A queer Sudanese woman with poetry in her soul and a longing for freedom.
F r a g m e n t s (December 2018-June 2019) | Sudan
1- Girls who were arrested from the demonstrations were chanting revolutionary songs from inside jail. The picture of a building with high walls and many security guards with the echoes of women voices and their (زغاريد), suffocating in their stubborn fearlessness. Nothing can conquer us. us women. us girls. Not even the false Gods of this land. “Glory be to the God of the Unkilled things. Of the women who refuse to die.”1
2- A march, starting to demonstrate. People gathering. Numbers increasing. The beginning of the chants are marked by tear gas and bullets, fired. They are immediately followed by the sound of women (زغاريد) – the sound that would bring your heart back to its place when fear and flight almost take over you. A (زغرودة) has become the way every march begins. With that sound alone, you would know that whatever happens, bullet, tear gas, death, we are victorious.
3- I’m a rebel. Lying to my mama about going to work, to go to protest. Burri, a neighborhood in Khartoum, was the easiest and closest place I could go to. I was scared and excited at the thought of dying that day. Wrote my sister’s number on my arm in case I went missing. Got there a few minutes late. They had already started firing tear gas. People were running in the opposite direction. I started running too. Smoker’s lungs can only take you this far. I stopped for a breath, thinking of where I should go from there. A girl in her car handed me a bottle of a mixture of vinegar and brewer’s yeast, the secret ingredient to assuaging the burning sensation of tear gas. She didn’t say a word. She handed me the bottle with a smile and drove away. We were there for each other. Rebels. Women.
4- The Army HQ street. Sometime in April. Alaa Salah, in a white toab, the traditional Sudanese wear for women. On top of a car. In all the glory of a woman. A Sudanese woman. A descendant Goddess. Chanting as loud as a Sun. People around her responding Thawra after every line of the poem she was chanting. That image traveled around the world. That image became the symbol of a revolution. A Woman.
5- Under the rain of victory bullets. Right when Ibn Aof was announced head of Military Council, succeeding Omer Elbasheer who had fallen, resigned. (زغاريد) everywhere. People celebrating and chanting. After midnight felt like rush hour. I was with her. For the first time after our break-up. My heart wet with longing and beating out of its veins from excitement. I gave her the notebook where I apologized in poems, hoping she would get back to me. She never got back to me. We used to joke about kissing in the middle of a main street in celebration of the fall of the government.
6- Ramadan / Sometime in May. The garden of Khartoum University was a part of the sit-in that took place in the Army Force HQ and the areas surrounding it. We were lying down on the grass, covering ourselves with bedsheets. Boys and Girls, and a certain girl who turned my heart pink. The sky was the only God keeping an eye on us. And even though we’d hear sounds of shooting here and there, we knew that kind of shooting was okay. Celebration bullets, or some soldiers teasing each other. We lied and sat there singing along to all kinds of music, cigarettes’ smoke making clouds above us. Freedom was the air we were all breathing that night. A revolution turned to the world we want to live in. Music, cigarettes, peace, and a girl that would turn one’s heart pink.
7- The last night I spent in the sit-in, it was raining. A soft, gentle rain. We sat until dawn, some friends and I, reading Darwish’s poems, and those we had written before, chanting the revolution’s chants we had all memorized by heart from December until June. My heart was content, and my soul free. Women I had met in the sit-in spoke of the times they were arrested. The times they escaped the police, bullets, and tear gas. They told these stories with laughter and joy. They were women I thought of as brave, undefeated, goddesses, and I was proud to know them. And we rebelled together. and we tasted freedom under the same air.
8- Third of June was the day the Army HQ sit-in was dispersed. My soul was burned and buried there with everything I was when I was there. I will never be the same.
- 1. Dominique Christina