Skipping Madrasah

A Poem

By Wardah Abbas


Hands over the chips and patches
of the paint on the walls, we walk light-footed
over smooth concrete floors, escaping the pupils
who gave us a smug toothy smile before snitching on us.
We whizz past the mosque like fireflies,
leaving behind the echoes of Mallams
with red flames dancing in their eyes.
We see beggars lining the walls of the madrasah;
their hands open for alms beneath unforgiving sun.
We pull out coins from pockets filled with copper and sweets,
drop it in their bowls and scamper around the neighbourhood
chanting “Up Nepa” in unison
when Nepa restores the light.
We join the street children at the bible club
not to listen to verses that tell us “God is love”
But to get our weekly dose of the Sunday-school cake
And to tell Ada about the guest
who sneaked extra pieces of meat into his pocket
at dinner last night.
And the one who kept scratching his hair
until I saw hair-lice falling into his plate.