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Bodies Built From Stories

Diriye Osman

Beloved reader,

I often used to joke with a friend of mine that, if you sliced me open, my body would spew nothing but stories: all my innards are coated with recorded, unreported chronicles.

It's a dreamlike image, but I have been contemplating this notion of the body being a capsule of all the stories we speak into existence; all the tall tales and myths we use to imbue our personal histories, and political specificities, with salid iyo sonkor.

To be alive — to be truly alive, as opposed to struggling along on an emotionally subsistent scale — is to tell our own stories. After all, are we really alive if we don't apotheosize our own experiences in order to make sense of our highly specific unrealities?

I once watched a documentary called Life, Animated. It was about a young autistic man whose cognitive skills and comprehension of the world, whose ethics and relational dynamics, were shaped entirely by Disney cartoons. As a result his linguistic skills deepened, his sense of morality was as defined as an ink drawing, and his relationship with his girlfriend, who was also severely autistic, was more sweet-natured and romantic than any drivel that the likes of Katherine Heigl and her cohorts have ever conjured.

This is an endorsement of storytelling as soul-saving instrument, and as a Somali man I understand this syntax because stories are how my community breathes right.

May you always sing your song, beloved reader. May you never lose your history — which is to say, may you never lose yourself. May you be the keeper of your own memories, and may you live a long life studded with spellbinding sheeko.

With love,



Song Of The Moment: 'Coming and Going' by AMAAL.


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