By Shameelah Khan
I have come to take you home
I cross over from Passport Control and suddenly I am met with a sign “TAX-FREE GOODS, This Christmas” I am late. I walk a bit faster than usual. I see a man in the distance yelling at his wife, his daughter wants to sink into herself- people are watching and listening. I am watching and listening. I am still rushing though. I wish I could have saved her from that. But I cannot be where I cannot be. I am here, running away from Johannesburg to Dubai. You are just on time says the lady at the boarding gates with a welcoming Emirates smile. I cross over into the plane. My passport is scanned one last time. Walking through the isle is exhausting and the man behind me keeps pushing up against me. He doesn’t understand personal space. He thinks this is okay. I want to turn around and tell him that it is not okay. He is an older man though. A grey beard, a gentle smile, rotting teeth. I hear that he is from Mumbai. He needs the toilet urgently. Still. I don’t want him so close to my skin. I am in my seat and a beautiful hostess hands me a warm towel. I sink my face into it staining it with my makeup. Why did I wear makeup to catch a flight? I brush the thought aside. It must be a habit. We are in the sky. A white Lady is seated beside me but she does not speak at all. Not even hello. I tried to smile. She reminds me of a teacher I once had in High School. She is upright. She every so often pushes her glasses back into her head. She does nothing else but reads her book “The Monk Who Sold his Ferrari.” I remember that my father told me to read this book. I smile now because I am thinking about my father. Someone who always understands my sacred space. He is kind- I think. I am handed a menu. Oh no, I forgot to specify that I don’t eat meat. This is okay. I don’t mind not eating. I actually don’t feel all that well. The lady beside me doesn’t look at me. Doesn’t acknowledge me still, even four hours into the journey. The hostess tells me that there is fish- that is okay- I eat fish. I am watching BlackKKlansman. A movie by Spike Lee. My friend Nikki told me to watch it. Finally I get a chance to. It is funny. It is exhausting. The plot follows the first African American cop who along with his Jewish Colleague set out to expose the inner-workings of the KKK. I won’t spoil it for anyone. I make a note that Nikki and I have to speak about this film. One of the KKK members in the film says, “I knew he was a Jew.” And the other responds, “Well it could be worse- he could have been a nigga.” The film ends with no laughter but complete re-questioning. The film follows events in the 1970s Colorado-Springs based on real events but the ending forces the viewer into a Reality- America today- under its white supremacist Trump presidency. I am in tears. I am rethinking, re-evaluating and tracing back moments of the film that has led me here to its end. Finally, America’s flag- a black and white symbol left as the very last frame of the film. Spike Lee. I take a few minutes now to gather my thoughts. I am reading a book for my Masters Research, What is Slavery to me? by Pumla Dineo Gqola. Page 83. She writes “Remembering Home. I have lived in so many places. I think I have forced myself to find home in smaller things”. She moves to Ferrus’s poem for Sarah Bartmann which opens with the line “I have come to take you home.” Ferrus writes, “I was doing a course that included a segment on sexuality in the colonies, so my mind went to Sarah Bartmann and how she was exploited …But more than that, the really big thing was how acutely homesick I was … My heart went out to Sarah, and I thought, ‘Oh God, she died of heartbreak. She longed for her country. What did she feel? That’s why the first line of the poem was ‘I’ve come to take you home.’” I am tired. I am drifting off to sleep to the sounds of Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong from the Album Ella and Louis, Released in 1956. Stars Fell on Alabama, “… and stars fell on Alabama last night… your eyes held a tender light and stars fell on Alabama last night…I never planned in my imagination a situation so heavenly. A fairyland where no one else could enter and in the centre just you and me…”
I am dreaming.
An Opera in the middle of the Desert.
And the words “Shall we make love?”
…. from a Johannesburg City that hurts me, holds me and never says goodbye…
Odd magazine would like to wish you a year of love and light. One that allows you to cross boundaries and meet who you are when you get there. You never know what dreams may come.
-The Odd Team.
In this issue:
My body still remembers – Anonymous Mus
two strangers walk into a bar… – Juwayriya Bemath
the body’s borders are both coven and covenant – Nkateko Masinga
No foreigners here – Natalia Molebatsi
spare the rod and spoil the god – Toyosi Salami
mother misogyny – Toyosi Salami
Bad English – Toyosi Salami
A South African Comic – Grimson Darkhand
Harlem Memories – Latoya Williams
Shuttered Reality – Mongezi Ncombo