Iya Nida Ikahlas Ali, Ashay
If fleshy presentation were all, sorrow would have the illusion of calm beneath quickened sand—life a flash within nebulae, its appearance vast until a star falls and then we see how temporal and tiny a presence – our short stay.
Comforter, nurturer – mother of men, creator of dynasties
As I look over my shoulder I notice the receding tide . . . as an old canon rolls forward
Uncovered – its wick lit for a salute . . .
FIRE! I say, as time is stilled.
Shorebirds eat at her repast, sandy table set with viands plenty . . . Sister Nida loved seafood as do her guests. Surfers nearby – I count 1-2-3-4-5-6-7 enjoy the wind beneath sails as the waves toss them along – the rushing water slippery . . . STEADY . . . the fresh air . . . HOLD TIGHT . . . the wonder of it all—LIFE!
So much of our plans sink below (into what is unconscious) when we lose our footing and fall.
Sometimes we can rise again—re-membering, sometimes not. Sometimes the pieces are a bit too scattered to locate as we fear the waters below . . . the unknown beneath our soles. Sandy particles tickling our toes.
Death is one of those falls the living have a hard time rising from, but rise we must until it is our time to move on. The earth in our hands is just the body returning to itself . . .
Until then we have to keep swimming, keep breathing cross multiple terrains and know Iya Nida and all our ancestors stand ready with cosmic breath or winds to lift us from darkness (the not knowing) before sunsets as we travel towards the light (growing as we travel in illumination) until we have reached the final shore—The City of Bones (Olokun).
My mother never wanted to talk about women things with me, especially relationships, so I learned about how women and men acted toward each other through observation and eavesdropping and through conversations with women like Sister Nida, who certainly was like a mother to me.
Her son, Ernest and I attended Muhammad University of Islam at the same time and I remember, Na’eem and Sadat too. One of the brothers was also around my brother, Fred's age. Sister Louise Muhammad was the secretary and Sister Elretha Rashid was the Dean of Students. Sister Maryom Ana Al Wadi was like a principal, but I don’t think she had that title. Sister Nabeehah Shakur was a teacher then, so were Sister Marva and Sister Sharifa and Sister Bayinna.
In San Francisco we had lots of fine directors from Brother Maxie and Brother Kenneth, Assistant Director, to Brother Sunni Ali Shabazz, Assistant Director; to Dr. Fatimah Ali, and Brother Cedric X, both directors.
I remember when Sister Louise lost her hearing and I would visit her in Berkeley at home. I knew her great-granddaughter and granddaughter. I met Sister Edna, her daughter later I think at Sister Nida’s shop after not seeing her for years. When I met her again, she'd started a new career as a massage therapist. She just died a few weeks ago and her good friend, Sister Nida helped prepare her body, but wasn’t able to attend the funeral. She wasn’t feeling well.
Sister Louise and her daughters and extended family all lived on a lot with two houses. It was really nice. It felt like an African village.
Then the school moved to Oakland, the principals I remember were Sisters Tauheedah and the late Sister Salihah (Jacqueline). We had a Brother Director, Brother Nu'man for a short while. When I left for college, Brother Shuaibe was minister and I remember how cool he and his wife were as first lady and Imam. They knew the latest dances and taught me how to dance (smile).
I just learned two days ago that my younger daughter TaSin went to school with Sister Nida’s granddaughter. Both Class of 2000. Both families were at the Greek Theatre when our children graduated 16 years ago (this year), yet never discussed it. Sister Nida’s Berkeley roots reached back far.
No, not really, just returning to Allah.