Poem for Jackie

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Poem for Jackie

(Sister Jacqueline Muhammad)

she was
the best of friends
true, caring, loving;
she gave herself to the world
as a healer
and advisor;
she used her wisdom
to teach and help.
I know now
that I have grown
that she understood
the divine gift of love;
and she never withheld
it, in disappointment
or in anger.
she believed,
she mothered,
she fostered,
she encouraged,
she challenged,
she embraced,
she bore,
she endured,
she triumphed.
Jackie,
the best
of friends;
the truest
of women.

Linda Tauhid
October, 29, 2014
Houston, Texas

 

 

 

NOONIN’–An Anniversary Commemorative for My Brother Harold

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My older brother Harold was one of my greatest inspirations. He was an artist, a genius, and a risk-taker. With only fifteen months separating our births, we had plenty of time to bond, feud, fight and love before any other siblings came along. Harold always lived on the edge—the edge of discovery, genius and sometimes trouble. He walked the fine line of genuine exploration to rebellious experimentation.
In many ways he was ahead of his time—he was always ahead of me. Being a year and three months older than me put Harold in a different age group, class and group of friends. Harold’s friends always seemed so cool and suave. I had crushes on a number of them but never could expect any reciprocation–as a ‘younger’ sister I was off limits. It was Harold who introduced me to jazz through his favorites Yusef Lateef and Rhasan Roland Kirk. I remember him blasting Yusef Lateef’s Psychomotus and Rahsaan Roland Kirk’s Here Comes the Whistleman. At first I did not understand the complex rhythms of works like Yusef Lateef’s 1984. That, however, didn’t stop me from carrying the album around proclaiming my love for jazz. I loved all things Harold.
I never fully understood Harold’s proclivity for scientific inventions and experimentation. I nevertheless honored it, as did my mother who rented him a space not far from the house where he could freely conduct his experiments without risk of setting fire to his room at home. I never was allowed to visit The Shop, but I’m sure there are those out there that could tell some stories and I will leave that to them. I do know that Harold was fond of electronic and chemical experimentation and this is what frightened my mother. As far as I know, Harold didn’t have any major mishaps at the shop.
One of Harold’s invention masterpieces was a complex water pipe that stood at least two to three feet off the floor. By then, Harold’s experiments had taken the contemporary turn of the sixties and somehow he very generously included me in some of his experimentations. Luckily my mother never found out about this joint ‘science project’.
One time my late brother Alex recounted to me a story of Harold having a fight with a neighborhood cohort named Herman. Alex told me that during the fight I went to jump on Herman’s back. I don’t remember this, but I don’t doubt its authenticity, you see, I was ‘down’ with my big brother. I would do anything necessary to tip the scale in a neighborhood brawl if I had to.
As I moved on to college, marriage, relocation and life in general, Harold continued with his journey through the sixties experimentations, Williams College, where he graduated and numerous romantic and platonic liaisons. He always kept his edge as far as I was concerned. I would see him on my visits home or sometimes I would run into him somewhere. Harold had his first child, son Rhasan-Rhasan during this period. I remember him telling me about the name which ostensibly was a tribute to musician Rhasaan Roland Kirk.
When we were very young, Harold and I used to play this game where we walked around the house on our knees. I actually can’t imagine such in the present-day state of my knees and joints in general. We somehow called this activity ‘Noonin’. I have no idea how we came up with the name, but I remember enjoying this activity when my mother had to step out for a short while. Much later when we were both adults during a telephone call Harold asked me if I remembered Noonin. Actually during the conversation I drew a blank—but later—I don’t know when, I suddenly remembered what Noonin was. I was then amazed that my brother could and would remember such a detail—a detail that would forever bond he and I, in this world and the next.
In the eighties and nineties I migrated to Northern California where Harold and my younger sister Mary had both migrated. Harold was busy creating and displaying his unique sculptures and lighting creations. He seemed somewhat content by his work in the creative arts. The last time I saw Harold, he came to my son Waleed’s wedding. He was dressed in African regalia like the king he was. He was the best I had ever seen him.
There is so much to say about my brother Harold, that this brief commemorative will not do him justice. I always keep my brother in my heart and in my prayers. His actual time was brief in earth years, but he had an existential quality that made him ageless—at least in my eyes. He will continue to be a part of my stories as long as I am able to tell them. I sometimes honor Harold with the name Abdul Musawwir—the servant of the name of God meaning the Fashioner, Shaper or Designer
Harold passed away shortly after I moved to Kenya to teach in 1996. His life was a gift and his death I see as but a short separation. We were linked in a way that the ethereal concepts of earth-life cannot erase. I still see him in my dreams and know that one day by God’s grace; we will go Noonin down the pathways of Paradise.
©Linda Tauhid
For Linda Tauhid’s Journal
January 13, 2013

Love Chant

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wash me
in clay
sing me
the songs
of Africa
call me
by my heavenly names
dance me
into night.
delight me
with your
attentions
remove
the soil
of sorrow
fill me with
the light
of Love
return me
to tomorrow.

All poetry and writing copyrighted by Linda Tauhid

Words for Salim…

Salim Latif Abdul Rahman

Salim Latif Abdul Rahman

I haven’t seen Salim in years–actually, about 28 years to be exact. In 1986 I took the”first thing smoking” out of my south-of-Boston home and headed for the San Francisco Bay Area. Although, I returned occasionally to visit, I don’t think I ever saw Salim. This time and space differential has not seemed to dim my impressions of Brother Salim or the starkness of the memories that surround the turbulent and transitional times that we were enveloped in during the mid eighties.

I recently reconnected with a dear friend from those times, Linda Weaver. It is Linda who was the doorway to my interaction with Brother Salim. Linda and I met as students in an advanced placement undergraduate program. We were both single parents with two sons and facing the fears, stress and challenges of managing life alone as single parents. We immediately connected and became ‘fast’ and life-long friends.

At the time I met Salim he was seeing Linda’s sister Barbara. But actually, ‘seeing’ is a misnomer, because it seems to me that Salim married, adopted and befriended entire families and clans. My sons and I were honored to be among that extended clan. As Linda and our colleagues pursued our studies and educational practica, our children grew up around us and bonded as young cohorts with what they probably thought were insane and eccentric parent-mother-women that were intent on improving their lives and taking their kids along for the hectic ride. In all of this mania, Brother Salim managed to present a credible, responsible and available role model for my sons, Linda’s sons and Barbara’s son and goodness knows how many countless others.

My oldest son, Waleed, was recounting to me earlier today how Salim one-time gave him a Afghan style Muslim hat. My sons, who were being raised Muslim were struggling with their Muslim identity in a world of pre-teen hip-hop and fashion. Waleed told me that he wouldn’t have worn that hat at the time. I have a suspicion that Brother Salim probably knew this, but was probably encouraging my son towards the identity that he now embraces openly and wholeheartedly.

I also remember Brother Salim brokering and refereeing the fights that broke out between the boys with a finesse and firmness that none of us mothers could summon. After years of being out of the Boston and living in California; I finally ended up in Houston after a number of years of working in education on the African Continent. My time as a member of Linda’s clan was never forgotten. I finally after at least a decade looked Linda up and contacted her.

Linda and I now engage in hours of catch-up and renewal conversations by phone. Salim’s name has come up on a number of occasions. I knew that he was unwell and aging like the rest of us. Linda always speaks of Salim affectionately and continues to claim him as a brother-in-law. I see Salim as one of the incredible humans that I have been honored to meet and interact with. He was and is one of those special gifts of God to be treasured and remembered. I ask for blessings and forgiveness for his soul and and welcome the prospect of our possible meeting as new beings in the promised life to follow.