The Women of Somalia

By Yasmin Abdulqadir

The women of somalia.jpg

my hooyo and i sit across from one another

as she recounts the story of her migration

otherwise known as,

the removal of her heart from its home


she tells me about the day she told her mother her plans

her eyes still glazed with the optimism of youth


she tells me about italy

about the loneliness

about the racism

about the hustle


about going from a girl with a bachelor’s degree to a maid

about reshaping and reconfiguring your life in foreign, hostile spaces

existing without the wise counsel of those you love most

about crying in unheated attic room floors trying to figure out how it all went so wrong


she tells me about canada

the feelings of resurged hope

of new beginnings,

a fresh start


she tells me about the cold

which seeped into her bones

giving her an ache that never seemed to leave


she tells me about learning english

the process of wrapping her tongue around the harsh edges of this language

spitting out vowels and consonants as an act of survival


she tells me about meeting my father

about their courtship

which quickly spirals into marriage


before she can go on further, I interrupt her and ask,

‘do you regret it at all?’

‘the unbearably lonely act of displacement?”


holding my hand, she smiles and says

‘if I never left, i wouldn’t have you’