I had to lay you to rest today, on my phone uno / a whole funeral on WhatsApp / people who hardly know each other grouped together in family groups / you see we must be family because we’re in this group / no more strangers and faces you wouldn’t even know if it sat next to you in the number 8 to Bethnal Green / we are a family now / we’re in the same group / death forces politeness even out of beasts / kindness out of cold hearts / rudeness that still shares a home with grief / all we ever send is duaas / all we ever send is duaas / Inna Illahi Wa Inna Illahi Raji‘on / verily we belong to Allah and verily to Him do we return / I’m so sorry for your loss / samir iyo iimaan / sabr / sabr / sabr / people pray for you to have patience / sabr / sabr / sabr / as if death is an unruly toddler and a temporary time that you just have to clench your jaw through / as if death grows up eventually / this too, shall pass / but death is forever and a aabo is a femur bone / in the end it’s just you and your God / you and your demons / you and a gathering of all the people you have ever loved and disappointed / and who have ever loved and disappointed you / on the news they always say you are survived by someone / but it’s true uno / sheer stubbornness and an endless appetite for the truth is survived by you / anger that explodes like a glass in a microwave is survived by you / staying up extra late just to finish off another pro-vaccine poster is survived by you / you / are free now / breathe easy / we took a vaccine so that we could mean / it / when we say / Stay Safe

uno আপনি/তুমি জানো you know
duaas দোয়া prayers
Samir iyo iiman আল্লাহ তোমায় ধৈর্ষ ও বিশ্বাস দিন may Allah grant you patience and faith
sabr ধৈর্য patience
aabo বাবা father

Listen to the poem here

Artistic Statement

This poem is my first writing since my father passed from covid-19 last on the 15th of April 2020.

It looks at the pandemic from a grieving family member’s perspective and the unique difficulties of a loss during this crisis; especially the inability to attend the funeral or come together to collectively mourn as a family.

Artist Biography

Hanna Ali is a Writer, Photographer, Teaching Fellow and PhD candidate at SOAS, University of London where she specialises in Afro-Arab identity.

Hanna is a former Radio Presenter in the Middle East and was listed as number 4 in Buzzfeed’s “21 Black British Muslims You Should Know About” and was a part of ‘Trailblazing Muslim Women 2018’. She is the Artistic Director of Kayd Somali Arts and Culture. Her debut short story collection The Story of Us was published in October 2017 and can be purchased at marketfiftyfour.com.

Hanna can be found on Twitter: @HannaAli



Read the other poems here:

Survive(d) – Hanna Ali

Of Partings & Preludes – Momtaza Mehri

ধন্যবাদ – Nazneen Ahmed

MementoUs – Keisha Thompson

Now এই সময় – Eeshita Azad

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