For the Nuba people, North Sudan
The heat here melts the fat in your neck into liquid necklaces. It’s a furnace of Elo – the forgotten god of this land.
Here, children write their dreams in sweat: the indelible ink of their brow. It’s the only way a father’s bullet scar can mean something.
Here, a book is a full plate to a starving mind. And eyes are spoons. Every sentence is a road leading home. And all brackets look like a parent’s open hug.
Here, hills speak in silent tones, as trees eavesdrop in defiance. Trees – sejera and ardhef – are stubborn children; accustomed to the indifferent beatings of the sun.
Here, if you were to study an old tree, you would imagine its branches when it was young, green and naive to the civilized ways of shemis (the sun).
You would imagine this tree as a virgin; before bees deflowered her and sold her innocence to the birds and the dry gush of wind.
You would imagine its naked branches resignedly spread, like the arms of a one-legged Indian dancer.
You would imagine the life it breastfeeds to the starved beaks of the rocks sprouting across these Nuba hills. Hills that bear bullet scars.
And then, beneath its shadow, there’s a quick-sand footpath that leads to small tombs of children strutting to school in missing arms.