Telephonic Conversations That I Will Never Have With My Mother

A Poem

By Sumeya Gasa

 

Mother, it’s cold out here.

The streets are clean only to be tainted with my blackness.

I feel wrong.

Mother, I still haven’t found a place to stay.

My friends have been using false English names

To appeal to property owners.

‘Sumeya’, I don’t have to change.

There’s a certain privilege to it.

Mother,

Thank you for my name.

 

Mother,

The place they put us up in for two weeks

Could cover 6 months rent in a regular apartment.

We have more immediate needs.

My heart is broken

Has been broken

But I’m glad to be away from you now

So I can cry freely away from your tormented gaze.

 

Mother,

I’ve found a place to stay.

It’s really cold here

When I breathe, I can see my breath.

It forms a cloud before me

Reminding me that despite the cold,

Despite the fact that I am actually dead

I still have air in my lungs.

Air that touches all the scars inside

Forcing my heart into further recluse.

 

Mother,

These bitches are crazy.

Literally.

I sleep with my door locked.

We’re all suffering a neurosis of sorts.

Removed. Racialised. Wrong.

I can’t blame them.

 

Mother,

I’m homeless.

An acquaintance took me in when none of my friends would.

Mother,

We found a new place!

It’s lovely!

I think I’m happy now.

Oh, it’s so lovely!

And I’ve got a king-sized bed!

It’s furnished all the way from bed to teaspoons!

We keep thinking we’re in a dream!

 

Mother,

I love my new job.

It’s exactly what I’ve always wanted to do.

Stories that matter.

People.

People like me

And youth with an intense amount of passion

A burning sense of indignation

In search of justice and equity.

They give me life.

 

Mother,

I’m tired.

I’m drained, exhausted.

I’m heaving and bleeding.

I’ve got a red hot water bottle that keeps my hands and feet warm

But I still can’t sleep.

The therapist got me on antidepressants

And anxiety meds and sleeping pills.

I still can’t sleep.

I have to mix them with nurofen.

Intoxicated to near death

Only to rise the next morning,

Weeping inconsolably.

 

Mother,

I quit the antidepressants

And all the other meds.

I’ve been dead for 3 weeks and I didn’t even know.

My clothes are hanging off my bones

And food tastes new and too strong.

On the bright side I can drink a lot more water now.

 

Mother,

I met a family

Of two families.

Such beautiful people

With flaws that remind me of yours.

So giving, so kind.

So little but so giving.

They bring me closer to the meaning of my skin

And the emptiness of my lungs

In a city that aims to remove us from the white gaze

A city that is hell bent on making zombified slaves of us

And refuses to see us after curfew.

 

Mother,

They’ve started randomly searching black men in Obz.

Students.

Who live there.

Who ought to be there.

They’ve brought me closer to the meaning of my skin

The volatile nature of pseudo privilege

The fallacy of house negro and clever blacks

Assimilant blacks

Chicken Georges

And blacks who vote DA.

 

Mother,

I’m angry.

With zero fucks to give

And a mind of fire.

But mostly, I’m weary

And afraid,

Everyday.

Never knowing when or what

Could send me back into the crushing,

Smothering stranglehold of depression.

 

Mother,

It’s cold out here.

It’s cold outside.

It’s cold in the colony

And I’m 2 seconds away from getting noosed to a tree.

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