If you ask me: who are you?/I would reply: I am the man/Covered all over with tattoos of pain/With a body riddled with holes/With teeth fused together/I am the map of a country sold..Poem by Ogundare Tope.
My pain is inked on every Inch of my skin, these tattoos are A map of a country riddled with Holes. You can run your fingers over The memory traces that dates back Into the future. I was first inked at birth At the rude awakening of Collapsed lungs learning to Cry to survive. The pain was inked in inches till I became old Enough to fight back against The rough hands that held me Down. Look closely at my skin And you will see the beginning Of the wobbly lines. I stopped crying when I realized That my tears were the currency Of exchange for a service I didn't Request for; that it was the final Sign of my subjugation. I winced and Squeezed my face, clenched my teeth Till they became fused. I became an addict; craving pain Coming again and again and again It's all I know – pain, it's all I have And it's become synonymous with My identity. If you ask me: who are you? I would reply: I am the man Covered all over with tattoos of pain With a body riddled with holes With teeth fused together. I am the map of a country sold Into slavery by his own kin, Traded for thirty pieces of silver And nailed to the cross. I am the man risen from the dead Rising above the past Healing from the pain Inking upon my heart a map Of freedom. [Ogundare Tope is Nigerian poet, short story writer, and a psychiatrist]