by Thuraya Tarig
I want to tattoo the names of each city that triggered an emotion in me on the palm of my hand
And when I do….. I will write Paris first.
The city where love stories are made.
Where hearts are locked on bridges and keys are thrown in the river.
Where the language hits your eardrums like jazz music
Soothing, beautiful… And just damn sexy.
The first time I make love, I want it to be in Paris.
They say French is the language of love, so I will name my first born child a french name so they will know that they were a product of two wild lovers that will love them endlessly and forever.
For every birthday, I will take them to the very top of the eiffel tower
So they can remember how gargantuan this world is
How insignificant we are… But how significant we can be
My husband and I will learn french, we will visit the city again and fall in love all over again, but this time in their language.
The city I will write next is… London.
The city that scarred emotions in my skin that I didn’t know could exist.
You see… I live in a small town in England.
That no one has ever heard of.
London was where I met past lovers that didn’t love me enough to come to my home.
It was the midpoint between love and a broken heart.
Between heaven and hell.
London was my limbo
And I danced, I danced to my heart beat.
London is also the city my best friend lives in.
Her beautiful soul that will always
Leave a footprint on my heart
She is the love I find in heartbroken London.
Maseru will be inked in straight after.
The city I learnt to walk in.
The city that my tongue grew heavier with language in.
The city that built Africa down my spine.
The city that taught me guns were real and that no, that isn’t fake blood
The city that taught me how to climb mountains and conquer my deepest darkest fears
The city that birthed my beautiful baby sister
I will leave empty spaces for cities I have never been to but always dream about
Khartoum will be last, and I’ll tattoo an infinity sign beside it
The heart of Africa… Forever and always… The city I always end up back in
The city that broke my silence because it broke my heart first
It nourished my soul with its music and culture
Khartoum, where the strings of the oud strum poetically
And the dalookas beat is the beat of our women’s love
Where our music is truly art
The city that birthed me… Khartoum is my mother
But even a baby leaves its mother’s womb
And I am a stubborn child with so many unanswered questions
So I will write these places in the palm of my hand
So on days like this when the nostalgia is unbearably bitter
I can simply put my hand against my chest and allow my heart to be touched by these places,
Just one more time.