My excuse for forgetting birthdays has always been that I’m busy. In the world before, I travel for work. I live between several countries, am part of several extended families on three continents. I remember the A5 format menu plan sellotaped to the wall in my mother’s kitchen. She ran her busy constituency office from the cane chairs arranged on the front verandah of our house, but the menu plan was the core structure by which she organised our lives. I came to believe when I’d learned every dish on that list my mother’s work on earth would be done. So naturally I refused to learn how to cook.
It’s funny, how my parents usually know that it’s raining in Edinburgh before I do. They are avid weather app users and will provide daily weather reports during our WhatsApp calls. My mum will exclaim “it was so warm today in Datca; we couldn’t leave the house to even go to the beach!” She’ll then follow the exclamation with a timid and consolatory tone, telling me that they’ve already checked the weather for me…
Rummikub is a 4-person game played with 106 tiles, somewhere between the card game rummy and mah-jong. It’s a loud game, as the tiles are usually made of hard plastic and make a satisfying sound when they’re mixed. The game was invented by a Jewish man from Romania called Ephraim Hertzano as a work around a gambling ban, since playing card games were forbidden in Romania during the 1940s. Rummikub is one of my favourite games.
Before moving away from home, my cooking skills were limited to frying everything, and of course, cooking rice. I lived on takeaways, meals out with friends, and free food at my parents’. Food was functional, cooking was a chore.
One thing I do in my practice and in my daily life is meditation or visualisations to keep calm. It helps me to stay on track if I am undertaking any tasks…
‘Tapping the play button on this video was just another attempt on my part to learn more about the squiggles that are capable of creating universes in my mind, especially since – as much as I’d enjoyed reading the alternate paper in my undergrad English lit degree – a part of me regretted not studying literary theory.’
‘Edinburgh wasn’t one of those impersonal cities where you felt like a stranger … the town centre offered a gateway to possibilities – so much of what happened tapped into a wider world, leapfrogging Britishness, straight into Europe and beyond.’
Below is my interview with Glasgow-based Syrian poet. She came to the UK in 2013. Before com-ing to the UK, she worked as a teacher. Her work up to now has two stages, the poetry in Arabic that she wrote back in Syria about her experiences as a woman and the beautiful things that sur-rounded her, and the poetry in Arabic and English that she has written in the UK
From an early age, my parents have always made me chant something along the lines of: “My name is Amanda Ihunanya Amaeshi, and I come from Amaimo in Imo State in Nigeria.” But it hasn’t really meant much to me. After all, I have lived in Britain my whole life (6 years in England, and 10 years and counting in Scotland) and have only visited Nigeria a few times for no more than a few weeks each visit. Even though I sometimes wear Nigerian attire, listen to Nigerian music, and eat non-spicy Nigerian food, I honestly don’t feel much of a connection to Nigeria, or at least not as much as my parents do.
“We’re asked to split ourselves in two, to align ourselves with one side more than the other. Truthfully, I never felt like I could claim any of these identities. I felt I had to prove myself and this I think, stems mostly from the desire to be accepted.”