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Last Year, This Time – Poems, Pictures & Prose by Saaleha Idrees Bamjee

Last Year, This Time

I’ve been trying to write a poem about my aunt, my fathers’s sister, who passed away on July 21st, 2019.

I can’t quite distill this feeling of having her with us and now not having her with us.

Of course everyone dies, but my aunt was someone you could never imagine being extinguished. Her energy was too strong, too vital. To know my aunt was to know a force who swept through spaces and left them keener and sharper. There was nothing Fazila could not do, nothing she was not good at.

More than my mother’s, sometimes, her approval meant everything to me.

Her face is the face I’ll have at 50, at 65. Now I can’t see what I’ll look like beyond that.*

*An edit to this, that dilutes this statement somewhat, I also closely resemble my paternal grandmother who passed away in November last year, from the same kind of cancer that claimed my aunt. There are too many parallels here that I’m not quite ready to countenance.



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I am a writer and photographer (look up my work on based in Johannesburg, South Africa. I have an MA in Creative Writing from the university currently known as Rhodes. My writing accolades include winning the 2014 Writivism Short Story Prize and the 2020 Ingrid Jonker Poetry Prize for my debut collection, Zikr.

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