Catalysttrying to survive my senior year
My mother has taken to sharing her new words with me. She tells me that she has noticed the long words that her teacher sneaks into speak and writes onto the side of the board. My mother has made it her business to sit down on the computer in the front room and search the meaning of each word. Last week it was ‘riveting’ and she stopped her Somali tongue just to speak it into her speech. ‘How riveting is your face, Amaal’. I smile and say, ‘this is how you pronounce it. Repeat after me.’ She listens intently to each correction I make. I soften my tone. I do not want her to think there is any judgment. Each time I cross a word out of her homework she says, ‘aaah, I see’ and then smiles.
I remember learning English. I remember how they took me to another class on my own and made me sit there as the teacher spoke loudly at me. The day the girl dragged my body across the playground I walked into the nurse’s room with the side of my face bloody. I spoke at her and expected help but all she said was, ‘you what, love?’ Five years later and I tell the librarian my name and when she says, ‘you what, love?’ I walk back out.
My mother came home the other day and she said that the librarian made her repeat what she was saying five times. When my brother tells my mother, ‘you can’t pronounce it right,’ everything inside me aches. My sister and I used to ask my mother for help on our homework. She would sit us on the sofa each night and turn off the TV. She’d get the dictionary and ask us to spell the word. Many nights she pressed into the side of my face to whisper quietly, ‘please do well at school so you do not become me’.
She is sitting down with an assignment in the kitchen now. They have asked her to describe what she was before she came here. She reads her writing out loud to herself slowly. ‘Before I came here I was a young girl and now I feel like an old woman. The father of my children wanted to marry me. He moved me to Europe. We wanted a better education for them than we had. If I had gone to school I would not be here. I would have a good job.’
All I thought about was the way I would give anything to be soft like my mother, to open the doors and feed everyone and to stay up praying for others the way she does. I cried many nights those early days being angry at the tongue. I prayed for English until it eat all other languages in my mouth. We have corrected my mother’s English many times. We all held our breath when she said, ‘take all of my Somali and give me English.’ We don’t know if she will be the same after this.
admiring hot guys in somali is the best, u sound aggressively attracted yet v sarcastic
ala kaas firi, xaax miiranaa, weji macaanaa, af kuusanaa, xoog badana wallahi wuu i qaban kara, waa ku fariisan kara, yaa ii soo qabta, quruxdiisa, boqolkii boqol, hayaay, ilaahayoow ii soo jeesi aan cunee, insha Allah, ameen