by Utanu Maa
Rise and Fall of My Beloved is a collection of poetry and prose about resilience—about the experience of stigma and rejection, disease and suffering, love and care, loss and grief—and also a testimony of gratitude, forgiveness and togetherness. Each of its three parts is a journey through life's struggles, pain and loss, all of which require an inner force to overcome, build, rebuild, succeed and heal: resilience. It expresses an undercurrent to an imposed destiny or stigma.
Based on the life experience of my late brother, Rise and Fall of My Beloved is a tribute to mankind's resilience to overcome adversities. The book takes readers from his vulnerable childhood as a neglected orphan set to die, through a childhood in which he was bullied, to his rise as an accomplished engineer, and sadly to his fall as a dying patient of HIV/AIDS. Each poem depicts the essence of unconditional love and care, the dignity of dying of AIDS, forgiveness, and family bond. This book is a manifesto of my brother's exceptional resilience, the best memory of him that will live forever. It is an invitation, an inspiration, a reflection that, when mankind encounters struggles, disease, pain, death, loss, grief, we have to grieve and heal, and rebuild.
He was called names, all kinds, all meaning idiot or retarded.
Labelled and mistreated, traumatized and still mourning his
He remained without speech for a long time.
Repeatedly, they called him “kiteki,” meaning, in Kikongo
An object without life or soul, intelligence or reasoning, and
He heard them predicting the inevitable failures in his future life.
They firmly believed he couldn’t learn because he was just a
A speechless object with no sounds, no intelligence or interest
They labelled him incapable, a cognitive retarded
Silent, he bore the changes and chaos around him
With a hidden resilience to survive and grow.
The Omnipotency of the universe watched over the orphan
While Zola observed every movement of each mouth speaking.
Whether they called him names, teased, bullied, or labelled him,
He watched lips and captured distorted motions that made
He missed the love of a mother: her warmth and care,
Her smile and laugh, her scent and touch, the sounds of her
The soothing voice of a dear mother sweetly calling his name
And calming his fears in her protective and reassuring arms.
He or I would never know her in our childhood or adulthood,
Perhaps only in a picture if someone one day showed it to us.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
I am Utanu MAA. I live in Toronto and work as a public servant within the Ontario Court of Justice. Originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa, where I studied French Literature and Law before migrating to Canada in 1991, and thereafter studied Fashion Marketing, Paralegal and Law (1year) programs. In 2004, I was a recipient of a prize for the Poetry contest organized by Canada Heritage during the celebration of the Francophonie. "Couleur d'une langue" (The Color of a language), my unpublished poem about the diversity and different accents that give rhythm and power to a language to become an umbrella of one identity. "Rise and Fall of My Beloved" is also my own journey into unconditional love and care, and the resilience to deal with pain, loss, grief, to grieve, heal and continue with life after my brother's death.
Connect with Utanu Maa:
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