the lost art

i felt it only appropriate to recite this poem. (hope you enjoy my experiment)

the lost art ~ recited by sonya kassam

do not look for stories
that live forever
between the pages of books
tales that hide in the heart
are conveyed orally
oft-repeated
with a rising tone
or hushed words
poetic rhythm, commanding attention
meandering through a chain of generations
eager listeners round a bonfire
or huddled in a cramped room,
congregation
simultaneous sighs as
eyes captivate, words fascinate
enhanced by gestures
thoughts cross-pollinate
through the revival of a fading beauty
the lost art
of story-telling

***

we each have a story within us
go tell your story

The Mystic of Mackinnon Road

Mackinnon Road train station lies along the Mombasa-Nairobi highway near Mariakani town. The most outstanding landmark here is the Mackinnon Road Mosque that was built as a result of the tomb of Seyyid Baghali, who was a foreman at the time of building the railway fabled for his tremendous strength and according to many, charmed lifestyle.

Travellers, regardless of religion or colour have been making stop overs at the shrine long before independence and are pulling up at the sight to this day.

Legend has it that Baghali was a saint whose family tree traced back to the Holy Prophet, a fact that he tried to conceal from the public to no avail. For when he got tired of carrying stones, his ‘laden karai’ (vessel) would float above his head to the consternation of many.

By 1940s, when the grave was still covered in bushes, travellers would stop there and ask for boons and generally attribute their safety during their journey to the holy man buried at the tomb. The news spread, a legend started and a reputation of the place grew.

People later claimed that Baghali would communicate with man-eaters (lions) who were terrorising the Indian workers and order them to relocate saving the lives of his colleagues.

Read more at: The Mosque that Serves all

 

The Mystic of Mackinnon Road

veiled by bougainvillea within sacred alabastrine walls
travellers pause, seek fragrant blessings for onward journeys

the iron snake tracks through unforgiving terrains
yet you walk as though treading on rose petals
stone laden karai floats over you in reverence, a halo?
the python consents to your prayers
even the man-eaters daren’t cross perimeters

forgive my impertinence
my persistence, my obstinance
O Mystic of Mackinnon Road, I discovered

a secret divine within the Lunatic Line’s shrine…
those who dare transcend the limits of possibility
remain indifferent to accusations of insanity

***

This was a very difficult poem to write. Would have never considered writing it, except that it was an assignment which was due for our workshop of creating poetry with local content. In researching, I came across interesting new stories and people.

I remember stopping at Mackinnon rd mosque whenever we travelled to Mombasa by road, even the public buses and train would hoot or whistle and slow down to pay their respects and be assured of a safe journey.

Syed Baghali was known to understand and speak the language of animals. On one occasion, when the working party was around the area of Mackinnon,  a huge python appeared. It was ready to strike at anyone who dared to approach it. Some of the labourers and one of the Englishmen got ready with their lathis (sticks) and gun to shoot it.

Pir Baghali begged them not to harm the python. He faced the snake and pleaded with it to leave. The snake stood for a while, poised to attack, but shortly after, it gradually backed down and slithered away.

It is said he also kept the lions away and the labourers in his camp remained safe.

~Excerpt from the book Oral Literature of the Asians in East Africa by Mubina Hassanali Kirmani and Sanaullah Kirmani

Read also about The strange history of the man-eating lions of Tsavo

You will enjoy this wonderful Photo Essay on the Lunatic Express

When I remember Kenya, I will think of trains. Not because I saw so many of them and not because I travelled in one. But the Kenya the world knows today would not exist except for a rail line that, during its design and construction, was considered such a bad idea it was dubbed the Lunatic Line.

Maybe it was crazy and maybe it was not.

~ A Train Called the Lunatic Express

I just wanted to say a little more about the final couplet in my poem

those who dare transcend the limits of possibility
remain indifferent to accusations of insanity

To break through the self-imposed limits of possibility, to create new possibilities we must step away from our inhibitions and embrace a touch of madness, for

only the insane are truly liberated

And to sign off, here is a delightful song by the very talented and versatile Rahi Bains. I had the pleasure to come across Rahi ji and his music during my research. You will get to see the quaint Mackinnon road mosque in this video, enjoy the song.

 

( Continuation The Padre’s Shroud )

i do not write

i do not write
i imagine on paper
i do not think
my mind relates tales
i do not dream
my existence is maya
i do not share
i speak to myself
you happen to overhear

i do not write
you do not read
you see…
you see only what you want to see

i do not write
i only pray
i only pray to soothe like balm
an antidote to reality’s bite

i am not a writer
i do not write…

***

maya – illusion

About this poem:

I came across an email about Self-Doubt as a Writer and this poem was my spontaneous response….it took about 5 minutes, and those 5 minutes made me feel like I was floating.

The Worth of a Conversation

A fascinating conversation on Twitter between myself and @coldtusker (CT). Such interactions enhance the meaning and perspective of my words, so thanks for your questions CT!

Let us then face each other
You enhance me
For what is the worth of a star
Without her planets and moons?

Plenty, no?

what is the worth of a hero without his admirers
and a god without his worshippers?

Intrinsic worth?

Mostly yes. But the inner state will certainly be reflected off the surface.
(My 2 cents)

Isn’t a reflection generated by the light of others? One can radiate their inner being but reflects others light/radiance.

Yes! Which is why a star needs the planets and moons. You may have just answered your own question 😉

Why aren’t all these little snippets on your blog?

I was just about to ask for your permission to include our conversation… Please 🙏
BTW the original tweet was from my poem North of your Soul

Yes, you may. Should I have any hopes of receiving a chq for royalties?

One should never live without hope 😃

***

So, there you have it. I hope you enjoyed our conversation. Perhaps one day CT shall receive his royalties :)

of knowns and unknowns

Many of my poems have been created on or inspired by Twitter. Sometimes I receive brilliant replies or questions, and here is one such interaction between @mzungundege and myself. Very thought-provoking, don’t you think?

Evidence of the unknown
Is greater than that of the known
If only you would stop your search
In the temple mosque or church

Our known known is we have no evidence
To prove our religions’ dogmas
Our known unknown is the future of our universe
Our unknown unknown?

Our unknown unknown lies within us…

Now there is something to believe in

***

Thanks for the inspiration @mzungundege

Roses are Red…

Last year while at work in a mall, they were handing out roses to ladies for the Valentine’s Day weekend. I noticed these two roses, sadly discarded without a second thought. My attention kept wandering there for the time until I was done with work. As I was leaving I felt compelled to rescue them.

roses

One year later…

This rose found a new home in my Thesaurus and I must say it looks very pretty. What do you feel?

IMG_20170214_173851.jpg

roses are red…
…perhaps because they bled?