Collected Anxiety by Faswillah Nattabi

Faswillah Nattabi | Apr 14th, 2020 | poetry | No Comments


When I was two years old, my parents packed our bags, booked a bus from Kampala and brought us here. 
The earliest memory I have is of my brother and I sharing a shower with our neighbour's children in a flat in Johannesburg. 

The earliest memory I have is of my Mother's childhood friend, Auntie Khadija, bathing me in a basin on the balcony of a flat in Mayfair, a community crowded with migrants like myself. 

My parents speak of my toddler self; smart, outspoken, loud, carefree, bold and bubbly black girl. 
I do not remember but I imagine my chubby and melanated younger self talking, playing, laughing and jumping up and down a moving bus. 

My parents remind me of how effortlessly my first language would flow fluently from my tongue. 
I do not remember but I imagine my cheeks swelling up to make space for a beautiful black language, untainted by the tongues of the white. 

Even though I fail to remember, I continuously imagine these scenarios

When we left, we filled our cases with memories of home, 
hoping they would remain with us to been cherished
but they too got dispersed along the way. 
While we collected amnesia from unwelcoming winters.
While we collect anxiety from slurs and xenophobia.
While we bury our kindred in foreign soil. 
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