If I were a boy...

I would notice the tune we both like and tell her it would be our song

I would leave a note on her pillow to remind her she's special

I would find that one word to boost her confidence

I would give her my trust, her freedom

I would listen... always

I wouldn't be too proud to call her if I wanted to hear her voice

I wouldn't forget the things she's passionate about

I wouldn't hide my feelings if I had them

I wouldn't endanger her trust

I wouldn't hurt her intentionally... ever

Sometimes I wonder, is it asking too much? Or do they know us so little?

Listening to Beyonce

Where do you live, Peter?

“Second to the right, and straight on till morning… I'll teach you to jump on the wind's back, and away we go.”

I feel like Wendy right now. You are my Peter Pan, the boy who decided to never grow up. You make faces at me. “Do I look like a ghost?” I giggle and close my eyes, pretending to be scared. You plunge forward at once, trying to pull me after you, off the window overlooking this troubled world. Let’s take a flight, you say, and see where the wind takes us. Let’s see what beauty we can create. You have to trust me, you say. My hand will be here for you when you need it.

I hesitate with one foot floating in the air, another unable to let go of my safe haven. I would love to jump after you, my dreamer, but I am so afraid. What if one day you let go? Will I fall through the darkness, into the world unknown to me? Will I look around and see a crowd of strangers in whose eyes the reflection of war is still flickering? Will I make my way home, up that window, and cry myself to sleep until I have no tears left in me? Or will I stay and carry on the fragile work of peace we have started? Will I be strong enough to one day take that flight on my own?

But you already have, you say, rolling your eyes.

Never this far, I note, sticking out my tongue to taste the rain drops.

You will never grow up either, you say.

I take a deep breath and push the bricks away with the tips of my toes, falling upward.

In my heart, I know I can let go of your hand and do this on my own. But it would be so good to know that someone is there to lean on when I grow weary. After all, it’s not the Neverland we are heading to.

Image credit: Frixin

It could have been home

“I would rather wake up in the middle of nowhere than in any city on Earth.”
– Steve Mcqueen

I look 33 floors down, at the blinking city lights, savoring the picture for only a moment before jumping back into reality. There it goes. My eyes were flying. My mind was locked in a box. Everything in the waking life is relative.

Stare at something for a long enough time, your eyes open wide, and the edges will start disappearing. Multiple lines will keep blending into one, until the central objects become an indistinguishable mass. Absorb the brightness of the light till it hurts, and through the watery eyes you’ll see the all-engulfing light, the brightest one with the darkest intentions. Start blinking however, and blink a lot, and the surrounding world will slowly start regaining its shape, its objects popping up abruptly, reclaiming their existence.

I look at the city skyline on the horizon, stopping for a moment on the lingering monsters of brick and steel. I follow several twisted snakes of light, the highways cutting this giant into pieces, marking the neighborhood limits, creating the safe and the not so safe zones. A sensitive poet calls them arteries every now and then, deceived by the constant movement inside; but they bring death rather than life, killing the surroundings they cut into, once and for all.

I blink even harder as I look closer, now just a couple of blocks away from the building, down the bridge covered in graffiti and the badly lit road beneath. My eyes wonder half a block to the right and I see a gas station, a police car, some oily spots on the ground and an empty street. A lonely figure slowly approaches the building and disappears in the alley. It’s 2 a.m. and I am thinking that the guy riding a bike in an empty parking lot below, making circle after circle, belongs here so much more than I do.

Image Credit: mademan033
Listening to NPR :)


10:30 a.m.

“Was it 110 or 111?” You ask, taking the backpack off my shoulder, stretching your arm in front of me, saving my life once again from the madness of traffic. I keep forgetting that they arrive from the opposite side here.

“It’s 111,” I say, unable to conceal a smile. “You almost remembered.”

A screeching noise behind us announces a 111 coming to a stop just a moment later. I try to say good bye, but the man hanging out of the door grabs my things and rushes me in. They don’t wait here. I jump inside, waving at you.

“Call me when you get home!” you shout.

I don’t think this one even came to a complete stop. I was rushed. I couldn’t have said a proper bye... Or could I? I should have waited for the next one. I should have hugged you. For one long hour, you will be thinking that I am ungrateful. But then I will get home and call you, and you will know that I care.

8 a.m.

I wake up and hear you breathing. A quick thought rushes through my head. Will you be different today? How will you act now that the music, friends and sambucas are gone? I turn your way and see you blink a little, as if trying to see me better, you eyelids heavy from the sleep. You roll closer and get your feet entangled in mine. No, you are not different, I tell myself as I lay my head on your arm.

“You will be late to...” I whisper.

“Don’t worry about it,” you interrupt me. So I stop worrying. Now it’s just you and me and a little bit of sunlight peeking through the window. I smile as I recall shopping for blinds with you last weekend, failing to find them.

You suggest breakfast at that cozy coffee shop down the road. I get up and do my hair. You get up and do some quick cleaning. We meet in the doorway of your kitchen and share an orange. There is no tension between us, nothing superficial. Being around you is easy.

You order scrambled eggs and I get apple pie. You joke about the pie as you check your e-mails. I grab a newspaper and a minute later we are laughing at local politics. I don’t know why I remember these details so clearly, while I am supposed to remember another time and another company... I guess nothing is “supposed” to be, unless we make it be.

“Just drop me at the bus station downtown,” I say.

“What happened to the Junction?” You ask.

“The Junction is too far and you are late as it is.”

“No, I am not dropping you at the station; it is not the safest place. I wouldn’t want you alone downtown.”

I shut up and sit there feeling cared for as we are off to the Junction. You park and walk me across the street.

“Was it 110 or 111?”

Image credit: V3Nr3VeNG3

War Child (2008)

Three of us were in the room, watching this movie. I was holding my breath, trying hard not to cry. Then I threw a quick glance to my right and saw tears in my friend’s eyes. He’s not a softie by any means. He’s quite a man’s man, in case it draws a better picture of the situation, or the movie.

War Child is a documentary about the life of Emmanuel Jal, a hip hop artist in his late 20s, who at the age of 7 was given a gun bigger than him, and along with other child soldiers fought in the Second Sudanese Civil War between the North and the South. It is a journey that we follow through the musician’s eyes, starting with a struggle to make it through the desert with hundreds of other boys, only a dozen of whom survived, continuing to show an amazing recovery through the healing power of music, forgiving the people in his troubled past and visiting home after being gone for 18 years. A lot of Jal’s songs can be heard throughout War Child, and combined with the great directing and producing job that Karim Chrobog did here, the movie makes for a beautiful piece of art.

Besides the breathtaking sunsets in Southern Sudan, however, one can see a history lesson in War Child. It is easy to digest this type of history, because statistics is replaced with an example of one person who has seen every possible atrocity of that war, was made part of it and was trained to be a mindless killing machine. Whoever did that training failed though. The person that emerges after all the pain and losses is an optimistic young man, full of life, traveling the world to spread his story, and on top of that working to build a school in his hometown in Sudan.

Despite the sadness of the storyline, the musician’s unsuppressed optimism radiates through the screen, making you laugh. I did break down, however, during the part about Jal’s sister, Nyaruach. If he had been through hell, then her childhood was hell multiplied by two. I might have just felt more for her as a woman. But it’s not their past that defines these two amazing young people. It’s their ability to leave it behind, to forgive, and to use it as a means to help others.

“I believe I survived for a reason, to tell my story, to touch lives,” Jal is singing. The movie touched my life, and I think it will touch yours, too. I highly recommend it.

* * *

Emmanuel Jal’s book under the same title is hitting the stores in the United States this month, and in the UK in March. His music albums are Gua, Ceasefire and Warchild. Nyaruach’s first single, Gatluak, will be available on iTunes this month.

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