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This Is How We Soften Our Hearts

Diriye Osman, This Is How We Soften Our Hearts

Daughter, I hope this letter finds you in the best of health. I hope that the world has been kind to you during these past ten years.

Daughter, I am still living in Somalia and the days here are hot and dry and filled with dreams that are never fully realized. Still, this land is ours and this soil belongs to you. This culture, strange and seductive as it is, is the beat that binds us beyond blood. This culture is the only real heirloom I can leave in your name.

Daughter, you were not always my daughter. In my past life, you were my son and I treated you like the sun. When you told me that you were leaving for London to honour your spirit I was stunned into silence. I felt that by becoming a woman you were rejecting me. I felt that by becoming a woman you no longer wanted to be my son. I felt that by becoming a woman you were essentially giving birth to yourself and no longer needed a mother. I felt that by becoming a woman you were denying the fact that I ever mattered to you and this stung. I became a ball of spite and misplaced anger. I spliced the chord that connected us and allowed my silence to speak for me.

Daughter, are you happy? Have you found what you were looking for? I wonder, every day, if you have found joy, peace and a sense of belonging. At night, I stare at the moon and I wonder if you are doing the exact same thing at that moment. Our relationship was always symbiotic and synergistic that way.

Daughter, you do not know this but I have been diagnosed with cancer and it has spread from my uterus to all my organs. The doctors tell me I don’t have much time left. This letter is a small parting gift. I may have faltered and made many mistakes but I don’t want you to take the path I have chosen. I am not a schooled woman like yourself but there are small wisdoms I have learned along the way and would like to share with you in the hopes that they will endow you with a sense of possibility in moments of doubt and fear.

Daughter, I want you to form the most intense, loving relationship with yourself. Only then will you realize your capacity for kindness and emotional expansiveness. Daughter, after you have formed this relationship with yourself, I want you to love others with the openness and humility that you always embodied as a child. Daughter, I want you to forgive easily, laugh loudly and never allow yourself to become the invisible, silent woman that your mother was. Daughter, this is how we soften our hearts and become better, more fully-realized human beings.

Daughter, by the time you receive this letter I will not be here. I will have undergone my own transition. I am scared and I do not want to go, but we rarely get a say in these matters. I am proud of the woman you have become and as I transition from this life into the next I want you to know that you have value. I will transition in the knowledge that my daughter has made this terrifying journey before me and is now reborn, a miracle child, strong and steady, painting this complex world with her own astonishing splashes of colour.


Artwork by MURAT SÜYÜR

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