To My Unborn Child : a mother writes.

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i was my mother’s only child, and she almost died giving birth to me.
we were best friends. the kind that bicker & argue all the time.
we were also so incredibly stubborn.

my mother died in 2013, when i was 32 years old.
we had just spent 18 months living together in an absurdly large house in Goa.
18 months with my mother and her liver tumour. (more…)

When a young man was raped. A poem.

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dedicated to Theo, Jyoti Singh, Lucia Perez, and all the victims of sexual violence.
#JusticepourTheo

i am sharing this poem once more, because on this grey wintry morning, my heart is still filled with ache.
i ache with and for Theo, whose life will never be the same again. 2 weeks ago, this young Parisian man was at the wrong place and at the wrong time, and from one moment to the next Life-as-he-knew-it collapsed: he was racially abused, attacked, beaten up, and brutalised by police officers and one of them rammed his truncheon into Theo’s anus so violently, that he required emergency care and had to be operated on.
there is burning anger on the streets of Paris.
and i although i am sitting warm and quiet in my tiny flat in southern Sweden, i am also there, and all of it. i am the person who cried with tears of pain and anguish hearing Theo’s harrowing words. i am the person who quickly changes the channel because thinking about it is too much. i am the person screaming on the streets. i am the person burning cars.

i am Theo, and his desecrated body.
and i am all the young people, named and unnamed, who are continuously being violated, abused, destroyed and desecrated by life, by people in power and authority, by their neighbours, by strangers, by family.
the youth of our world are the hope of our world.
we have a duty to nurture, respect, honour and protect our youth.
and i believe we also have a duty to practice compassion, in thought, intention, speech and action.
because whether we like it or not, whether we know it or not, whether we are Theo or the police officer who beat him up and raped him…compassion is our essence and our purpose. this is who we are. this is our aliveness.
Theo, what happened to you is unjust beyond words. and i hope you will know how to make sense of it, for yourself, and eventually turn your suffering to healing.

Here is the poem that birthed inside of me when i encountered your pain: (more…)

When my DNA results arrived on Valentine’s Day…

I got a very unexpected Valentine’s Day present today: the results of my DNA test!!!

Two months ago i ordered a DNA test from 23andMe, spat into the test-tube, packed it back and sent it. Then i registered my personal bar-code online and waited. And waited. It was an expensive purchase, and i was nervous something would go wrong along the way. It took weeks simply for my spit to travel halfway across the world and get to the testing lab. I was not meant to get my results before the middle of March, but my inbox told me otherwise this morning. ‘Your results have arrived’ it said, and still-not-fully-awake, i clicked on the link:
https://www.23andme.com/en-eu/ (more…)

Valentine’s Day : Nagukunda, a lovelorn song in Spanish made in Rwanda.

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(Nagukunda; guitar & vocals: Bizi; accordeon: Estelle Lannoy; lyrics & vocals: Arusha Topazzini)

Nagukunda means ‘i love you’ in Kinyarwanda.
I recorded this song in Kigali in 2008, when i was visiting my mother who was living and working there, training journalists at a newly set-up radio station. (more…)

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Last night : a meditation.

Something absolutely unexpected happened last night.

I sat in meditation, brain-tired after another day in front of the computer.
I was buzzing with words, thoughts and images. My mind and heart worn down from the onslaught of ‘headline’news:
The earth is crying for our attention, but the mighty everywhere, in their palaces of weaponry, money and executive orders prefer spreading fear and anger.

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the man with the funny hat : a poem

he was called Fernando. my grieving buddy extraordinaire.
we met down the road from where my flat used to be, on a tiny cobbled street squeezed between a tiny park, a big new church and a ring-road, on the northern edge of Paris.
i was sitting at the local cyber-cafe which looked more like India than Paris and felt so familiar after 18 months of living in Goa.

i noticed his violin first.

O vento : a song-poem

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(Guitar & percussion : Michel Ongaro ; lyrics & vocals : Arusha Topazzini; mixed by the one and only Jacktone Okore)

on a rain-tinged evening i wrote the following song-poem, thinking of the many times when i, a young child visiting family in Bombay, watched other children walking up and down the seafront by the Gateway of India.

they were about my age or older, some barely had any clothes on, their skin was coated in traffic and sea-air dust, their hair matted, and their eyes, faraway.  i was a child watching other children, and seeing no part of life-as-i-knew-it reflected back. i knew something was very wrong, but i was too young to understand it fully in my mind. i understood it in my heart and my child-eyes instead. (more…)