asked the president.

“Err, it is very spacious, sir” replied the assistant.

“Does it have an en-suite bar? I don’t mean an alcohol one, I mean does it have a fridge?” He asked.

“No, sir. But you can order anything you need from the kitchen and someone will bring it to you straight away” said the assistant.

“NO! This will not do. I want you to make sure that the bedroom has a fridge, a TV, a phone or two and an en-suite bathroom. Make sure there are towels and some of that free soap in the bathroom too,” he said.

“As you say, sir” said the assistant.

President Sheikh Sharif stood contemplating for a few minutes. Scratched his beard. Looked down at where his tree shall be planted. Looked at his assistant, and finally said:

“I have noticed that at the entrance to the building there are a couple of soldiers sat on stools by the gate and asking visitors for ID before letting them in”.

“Do you want to get rid of them and open the doors of the palace to the populace, sir?” asked the assistant expectantly.

“No. NO. I just find it queer that only one set of people are meeting and greeting these visitors! Here is what I want you to do. Just before you reach the doors to this room, I want you to put a huge desk and place two pretty girls on it so that they can meet and greet our visitors” said the president.

“Like in a hotel foyer you mean, sir?” asked the assistant.

“Exactly like a hotel. I want the star of Somalia placed behind them in a big green crest” he said.

“But the star of Somalia is blue, sir” said the assistant.

“Not under my leadership. I am an Islamic president, man. The Islamic colour is GREEN,” bellowed the president.

“Very well, sir. Any other orders?” asked the assistant resignedly.

“NO. That is it for now. Just send me the masseur on your way out” he said.

“We don’t have a masseur, sir. Should I employ one?” replied the assistant.

“What? You don’t have a masseur? The presidential palace of the Somali president does not have his own masseur? Why even the worst hotel in Asmara has one!” He shouted and secretly wondered if this job was worth all this hassle after all.


Deeqa's Disguise

She was sat in her room angry, ashamed and bewildered! She was dying to find out who told her parents about her smoking habits. Deeqa was always careful and only had one cigarette a day. She also only smoked after her afternoon lectures. Now the secret was out and she knew she could never smoke again (without being caught).

As she lay in her bed, looking at the ceiling and thinking of ways to convince her family that she has ditched the habit and shall become a good girl from now on, her friend Huda slithered into the room.

Huda was very small for her age. She was short, petite and had a very innocent face. However, one look at her eyes is enough for any passing onlooker to realise how much of a snake she is.

She went and sat on the edge of the bed and started giggling at Deeqa.

‘I hear your smoking habit has been discovered’ she said.

‘I would love to know who was it that told on me’ replied Deeqa.

‘Probably someone that hates you! Hmm, could it be Maryam?’

‘No. Maryam never saw me smoking’ said Deeqa.

‘Well then, don’t worry yourself about it. What is done is done’

‘I suppose you are right’ replied Deeqa.

‘So, are you going to quit smoking now?’ Asked Huda

‘It is not that easy to quit smoking. I want to but I really don’t think I can, not that quickly anyway’

‘In that case, you will have to find a hiding place to continue with your filthy habit’ winked Huda.

‘What hiding place? I spend all my time either at home or at Uni. You already know that I only smoke at Uni. Now that I got caught, I don’t think I can smoke there anymore’ reasoned Deeqa.

‘Of course you can! You just have to do it in disguise’ chuckled Huda.

‘In disguise? HOW?’

‘Put on a jilbaab and niqaab, silly. That way you can smoke to your heart’s content and nobody would know it is YOU’ laughed Huda.

‘NO! That’s evil’ replied an appalled Deeqa.

‘Nothing evil about it, my dear. In fact, you get to hit two birds with one stone’

‘How do you mean?’ asked Deeqa innocently.

‘For a start, you get to show your parents that you have mended your ways and are now fulfilling your religious obligations. In addition, you will continue to indulge in your smoking habit without anyone knowing the person under the niqaab’. Hissed a smiling Huda.

‘It does not sound right to me. I don’t want to be a hypocrite’ protested Deeqa.

‘You think smoking behind your parents’ back is not hypocrisy?’ Asked Huda.

‘Well, yes, but it is not the same level of hypocrisy’.

‘Nonsense. Hypocrisy has no levels. You are either a hypocrite or you are not! You already proved that you are one, so what is with the coyness now?’ Said Huda.

‘Well, I am just not comfortable with the idea’.

‘Ok. Let us look at things from all angels, shall we?
Number one: you have been grounded
Number two: your family does not trust you anymore
Number three: you are getting a bad reputation because of this story
Number four: you are losing the respect of your nearest and dearest’ Shouted Huda.

‘I suppose you are right’ mumbled Deeqa resignedly.

‘The jilbaab and niqaab are not that ugly by the way’ said Huda soothingly ‘I have seen girls wearing lovely combinations of the two’.

‘True. I did too’.

‘Give it a try and see how it goes. Or, better still, quit smoking and save yourself all the guilt and hassle’ said Huda.

‘I wish I could. It is really not as easy as you seem to think. It takes willpower and dedication, which I really don’t have now’

‘Are you talking about the smoking or the disguise?’ asked Huda

‘Both. Though wearing the niqab shouldn’t be that hard I suppose.’

‘Do it and see how it goes, what do you have to lose?’ said Huda.

‘I’ll think about it’.

A week later and as Deeqa finished one of her lectures and was standing outside the University building ready to light up, she saw Huda walking past.

‘Psssst. Huda!’

‘Who is that? Do I know you, lady?’ Asked Huda as she peered closer to the niqab-clad lady.

‘It’s me, Deeqa!’

‘Oh! So you finally listened to my advice and started wearing the niqab? What does it feel like?’ asked Huda.

‘It does the job’

‘What do you mean? Islamically?’ asked Huda

‘Yes. That too! It also allows me to smoke freely without anyone around me batting an eyelid!’

‘Surely not! I would have expected the Muslim brothers and sisters to at least look down on your shameless shenanigans’ said Huda winking.

‘Not many of them saw me smoking. I still have enough sense to hide the cigarette whenever I spot one of them walking by’

‘Did any of them recognise you?’

‘Not a single soul! In fact, this niqaab idea seems to have had a strange effect on everyone around me. Most people look at me with a perplexed look on their faces. The Muslim brothers avoid eye contact and the sisters always greet me!’

‘A popular disguise, huh?’ Said Huda

‘Yes. Some of the girls even invited me to a couple of religious lectures’

‘Did you accept the invitations?’ said Huda chuckling loudly.

‘What else could I do? I could not really refuse, could I?’

‘We didn’t think of this possibility when we came up with this idea’ Said Huda whilst tapping her fingers against her lips thoughtfully.

‘No we didn’t. But it is not all bad. I went to one of these lectures last night and it was quite interesting’

‘From the way you said it you make it sound like you are going to go to more lectures in the future’

‘Yes I probably will’

‘Haha! Now you have had it. You really have to quit smoking, you know’ retorted a laughing Huda.

‘Why do you say that?’

‘Because you seem comfortable with this new disguise of yours and are already immersing yourself with all it contains. Being religious and being a smoker do not tally, my dear’.

‘But I don’t want to quit smoking, I can’t.’

‘You will have to give up one of the two. There is no two ways about it’

‘I can’t take off my niqaab now. The family will wonder and think me a fickle little girl’ Said Deeqa.

‘Give up smoking then’

‘I really don’t think I can, even if I wanted to.’

‘Something has to give, my dear’

Two weeks later, as Huda was standing by a traffic light and waiting for the light to go red, she felt a tab on her shoulder. She turned around to see a tall niqab-wearing lady with smiling eyes.

‘Oh hello, bat-woman! Long time no see’ said Huda.

‘Al Salaam Aleekom Wa Rahmato Allah, sister’

‘Ooooh! I see you got your disguise down to a tee now! Wa Aleekom Al Salaam’ said a laughing Huda.

‘It is no disguise. This is the way I am now’

‘What do you mean this is the way you are?’

‘I finally managed to quit smoking but decided to keep the ‘disguise’ because I feel comfortable in it’ replied Deeqa.

‘It is those wretched lectures you have been going to that did this, is it not?’

‘Yes, and they are not wretched. They are great. You should come sometimes’ said Deeqa.

‘What are you up to, woman?’ asked Huda whilst narrowing those tiny eyes of hers.

‘Up to? I am up to nothing. Just trying to tell you that those lectures are great’

‘You expect me to believe that someone could change their entire life in the space of a few weeks?’ asked Huda.
‘You make it sound as if I was not a Muslim before! All I am doing now is trying to be a good Muslim. What is wrong with that?’

‘Nothing. Nothing. It is just not YOU! I am finding it hard to accept that you have changed that much in the space of a few weeks’ replied a stuttering Huda.

‘I don’t think I have changed at all. All I did is try to adhere to the rules of my faith. I am not perfect you know’.

‘Nobody is. So, err, does that mean you will not be leaving the house on your own anymore? Would you need a muharam and all that stuff?’ Asked Huda eagerly

‘I don’t know. I have not thought about that. I shall ask in the next lecture I go to’.

‘But for the time being you will carry on acting as normal, right?’ Asked Huda.

‘Yes, around the girls at least. I have decided not to interact with any boys though’

‘No boys? Ok. But are you allowed to sneak a look here and there?’

‘I am not sure. It can’t do any harm I guess’

‘In that case, come on, I am taking you to this new coffee shop that opened recently. The workers there are to die for’ Said Huda.

‘Ok. I’ll come but I am not talking to any workers’

‘Fine. You just drink your coffee and ogle, I’ll do all the talking’. Laughed Huda as she took her hands and walked with her towards the coffee shop......


Warsame's Wedding

After a thousand dates, a million bedtimes calls and a billion gifts and anniversaries, Warsame had had enough and decided to get on with it and marry Yasmin. He lost count of the number of times he proposed to her and how she usually just giggled her assent. ‘This time’, he decided, ‘I am going to get her to say yes’.

He was waiting in his car outside her work place and watching her through the window having a last chat to one of her female co-workers. ‘I wonder if she knows why I asked to see her this urgently’ he thought. ‘I wonder if she will accept!’ he mumbled worriedly. He did not notice her opening the passenger door and getting in the car as he sat down thinking about the conversation to come.

Yasmin (slapping him lovingly on the shoulder): all right, wawa?

Warsame: Hmm? Yes. Fine.

Yasmin: Are you sure? You seem to be miles away!

Warsame: Hmm? Oh! Yes. Yes. I am sure. Just lost in my thoughts as usual. How are you?

Yasmin: I’m ok. Had a horrid day at work though. That annoying manager of mine did it again...

Warsame: Err; lets not bother with her please. You’ll only spoil my mood and yours by talking about her.

Yasmin: True. But what is wrong with you? You seem a bit tetchy! Has it something to do with why you wanted to see me urgently? You’re not breaking up with me, are you?

Warsame: Actually, that is what I wanted to talk to you about...


Warsame: No! No. Stop being paranoid.

Yasmin: What then? What did you mean by ‘That’s what I want to talk to you about’?

Warsame: I wanted to talk about us....

Yasmin: So you ARE breaking up with me? If you are going to do it, just get on with it and save me the sob story and all that nonsense of ‘it is not you, it is me’.....

Warsame: I am NOT breaking up with you, woman. Calm down and let me finish what I am saying.

Yasmin: Ok. FINE. Just don’t snap at me like this.

Warsame: Now you’re upset! GREAT.

Yasmin: I am not upset. Just say what you have to say and lets end this conversation. I have had a long day at work and don’t need any more headaches...

Warsame: I am not sure now this is the right moment for it.

Yasmin: Right moment for what?

Warsame: Never mind. We’ll talk about it later.

Yasmin: Warsame Cali luugo-muruq, you did not spoil my mood, get me all worked up and angry only to change your mind now and postpone whatever it is you wanted to tell me. Spit it out, NOW.

Warsame: Ok. Ok. I wanted to talk about us and how long we’ve been seeing each other.

Yasmin: What about us?

Warsame: Well, we can’t keep it up forever, can we?

Yasmin: So, you do want to break up with me?

Warsame: No! I want to marry you, you paranoid woman!

Yasmin giggles and looks away.

Warsame: This will not do. I want a straight answer not a giggle.

Yasmin: Well, you didn’t ask a question for me to give you an answer.

Warsame: You want me to get on my knees and present you with a ring? What difference would such an action make?

Yasmin: That would be nice of course but how about just asking the question itself?

Warsame: What difference would that make? You know I want to marry you. Just say YES or NO.

Yasmin: You are spoiling the moment for me now.

Warsame: Does that mean you will not marry me?

Yasmin: No. It does not.

Warsame: So you will marry me?

Yasmin: I did not say that either. Ask a straight question and I will give you a straight answer.

Warsame: I am not sure I want to ask it now. You are toying with me as if I were some besotted teenager.

Yasmin: Are you not besotted? If this was your idea of a proposal, you are really not doing a good job of it, are you?

Warsame: Ok. Ok. I am besotted, smitten and entirely infatuated. Now, will YOU marry me?

Yasmin: That’s more like it.

She giggles and looks away.

Warsame: See what I mean! You are treating the whole thing as some kind of joke.

Yasmin: No darling. You just took me by surprise...

Warsame: Surprise? After all this long build up and you insisting on me asking the darn question?

Yasmin: Hush now! You took me by surprise because I thought we still had another year before we seriously thought about getting married.

Warsame: True. That was our initial agreement. But I think we better bring the date forward. Now what is your answer?

Yasmin covering her mouth with her hand and looking down at her shoes mumbles the word ‘yes’ and carries on looking at her shoes.

Warsame: What was that?

Yasmin turns around to look at him and shouts the word ‘YES before looking away again.

Warsame: Good. You tell your family and arrange date for me to come asking for your hand. I’ll go gather up a few respectable old men from my clan.

Yasmin: So soon?

Warsame: Don’t panic, silly. I am not going to ask for your hand tonight. It will take a few days to arrange things from my side and yours.

Yasmin: You’re serious about this, aren’t you?

Warsame: Aren’t you?

Yasmin: Yes but...

Warsame: Oh you coward! Just tell your family and I’ll deal with the rest.

A few weeks later, Warsame is at home and is getting ready to go to Yasmin’s house with his father, uncles and a few prominent clan elders. His mother is pestering him about having a full breakfast and telling him that it’ll be embarrassing should his stomach start to rumble in the middle of proceedings. His sisters are harassing him about changing the shirt and tie he’s wearing and getting into something more bright.

‘You are not going to a funeral’ shouts his younger sister.

‘Yes he is. It is the death of his single life’ jokes his older sister.

‘When are the old men arriving?’ asks his mother

‘In two hours’ says Warsame.

‘And when are you expected at Yasmin’s house?’ asks the older sister.

‘In three hours’ replies Warsame.

‘Typical! You could have given yourself more time’ says his mother.

‘It’ll be fine’ says a tired Warsame.

A couple of hours later, the old men arrive and they all go to the living room to agree the strategy for today’s event. With them, they bring a couple of young men, another old man and a clan mullah.

Fifteen minutes later, having agreed the details and gathered everyone up, they get in their cars and drive to Yasmin’s house.

In Yasmin’s house, the living room is heaving with brothers, cousins, uncles and other elders. There is a constant hum of voices and endless supply of tea and sweets. Yasmin’s father is sitting in the middle of two red bearded elders and is shouting to one of his sons to go to her and find out what time are the groom and his gang arriving. The son runs to the kitchen and asks his mother as he greets yet another female cousin he has not seen for months. A girl runs down from upstairs to inform the women that the groom has arrived then runs back upstairs to spy from the window.

Warsame and his companions walk in and are given the best seats in the house. Small chitchat ensues as Warsame sits down with a vacant look on his face and tries to wipe the sweat of his face. A cousin sitting next to him whispers ‘See that lion there? That’s your father-in-law! I bet he crashes your hand when you put it in his’.

The chitchat smoothly moves on to the topic of marriage and the benefits of completing half the faith. The two groups ask their respective mullahs to come into the middle of the room and start the ceremony. A gentle argument ensues. They agree to use the groom’s Mullah for this purpose. The cousin whispers again ‘they had to choose our one. Theirs looks and dresses like Osama bin Laden whilst our one is wearing a suit like Sh. Sharif’. Before Warsame could reply, his father pats him on the shoulder and tells him to move to the centre of the room next to the mullah. His legs carry him there whilst his mind remains vacant. The Mullahs starts giving a short speech about marriage and the benefits of matrimony when a phone suddenly starts to ring! People start looking at their neighbours and try to find where the ringing is coming from. After what seems like an eternity, Warsame finally realises it is his phone that is ringing. In his confusion and nervousness, he forgets where he is and answers it!

Warsame: Hello!

Yasmin: Hello. Is it finished?

Warsame: No. It has not started yet.

Yasmin: Why did you wear that dark shirt and tie with a dark suit? It is as if you’re going to funeral.

Warsame: I do not think this is the right time to be having this conversation.

Yasmin: Ok. Sorry. Oh! If they ask you about the dowry and what we agreed, tell them it is five thousand.

Warsame: FIVE? But we agreed on two only!

Yasmin: It is a long story. Amran was here, you remember Amran? Well she was bragging about how her dowry was four thousand and how this is the norm these days. So, when my mother asked me what my dowry was I could not let Amran get one on me and said five. I knew you wouldn’t mind. Do you?

Warsame (resignedly): No. I don’t mind.

Mullah: Everything ok?

Warsame: Yes. Yes. Sorry.

Yasmin: Who was that?

Warsame: Never mind. I will tell you later. I have to go now.

Yasmin: Wave at me when you leave. I’ll be watching you from the second floor window. The middle one.

Warsame: Ok. Bye.

Mullah: Are you sure you want to get married? It sounds to me like you are already domesticated.

Warsame wipes away some more sweat and sheepishly smiles at nobody in particular.

Yasmin’s father gets of his chair and comes to sit opposite him. The mullah gets them to shake hands and starts the ceremony. Warsame looks the old man in the eyes and sees a warm paternal smile. He tires to smile back but the pain of his hand being squashed by the lion’s massive palm only helps him to manage a half scowl. The ceremony finishes and the old man winks at him before letting go of his hand. They both get back to their seats but, in his confusion, Warsame manages to stumble and kick away a few cups of tea that were lying on the floor behind him!

More chitchat ensues before the food is brought in. Thanks to his mother’s heavy breakfast, Warsame starts feeling sick by just looking at the food. His cousin nudges him and tells him to eat. ‘You have a long night ahead of you and need all your energy, cousin. Eat! Eat!’ he says.

Just as he’s about to stick his hand in the plate of rice, his phone rings again! He answers it!

Mother: Is it done?

Warsame: Yes.

Mother: Mabrook ya caroos.

Warsame: Thanks.

Mother: What are you doing now?

Warsame: Eating.

Mother: Ok. Phone me as soon as you leave.

Warsame: Ok.

He hangs up and starts eating but his phone rings again. His cousin tells him not to answer it. ‘I am going to switch it off’ he replies. But then notices it is Yasmin’s number. He answers it!

Yasmin: Is it done now?

Warsame: Yes.

Yasmin: Are you eating? The rice is a bit oily, isn’t?

Warsame: I have no idea. I have not tried it yet.

Yasmin: Ah bless! Are you that nervous?

Warsame: No. But I can’t eat and talk on the phone at the same time, can I?

Yasmin: Ok. Ok. I got the message. Don’t forget to wave at me when you leave. I will phone you later.

Warsame: Ok.

He hangs up but notices there is another call on his phone. He answers.

Distant cousin: I am on my way. Don’t start without me.

Warsame: We are done here. Stay where you are. I’ll come and get you on my way.

D cousin: Ok. Can you get me some food?

Warsame: I can’t go to the kitchen and ask them to give me a plate of rice to take away on my bloody wedding day, inadeer.

D Cousin: ask your wife to do it.

Warsame: War I can’t. Have some sense.

D Cousin: Ingrees xishood badan waaxid.

Warsame: We’ll talk later. Now I have to eat.

D cousin: Yes. You eat and I starve! I came all the way from Scotland for this wedding of yours and you can’t even spare me a plate of rice? What sort of cousin are you?

Warsame: It’s not my fault you were late. Now hang up.

D cousin: I know what you are like now. See if I ever come to any weddings of yours.

Warsame: I am not planning to get married again.

Father: War o kaadi...

Warsame: No. No. You misunderstand me..

D Cousin: Did you mother cook anything?

Warsame: Yes. She cooked plenty of food. Go and eat there and I’ll come and get you later.

D Cousin: Ok. See you later.

Warsame finishes eating. Suffers the usual old men chitchat and gets introduced to Yasmin’s womenfolk before he leaves the house with his party. As he walks to the car, he looks up and sees a group of girls looking at him from the corner window of the top floor. He waves back. His phone rings!

Yasmin: Why are you waving at the neighbours’ girls? I said to you second floor middle window, not top floor corner window!

Warsame: Sorry. My fault, Mrs Warsame Cali luugo-muruq....


Qamar's Qarxis!

Consider the case of poor little Qamar and her infamous Qarxis!

There she was, sixteen years of age. Pretty. Intelligent. Hard working. Sociable. But she had one bad habit; she always went home after eight o’clock even though her father had warned her about it several times.

In his youth, Mr Ducale was a computer buff. He was a founding member of the first generation of Somalis to use the Internet and was popular in many forums, chartrooms and newsgroups. He was so obsessed with the Internet that even his love life revolved around it. It was there that he met Mrs Ducale. Chatted up Mrs Ducale and fell in love with Mrs Ducale! They got married three months after meeting. They were both twenty years old!

25th May 2009 was the darkest day in Qamar’s short life. It was not a bad day to begin with. She woke up early, had her breakfast, got dressed and went to school. After an uneventful day at school, she went to her friend’s house where they sat chatting and surfing the net. As usual, she got carried away and stayed at her friend’s house way beyond her eight o’clock curfew!

When she returned home and walked into the living room, her father who was sat at his computer and having a heated argument with a suspect child on a net forum, swivelled in his chair and gave her a severe look.

Qamar: Sorry daddy. I know I was late but there was a traffic accident and the bus was late and I had to walk half way and I would have been here on time but I can’t control traffic and I....

Mr D: ENOUGH! You are late again and no matter how many reasons you give you are not going to get away with it this time.

Qamar: I am really, really, really sorry.

Mr D: It is too late for that. I have tried to punish you in the past by sending you to your room, but it didn’t work. I have reduced your allowance, but it didn’t work. I have banned you from going out, but it didn’t work. Now I am going to use the only method available to me.

Qamar: What? Dad, I am truly, honestly, really really sorry. I promise I will not do it again.

Mr D: I already told you, your apologies make no difference to me now. No, this punishment of mine is going to make you wish if you were dead.

Qamar: Please, dad, please. I am really sorry.

Mr D: Don’t tell me that. Tell it to all your friends when I start publishing your photos on YouTube.

Qamar: You’re going to put my pictures on YouTube?

Mr D: And Facebook, Hi5 and every other site Somalis use. Since you refuse to follow my rules, I am going to play by your rules, daughter. I am going to ‘qarxis’ you.

Qamar: You are going to do that to your own daughter? Your own daughter?

Mr D: You are not better than your mother, Qamar. How do you think me and her got to know each other?

Qamar: You exposed your own wife? Why has nobody told me this?

Mr D: Because it is none of your business. Now stop turning this into a conversation, as if we are friends or something. I have warned you about your conduct and you chose to ignore my warnings. Suffer the consequences, dear.

Qamar: But, dad....please dad..don’t do it, dad..I’ll be a good girl, dad..

Mr D: No use in crying now. If you listened to me in the first place you wouldn’t be crying now.

Qamar: I swear dad..I swear I will be good. Give me one more chance.

Mr D: Hmmm.

Qamar: One more chance dad. I am your only daughter, why would you want to do this to your only daughter?

Mr D: Because my only daughter never listens. Because my only daughter acts like a big woman who can handle anything. Because my only daughter needs to be taught a lesson.

Qamar: Please dad. Please! .................... ..Hoyooooooooooooooo ooooooo!

Mrs D walks in and asks what the matter was.

Qamar: He wants to expose me on YouTube!

Mrs D: WHAT?

Mr D: She needs to be taught a lesson, dear. She never listens to us.

Mrs D: But, YouTube? Don’t you think that’s a bit excessive?

Mr D: She needs to be taught a lesson I said.

Mrs D: Let her off this time. Use a different punishment and if she repeats the offence, I personally will put her pictures on YouTube!

Qamar: I will not do it, I promise. I will listen and be here before eight, I promise.

Mr D: Fine. You are lucky your mother managed to convince me. But I still have to punish you.

Qamar: Anything but YouTube, dad.

Mr D: Very well. For the next two weeks, you are not allowed to go anywhere other than school. I want you home all the time. You are grounded.

Qamar: Ok, dad. I am really really sorry.

Qamar behaved herself for a month afterwards and was always home before eight. However, one day there was a real traffic accident and the bus was really late! She got home at half past eight and all hell broke loose.

Now the whole world can see videos and pictures of a naked Qamar with her legs up in the air (albeit a three-month-old having her nappy changed). They can see pictures of her when she lost her milk teeth and other photos when she’s not wearing the most colour coordinated items of clothing. There are videos of her singing childish songs with snot trickling down her lips and others where she’s having a juvenile tantrum and banging her fists against the floor..........


Maryan & Mustafa on SBN

In the Muslim world, Ramadan brings with it a lot of time for prayer and contemplation. The days of this holy month are unique and the nights memorable. It is a time when families visit each other, have dinner feasts and pray in large groups. A time when the poor are remembered, the orphans are looked after and the needy are given a helping hand.

It is also a time for entertainment and fun. TV stations from Mecca to Merca have plenty of dramas, comedies and game shows dedicated only to this holy month. Here, the Somalis are not much different to their brethren in other Muslim countries. This is the time when the famous Somali TV Show Inna Way Kan is in its element.

The show is written, directed and produced by the famous Somali presenter Mustafa Microphone. Mustafa is a stout man with a three story belly and two cheeks that resemble the iconic Hargeisa mountains of Naaso Hablood! He’s intelligent, witty and very engaging.

After breaking his fast tonight, he left his house in London city and headed to the headquarters of the international Somali TV Station SBN (Somali Broadcasting Network). Tonight, he was hosting another segment of his popular show Inna Way Kan! It is a dedication show where viewers phone in and request their favourite songs, poems, comedy clips or historical political Somali speeches to be played on air. As ever, his co host tonight was going to be none other than the popular female presenter Maryan Makeup.

After having their instructions and exchanging a few pleasantries with each other and the crew, the couple were ready to kick start the show. Their first caller was a Mr Abdullahi who was calling from Yemen.

Mustafa: Hello and welcome to the show that captivated the hearts of all Somalis. Welcome to two hours of continues entertainment and endless banter. We promise you a show full of fun, jokes and great music. I, Mustafa Cabdi Ducale - you all know me as Mustafa Microphone - promise to ensure this will be one of your most memorable nights. And, now, let me introduce you to my co host; the favourite of the younger men, the softener of old men’s hearts, the reason why the number of our hard of hearing viewers increased ten fold in the past year. Let me bring in our resident beauty and my esteemed colleague, Maryan Moose.

Maryan: Thank you Mustafa and welcome to all our viewers. I think we have a caller waiting on the line already.

Mustafa: Oh yes. We have a Mr Abdullahi calling from Yemen. Hello!

Abdullahi: HELLO! HELLO! Adeer I want to speak to Maryan!

Maryan: Marxaba adeer. Can you give us your full name please?

Abdullahi:[b] My name is Abdullahi, I am calling from Yemen.

[b]Mustafa: Welcome adeer Abdullahi but can you give us your full name please.

Abdullahi: My full name? Err..Abdullahi..err. .err..Younis.

Mustafa: Abdullahi Younis from Yemen! Gartay adeer. Welcome to our show and we hope we can grant your request.

Abdullahi: Where is Maryan? War I want to speak to Maryan!

Maryan: Way Kan, adeer. What is your request?

Abdullahi: Can you please play a Maxamed Yusuf & Magool duet?

Maryan: Do you have any song in mind, adeer?

Abdullahi: Haa! Haa! The one that says "Amba dhamay qadhaadhkee, waa inaad dhadhamisaa
Sow caawa dhaantiyo, filanmaysid dheel dheel"

Mustafa: I am afraid we don’t have that song, adeer.

Abdullahi: Is he telling the truth, Maryanay?

Maryan:Haa, adeer.

Abdullahi: In that case, can you play Tupac’s Only God Can Judge Me?

Maryan: Absolutely adeer. Tupac Shakuur coming right up. Who do you want to dedicate it to?

Abdullahi: I dedicate this song to my family in Somalia, all my friends in the Somali capital, my friend Mansuur Zidani in Ethiopia, all your listeners and all the Somali people across the world.

Mustafa: Thank you, adeer. I think we have another call. Hello!

Caller: Hello, is this SBN?

Maryan: Haa walaal, how can we help you?

Caller: My name is Cabdi. I am a security guard in London. I am at work now.

Mustafa: Marxaba Cabdi. Can you tell us your full name please?

Caller: No. I can’t. I am at work. I’ll get in trouble if I do.

Maryan: It is ok. What is your request, Cabdi?

Caller: I wanted to know what time is the Imsaak tonight?

Mustafa: We will pass you back to our operators and they will give you all the information you need. Thank you, Cabdi.

Maryan (giggling): We have another call. Hello!

Caller: Hello. Is this SBN TV? Can I speak to Mustafa?

Mustafa: Hi! What is your name and where are you calling from?

Caller: Err… name is Sharif and I am calling from Mogadishu.

Maryan: Welcome Sharif. Can we have your full name please?

Caller: Err…Sharif Ahmed.

Mustafa: Sheikh Sharif?

Caller: him. I am normal Sharif.

Maryan: Ok, Sharif. What is your request walaal?

Sharif: Do you have any Cusmaan Gacanlow songs?

Mustafa: We may have one or two. Which particular song would you like to hear?

Sharif: The one that goes "mar hadaan muftaaxi midigtayda ku hayo,
Waa inuu ma gaalada magacaygu gaadhaa
meeshii aan doonabaa, waa inaan mushaaxaa
waa inaan mushaaxaa!!"

Mustafa (trying to suppress his laughter): Maya saaxib, we don’t have that particular song. Do you have any other requests?

Sharif: Do you have any Edwin Star songs?

Maryan: We have all his songs.

Sharif: Hadaba play War.

Maryan: Who do you dedicate it to?


Mustafa: Thank you, Sharif. We shall play your song as soon as we return from this commercial break.

A collection of Money Transfer and restaurant adverts follows.

Mustafa: Welcome back everyone and, just like the advert, with our show too: Sertu Wa Dhadhanka!

Maryan (giggling): Waa sax! I think we have another caller. Hello!

Caller: HELLO! Maryan iyo Mustafa, M&M, ii warama?

Maryan: We are ok, adeer. What is your full name and where are you calling from?

Caller: There are two of us. I am Ahmed Mohammed and my friend here is Faysal Cali! We are calling from Hargeisa.

Mustafa: Good evening to both of you.

Maryan: Haa. Good evening. How is Hargeisa tonight?

Caller: There is an unfriendly storm brewing but otherwise the city and the country are both good.

Mustafa: Haye adeer. What requests do you have tonight?

Caller: Do you have the song that goes "Anu dablaan ayaanayaa, dalkayga waan difaacyaa, cadawga waan u diidayaa, waliba waan sii dadaalayaa..."?

Maryan: Ya salaam! Omer Xassen Rooraye’s song? I am afraid we don’t have it, adeer.

Caller: Ok. Faysal is asking if you have the one that goes "Ileen dhuumashada qaar, uu dhabarku muuqdaa..." ?

Mustafa: Eesh cala! I am afraid we don’t have that one either. Can you think of any other songs?

Caller: Ok. Just play Nas’s If I ruled the world. Faysal wants MJ’s Wanna Be Starting Something...

Maryan: Ok adeer. We have both these songs.

Mustafa: I think we can squeeze one last caller in.

Maryan: Yes. I think we can.

Mustafa: Lets hope it is a young man. There has not been many calling us tonight.

Maryan: That’s because our show appeals to all ages and tastes.

Mustafa: Indeed. Hello!

Caller: Hello.

Maryan (giggling): A young man!
Caller: I don’t want to talk to the woman.

Mustafa: Ok caller. What is your full name and where are you calling from?

Caller: Abu Quxafa.

Maryan: Your full name please walaal.

Caller: I said I don’t want to talk to the woman!

Mustafa: Don’t worry about it, saaxib. What was your full name again?

Caller: name is Abu Quxafa Al Kismaawi, I am calling from Somalia.

Mustafa: Where in Somalia.

Caller: It does not matter. Every place in Somalia is the same. Can I make a request please?

Mustafa: Of course you can. What would you like?

Caller: You see, I may be going away and not coming back anytime soon. I would like you to play a song that I can dedicate to everyone I know.

Mustafa: Go ahead. What is your request?

Caller: I don’t like nor approve of music but this is the one and only time I’ll request a song. Can you play the one that goes Ambabaxaye socodkaa inaan eebe igu qadin?

Maryan: For someone who does not like the art you seem to know your music. Axmed Cali Cigaal, right?

Caller: I repeatedly told you I do not want to talk to the woman.

Mustafa (laughing): Yes you did. And, yes Maryan the song is by Axmed Cali Cigaal.

Maryan (pulling a face): Tell him we’re sorry that we don’t have his request.

Caller: Err..ok..can you play Tupac’s Hit Em Up?

Mustafa: Grab your glocks when you see 2pac
Call the cops when you see 2pac! Haha! And that, ladies and gentelmen was the final song for tonight.

Maryan (giggling again): It was a great night of music and dedications.

Mustafa: Indeed it was. As are all our nights. Until we meet you all again, I would like to thank all our callers on behalf of myself, Maryan and all the crew. Ramadan Kareem and good night.

Maryan: Good night.


The Court Of Abu Fas!

Abu Mobile has been promoted. He was to leave the town he was ruling in the name of Al Shabab and go to the Somali capital to finally fight alongside his brethren against the powers of oppression and treachery. He calls his deputy to discuss the situation and prepare for their departure.

Abu M: The call his at last come, Akhi. We are finally summoned and, after all these years of waiting and rejection, we can go and taste martyrdom.

Abu Tusbax: Yes my brother. I know how impatient you were to fight for Xaq and sacrifice your life for god and country. Now we can both do it.

Abu M: But what should we do about this town? When I asked the Amir, he told me he is going to leave it to me to choose a capable man. He could not spare any of his good men for such a small town.

Abu Tusbax: Yes. This is a problem. All our followers here are young and inexperienced. We can’t leave the town in the hands of such young men.

Abu M: So do you want to stay and look after the town?

Abu T: And miss my chance to frolic with the Xoor Al Cayn? Not on your life, saaxib.

Abu M: Well, I can’t stay either. The leadership specifically asked for me.

Abu T: And ME! No, we have to choose one of these young men to run the town. Someone sensible.

Abu M: But who? It has to be someone who knows and understands the deen, akhi.

Abu T: That’s a tall order.

Abu M: What do you think about Abu Qalin? He can read and write. He may be the man we want.

Abu T: No. The man is bad tempered and will turn the entire town against us within hours.

Abu M: True. How about Abu Latifa?

Abu T: He’s a good man but there are some rumours that he still smokes.

Abu M: May Allah protect us from the devil and his temptations. Who can we choose then? I am drawing blanks here.

Abu T: How about Abu Fas?

Abu M: Isn’t he too young for the job of a Waali?

Abu T: Osama Bin Zayid was young, Akhi.

Abu M: True. Abu Fas it is then.

The two call Abu Fas and brief him on his new job and ask him to pray for them and wish them a speedy martyrdom. They call a meeting and announce to the forces the election of this new leader and then depart, leaving the town in his capable hands.

After the Maghreb prayers are finished, Abu Fas calls a couple of his trusted friends to one side and starts discussing his new responsibilities with them.

Abu Fas: Brothers. I have been given this responsibility and I am not sure if I can cope on my own. What do you think?

Abu Surf: Don’t worry brother. Allah is on our side and nothing can ever be difficult when Allah is on your side. We will be ok.

Abu Gambar: True. Trust in Allah and you will be fine.

Abu F: But I don’t know much about running towns and applying Islamic justice.

Abu S: If you encounter a problem, could you not phone the leadership and ask for their help?

Abu G: I don’t think the leadership have time to waste on small problems and disputes, akhi. I think our Wali will have to manage this one on his own.

Abu S: Can we not ask the Imam of the Masjad to help us out?

Abu F: That Imam is not a certified member of our movement and I do not want to risk the anger of the leadership by using him as a trusted advisor.

Abu G: Don’t worry, akhi. We shall create a Shuura council of our own and get the collective opinion of our followers whenever we encounter a problem that we can’t deal with on our own.

Abu F: That is a great idea! Yes. This is what we shall do.

The days pass and Abu Fas manages to run the town in an exemplary mannar and without encountering any great new problems. However, one Tuesday afternoon, his followers bring to his Majlis a group of screaming and wailing young girls.

Abu Fas: What is the meaning of this?

Soldier: We caught these girls laughing in a shameless manner whilst walking outside the mosque. Their laughter was heard all the way inside and was distracting the devout worshippers from their Khshuuc!

Girl: It was a mistake, sir. We didn’t realise we were walking past the mosque.

Abu Fas: Mosque or not, you should not have been laughing in such a way ANYWHERE!

Girl: We are sorry. Forgive us.

Abu Fas: It is not for me to forgive. I could only pass judgment. Take them outside soldier whilst I confer with my advisors.

Abu Surf: What are you planning to do, sir?

Abu Fas: I don’t know. What do you think I should do?

Abu G: I think we have to go with precedent. That Kismaayo girl was stoned.

Abu F: But her crime was Zina not laughing!

Abu S: I think I heard somewhere that when women laugh in a loud and unguarded way it is regarded as the equivalent of Zina. The soldier already told us they were heard from inside the mosque, and not by only one man I bet.

Abu G: Stoning them is a tad harsh. I heard of a story of a woman in Afghanistan who was given a hundred lashes for not wearing the hijab. Maybe this is the punishment we should apply here. I mean, isn’t said that a woman’s voice is Cowra? A woman’s hair is also cowra. So if a woman gets a hundred lashes for letting men see her cowra, she also should get a hundred lashes for letting them hear her cowra.

Abu F: So the choice is between stoning and a hundred lashes?

Abu S: It seems so, sir.

Abu F: Stoning it is then.

Abu G: Why did you choose that and not the lashes?

Abu F: Easy. The story of the lashing that you told us happened in Afghanistan. And though our brothers there are Muslim, they may not be following the exact madhab that our movement follows. This is why I decided to play it safe and follow the precedent set by our more learned Al Shabab brothers in Kismayo.

Abu G: Masha Allah! May Allah increase your knowledge and strengthen your Iman, Akhi.

Abu S: Amiin.

Abu F: Jazzaka Allah, Akhi. May Allah show us the right path.

A few days later, as Sheikh Abu Fas was sitting to lunch with his two companions, a soldier burst in dragging a father and son behind him.

Soldier: Sir. I arrested these two as they were chasing each other down the street and making lots of noise.

Abu Fas: Why were they chasing each other?

Soldier: It seems that the son has stolen his father’s apple and his old man was trying to get it back.

Father: It is nothing, sir. He’s an eight-year-old kid that knows nothing. He was only teasing me and I was chasing him to scare him. He can have the apple.

Soldier: the father was also swearing and blaspheming, sir.

Abu F: So we have a thief and his kaffir father here, huh?

Abu S: He is not strictly kaffir yet, sir. We do not know what swear words he used.

Father: I only said things about his mother, sir. I did not say anything about the deen. I was angry, I am sorry.

Abu F: It is too late for sorry, akhi. This is not a jungle where every man can do what he likes when he likes. This is a Muslim town run by Muslim people. Take them out soldier and let me confer with my companions.

Abu S: The son’s case is easy. We’ll just have to cut one of his limps. My only worry is that he may be too young for such a punishment. Should we phone the leadership for help, sir?

Abu F: We can’t disturb them with such a trivial story, akhi. They are busy with bigger things. No, we have to make our minds up here.

Mr G: I agree with Abu Surf, the kid is too young.

Abu F: He is eight not six. If he is obliged to pray by seven then he must be old enough to be punished according to the Shareecah!

Abu S: But should he not become a man first and reach puberty?

Abu G: Maybe he did. Some children reach puberty at seven.

Abu F: It does not matter. I am using qiyaas here and saying that if he is required to pray at this age then it must also be ok for us to apply the xad.

Abu S: I see where you’re coming from. It makes sense.

Abu G: True. Plus, it will send a message to all eight year olds and stop them from committing any similar crimes.

Abu Fas: What about the father?

Abu S: He did not blaspheme as the soldier alleged. He only called the boy’s mother names.

Abu G: There is nothing wrong with calling your own wife names. We all get angry from time to time.

Abu F: True. But that happens in private. Calling a married woman names in public is an offence. I know she is his wife but she is also a married woman. The Shareecah is very clear on this. Though I forget now what the punishment for such a crime is.

Abu S: Yes. I forget too. It must be lashes or something but how many lashes does such a crime entail?

Abu G: We can just cut one of his limps like his son and have it done with.

Abu F: We can not apply the law as we like, akhi. It has to be well thought and follow precedent.

Abu S: Well, lashes apply to all sorts of crimes. It must be lashes.

Abu F: That’s what I am leaning towards too. But I’ve got this nagging feeling that tells me this man should be stoned.

Abu S: Stoned for calling his own wife names?

Abu G: It sounds a tad extreme, akhi.

Abu F: What would you do if someone called your mother names?

Abu S: I will kill him with my own hands.

Abu G: Yes. Stoning makes sense. Lets stone him and may Allah forgive his sins.

Abu F: May Allah forgive all our sins and give us the chance to be called to do his bidding in the battlefield instead of sitting here and having to wrestle with these trivial cases.

Abu S: Amiin.

Abu G: Amiin.

Two weeks later, Abu Fas and his companions were summoned to the Somali capital and sent to the front lines to carry the fight to the enemies of Islam. They perished by a stray AMISOM rocket.

Friday, January 23, 2009 

Money Transfer

Just as Abdi sat down to have his Iftar, his phone started to ring. His wife told him to ignore it and continue having his food but he paid her no attention and answered it anyway.

It was a call from Somalia. He could tell by the interference on the line and the loud hello ringing in his ears. It was his childhood friend Ali. As usual, he wanted money. Eid was coming and he claimed to have nobody else to approach for some financial help. It is the month of giving, he said. It is the time when friends remember needy friends and families are charitable to each other. Abdi reluctantly promised to see what he can do but insisted that he was broke and could make no promises. I will try my best, he said.

Sado, Abdi's wife, was sat staring at him and trying to work out who the person on the other side was. She waited until her husband finished his call and then coolly asked him to eat his food.

Abdi: I will, as soon as I finished praying.

Sado: At least you pray! Though I am not sure how good that is when you don't really fast.

Abdi: I did not fast for health reasons. I had an upset stomach.

Sado: Today it was an upset stomach. The day before you claimed to have vomited. The one before that you had bloody gums. The one before that you felt sick and dizzy. There are only five days left and I'm not sure if you'll ever be well enough to fast. But at least you're praying, eh?

Abdi: I know you don't believe me but I was truly sick on all those days. Besides, when I was feeling well, I did fast the first three days. I am not so weak as not to be able to fast, you know. It's just this illness of mine.

Sado: Well, you'll have to make up for them sometime.

Abdi: Or feed some poor people. In fact, this reminds me of the phone call I just got. It was Ali and he needed help with the Eid expenses. I think I am going to send him the money to account for all the days I missed.

Sado: This friend of yours is a waste of space. He's married to three women and yet he phones other people to help him look after his family. If you can't afford it, why marry all these women? I truly despise men that marry two or three.

Abdi: You're a typical Somali woman, always ready to talk behind other people's back. Were you not the one who was just looking down on me for missing a few days due to illness? Where is all the virtue when it comes to talking behind people's back? I mean, you just broke your fast, woman!

Sado: I know. I know. Sorry, but I just can't stand men that marry more than one wife.

Abdi: It is his life. It is his choice. He asked for help and, if I can, I will help him with no preconditions. What do you want me to do? Tell him I'll send him the money only if he divorced two of his wives?

Sado: Don't be silly. I was just making small talk. I really don't care how many wives this friend of yours has. He is not my concern. The only time I would worry about such a thing is if YOU decided to marry a second wife.

Abdi: Where did that come from? Are you looking for an argument, woman?

Sado: No. Again, I was just making small talk.

Abdi: Keep talking that way and I am sure to get me a second wife.

Sado: Now who is looking for an argument?

Abdi: Never mind all that. I am going to pray.

Abdi finishes his prayers and comes to sit down and have a cup of tea.

Sado: Are you angry with me?

Abdi: No. Why should I be angry with you? Like you said, you were making small talk.

Sado: You know how much I hate guys that marry multiple wives and the mention of that friend of yours always gets on my nerves. He lives in poverty yet he is not poor and is probably having a better life than both of us. It doesn't stop him from asking for money though.

Abdi: So it is about the money then? Ok. I will not send him anything if it makes you happy.

Sado: No. No. It is not about the money. Send him whatever you can. After all, it is not the fault of his many wives that he is a good for nothing so and so.

Abdi: Ok. I actually can't send him anything in the next few days and Eid is just round the corner. Do you mind if you go to the xawalad and send him the money yourself? I'll give you all the details, and the money of course.

Sado: No. I don't mind. Just so to prove that I don't begrudge your friend the money.

The next day, Sado goes to the xawlad and tells the man behind the counter to send the money to Ali. She gives him the details and the money Abdi gave her. The xawalad man asks her who should he say the money was from. She gives him her husband's name. The xawalad guy enters the name of the husband in his computer system and turns to Sado asking if her husband ever sent money through this xawalad before. Sado replies in the negative.

The Somali xawalad man who, typically, does not understand nor believe in individual privacy looks shocked and asks her if she's sure.

Sado: Yes. I am sure. My husband never goes to any xawalado. I always do these things for him while he's at work.

Xawalad man: But his name is here. He sends money back home every month.

Sado: Every month? Who to?

Xawalad man: Do you know a lady by the name Nimco Maxamed?

Sado: Never heard of her before!

Xawalad man: Are you sure she's not his sister, mother or aunt?

Sado: I know all his family. There is no Nimco there. Are you sure he sends it EVERY month?

Xawalad man: That's what my system says.

Sado: The cheating, lying, non-fasting so and so!

Xawalad man: Steady now, sister. I presume you're still fasting.

Sado: What fasting are you talking about? MY HUSBAND IS CHEATING ON ME!

Xawalad man: Calm down, sister. Maybe it is a misunderstanding.

Sado: We'll see, we'll see. Cancel the transfer I asked you to make for now. I'll return and make it later.

Abdi did fast the remaining days of Ramadan but all those around him suspected that he only did so as a result of being homeless and not having ready access to a full fridge.


Maalintuu Shaydaanku naga tegey

When I went to the maqaaxi last night, some man that reminded me strongly of our very own Xaaji X was telling everyone that Somaliland shaaydaan ma laha!

He was adamant inuu shaaydaanku ka qaxay Somaliland. Marka hore wuxuu na yidhi:

"Anaa shaydaanka arkay isagoo safaarada ingiriiska ku socda. laakiin malaa waa loo diiday"

He added:

"Aakhirkii, markuu wax waayaay, fake passport buu ku baxay . Anigaa ku arkay isagoo Daalo airline saaran"

When we asked him why did the shaydaan leave Somaliland, he replied:

"meel xataa daaayeerkii wax ku xadayo maxa dhigaya?"

When we said that this was good news he replied:

"yaa idin ku yidhi waa good nayooos? wadan baad sheeganaysaan idinkoon shaydaan lahayn! waar orda sasabta ama madaxweyne ka dhiga ha idin ku soo noqdee"

When we said that the Shaydaan was bad, he replied:

"Hadaa ma Rayaalaa fiican?"

When we said he can't compare Rayaale with the Shaydaan, he said:

"Waa runtiin. Shaydaanka cidna may dooran lahayn lakin Rayaale 97% baa doortay".

When we said what does he think of the future of Somaliland now that it has no resident Shaydaan of its own he said:

"Ha u bixina! Shayaadiintu way badan yihiin, Puntland ayaan mid kaaga afduubaynaa".

When we said that this was impossible he said:

"Wax impossible la yidhaahdo ma jiraan. Xaabsade hadaan la wareegnay, shayaadiinta na waanu afduubi karnaa"

When we all laughed, he laughed back too and said:

"duushay ninmanyahow, duushay"


In the Somaliland registration Line

Man with red hat: War maxay leeyheen. This line is not moving at all.

Man with green hat: stop pushing and wait for your turn.

Man with no hat: Rag waaween bad teheen. Stop complaining and don’t show us up. The women are in the opposite line and can hear you.

Man with red hat (whispers): Badw bad tahay ninyaho. Why else do you think I am making all this fuss about the non-moving queue?

Man with green hat (whispers back): Ninyaho kan eska dhaf. Mala xaaskiisa linka ku jirta.

Man with red hat: Hahaha

Man with no hat: Uuuf. War maxay leeyheen. This line is not moving at all!

Man with green hat: say ma yaroox fooq, say ma yansol taxat ayaay carabtu ku maahmaahda

Man with red hat: Haahay. Waxay na yedhaahdan: qaala wa qaala kalam kateer.

Man with no hat: War I dhiga ban edin edhi.

Man with green hat: maskeen ya dallas

Man with red hat: cajeeb el cajaayib

Woman with orange jilbaab: War ninka mad eska daaysan.

Man with green hat (to man with red hat): So kuu man sheegin?

Man with red hat: Bow!

Man with no hat: War I dhiga ban edin edhi

Man with green hat: Do you support Udub?

Man with no hat: Maxa kaa galay?

Man with red hat (to man with green hat): Does he look like an Udub supporter to you?

Man with green hat: Ninyaho wa runta. He does not look like one. Woxo wa eska badow. He must be a Kulmiye supporter.

Man with red hat: He looks like one.

Woman with orange jilbaab: You are calling him badow but neither of you understands the meaning of democracy. Maxa ka jira hadoo K or U taagiro?

Man with red hat: Arr ninyaho xaaskaga naga qabo dee.

Man with no hat: Ninyaho wad caytamaysa. This woman is my and your sister. Stop spreading rumours about her.

Woman with o.j (to man with no hat): inadeer, don’t waste your time trying to reason with these two jaahils.

Woman with yellow jilbaab: Naa. Amus. Adiga hadalka eso keenay. What possessed you to get involved in men’s conversations?

Woman with white maser: Don’t shut her up. She was right to tell those two to leave the poor man alone.

Man with red hat to man with green hat: Waliga ma argtay nin ween oo la leeyahay waa maskiin?

Man with green hat: Miya ninyaho. Kano wa bila dheeg.

Man with red hat: gaalado waxay ku maahmahda, at da wrong balayees at da wrong time.

Man with green hat: hahaha..waxanay edhaahdan, E-see come, E-see go.

Man with no hat (losing his temper): talyaanigo waxay ku maahmaahan Il diavolo fa le pentole ma non i coperchi

Man with red hat: Arr woxo eleen waa reer xamar. Nacala af talyaaniga eyo.... (fill in the gaps with a suitable swear word)

Man with green hat: Mala waa jaasuus!

Woman with yellow jilbaab: Ma Al shabaab ba?

Woman with white maser: Na miyanaad aheen tii na laheed ragga ha la hadlina?

Woman with yellow jilbaab: Naa aamus. Sacsacad yahay. Sheekado way es badashay.

Man with red hat: Waa ruunta. Aad bay eso badashay. Arr ma Al shabaab bad aheed?

Man with no hat: War wala shabaab wala odyaal ban ahay, I daa.

Man with green hat: Bacdan aad sidatid maxa ku yaala?

Man with red hat: oo ma bac buu sita? Balo! Arr baxsadaaaay. Arr cararaaaay. Tolaay...(fill the gaps again)

Man with no hat: War calm down all of you. There is nothing in that bag, only a new shirt and macawis.

Woman with orange jilbaab (hesitating): Walaal, ma run ba? Al Shabaab miyad ku jirta?

Man with green hat: Xita xaaskiisa ka shakiday. Arr kala yaacaaaay. Arr baxsadaaaay.

The line disperses and people run in all direction only for the men with the red and green hats to return and stand at the head of the line.

Man with red hat: war waan siginay.

Man with green hat: haa ninyaho.

Man with red hat: carabtu waxay ku maahmaahda, fe al baxar kabeer lasim saceema.

Man with green hat: hahaha. Waxay na yedhahdaan, talaata fi etneena ma yemshi.

The door opens and they walk in to register.


Shamso's Sailor

Dear Shamso

It has been three full years since I last set eyes on your lovely face. I miss you terribly and would love to see you again, even if for a mere second.

You probably thought I was dead or that I have forgotten all about you. I don't blame you. On that dark day when I had to leave our town and forcibly turn my back on you I did promise that I will return one day to make you my wife. But how many lovers in history made similar promises only to never be seen again? Not I, Shamso, not I. One day I will return.

I still remember the first day I fell for you. I remember your orange and green flowery dress, your black headscarf and your plastic sandals. I was leaning on a wall, lazily smoking a cigarette and waiting for a friend to arrive when you happened to walk past me. You must have walked past that particular spot a million times before. I must have stood on that particular spot a thousand times previously. But on that memorable day, you turned your head towards me as you walked and gave me a look. It was not a smile, a frown or even a beckoning look. You merely blinked at me twice and my heart skipped a beat then skipped again, twice.

Remember how I ran after you and started asking what you were up to and how your brother was? You were shy at first but you soon softened up and developed the courage to tease me and look me in the eye. Yet I always longed for one more magic blink.

Remember how your brother caught us holding hands behind the mosque? He and three of his friends bounced on me and tried to beat me up. I could have run away, I could have apologised, I could have begged for mercy. However, you were standing there and watching. I lost a couple of my teeth, had a busted nose and a swollen eye. But for you, Shamso, I fought like a lion.

The meddlers meddled. The fiddlers fiddled and the whisperers started spreading rumours. Our love affair was out in the open and your family refused to accept me even when I asked for your hand in marriage. Remember the excuses your father made? Remember how he claimed I had no prospects, job or future? When did prospects ever stop a Somali man from marrying? More importantly, which twenty year old Somali man has these so-called prospects? No, Shamso. Your father was like one of those cruel kings you hear about in old stories. He wanted me to slay a dragon to get my girl! That's why I left. But I promised to be back and, one day soon, I will return carrying the head of the dragon and flaunting my new found prospects in your father’s face.

You don't know the troubles I've seen, Shamso. Nobody does. In the three years of my absence, I have crossed deserts, swam seas and met many new people.

Remember the day I left town? I told you that I was going to head for Europe or America. Well, I did. I walked the deserts of Africa until I got to Libya. I got in a ship bound for Italy. The Captain fell overboard and died. We went in circles for ten days. We finally reached an Egyptian port. We were all deported back to Somalia.

The second time I tried to make it out of Somalia, I got in a ship bound for Yemen. I was thrown overboard. Just as I was drowning and thinking these were my last minutes on Earth, I remembered your pretty face. I saw you blinking down at me. I relaxed and stopped fighting the inevitable. This death was indeed sweet. I don't know how long it was but I noticed that I was not drowning anymore, I was floating. I learned to swim in the worst possible conditions! I thank you for saving my life, my love.

After hours of floating about, paddling around and praying a lot. I was finally picked up by a Somali speed boat. It was full of young men just like me. They had guns and they were chewing! They took me ashore, fed me and clothed me. I even found a couple of my long lost relatives amongst them. They were Somali pirates!

Now don't you panic, dearest. The title pirates was given to us by the western media. We (I and my comrades) do not regard ourselves as pirates. Just like our brothers who are fighting inland and call themselves Al-Shabab, we are fighting in the sea and call ourselves Al-Yaxas.

To tell you the truth, Shamso. When I first discovered what these people do I too thought of them as pirates and wanted nothing to do with them too. However, after meeting one of our captains and being told what our goals and aims were I am now proud to be called a Somali pirate.

This captain I am talking about goes by the name of Abdulwahab. He is not really a captain by trade. He used to be a sergeant in the old Somali army and he reckons that with the passing of the years he should have at least become a colonel. But Captain Abdulwahab is a humble man and therefore he decided to settle for the title of captain. He also argues that being a captain in the sea is miles better than a general in the land.

Our other captain is called captain Red Beard. We call him this because of his fondness for applying henna to his beard. Both he and captain Abdulwahab have explained to us the necessity of having a Somali navy that patrols and protects our seas. This is why we have been marauding the seas and stopping all offending ships.

I heard that the media reported that we kidnap ships and demand crazy ransoms. But all this is mere propaganda, my love. The truth is that we stop any ships that trespass into our waters and ask to see their papers, just as any respectable navy would. If everything is in good order we let them go but if we discover any violations we have to apprehend these ships and fine them for their wrongdoings. Yes we sometimes ask for extortionate amounts of money but that is only so that we set an example for other ships that wish to violate our seas.

Oh Shamso, the sea is beautiful. There we are, half a dozen young men on a speed boat, with the wind in our backs, the horizon in our front and the big open sea under our feet. We sail around and petrol the waters. We sing, we laugh and we uphold the name of mother Somalia. Oh Shamso, if you were here you would love the camaraderie, loyalty and sacrifices of these brothers of mine. They're the bravest, the cleverest and the most cunning to have ever set foot in the sea.

Last week, as we were sat in a coffee shop in the beautiful town of Eyal, we received a report of a ship that was trespassing on our waters. We roused ourselves, spat our khat out and jumped on our speed boats. After an hour of sailing, we spied the ship in the distance. After half an hour of parrying, maneuvering and chasing, that ship was ours. We towed it home and were received as heroes again.

I would love to come back and marry you now, Shamso. I have enough money to buy our whole town and don't think your father can look down on my prospects anymore. Alas, I have a bigger duty now. I am sure you understand the importance of defending this great country of ours (and to think I was planning to go to Europe or America and abandon my forefathers' land a scant months ago).

Wait for me for one more year, Shamso. One more year and I promise to come back and marry you, my love. In the meantime, every time I go out to sea, every time I find myself blinking when the sun is in my eye, every time the sea wind ruffles my afro, I am going to remember you Shamso. In fact, I once tried to convince the boys to name our speed boat after you but was soon put off the idea when one of them reminded me that this boat of ours was always boarded by no less than six men. I love these brothers of mine but I love you more, Shamso.

I shall end this letter now my love but, remember me every time an easterly wind brings you the salty smell of the sea. Remember me every time you hear of a man with prospects. Remember me every time you walk by that mosque. Remember me every time your brother has a fight....

Fifteen men on a dead man's chest
Yo ho ho and a mijin of khat
chewing and the devil had done for the rest
Yo ho ho and a mijin of khat...

Yours truly,


Our coffee shop has internet access now. I know there is a Net Cafe in our town so why don't you create an MSN account and contact me? I would love to see your pretty face again, Shamso.

My e-mail is:

Friday, January 27, 2006 

An Accidental Legend

A reworking of an old Somali tale

As her son lay in bed and coughed his heart out, Mariam looked down at him and was wondering if this is, yet another, harmless cold like all the ones he used to suffer from in his childhood. Her mind strayed a little and she was, suddenly and irrationally, worried that this might be something graver than a mere cough. As the awful thought crossed her mind, she instinctively, like all mothers the world over, smiled and started stroking her son’s head.

A week passed and Elmi (the son) was still coughing! He was always tired, always coughing, always sweating at night and seemed to be suffering from chills and fevers! Elmi had tuberculosis (TB).

By now, his family had recognised the symptoms and knew how contagious this disease was. They discreetly took him to a doctor in the neighbouring town and were given medicines and told to isolate him from people until his condition improved (or didn’t!).

The family were presented with a great quandary. No other disease loses you friends, isolates you from loved ones and shuts down your business like TB does. At the mere hint of a sneeze or a clearing of throat, everyone within the vicinity panics and hurries to gargle with all sorts of oils and bleaches in the vain hope of arresting the disease!

Elmi’s family were business people and had a respectable standing in the community. His parents’ advice and counsel was sought out by everyone and his siblings were the cream of the town. Even Elmi himself was looked upon as one of the best young men of his generation, most able and articulate. But all of that would have meant nothing against the destructive menace of TB.

The family knew they would have to concoct a story as to why Elmi is always locked up in his room and the type of illness he suffers from. Miriam and her husband gathered all their children round and presented them with the situation. They told them about the impact such news would have (if it ever leaked out) on their status in the community. Everyone was certain that Elmi was going to make a full recovery and they only wanted to dream up a temporary story to distract people.

Elmi had a younger brother called Abdi. This Abdi was the cleverest, finest and most articulate young person in that town. He was also a hopeless romantic and was forever making up little ditties about unrequited love and heartbreak. This Abdi, as expected from someone of his ability and disposition, suggested that the family pretend that Elmi is madly in love and that this love is what’s making him ill!

The family, of course, rejected this silly idea and told him to come up with something more sensible. But, as they spoke to him and rebuked him for his silly suggestion, this idea was growing on Abdi. He thought of all the famous love stories and sighed as he tried to invent one for his brother. The story, he knew, had to be one of an unreciprocated love. The girl had to be a local girl but not one that personally knew Elmi!

The next day, while hard at work, Abdi saw a girl that radiated a peculiar sort of beauty. She was not attractive and, in fact, many people would argue that she was ugly. However, Abdi, with his bard eye, saw something in her that made his poetic juices overflow and helped him create his first ever full love poem! The girl, like a modern Dona del Toboso, blissfully went about her business unaware of the poet, the impact her presence had on him or how she inspired him.

That day, Abdi went home and read his poem to his family. They were all very impressed and proud to be related to such a wordsmith. Abdi took that opportunity to repeat his suggestion about the love deception. He promised them that if they agreed to his idea, he would write a poem each day talking about his (brother’s) unrequited love and how he (Elmi) has locked himself in a room until his beloved would agree to momentarily let the rays of her gaze fly in his general direction. The family were again; impressed with their son and the eloquent way he presented his argument. They all agreed that his was an ingenious idea and that most people would be so appalled with this grown man’s love troubles to worry about the holes in his misleading story.

In the weeks that followed, Elmi coughed, Abdi created poems, and the family spread the news about Elmi’s love-induced suffering. Elmi’s cough aside, everything else worked out beautifully. The entire town was fascinated with this debilitating love story and wanted to know the name of the girl. They soon found out her name and all flocked to her house to have a peek at the glorious beauty that made poor Elmi ill.

The girl’s name, of course, was Hothan. Although she had heard Abdi’s poems she did not know that she was Elmi’s supposed object of affection. On that day when the crowds were gathering in her street to view her, she was coming out of the house to hang up some washing. As she hung up and stretched out the washing, she started humming and singing a couple of Abdi’s words! The crowd, who were still trying to have a good look at Hothan, were outraged by her impertinence and cold heartedness. Some started shouting over to her and tell her to stop torturing the poor man. Others started begging her to have mercy on him; ‘his only crime is that he loved you’, they cried.

Hothan was shocked to hear all these people shout and point fingers at her! She dropped whatever washing she was carrying and quickly darted back into her house. The crowd hung around and stared at the windows. They kept on shouting and making accusations at the twitching window curtains. But, apart from the odd latecomer, they all soon dispersed and left Hothan, inside her house, and wondering when her mother would come back to extricate her from this infuriating fix!

Another two weeks passed and there was no improvement in Elmi’s condition, no shortage or decrease in Abdi’s fine poetry and no let up for Hothan and her family from the usual crowds milling outside her house. Poor Hothan, like her supposed lover, was under house arrest! She begged, she cried, she denied it all and even pretended to be mad. But the mob was on Elmi’s side and thought her evil incarnate.

One day, a heavily disguised Hothan managed to leave her house and sneak unnoticed past the rabble. Once she made sure she wasn’t being followed, she made her way to Elmi’s house. She was determined to confront this Elmi and ask him why he decided to drag her name through the mud in such a way!

When Hothan reached the house, she saw Abdi walking out with his hands in his pockets and whistling quietly to himself. She stopped him and asked him to take her to Elmi. Abdi, not recognising Hothan under all that disguise, shook his head and told her that Elmi is only interested in Hothan. He tried to soothe her by saying that this is not a personal slur on her beauty or marriage-worthiness but that Elmi’s infatuation does not allow him to see the beauty of any woman other than his beloved Hothan.

Hothan thought it unfair that this liar is getting all kinds of beautiful women throwing themselves at him as a result of his big lie, while she has to run the gauntlet of an angry mob when she did nothing wrong. She sighed to herself as she listened to Abdi telling her about all the girls that come daily to offer themselves to his ill brother. Abdi tried to console her some more but she cut him off and theatrically removed her disguise to reveal the face that, whilst no Helen of Troy, still launched a thousand poems.

Abdi was flabbergasted! She demanded to see Elmi. Abdi panicked. She insisted that she see Elmi. Abdi almost gave in to the power of her plea. As he turned around to conduct her to Elmi’s room, he remembered the TB and the reason for this whole lie! He could not tell her about the illness. He couldn’t explain the reason for the lie either, so he decided to convince her that Elmi is really in love with her and that seeing her might kill him. He told her that the family don’t agree with Elmi’s madness and that they would do everything they can to restore her good name and reputation. He begged her not to see Elmi and promised her that, soon, Elmi will recover his health and leave her alone.

It was the turn of Hothan to wilt under the strength of Abdi’s argument. She agreed to walk away and, like the good-hearted girl she always was, wished Elmi a speedy recovery. The dignified way in which Hothan dealt with the situation, her kindness and the sparkle in her eyes throughout this encounter, moved Abdi and inspired him into writing another classic love poem. It was a poem so great that before the sun had set on that day, the entire population of the town were either already reciting it or listening to it.

By the following morning, Hothan’s family had heard the poem and found out about their daughter’s visit to the stricken man’s house! Her brothers wanted to kill him and her. Her father was on the verge of disowning her and her sisters, secretly, hated her for driving such a sensitive man to such a sorry state. Meanwhile, her mother was quietly plotting and trying to find a way to secure a respectable future for this wretched child of hers. A decision was finally made. Hothan is to be married as soon as possible. The husband shall be anyone but Elmi.

On the following Friday, Hothan was wed to her new husband. To her utter joy and total delight, this new and hastily unearthed husband, turned out to be everything she ever wished for in a man. On that night, as the new husband unwrapped the subject of all those great poems, Mariam was weeping as she covered the body of her dead son!

Hothan went on to have a great married life. Elmi’s name lived on as testament, symbol and icon of unrequited love (and uncured TB). While Abdi, like all real and unassuming heroes, went back to obscurity and the only occasional praise he got was usually the result of his more illustrious brother’s reflected glory. He wrote poems of better quality and greater wisdom than the ones he wrote in the name of Elmi, but when the people compared them to the sacrifice of giving one’s life in the name of love, all his poems were found wanting.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005 

Young hearts, run free...

Lubna had a secret. It was the kind of secret that one tried their utmost to keep from their parents. Lubna hated keeping secrets. In fact, Lubna was a frightening gossip. However, this morning, when she borrowed her younger sister’s mobile phone to make an urgent call, she stumbled upon this juicy revelation.

Lubna is twenty-eight years old. She’s pretty and, still, single. Her sister (the mobile phone owner - Nora) is twelve years younger. She too is pretty and, as of this morning, because of Lubna’s discovery, is not single!

The boy on the phone was very forward and was not awfully rattled when he realised it was not his girl that answered the phone. He even, unwittingly, insulted Lubna by asking her if she was his beloved’s mother!

Now Lubna was sat in her room with her sister’s mobile phone in hand and she was, as befits the duty of a big sister, rummaging through the younger sister’s (Nora) text messages. The ill-mannered boy’s nickname was Max! He seems to send Nora at least ten text messages per day. This, Lubna quickly concluded, means that the love is at its early stages. She quickly tried to think of ways that will help her put an end to this affair.

As she sat there thinking, an image flashed through her mind. She immediately softened up and wistfully sighed to herself. Once upon a time, Lubna too was sixteen and had her own admirers. Though she’s single now, she was not short of experience and (mostly) heartache when it came to relationships.

Lubna remembered her first ever crush. Unlike other girls, it was not with the Indian guy in the corner store. It was not with one of her brother’s handsome friends. It was not with some famous actor on TV either. Lubna’s first crush was with the silent caller.

The first time she ‘met’ him, she was fourteen years old and home alone. Her family lived in a flat in Dubai throughout the eighties and early nineties. Lubna was not supposed to talk to, mix with or have anything to do with boys. She went to an all girl school and only ever mixed with her brothers and male cousins. But, on that magical day Nasser phoned her! When the phone rang and she casually answered it, she did not expect the call to be anything special. However, after the first casual ‘hello’ didn’t elicit any response and the second cautious ‘hello’ didn’t draw out any reply, Lubna realised this was a special phone call and something mischievous within her told her this is going to be an exciting phone call.

She carefully held the receiver close to her ear and asked ‘is anyone there?’ She got no reply! She again whispered the word ‘hello’. She got no reply. She quickly hung up and stood staring at the phone for a few seconds. The phone rang again! Lubna skipped a beat. She quickly picked it up and spat out a hurried hello. There was no reply! She asked if anyone was there but there was no reply. She went silent and waited for whoever was on the other side to speak. He finally spoke. It was a boy’s voice!

Lubna asked him who he was and what he wanted. He didn’t reply. She hung up. He phoned again and blurted the magic words ‘I love you’. Lubna’s heart skipped several beats. This was the first time a boy told her he loved her!

Her girlfriends told her that when a man confesses his love a girl has to play hard to get and feign indifference. Lubna, in her attempt to act aloof and uninterested blew a half raspberry and sweetly asked him what makes him love her! He told her that her voice made him love her. She failed to suppress a giggle as she asked him what else made him fall in love with her. He told her it was the way she spoke and giggled. She tittered some more and asked him if he liked her looks. He seemed to struggle for an answer but quickly recovered and told her that though he has not seen her yet, in his mind’s eye, he was sure she was the prettiest girl alive. Lubna was disappointed and was silent for almost ten full seconds. Nasser panicked and begged her to speak to him and say anything. In a very sombre and serious voice, Lubna asked him what he wanted from her. Nasser told her that he fell in love with her voice and personality. He told her that he was not into the superficial love of faces and looks. He told her he loved the inner her and that he can’t imagine life without hearing her sweet voice. Though he could not see it, Lubna was softening up and even had a smile on her face as she listened to him.

He stopped talking and asked her if she was there. She said ‘yes’. He asked her if she hated him. She said ‘no’. He asked if she loved him. She said ‘not sure’. He asked her if she could ever love him. She sniggered and said ‘don’t know’.

Lubna heard the front door open and quickly told Nasser that her parents are home and that she had to go. He asked her when should he phone her again. She said ‘tomorrow, same time’. As she hung up the phone, she heard him whisper ‘I love you’!

Nasser did not phone the next day. He did not phone the day after that or the one after. He did not phone her for a full four weeks! Lubna was disappointed and heartbroken, for with every passing day, she grew convinced that she too was in love with Nasser!

Lubna got up and went to look through her old dairies. She found the diary she wanted. It was dated February 1991. In it, in cryptic language, she had written about the four weeks that Nasser was absent and the pain she felt back then. The page was full of bleeding hearts with broken arrows. It had bits of poems on the side and famous sayings about absence, love and the meaning of life. Twenty-eight-year-old Lubna smiled to herself as she read her own innocent scribbling and youthful thoughts.

As she flicked through the pages, she remembered the day Nasser returned. On that second occasion, their conversation was more serious and they both pledged their undying love. Nasser confessed that the reason he did not call was because he forgot her phone number and was waiting for the monthly-itemised phone bill to arrive. He told her how ill, livid and sad he felt when he could not hear her voice for those long four weeks. He however agreed with her when she told him that those four weeks apart were necessary and that without them she wouldn’t have realised that she loved him!

Nasser and Lubna spoke on the phone daily for a whole year. She found out he was a year older than her. He told her all about his family and friends and hobbies. Within months, there was nothing that Lubna did not know about Nasser or Nasser about Lubna. He sent his photos to her local corner shop for her to pick up. She sent her photo to his local corner shop for him to pick up. The planned to get married in ten years time when Lubna was 24!

Lubna remembered how all her school friends were in awe of her and Nasser. She recalled how a dozen of her friends would turn up each evening and try to listen on to her phone conversations with Nasser. She remembered how some of them were themselves secretly in love with Nasser!

Lubna couldn’t remember why or how her relationship with Nasser ended. She nervously flicked through the pages of the dairy to see if she can find any clues that would remind her what went wrong. The date it took place was the 14th of March 1992. The entry in her diary in that day had the usual bleeding hearts and arrows but the poetry was darker. The words were about treachery, hatred and respect! There was even a pathetic attempt at writing her own poetry there. She spoke about when lovers and friends float away in deceitful boats, and the love story ends while a best friend gloats!

Lubna quickly turned the page to see if there were any more clues to explain the end of that distant affair. She came across a happy page with smiley faces, kisses and happy hearts filling the page! Was the Nasser story back on, she wondered! As she read through the page and deciphered the usual poetry, she remembered that this was not at all about Nasser. This was about her second love!

His name was Kamal and she first met him while she was out shopping with her mother. Kamal was a bald and daring man. He had the cheek to slip her his phone number while her mother was haggling with the shop owner over some garments. All her friends told her that her relationship with Kamal was the expected rebound from the Nasser affair, but she wouldn’t listen. Her love affair with Kamal didn’t last long of course.

As she thought about Nasser, Kamal and the three or four love affairs that followed them, she remembered Nora and Max! Should she spill the beans and tell mother about this affair? Should she, like in her case with Nasser, let young love run its true course?

Nora came into the room and asked for her mobile phone back. Lubna had no time to hide the text message she was reading. She quickly apologised and told Nora that ‘her secret’ is safe. Nora giggled and said ‘you think I’m in love with Max? Max is an idiot, my dear, an idiot that’s been pestering me for months’.

Lubna sighed wistfully and started writing something into her dairy...