Lately I have been feeling a certain way about how comprehensively my kids have taken over my life. Nothing has come to symbolized this as how many times I have to reheat my cup of tea, sometimes even before my first sip. Pour the water…“Daddy.” Add the honey… “Daddy?” Lift the cup to my lips…”Daddy!” Sometimes I just want to be like “WHAT!!??” But I take a deep breath, put the cup down and tend to their needs. When I return, my hot tea is iced. I hate ice tea! (more…)
I don’t really know what Middle Class is. As far as I can tell it is this wide sea of individuals and families between those that qualify for food stamps and those that live in mansions with enough financial wealth to have their children look forward to their death. I may be somewhere in that sea.
Both my wife and I have been employed full time for the major part of the last decade. Between us, we have a comfortable house in a comfortable part of town, two cars, and three beautiful children. Every now and then, we close our eyes, damned the budget, and indulge a family vacation. We give to charity, we go out to eat just because we don’t feel like cooking, we send money back home…few dollars in a money market account, college savings, 401K plans…you get the idea. My wife doesn’t go to church much, and I have hardly been to a mosque since coming to America, but every day we thank our gods for this life we live. (more…)
I was born in Guinea, to a strict family in a devout Muslim community. If you have followed my writing for any length of time, you already know this. But it bears repeating here. I was about 15 when I came to America. In the few months before starting high school, I learned America from soap operas. “All my Children” was my favorite, but “One Life to Live” is where I learned that gay didn’t just mean being happy. As you can imagine I was shocked, and to be completely honest, disgusted. As a practicing Muslim, I thought it an abomination. (more…)
I swear I am not cheap. I shop at Target (instead of Wal-Mart), Cub Food (instead of Aldi). I even have membership at Seward Co-op. When it comes to wear, though I sometimes stray into Marshalls when I’m at the Mall of America, and I thought TJ Maxx was an high-end boutique during my college days, these days it’s Guess, Studiiyo23; hell, I’m a Banana Republic Voxx member for crying out loud! (more…)
It was a weird Sunday evening. After hanging out with some friends, I decided to run to the mall to return some shirts I bought the week before. From uptown, I got on 35W south bound. Few miles later I debated whether I should take highway 62 East or stay on 35W to 494 East. I decided to stay on 35W.
Well, as soon as I passed the exit for 62, I knew I’d miscalculated. 35W to 494 is longer than 62 to 77 route, with the likelihood of getting stuck in traffic much higher. Bad move IBé, I scolded myself. I hate miscalculating.
As I pulled into the mall on Lindau Lane, winding my way to the parking ramp, I saw a lot of people walking out of Sears. Forget baseball, I said to myself, shopping is America’s favorite pastime. (more…)
You know the saying, as art imitates life, life imitates art? Well, as life writes poems, poems write life. I had one such moment last night.
Few years back I wrote this poem called “At Least Once”. It is basically a list poem that lists some things I believe we should all experience at least once in our lifetime. Toward the end of the poem, I have a line that says, “At least for a day, close your eyes and walk around for a while.” (more…)
I am a Muslim. So was my father, his father, and his father. So was my mother, her mother, and her mother. Both sides of my family were Sunni until my father became Wahhabi somewhere through his short life. So my mother too became Wahhabi (at the chagrin of her family).
Though I memorized most of the surahs in the Qur’an, I don’t speak Arabic. Needless to say I don’t know what I’m reciting when I stand to pray. The truth is, having attended a Roman Catholic school for the first ten year of my schooling, I know more about the Bible than I do the Qur’an. But for many of those ten years, each day after school I attended mandrasa. That’s where I memorized the surahs. They also tried to teach us the Arabic language. I can read the first ten letters of the alphabet. At one point I knew how to write my name. But that’s about it. However, I remember the stories and sermons we were given—at the mandrasa and at Mosque on Fridays. And much was about non-believers and how they were going to burn in a fire seven times the heat of any known to mankind. As a result I’m still terribly scared of dying, because I don’t know for sure I won’t end up there when I do. We also learned about jihad and love, obedience and perseverance. As the catholic school tried to make us men, so too did the mandrasa. Each in its own self-serving way. (more…)
It happened again. I took my family out and we stood out like a sore thumb, and made vividly aware of it. This time it happened at Lake Elmo Inn in Lake Elmo, Minnesota. I love this restaurant, especially their Sunday brunch. Every now and then I take my family out there as a special treat. We would go more often were it not for the 45 minutes trek from our house in South Minneapolis.
The day was a cold one, two days after my daughter’s birthday. This was sort of the family’s celebration of that joyous occasion. We showed up at the restaurant for our noon reservation to a packed house (as usual). While we waited to be seated, I scanned the place—at least the areas I could see—and discovered what I suspected: there were none that looked like us. (more…)
Warning: may not taste good to all readers.
I may not be where I’m heading, but I’m definitely not where I once was. Every now and then I’m reminded of this. Like today. I finally decided it was about time I joined in on the savings at my neighborhood (as in outskirt of town) meat farm. I know few family members who have been doing this for years: buying a whole lamb (or goat and sometimes cow) at a farm, and storing it for consumption over a long period. It’s supposed to be cheaper than buying in small quantities from a grocery store.
So after buying an extra freezer, finding a space for it in my already crowded house (and deciding on a corner in my office), I finally drove down to a farm this afternoon. As soon as I entered the slaughterhouse, I knew I was someplace else. The stench was almost unbearable; there was blood everywhere. And everywhere immigrants; an African looking couple, couple of South American groups, lots of Asians, and John. (more…)
I am an African. This is more than an identity based on my continent of birth. It’s more than something I may tell those I suspect wouldn’t know where Guinea was if it jumped off the map and bit them on the nose. African to me is more than a background, it’s more than a box on some survey or censor form; it’s a state of mind that guides everything I do.
I think African, speak African and put my money where my mind and mouth are. As soon as I need something, I’m looking for that made in Africa sign, that sold by an African smile, that going to an African pocket to help Africa and Africans far and near stance. (more…)