In love with a Terrorist.


A week after I turned in my application to Duke University for my master program, I opened a letter which declared, “Congratulations, welcome to Duke”, I busted into one of my best-friend’s room, shouting with excitement for this new development in our lives, he expressed, “congratulations Bubac!” and, and before I utter a response, I noticed tears flowing out of his eyes. Behold my friend’s tears were augury to what was to be bestowed upon me.

The summer of 2006 as I prepare for my new school in Durham, North Carolina, I had the opportunity to travel to South Korea, upon my return I got a job as an assistant to the International advisor at my under graduate university, this is a splendid deal for an international  student whose life usually circulates around United States immigration laws,   I thought to myself, wow what a great life! Not minding the reality of life’s heterogeneous characteristics, the night of July 2006 my spirit was awoke, not willing to rest after a long hard day at work, alas I received a call from my old man (a fond way my siblings and I refer to our father) declaring his urgent trip to Houston, Tx, I thought strange wake up call. A month later, I was whispering farewell to one of the primary male loves of my life. Notwithstanding the agony, I processed to Duke, as I promised my old man that I would get my education, after all, he expressed when he realized his days here, had come to an end, “go to school, those people are going to take care of you, your education is all that you have after I am gone and make sure you take care of mama”. Following my old man’s commands, I responded desolately, “e Babah”.

One of my best-friends then, offered to accompany me to Duke, in fact the friend went further to purchase our flight tickets. Transitioning to Duke wasn’t a rosy odyssey, my old man died, eleven months later an elder sister who was more of a best-friend died, most of my long term friendships in Texas ended, financial difficulties, behind in school, OH!, OH! OH!, the darkest night of my soul, I questioned in concert with all the saints, “demanding why [my soul] was sorrowful and why it so disquieted me, but it had no answer…I hated all things because they held [my loves] not, and could no more say to me,  “ look here [they come]! …”[1]  “Protesting with the face I wore like the woman in Jos, Nigeria who loss a husband and seven children proclaiming, “Why, What have [I] done, [to experience such pains?] [2]  I felt abandon by Him  whose strips I thought heals[3] yet, fearing and with no other alternative I entrusted my soul to Him, after all, I was taught He gives and takes,[4] and the moment I released my agony for others to see, He illuminated my life with the brightest sunshine. This illuminator came from the pit of hell, “thank you, I said, but no thank you,” as U.S. Newsweek puts it, one of the most dangerous place on earth,[5] terrorist, uncivilized, oppressed[6],  with such condemnation on her shoulders how could such a person comfort me ?  Even the good ones told me, “ to just pray about it”, then headed  right on with their lives, “you will be just fine” another declared, hugged me for five seconds and departed, a wise one directed “go with God” even when I just told him, I felt God neglected me

 However, this condemned terrorist became my illuminator, January 2007, upon my return from Nigeria, I didn’t get the chance to shop for provisions, when she noticed I was struggling in the kitchen, she offered me her extra spicy rice, it was so hot that I had to use yogurt to ease the burns it caused on my lips, and the sudden sinus it erupted was healed days later, what a way to tantalize a lover. She asked about my trip back home, and what made her inquires warmth, and different from many others, was the honesty, I saw in her eyes, I felt it through my very black bones; she actually wanted to know what was going on. Days and weeks later, she maintained the willingness to hear about my sorrows, one semester all I did was cried and talked to her about my sadness, and she would gently sit and listen. The illuminator had a follow up pattern, she didn’t tell me that every thing was going to be alright, instead she wanted to know, really how does it feel to be broken. Her actions aroused our desires to commit, it started with a bowl of spicy rice, a frank concern and then we moved off Duke Campus, since then it was a life fill of laughter and few cries.  When most people chose to sprint out of my life, my illuminator stuck around, she rejected the microwave/instant model that most people subscribe to. She chose to be in the midst of sorrow when she had the chance to exit.

My illuminator, the condemned terrorist cohered with primeval mothers to kiss my sorrows away when others shunned the sight of them, bathed my soul with love that resurrected, regenerated love, my love for others outside myself.[7]  My illuminator believes, the death of one is the death of all, when an untouchable dies, part of humanity dies, subsequently we all become mourners.[8]  My lover and I built our home with the stones of LOVE, that which begets: SUPPORT, RESPECT, TRUST, and PATIENCE in the forms of: buying our food stuff together expect those things that are religiously forbidden yet acceptable we purchase separately, and cook for each other when ever one has a busy docket. We clean after each other, there is no “ your to do list” we help around the house whenever cleaning of the  house, bath tub, washing the dishes, having the light bulbs change, turning off the lights before bed, we make sure that we help each other. We support one another digest ideas, be it for academic work or relationship with the world outside us. For example, when I have problems at school, my lover would gesture, suggestion of books for me to read, or help edit my work. We exchange ideas, for example, given I have strong interest in the question of race and gender, my lover would seek for advise in that area.

My illuminator and I respect each other’s background and faith, we show our love by giving one another the space to practice our religions the best way we defined them.  For example, she eats only halal meat, fast during the holy month of Ramadan, and I worship with fellow believers on Sundays, donate my scarce time to volunteer with anyone or organization, fast during lent period (sometimes:)).

We trust each other, my illuminator trust me that I couldn’t possibly cheat on her, be it with our bills or in our relationship. For example, when I buy food stuff, I usually would inform her of her portion to pay; she goes ahead and pays without many inquiries, and vice versa. We also trust each other’s judgment, when my lover’s friends come over to the house, I would treat them as if they were mine, and this is because I trust her much that she wouldn’t befriend those who are enemies of constructive progress.

I am not suggesting that my illuminator and I have a perfect or flawless relationship; after all we are two different people from different families and backgrounds. However, we over look those things that irritate us, we dwell mostly on those things that make us happy. We praise one another daily with, “you look so beautiful in those black jeans and green ruffle shirt”,  “ look at that Nigerian fitted outfit, it compliments your features  ” and  or  our recent expressions,  “if you were a man I would marry you”.  Thank you for loving me despite all of me  interesting, obscure ways,  you turly make me a happy lady, me love you me  brown cookie- chicken, Mashal Saif.

[1]  Augustine, Saint. “Augustine the Manichee.” The Confessions, translated by Maria Boulding.O.S.B, preface by Patricia Hampl, 59. New York:  A vintage Spiritual Classic Original, 1998.

[2] Ojo, James., Ossai,  Aaron. “I will avenge my 7 Children- Woman who lost all.”  The Sun Publishing LTD ( March 14,2010 ),

[3] Holy Bible: The New Revised Standard Versions. “ The Suffering Servant.” Isaiah 53:4-5.

[4] Holy Bible: The New Revised Standard Versions. “Job loses Property and Children.” Job 1:21.

[5]  Moreau, Ron.; Hirsh, Michael. “ Where the Jihad Live Now” Newsweek ( October 29, 2007),

[6] These claims come from conversations and readings I had, done in the past that indicated Muslims as such, especially right after the eve of September 11, 2001  When United States of America’s twin towers were destroyed by those who associated themselves with Islam.

[7] Holy Bible: The New Revised Standard Versions. “A Sinful Woman Forgive.” Luke 7:44-45.

[8] Holy Qur’an:  The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an.  Surah 5:32

©CopyRight, Yoknyam Dabale

23 thoughts on “In love with a Terrorist.

  1. Yoknyam, I’m a fan already! You always have an insightful perspective in our conversations and I am looking forward to getting to read more of your work!!

  2. Dearest Yok,

    Thank you so much for this wonderful post. As always you are so generous in your praise :). You have always inspired me to be a better person and after this beautiful picture that you’ve painted of me, I can only hope to keep living up to this image.

    Your illuminator who loves you very much!!!!!

    Mashal 🙂

    • Mashal, you are welcome but it is all true, so I did not paint anything that isn’t you. However, as human beings, we always have rooms for improvement…..i.e wash them damn dishes….hahahah .


      your Nigerian QUEEN:)))

  3. Ohh!!! That was so beautiful. I shed a little tear, and not just because it’s allergy season. I love Mashal for the same reasons but never knew to express how to express it. This was nice!! Love you, too!

    • Nicole Gathnay,

      I am glad we are in this together….loving that babe called Mashal Saif that is! I am also happy that my piece trigger some lost words for you to better articulate your love for Mashal. Thank you for reading and I hope school work is treating you good.

      consider yourself appreciated:))

    • Dear Cari,

      I am humnbled by the Princess’ powerful words of appreciation for my work. I look forward to sharing with and learning from you. The hope is to get my primary project published, we shall see how life unfolds, until then,

      wishing you a wonderful remainder of the week and a blissful weekend ahead.

    • Amadou,

      thank you, thank you, such words of empowerment gives me hope that my goals are worthwhile and thank you for the supplication, Mashal is God’s sent and I am thankful for her life!

      Take it easy and I look forward to further discourse.

  4. Yoknyam:

    First of all, i am was in shock when I read the title of this piece on your FB status, however, my interest was piqued and thus I read it. It’s a pretty powerful piece probing the reader to get out of their comfort zone and embrace humanity and humankind. Though we look different, we all bleed RED.

    As always, you impress me my African sister ohhhh

    i read it again, and…..!Be still and know that HE is LORD!!!!

    Secondly, my mother always says, treat others as you would have them treat you….you never know that the person sitting next to you maybe the very same angel you help or helps you.

    Finally, PT says, labels are so limiting and encourage prejudicism…tsk tsk tsk!!!!!!!!

  5. Awuor,

    wonderful observation, yes, unless we get out of our comfort zones we cannot in most cases live and love! labeling is a powerful force that can either create or destroy, unfortunately in most cases we destroyed!

    we are one, indeed and thank you very much for your kind comments, you always manage to send positive vibes my way. Thank you. I hope Napel is treating you good!



  6. What a lovely portrait of a beautiful friendship. Me being me, I believe all women should refer to their friends as lovers. Aside from being awesome, it might also bring about more female-female marriages. You said “if you were a man I would marry you.” But why does she have to be a man? Eh? EEEH?! Oh Right!!!!

  7. Beau,

    Thank you for reading , your peaceful movement for the cohabitation of the female-female union is a beautiful proposal, however, I am hesitant to say lets protest given, theologically I lack strong tools for it. This is not to suggest that my inabilities to fight for it negates the fact that , I too desire that ” the other” is granted that which S/HE desires, if he wants to make love to his male lover, if she wants to sex her female lover, I have NO complete rights to be a blocker:)

    p.s: I love Mashal Saif, I have never being so certain in uttering such strong words for another friend. She is a very good sister to me and my world shall never forget the positive forces she expels in my life.

  8. What happen to the Gods of your ancestors? You are searching for a God that looks like you yet you do not turn to the Gods your ancestors had before the white Christians told you your Gods where wrong. Keep searching until you return to your roots.

    • Sister Akosua,
      What do you mean by “What happen to the Gods of your ancestors?” In this piece I did not necessary make case for white god, I simply shared my experiences at the time…I also think what many Africans call Christianity is different from what others may think it is… Njiga ( thank you ) for stopping by and I hope you found the god of your ancestors!


  9. Prof warned us to be prepared to see ” all kinds of stuff” but i wouldn’t
    listen to him. Now, i have myself to blame. Huhu

    • Sister Ronke,

      as you know sometimes we learn from our mistakes, therefore, no need to blame yourself. I hope you share your experiences with others so that they don’t make thesame mistakes that you made. Personally I have learned alot from other people’s failures. I am convinced that the gods use those unfortunate situations to teach bystanders and I for one have taken those opportunities and used them to my advantage! Giving thanks/ ase!

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