Nya Ku Toc

It’s sarcastic how girls at seventeen,

Who should have been singing,

Baba black sheep or father Abraham,

Are singing songs like,

He has played me, he has played me.

Trashed my heart, took my virginity.

And so forth, and so on.

And, and you wonder where kids learn songs.


This poem was inspired by either mental illness or wellness.

I’m yet to discover.

I don’t know whether I have her to blame or the society to blame.


You see this same girl,

At the age of 2 she sits comfortably in mother’s laps.

“I count on you sweetheart.” Says the mother

For the Dinka say, nya ku toc*.

Even when she was 5, she carries all hope upon her.


At the age of 13, she starts home rehearsals of the traditional dances.

At fifteen she wears achot** and tung***

She becomes the wrestlers favorite.

The one who swings and sways her body behind him.

She glitters to men.

And they think her gardens are virgin red.


From the arena to home,

Men flocking behind her.

The path grows smaller and sweeter,

And sweeter and smaller.

Until, until she realized,

“I’m a peacock.” And she flirts.

“I’m a nightingale.”  With this voice that seduce men.


She enjoys the laughter’s of the moans,

Thinking this is what nya ku toc means.

But she isn’t wrong because she knows not.

Only if she has ever attended a class,

At least someone would have let her know that,

Beauty without brain makes the private part suffer.

But definitely she turns out an owl.

Journeying with omens,

She’s no longer wanted.


At the age of 17,

With the songs she sings, she dies

Because the society has turned its back on her. 

Saying she has rotten manners.

The same society that use to admire her breast,

Now blames her for not lactating.

The same society that has grew hot and long tongues.

Saying she’s a grandma in mothers house.

Saying ita bi nyorot****.

Because she has failed to undress under a strange man’s roof.


Thinking they are right,

She turns her temple into an inn of the lusty.

The society that made her manners rotten.

Isn’t this the society she lives in?

Does anyone know her manners were not rotten?


In her dark days, she wishes she was a poet.

Her heart bleeds darkly.

Her eyes seeing nightmares.

Her ears deaf of gunshots of blames.

She dies before her time.

She wishes, she exists in the clouds.

And I wish I wasn’t her so I can feel alive.


*Nya ku toc: a Dinka saying that means “a girl is like a pond”. For detailed information, read the interview to the author.

**Achot: traditional skirt worn by girls.

***Tung: ivory bracelet, hard and expensive, that needs to be broken in order to be removed.

****Ita bi nyorot: you will suffer.

[Courtesy of the author]

Link to the Italian translation

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