In that other parallel life I have mentioned before, I get to talk to men and women whose business is war and peace. Especially about the wars that are fought in the birthing of nations.

In the unwind time when we sit and compete over who has the funniest story to tell, war still lingers on in the mind, and sometimes we share things that scratch the heart and stick with you for a forever while.

Last time, someone mentioned Sade, that soulful singer, how the lyrics of her song, Pearls, reminded him of the women I spoke of that morning. Women combatants who went to war for 30 years to birth the nation of Eritrea. It’s a story fit for blockbuster movies.

I have Sade on my playlist, but that’s one song I don’t have. My colleague sends me the link to the song which I listen to on my way back home. If you know Sade, you know her voice rips you apart softly, then lets you live to see tomorrow. The lyrics come at me, about this Somali woman-

/ Scraping for pearls on the roadside / There’s a force stronger than nature… / She’s dyin’ to survive / Don’t know what she’s made of / I would like to be that brave… / She lives in a world she didn’t choose / And it hurts like brand new shoes.

a world she didn’t choose!

I’m home, and the song is stuck in there. Today I see on the news a woman in Rafah celebrating a ceasefire, but it turns out it’s too soon to be happy, false call. It’s a world she didn’t choose, but “she’s dyin’ to survive”. She’s in the middle of trying to survive the pangs of birthing a nation, the only way she sees for her children to live free.

I know someone is screaming– what about the Israeli woman still bleeding from the loss of her loved ones on October 7, dead or in captivity. I’m talking about the birthing of nations today.

I asked a room of decorated men and women- What does it take to pave way for the birthing of nations without the death and sorrow and memories more bitter than the tip of a poisoned arrow? What would it take? Sade will tell you- It takes seeing that woman scraping for pearls on bombed-out roadsides “for her little girl”.

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