Rise and Fall of My Beloved is a collection of poetry and prose about resilience—about the experience of stigma and rejection, disease and suffering, love and care, loss and grief—and also a testimony of gratitude, forgiveness and togetherness. Each of its three parts is a journey through life’s struggles, pain and loss, all of which require an inner force to overcome, build, rebuild, succeed and heal: resilience. It expresses an undercurrent to an imposed destiny or stigma.
Based on the life experience of my late brother, Rise and Fall of My Beloved is a tribute to mankind’s resilience to overcome adversities. The book takes readers from his vulnerable childhood as a neglected orphan set to die, through a childhood in which he was bullied, to his rise as an accomplished engineer, and sadly to his fall as a dying patient of HIV/AIDS. Each poem depicts the essence of unconditional love and care, the dignity of dying of AIDS, forgiveness, and family bond. This book is a manifesto of my brother’s exceptional resilience, the best memory of him that will live forever. It is an invitation, an inspiration, a reflection that, when mankind encounters struggles, disease, pain, death, loss, grief, we have to grieve and heal, and rebuild.
Judgment and Rejection
I needed to touch and hug him tenderly each day,
Every hour and minute we spent together.
I wanted to fill and surround him with love and care
For the human being that he was, not an untouchable,
Neither a disgusting, evil person nor an outlaw.
Most people did not want to touch him anymore.
He felt the shame and rejection intended toward him.
He witnessed disdain, mockery, and judgment on faces.
He accepted gently and stoically a fake kindness or smile.
Once again, he was labelled and discriminated against without
This additional burden to the pain and suffering he already
Most people did not want to touch or shake his hand anymore,
So, at first, he was reluctant to let me hug, touch, or kiss him.
Fearing to infect me and surprised by such humanity,
Driven by the love and bond between us, we held hands,
Sat side by side when watching days unfolding under the
Talked, and recalled old sweet memories of our young age,
And we laughed at our childhood silliness and misfortune.
Most people did not want to touch or shake his hand anymore.
Tell Aya that Zola got infected due to unprotected promiscuity.
Tell Leila that Shi got infected through tainted blood
Tell Mola that Billy got infected through a shared syringe of
Educate Ali that HIV/AIDS is not only for a targeted community,
Nor for the poor at the Horn of Africa or the centre of this
Warn them that poor or rich, man or woman is at risk or already
Bring to them an awareness that both educated or uneducated
Homeless or landlord, infants, young or adult, all of us in every
Are all at risk if unprotected!
Tell them that discrimination, judgment, labels, isolation, and
Killed him way before the disease ended his life.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
I am Utanu MAA. I live in Toronto and work as a public servant within the Ontario Court of Justice. Originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa, where I studied French Literature and Law before migrating to Canada in 1991, and thereafter studied Fashion Marketing, Paralegal and Law (1year) programs. In 2004, I was a recipient of a prize for the Poetry contest organized by Canada Heritage during the celebration of the Francophonie. “Couleur d’une langue” (The Color of a language), my unpublished poem about the diversity and different accents that give rhythm and power to a language to become an umbrella of one identity. “Rise and Fall of My Beloved” is also my own journey into unconditional love and care, and the resilience to deal with pain, loss, grief, to grieve, heal and continue with life after my brother’s death.
Connect with Utanu Maa:
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