“Yo Irish!”, perfectly executed dialogue by the very talented Abduwali Muse played by Barkhad Abdi. Barkhad is a Somali-born American national. Ironic, as the movie plays on those lines as well.
It was date night mid-week and a rarity with Abeer in his rare generous mood. I mean the kind that takes me by surprise with thoughtful little gifts and an impromptu dinner to follow. Divided treats where we tried to outdo each other to do something for one another. Off late everything seemed a bit flat with even plans being cancelled last minute. I had internalized the lividness brought on by a recent evening where I looked forward to going south side with him; which was planned and conveniently ditched for a cold beer and prawns to follow. The lividness was considered made-up for (in my mental check book)!
That’s ok. Life’s such anyways. Even a beer and signature Jai-Jawan prawns were a far cry from my days spent staring at a feeble father and catering to his recovery 24x7, always waiting for that lil spark. THIS particular evening goes in my catalogue of memories to save. We indulged. No caviar or champagne. Just a good ol’ movie, flowing food, funny conversations and a bit of naughtiness.
Captain Phillips had been on our agenda. I love Tom Hanks and had unintentionally caught nearly every flick he had worked in. There is a mundane genius to him. I am drawn to people who are walking geniuses in plain clothes and maybe a little gruffness to them. In that rough no-fuss exterior lies a bunch of molecules all similar to mine but aligned in a peculiarly brilliant manner. Nothing flashy about his role or get up and yet I was easily taken in. I guess his real skills poured in at the final minutes of the movie where a shocked and shaken Capt. Phillips is rescued, medically examined and reassured that he was safe. He stammered and struggled to express himself both physically and verbally – much like my daddy in his bedridden ICCU state. The medic comforted and interacted with him – much like the doctors and I did on a daily basis with dad. The likeness hit me hard and I tried not to let the tear glands win.
Coming to Barkhad who played the genius Somali pirate captain. I think this guy is a find. Held his own in a cast of veterans and had tremendous screen presence. He took me back to Nigeria and Benin and the surrounding African past that I had the rich privilege of experiencing and sadly leaving behind. He reminded me of the countless stories and sordid living that the ‘blacks’ were subjected to everywhere. In my explicit opinion, color is the single biggest racial discrimination and struggle that has dogged this earth since early man. And not because I am biased, but from the very beginning my kiddie eyes couldn’t escape how absolutely stunning Africans were. They just are and there is such sheen and glow in black. Which no one really sees.
However, I saw them always in tatters, wild colors, tribal surroundings and garb, destitute most times, a rare escape of laughter and that tubelight like smile – as if they would be killed if they let a grin escape. Their disheveled look never bothered me, pale nails and barely there footwear (mostly never there) also didn’t let me judge them. They were just beautiful people: misused, mistrusted, misjudged and misspoken about. They were exploited and robbed, beaten and trampled upon, screamed at and rarely ever heard. Their version of luxury was to be recognized as an individual and enjoy civil and basic rights. It never happened and most 3rd world countries will not let that happen.
The movie depiction of a remote fishing village full of fishermen (read pirates for hire) was a near accurate 1 – dry, destitute village mostly filled with men high on amphetamine addictive khat leaves and ready to blaze and gun down anything and anyone. Desperation drives these skeletal mortals to punish, however brutally, whoever irked them at anytime. And this when they lacked clean water and food – worse still the scarcity of khat. This takes me back to Lagos, Nigeria. Sure I didn’t live with pirate-like people but I sure did witness and hear their mistreatment. Another ironically common factor being that all of them screamed, fought and shed blood and flesh (literally) for causes and people which gave them and their families no security or returns in any shape or form. No money, no food, no safety, no respite.
Then what drives them? Anger and an agenda for vengeance running in their blood stream from the moment they touched down on the red African soil? I think that being 1. That beautiful earthy and rich as hell soil and ground. So many treasures. So many pirates. So little hope. I hope I’m wrong.
Eu amo a África!