A few years ago, I discovered Nuruddin Farah. He is a Somalian novelist that writes in English. My favorite work of his is Secrets, part of a triology which also includes Maps and Gifts. Secrets is about Somalia, but it is also about so many other things as well: East Africa, Family, Love, Nostalgia, Self Actualization, and Growing Up. I also recommend his more recent work, Links, about the war-torn Somalia. I am not from Somalia, and yet I relate. In rememberance of my dear Somalian friend Mohamed who would have turned 35 this May 15th, here are a few of my favorite quotes from Secrets . . .
Page 25: My suspicion is that your Mother talks unceasingly to hide her worries, whereas your father’s silence is a tunnel in which he finds solace.
Page 35: The landscape of my memory is strewn in discarded bits of life as useless as driftwood. A host of these hang askew, picture frames too heavy for the nail holding them up.
Page 53: Death is the tragic, sorrowful acceptance of an irredeemable reality, a notice that one will no longer figure in the dream of one’s beloved.
Page 94: Nonno: the vase in which, as a child, I hid my toys.
Page 103: I think how you should treat her with due civility or not. Never forget that you were once infatuated with her, which makes her entitled to a fair hearing and a good deal of respect, especially now that she has come around to paying her belated affection in return.
Page 107: To Kalaman, for instance, I am a place, a vase capable of receiving the affections with which he fills it.
Page 144: Good fortunes have an illogical way of vindicating one’s memory of the evil times one has lived through.
Page 174: I am telling you that there are types of secrets which we choose not to disclose, secrets we prefer not to part with, secrets about dimly lit areas of one’s lives, the lay of our bodies, the territories of our pain.
Page 175: I am thinking that even two persons sleeping in the same bed at the same time are on occasion held apart by the secret dreams they see on the screens of their unconscious.
Page 270: Tired, breathing heavily, his features collapsed as though they had been constructed out of logs of wood which a great fire had eaten into.
Page 275: my fingers curled around his erection like a flag choking a mast.
Page 275: All that death does is to deny you the opportunity to reinvent your life as you live it. Because dying, you cease to dream.
Page 298: One corpse. Three secrets.