Park Spoor Noord

Time and time again has it been told
Colossal words will be redundant
to clarify the fact of the matter
Who are we to judge?
You, men of today,
who trod namby-pamby
you natter around like week-old chicks
and tessellate in smaller circles,
to dine away your burdened souls
You are ebbing away,
not into the annals of history,
but as disappearing meteorites

So who are you to judge?
You, women of today, who thrive
on inoccent anthers,
to invoke a ripple of approval
from the present
you tessellate unlike your men
in bigger circles
to dine away your troubled hearts
You are all saying your final goodbyes to spring,
maybe actually to Park Spoor Noord

Are You Writing Your Life ?

It’s been a couple of years
after you asked that question
Till now, you’ve never been missed,
due to the presence of your words,
the unplanned meetings in public transport
and honestly, you reside not far from here
You’ve been spotted going out and about
as days turn into years
Sometimes, picking your noble son from school
holding each others’ hands tightly
along the brick-pavement
You must be a proud mother
The spark in your eyes says it all
You’ve also been seen taking strolls
in and around the public park
others call it a recreational park,
with your belly-full
You were carrying in you either a
prince or a princess or even both,
an unborn monarchy
Lately you were seen pushing a pram
you seemed to be in a hurry
Maybe you had an appointment
with a paediatrician
How time runs!
Nine months have just gone by
within a blink of an eye or did you
deliver prematurely?
Anyway what matters most is that mother and child(ren) are healthy
So be it then
But what happened to your plans?
Are you still on them?
Pursuing your goals of becoming a
journalist.
You speak four languages;
Turkish(your mother tongue), German,
English and of course Dutch, right?
Great stuff
My regards to your husband and children
and who knows, maybe we’d bump into each other some day
either in a public transport
or I might see you reporting on TV
or hear your voice on the radio
or meet you at the nearby recreational park with your children
They may be of age by then and I wouldn’t be surprised if they ask
if indeed I’m writing my life
Till then, I’ll be preparing for an answer.

Why African Literature ?

Over the past couple of years, I have spent a big chunk of my reading-life, reading and even sometimes re-reading books authored by Africans. This has got nothing to do with me being over-patriotic or too nepotistic but rather in a nutshell as a means of self-rediscovery, or in other words rediscovering my African-ness. I have gotten much enthralled along the line and the relish with which I jump unto my next book or at an opportunity to buy quality African books at a bargain price has grown fervently if not dramatically with time. The question on why African literature is important, is one that has lingered in my labyrinth of mind for quite sometime and I find this medium offered by afrikult requisite to word my thoughts on this very topic.

A couple of months ago, I chanced upon at my local library “The African Trilogy”, a compilation of three novels written by the late Chinua Achebe, namely Things Fall Apart, No Longer At Ease and Arrow of God. I once again jumped at this opportunity and borrowed the book, even though I had already read all the three novels, separately on different occasions. One would ask why would I decide to read novels I’ve already read. The introduction of this trilogy by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie somehow answers this question. In her introduction, she clearly re-emphasizes on the legacy of Mr. Achebe’s writings, the opportunities and the priceless inspiration he has inadvertently given to writers like herself. She further reiterates that “the strangeness of seeing oneself distorted in literature – and indeed of not seeing oneself at all was part of my childhood. My early writing mimicked the books I was reading: all my characters were white and all my stories were set in England. Then I read Things Fall Apart. It was glorious of discovery. I did not know in a concrete way until then that people like me could exist in literature. Here was a book unapologetically African.” African literature arguably is a journey to self rediscovery and the mannerism, diction and sometimes proverb-filled nuances are a spectacle to behold and this relay how exhilarating African literature is and sometimes the only option left is to read the story again.

Literature is a very indelible compartment of a community’s culture. It plays a huge and formidable role in the way of life of a particular group of people and that is exactly what African literature does. It holds the fibre of the society together. The themes of African literature mimic in every sense of the word the true Africa, they may differ from country to country or from sub-region to sub-region but the stories’ african-ness is always noticeable. African literature brings into light, the daily life experiences of the average African, from various angles and through different nuances which can be as blunt as it can be. These stories can be either real or fictitious and each of the aforementioned has its own sparkle it brings to the whole piece. African literature therefore portrays through the eyes of a native to the outside world what the real Africa is all about, our dreams and innovations, our successes and challenges.

More over, African literature serves as a means of education and entertainment. A new word has even been carved “edutainment” and that says it all. African literature began since time immemorial, from our ancestors telling folk tales every night, while children sat around log fire to get the elephant share of the story till today where every potential idea is being properly documented. It educates us on various aspects of our heritage and the state of affairs of our continent, pointing out categorically to the everyday issues. The imaginations and nostalgia birthed after reading these stories are simply priceless and our creative impetus are being further enhanced.

As culture is integral to the existence of a particular group of people, so is African literature very indelible to all and sundry. The best we can do as a people is to continue to patronize African literature and this will obviously help both the established writers and the up-and-coming writers not to give up on their trade. With all that said, I cogitate also that we make good use of the available materials and platforms that we are very much privileged to have in this generation.

To end this piece, here’s just a line from NoViolet Bulawayo‘s debut novel We Need New Names, “he doesn’t tell Aunt Fostalina she looks good, like I’ve heard other people do; he tells her she looks like sunrise” and that’s the kind of spark African literature brings to the conversation. African literature will forever be as important as ever.

Gone Forever

She misses the days of old
although she weaves her ways
towards her salient dreams
or perhaps, her pallid self.

so now that he has turned into a foe
and who knows as she sways
maybe she’d cease to gleam
and find solace in a darker shelf.

so all is but unclear
that she truly misses the days of old
now that he has turned into a big foe.

Proud Parents

She stood up with an unusual confidence,
wrapped in her typical traditional blouse
she wore a three-quarter trousers, folded at the ends,
similar to how a banker would fold his shirt at his biceps
With a Spanish gray shoe, she was good to go
To stand before the altar,
opposite the seated congregation
to read the day’s gospel
Her presence announced virtue and intelligence
And her tone, that of seasoned globetrotter,
someone who’s schooled and lived in many parts of the globe
I bet she might know all the various flags in the world
Her accent was reasonably difficult to trace but at last, it sounded Canadian
I guess she barely knows or ever visits her home country India
Her parents, obvious expats stare with great relish
beside them, is a young cool headed chap,
I could tell that he is their son, the reader’s brother
I got an inkling that they might be originally from Uttar Pradesh,
a state located in the Northern part of their country,
Lucknow is its capital, that isn’t a coincidence either
You probably haven’t heard of it but I guess you know about the Taj Mahal
Their complexion isn’t the usual ones seen in blockbuster Bollywood movies
Let me put it this way, it looked more sun-tanned or perhaps much darker
From afar, you’d assume that they are Africans or of African descents
Just like the couple seated in front of them
Well, they may be from Nepal, who knows
She continued her reading
as I looked straight in her eyes,
not with the stare of a man known to be lustful
If an uninterrupted gaze could kill,
then I guess I would have
I could hear every sound of every word more clearly
than I ever did in my phonetics class
She paused where necessary and skipped no line
She’d be a great news broadcaster I’d thought
but deep down, I knew she’d be pursuing something
related to the sciences, at UCL perhaps or even at Yale, why not
No place is ever too far for an Indian expat
let alone if it’s in the interest of his child
But all that I’m certain about is that her parents are proud of her
and that she has the entire world at her humble feet
So keep going, you young Indian lady !

NO, SORRY, I, LOVE, YOU.

All the long lost words have been found,
on the rocks scattered along the Mont Blanc
which abutts the towns of Courmayeur,
Saint-Gervais-les-Bains and Chamonix
On its cradle lies metonym of passion,
tenderness and glee

And from its peak shall these words take flight,
in head-over-heels fashion
to deprecate any pledge to ossify
the extolling, deemed aright

Cos my thoughts have been on long a journey
And now that these long lost words have been found
They will always be the sceptre of fondness
that had to be revealed ages ago
cos ‘No, sorry, I, love, you.’

COVERED DISTANCES

cold, in the mist, no movements
within, beside, infront
maybe only above
not certain,
roads, unused
nor is a bicycle lane, untouched

across street-signals
meeting hedges
and,
greeting hallows within,
along tram-lines,
left when right,
and right when left

in the fog, no movements
within, beside, infront
maybe only above
not certain,
roads, unused
nor is a bicycle lane, untouched
in the covered distances

HET PLANTIJN-MORETUSMUSEUM

Het Plantijn-Moretusmuseum is het eerste museum dat ik bezocht in België, om precies te zijn in Antwerpen. Naast de mooie architectuur, heeft dit museum iets leerrijks aan te bieden aan bezoekers. In het museum zie je al de benodigdheden van de drukkersfamilie Plantijn-Moretus die lang geleden in Antwerpen woonden.

Plantijn is oorspronkelijk in Frankrijk geboren maar net voor het midden van de 16de eeuw verhuisde hij naar Antwerpen. Kort daarna begon hij te werken als boekbinder. In zijn drukkerij produceerde hij boeken van hoge kwaliteit en daardoor was hij overal gezocht door schrijvers.

In het museum vind je de hulpmiddelen en gereedschappen waarmee hij zijn job uitvoerde. Destijds was bijna alles handmatig gedaan maar wat vooral opvalt is de precisie van zijn werk. Overal in dit museum zie je boeken en tijdschriften die hij publiceerde. De meerderheid van zijn werken zijn goed bewaard. In het museum is de Spaanse invloed op zijn werk duidelijk op te merken omdat Antwerpen toen geregeerd werd door de Spanjaarden.

De grootse typografische onderneming was zijn werk aan de Biblica regia. Hij kreeg de eretitel als de officiële drukker van de Spaanse koning. Deze kennis leverde hem een groot contract op voor het drukken van missalen en andere religieuze massaproducten voor de Spaanse markt en de naburige kolonies. Veel van die werken zijn te zien in het museum.

Na zijn dood werd de drukkerij overgenomen door zijn schoonzoon Jan Moretus. De drukkerij werd een vergaderingsplaats voor hooggeleerde Antwerpenaren. In 1876 werd het museum volledig verkocht aan de Stad Antwerpen en de Belgische staat. Kort daarna werd het museum geopend voor het publiek om het woonhuis en de drukkerij van de familie Plantijn-Moretus te komen bezoeken.

EEN ZOMER OM NOOIT TE VERGETEN – EEN KORTVERHAAL.

Op een zomer wilde Pablo iets nieuws doen, iets waarvan hij kon zeggen dat hij iets bijgeleerd had. Het leren van een taal kan soms wat vermoeiend zijn. Hij dacht eraan om vrijwilligerswerk te doen. Hij wou het liefst iets dat te maken heeft met kinderen. Toen hij jong was, gaf hij soms les aan kleuters. Vandaar dat hij aan kinderen gehecht is.

Toevallig kreeg hij een mail van een kennis. De kennis vroeg of hij vrij was om deel te nemen aan een project. Destijds was Richard al op zoek naar een studentenjob maar jammer genoeg lukte het niet. Zijn identiteitskaart was ondertussen verlopen en hij moest dringend een nieuwe aanvragen. Dit duurde lang. Uiteindelijk besloot hij om deel te nemen aan het aangeboden project. Hij vond de inhoud van het project interessant. In dit project moest hij verhalen in een vreemde taal voorlezen. Later veronderstelde een medewerker dat hij iets in het Italiaans kwam voorlezen. Hij besefte dat het mooi zou zijn.

Het was een samenwerking tussen de Zomer van Antwerpen en Marius. Pablo wou ervaring opdoen en hij wilde deze kans niet laten liggen. Voor de zomer begon hij onderzoek te doen om alle nodige materialen te verzamelen. Als iemand die graag met computers werkt, raadpleegde hij enkele sites. Hij wou een eenvoudig boek in het Italiaans. Het bleek dat het lang duurde om de bestelling te krijgen. Omdat het langer duurde, besloot hij kinderboeken in de bibliotheek te gaan halen. Hij wou ze graag in het Italiaans, maar het was lastig.

Na het vertalen van enkele kortverhalen, vertaalde hij sommige ervan in het Engels. Met plezier deed hij deze taak. Hij wilde de kinderen ontmoeten maar het was nog geen zomer. Al sneller dan verwacht was het zomer. Aan de stralende gezichten van de mensen die hij op straat tegenkwam, kon hij merken dat het zomer was. Antwerpen is een stad waar veel bourgondiërs wonen en daardoor keek hij er altijd naar uit. Restaurants vol mensen en toeristen op bussen, dit is opmerkelijk in elke zomer. Deze zomer was niet anders. Hij was benieuwd naar het begin van het project. Intussen kreeg hij bevestiging dat de activiteiten zouden plaatsvinden op de Sloepenweg, net als afgesproken.

Op de dag van dit programma, vertrok hij om 14u, alhoewel zijn stuk om 16u begon. Aan de ingang ontmoette hij een vriendelijke medewerkster. Ze was benieuwd om het Italiaans te horen. Ze was leerkracht geweest en ze zei dat er Italianen in haar klas zaten. Ze was blij dat Pablo de beslissing had genomen om deel te nemen aan dit project. Ze was ook verbaasd dat Pablo zich op korte tijd goed in het Nederlands kon uitdrukken. Ze was ongelooflijk onder de indruk dat het bij hem in België zou lukken. Zo’n aanmoediging vond hij nuttig.

Toen kwamen de kinderen met hun ouders eraan. Hun ouders waren ook benieuwd hoe de activiteiten in elkaar zaten. De medewerkster begon met de inleiding en later was het Pablo’s beurt. Hij begon vlot. Wanneer de medewerkster haar verhaal in het Nederlands voorlas, las hij ook het verhaal in het Italiaans of Engels voor. Pablo leerde de kinderen hoe de dagen en de maanden in het Italiaans of Engels worden genoemd. Natuurlijk waren sommige kinderen slimmer dan anderen. Dat zorgde voor wat spanning maar de meerderheid verstond de inhoud. Pablo was daar tevreden mee.

Zoals de klok thuis tikt, tikt ze nergens, maar de tijd ging snel en het einde was nabij. Het leren kennen van de kinderen vond hij aangenaam en leerrijk. Hij was dolgelukkig dat hij zijn kinderwens vervuld had. “Zo’n ervaring kan ik nooit vergeten” aldus hij. Hij gaf toe dat hij inderdaad iets nieuws bijgeleerd had.

The Sudden Rise of The Indian Expats – How And Why Everything Seems To Augur Well.

It has taken me quite a long while to tame my repertoire of words into this piece on the sudden rise of the Indian expats in faraway lands. The magnanimity and blunt truth of the matter relay findings that may be mutual but very much indelible in so many ways. Within a period of two years, I have been able to study, analyse and digest the business-minded lives of the Indian expats or to a very farther extent Indian (im)migrants here in Belgium. As a study case, I chose Antwerp, due to a lot of contributing factors. My findings may come out as very frenetic but interesting to my readership.

To begin with, Antwerp is a cosmoplitan city in Belgium, to be more specific in Flanders, which is basically the Flemish speaking part of the country. Antwerp is the capital of the Antwerp Province. It’s by far the most densely populated city in Belgium, with more different nationalities than any other city in the country. It has grown over the years since the days of Emperor Napoléon Bonaparte to become a great and lavish port city. Great cities also do attract investors, and as result the demand of  an effective labour force surges high. The case of Antwerp is no exception to this analogy. Antwerp doubles up as the biggest diamond hub of the country or even to a farther extent, in Europe. Over the years, (im)migrants and expats have plunged into the country and made their way into the city, dating as far back as in the late 60’s up until today. These (im)migrants are now part of the fibre of this city making it a success story. The (im)migrants who I can now refer to as ‘citizens’ of Antwerp are predominantly Morrocans, Turkish, Congolese and other minorities.

Antwerp has also a very strong Jewish population who in one way or the other culminate to the success story of the local economy. The diamond sector is predominantly ran by Jews. As the years blur into decades, there has been a changing phenomenon as to those in charge of the diamond industry. There is currently a very high number of Indians running the diamond industry. And this brings into mind, the question of how the Indians are good at trade.
There are many factors that has contributed to this success story of Indians in faraway lands, making noble exploits. Disputably, capitalism seems to be a major factor catapulting their surge.

Capitalism – Their capitalistic overview is something that can’t be begrudged. Anyone who opens up a business or begins a trade is literally bent on making gains with the aim of either sustaining his/her business or expanding it. This is the same overview that these Indians share, but they add a midas’ touch to it which at the end help them make tremendous inroads towards their set-targets.

Aside capitalism, there are a couple of other factors steering cautiously their cruise amidst all the financial crises that characterize today’s global trade. Sheer determination – They are very determed and driven to succeed at all cost. This adrenaline is then passed on from generations unto generations. And such a lubricant empowers them to help sustain and expand their businesses throughout the course of time.

Steadfast and Imaginative – I may say that their steadfastedness goes hand-in-hand with their foresight. They are very imaginative and are therefore able to undertake the rightful and concrete working practices. They learn from previous mistakes and as a result offer no room for another mistake. Their forecast of the success of their businesses might seem incomprehensible but they are able to follow each and every rubric they have drawn with utter diligence.

Arguably, there seem to be other factors and mechanisms contributing to their success story, but all that I would like to reiterate is that these Indian expats or (im)migrants are on the right path and as a result they are worthy of commendation.