Badala Road

Badala Road in 2011A retired astronaut looks at the moon
And hopes the earth is still blue
It’s the things you don’t see
When your eyes can see
That become vivid as you grow blind

I think

Some of the best days of my life
Are the days I can no longer remember
Yet I try, in every blink
I cry whenever I close my eyes
I try to remember:
My sun—I hardly noticed how beautiful
The moon—I drew God in the clouds
And casted my dreams up
The stars—the twinkle in their eyes
Children like me

I left behind my mother
When we said bye
I was too young, too taken with the future to know
Some byes meant forever
And life is too short when compared to that
I left behind my father’s grave
He died when I was 3 years old
Maybe 2, maybe 4
Don’t ask me the reason
Besides, what importance is that
Except that a man is dead
A family is less than whole
Trying desperately to hold on to an ever widening tree

I left behind the old green bamboo mat
Rolled and tucked under the table next to the bags of rice
We slept on that
Outside when it was much too hot inside
Under the mosquito net
I left behind my youth
Running naked in torrential rain
With a stick guiding an old bicycle rim
Down the hill to the river, up
The avocado tree—where I broke my wrist
Behind the latrine—where I had my first bout with a school bully
By the well—where I first kissed her back
At the river—where I learned to wash the dirt out of my blue and white uniform

I left behind my school
Teachers and rulers they were not afraid to use
For any infraction
Like not knowing 7 times 8 in a fraction of a second
Or not saying it in English when you had something to say
So we broke our Krio and served it to the queen
Into the catholic church and stole communion bread
Muslim boys dancing to Pentecostal hymns
I left behind Palava Hall
A small hut on the edge of a savanna jungle
Where we had discussions not unlike those Socrates and Plato had in Rome
I left behind classmates
That left home in white clean shirts
Came to class in rags
Because it’s a long way to school
When life has you shackled below the knees

I left behind friends (please call them brothers)
They came to visit and stayed a while
Close to 40 limbs in the same room
We dreamt of joining the army
Because it was the only way to the presidency
Because that was the only way to wealth and prestige
Because we were thirsty children of fishermen

I left behind Marley
On my veranda
Blondy and Chaka Chaka
Before Chike became Okonkwo
And Mariama wrote her letter
I embodied cunning rabbits and fooled stupid hyenas
When little Red came riding in the hood
I went chasing after her
In a one-room library where I found my pen
S.I.T.T.I.N.G. Sitting—that is my oldest memory of learning to spell
I left behind my imagination
My wisdom in the hands of an old Kissi woman
That healed my broken bone
With mango leaves and her spit!

Deep like seeing Rumble in the Jungle
10 years after Foreman hit the floor
“Ali, bunmaye! One victory for the Muslims, zero for the non-believers”
Mentality of the mob
It’s easy being Muslim among Muslims
I used to fast 29 days out of 30—like it ain’t nothing!
Stay out all night—Disco J and Masiyande
Still made it to morning prayers
From there to here
I have taken some shortcuts
That have short changed my parents’ hopes and believes
Countless hours hoping I believe and remember the Qur’an
I don’t.
This is one of my biggest regrets

I left
The glint in my smile
Behind the squint in my eyes
The perfect explanation
For why my ears are the way they are–long and pointy
My thoughts—long and winded
I lack the patience to see them to the end: perfectly articulated point made
So my words are left dangling over incomplete sentences
Desperately trying to make sense of these things I know…
I left behind my language
My answers before reaching my questions
When I reached my questions
My first few chapters were missing
The more I read the more confusing it seems
My children too may one day be missing few chapters
This worries me
The thought of my grandchildren losing my entire book
Is the reason I try to remember
The reason I write these poems
Tell these stories, leave these crumbs
Hoping they may one day weave into their own stories

Written by IBé in: Poems | Tags: , , , , ,


  • Anonymous


    Comment | 11/23/2013
  • Sam

    Ibe, this is nice brother. I can feel where you are coming from in this one. So much debt! A small question: the thing about believing and remembering the qu’ran, are you saying you are no longer Muslim?

    Comment | 11/24/2013
  • Thanks, Sam! (You too Anonymous!) I appreciate you! As far as the line, it’s more about my evolution; questioning those things I used to take for granted. That’s what growth is all about, right?. It goes to the last stanza–leaving behind my answers before reaching my questions. When I finally reached my questions about the Qur’an, I lacked the answers I should have had from my elders and Mandrasa teachers. Sooo basically, I have questions. As to whether I am still a Muslim or not…this is the only way I know to relate to my maker.

    Comment | 11/25/2013
  • Algassimu Bah

    Wow!!!!Thanks for taking me back down badala road,and most importantly,thanks for writing.I can’t see the tears running down my face,but this poem surely makes me cry,cuz I was right there with you.

    Comment | 01/06/2014

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