Amina Cachalia Housemates

We came here not knowing what serenades were

But were socialized into believing that singing and dancing would help us communicate with boys

And that these boys will want to talk to you

And psychologically they didn’t think about what this would put you through

We had unbrushed hair,  and unbrushed teeth, these boys didn’t want to talk to me

But I smiled and kept quiet and acted like it didn’t bother me

You see the reality is that we don’t understand the positions we are putting ourselves in

Forming part of counterfeiting

But wait, this is supposed to be a happy poem

Okay , let me start from the beginning.

“Hi, Welcome to Amina Cachalia! Do you need any help with your luggage?”

Surely this was too good to be true, smiling faces being happy to see you

They knew your name and made an effort

Walking up and down the hill would surely be worth it

So we settled into our rooms and then we heard it

“First years! Meeting in the Common room” endlessly

We thought it would end but it didn’t, a year full of “Tuck-shop!” and “House meeting!” were still upon us

But then we had to go on a campus tour

Separated into different groups with different leaders

Not knowing that this separation would feed us, throughout the year

We didn’t know how the returners would respond to us because we realised we were in their domain, their space…I mean our space

Because soon enough we learnt to live together

But despite this

There was something that somehow separated us from each other constantly

And we have been told that this is normal

You can’t like everyone

You can’t even be friends with everyone

And that is really fine

But what we need to understand is that we all have one thing in common

We are all women

This world is a scary place for women

Now listen clearly, because what I am about to do is mix some verbs and nouns in order to find some common sense

So hence, in the past tense of the sentiments that led to the suspense of this verse

Be woke! Because my previous sentence made no sense, thanks Freddy.

And that’s how people have been feeding us

They appeal to our five senses, making us senseless

They want us to believe that having more women in parliament, means that there is equality

Equality in a male-dominated society

Equality where research has shown, women will have to wait for a century in order to earn the same amount of money as men

And they advise us to have conversations about the issues we are having

We are tired of talking about issues but rather ready to listen to solutions.

But wait, I’m sorry. I remembered this is supposed to be a happy poem

Why is it supposed to be a happy poem again?

Oh yes, because we are told that we need to be happy with the strides we have made in society

*sigh* I am happy because I can understand that there is a problem and that there is something that I can do about it

I am happy because I have realised that the system isn’t what we are made to believe it is

I am happy because I am woke

But I am also another type of happy

I am happy because when I enter this building, my fingerprint is registered

This place knows who we are

We are the very embodiment of what women should be

We are people’s pillars of strength

We are people’s comfort

We are people’s place of love

People move to the beats of our drums

We are the Sun, people need us to photosynthesize

We are the oxygen, they need us to breathe

We are powerful beyond measure

We are sisters

And that is what makes me happy

The effortless friendships and bonds that have been formed

We have not conformed but transformed, haven’t stuck to the norms

So yes, I am happy and I will remain happy

Because this is home.

We are home

You are home to me.

Feature Image taken by Brooke Mason of Amina Cachalia Residents at Rhodes Univeristy, Grahamstown.

Photo taken by Brooke Mason of the residents of Amina Cachalia at Rhodes University as they strike several funny poses in the annual residence group photo.

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