The 14th October 2017
Updated: Apr 23
Nothing sparks my senses more than the aura that surrounds a person in the midst of a meaningful exchange of thoughts.
„After the intense pain of my operation subsided, I felt a joy that I shared the pain with my people. - Ahmed Warsame Abtidoon”
It feels almost as though you are momentarily encompassed by what overcame them when the events they are relaying occurred. Some of us have been endowed with a greater portion of this capacity to empathise more than others. Quite often, we bury this capacity deep underneath the surface, probably because our era emphasises a culture of "me, myself and I", characterised by intractable individualism that permeates every aspect of life.
I've noticed that inhaling the pain of someone else helps me to restore a connection with my own sentiments, whether they are rooted in the distant or recent past. This is part of the beauty of our journey in life; the broken and tainted making us see everything intact more clearly, so that we become more grateful in our outlook on life. Human beings heal together in more profound ways than we could as individuals, binding the whole together and creating something new that is far more valuable than the sum of each part.
This evening, I felt beyond uplifted after the first get together with my father since his return from a recent trip back home to Somalia. Though some might categorise my way with words as eloquent, I regard my storytelling skills as way too basic for a proper imparting of all the gems of wisdom I absorbed from an hours long conversation. His injuries from the suicide bombing in the city centre of Mogadishu, on the 14th October, were more serious than he initially revealed over the phone. I saw nothing of "just a few scratches on the face", but more like a Somali version of Scarface, ripe for a blockbuster on the civil war, him now more suitable to play a sinister general of the insurgent militias seeking to overthrow the government.
He was standing just a stone's throw away from where the blast happened and sustained two injuries from metal objects that were propelled by the explosives, one of these nearly missing his left eye. The remarks I heard over the phone sounded so trivial in comparison, completely catching me off guard when I laid my eyes on the scars. At first, I was shocked to see all the pictures and videos, but this subsided quickly. My father displayed zero upset or disappointment at being scarred for life on the face, a sensitive area very few people would be so relaxed about. On the contrary, he showed me the metal objects that doctors fetched from his cheek and leg with pride and a glowing face, making it even harder for me to comprehend what was going on with him internally. But as he explained, it all made sense.
The happiness and positive attitude stems from his long-held desire to empathise with his people and their disasters he was only able to talk about as an outsider prior to that. Having undergone a near death experience fulfilled his wish to be 'one' in spirit with the plagued people of his homeland Somalia. Somehow an irony, escaping a brutal civil war only to return back home to witness a suicide bombing that nearly takes away your own life, and then seeing something positive in that is certainly not easy to grasp. While this might be difficult to digest for many folks out there, including myself, one can't fail to be amazed at how misery to one person can be the source of spiritual strength and joy for another. I just wish we would be able to reach this level of general concern for our people and wider humanity without paying such high costs in human suffering.
Opening up about my thoughts and inner mumblings made me decide that from this day on, I want to literally breathe the lived experiences of every good soul I come across. Their story, pain and brokenness nourishes my soul and gives me back some of my own humanity that got lost in the rugged roads I've passed so far.