Wednesday, 2 August 2017


her body was flown into the country.
we saw it on TV. her mother lunged into the coffin, tore her dress,
slapped her chest and her grief gave way. she collapsed on the glass
from where her daughter's face watched the world. her father stared on in stoic pain.
wails and moans suffocated the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport air.

we saw the news months earlier. it was a video clip. three men
stood around her, one kicked her in her teeth, the other held her arms,
the last was pounding her. i watched that clip and cried. i saw the firm grip of violence.

we got furious. Habida's mother appeared on TV, with tasbihi in her hand,
her voice was hoarse with mourning. her stomach was a valley of the depression she was in.
"death, please come take me. Habida, what have they done to you?"

we read the news. Habida was hidden in a dungeon.
from that pit that the darkness of humanity embraced her,
she was raped. for eleven years. day and night.
every year, they would harvest children from her womb.
eleven births. eleven robberies. eleven children she never saw.
she would push and cry and deliver children her hands never held.
as her babies would be carried away, she would hear their tiny cries
fade away. they say Habida died eleven times. and finally the twelfth time.

i saw Habida's photo when she was alive and healthy and free.
she had covered her head in a hijab and her pretty eyes watched.
i saw innocence. she was like my sister looking over me.
you would see her picture and say, "Mashallah!"
to imagine that Habida would be desecrated kills me.

i was in deep grief that day Habida's body was flown.
her mother's cry haunts me. her father's pained expression wearies my soul.
i walk around aimlessly and every lady in a hijab reminds me of Habida.

"Allah will avenge for you, mama Habida."

but to avenge is what courses in my heart. to descend into that dungeon
and knock walls and chop and demand to see the hands that stole Habida's eleven children.
i want to grab those three men who humiliated Habida and knock their heads against themselves
so hard they would be dizzy and bleed. but that is not the tao. and Habida's eyes wouldn't approve of it.

see Habida's grave. a mound of human greed and heartlessness.
see her decomposed body in eternal repose. at peace. finally. ironically.
see the flowers growing on her grave. see the roots of trees searching for her children.
see her bones: white with beauty, though broken by those three men.
see Habida. isn't she beautiful?


echoesofthehills/ Salem Lorot 2017

for Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Human Trafficking

#HumanTrafficking #EndHumanTrafficking

The prompt from Poets United invited us to write a poem on human trafficking.


Sherry Blue Sky said...

Grandson, your poem made me cry. Especially the roots of trees searching for her children. What humans can do to other humans is unimaginable. I resonate with the line that Habida's eyes would not approve of further violence. She suffered too much of it. Thank you for adding this moving poem and true story to our conversation at Poets United. So nice to see you writing, and posting here. One thing I know: no wife or daughter or sister or mother of yours will ever be treated badly. Not with your good heart close by. Love, Koko

Susan said...

Salem--your name means peace, and it is peace you bring to Habida who knew no peace in her lifetime. I am swallowing grief that tastes like vomit--the grief is for her and the vomit is for the evil ones who treat a woman worse than a cow. I am broken. Your words say it all and need to be published far and wide. Thank you for your voice.

Salem Lorot said...

Thank you Koko Sherry Blue Sky and Susan. I am humbled to hear that from you both.

Julian said...

Such a powerful piece of writing, Salem. Reading this reached right to the core of my being. May love, peace and light touch all of humanity.

Old Egg said...

Yes, this is a wonderful and most touching piece of writing. Any reader will be so moved by your words. Thank you for this magnificent post about Habida.

Marja said...

I am crying Your words are so powerful and sad and it is so hard to grasp that a humans can do something like that to another human being. I feel your grief and thank you for sharing this moving poem. I wish you peace, love and light and for everyone who have to suffer so much.

Sumana Roy said...

I sometimes wonder why some humans are made that way that they are deprived of the sense how subtler, grander and infinite beauty could a human life be and why they are constantly in search of darkness. The poem is heart-wrenching. Thanks for the share.

Voo Voo said...


Nimi Arora said...

Salem, you have told a moving story in your poem. It is sad that such stories are true in the world we live in...

Salem Lorot said...

Thank you Julian, Old Egg, Marja, Sumana Roy, Voo Voo and Nimi Arora. I appreciate your positive comments.

jerusha asin said...

The power in your poem lies in how simply you convey such shattering tragedy. Thank you Salem.

Sok Sareth said...

Awesome blog, i always enjoy & read the post you are sharing!
Thank for your very good article...!


Salem Lorot said...

Thank you @Jerusha Asin. Glad to read your comment.

Thank you @Sok Sareth. You are most welcome.

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