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Not at All!
Nasabanji E. Phiri
November 16, 2006

This poem was extracted from 'Nobody ever said AIDS: Stories and poems' from Southern Africa
Compiled and Edited by Nobantu Rasebotsa, Meg Samuelson, Kylie Thomas

My grandmother, you seem puzzled,
You liken it to influenza,
Influenza was better,
It came and went.

You say, how come, my daughter?
Not at all, my granny,
It is not like the great drought,
For the drought was and is no more.

What then is it like, my daughter?
Is it like the smallpox, which took
Your grandfather in his youthful days?
Not at all, grandmother,
Smallpox is no more.

Listen old one, this one is like a fire
That burns intently in the depth of hell,
Yes, burning slowly with its heat
Burning the cursed in its chambers.

It is like a thorn that pricks continuously,
Piercing the flesh, and not regressing.

It is like the mamba,
Whose deathly strike
Paralyses the heart instantly.

Yes - old one, it is called AIDS,
Look at your grandchildren,
Where are their mothers?
The mamba struck once
Without sympathy,
Leaving great sorrow behind it.

Tell the world, wise grandmother
That it is not at all like yesteryear
When the medicine man could rush to the rescue.
It is AIDS, grandmother.
Not like any of the other sicknesses,
Not at all.

*This poem was originally published in 2004. Nasabanji E. Phiri was born in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, in 1980, and currently works for the council in Lupane.

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