A strand of bright red henna coloured hair peeks from underneath her silk scarf. Arthritic fingers bent, as if by the will of circular beads, moulded around her tusbax.

“Her name was Zeynab”, Ayeeyo blurts out unexpectedly. I look at her with my I-need-to-write-this-down face.

“Who was she?”, I ask. Softly.

I wait.

“Her name was Zeynab”, she repeats, I hear her mumble the name Zeynab a few more times, under her breath.

“She was so young, tiny in my arms”, she continues.

Still hasn’t missed a count on the prayer beads.

I decide that silence is the best move on my part.

“She was the last one, tiny, so fair”, she adds. I can tell that this will be last of it.

“What happened to her?” I find myself asking, even though I told myself I wouldn’t.

Ayeeyo blinks fast, her usual habit to avoid crying. Her eyes so hollow from the weight that she’s lost in her face, hardly any signs of eyelashes or eyebrows anymore,cataract eyes that look like an ocean surrounding a tiny brown island. She let me in far today, the dead  children that I hear her praying for each day are only a statistic at this point, a bead in a line of ninety-nine. But today I was told about Zeynab.

Zeynab. I say the name over and over in my mind. I bet her name would look pretty on me.

Author: hannaali

Writer, Poet, PhD Candidate @SOAS | African Identity #Africanness #Blackness #Afrabia #AfroArab #IslamInAfrica #Identity and all things #Somali

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