A Letter to Nanna, poetry written by Mounia Mnouer at Spillwords.com
Fabio Santaniello Bruun

A Letter to Nanna

A Letter to Nanna:

my grandmother who died the year I was born

written by: Mounia Mnouer


A Letter to Nanna: my grandmother who died the year I was born, poetry written by Mounia Mnouer at Spillwords.comDear Nanna,
I never met you.
I never hugged you.
My father did not talk about you much.
I never asked much about you either,
yet, somehow, I feel connected to you.

You come to my dreams dressed in silk and pink,
and we exchange an eye smile.

My father mentioned you only as his mother.
But I knew I wanted to know more of you as I grew.
I had to insist, in quarantine, thirty-six years later,
to catch a glimpse of your strength, and wisdom
through the stories of my father
he shared through the distance of the coronavirus.

He fondly says:
Nanna was a strong, resilient woman.
I don’t know if it is because he is present in the countryside,
the Indigenous place where both you and he lived.
But I never heard him describe anyone with such admiration.

Nanna is what I call you whenever I look at your picture.
Sitting beautifully like a boss, with your Amazigh face tattoos.
I look at your picture, and I feel the bond between us, Nanna.

I look at your picture, and it tells me a story:
This woman raised her kids all by herself,
while her Amazigh husband, conscripted by the French, was off fighting wars.
This woman told Indigenous stories to cheer her kids up,
to teach them about survival in colonial Morocco

The same stories then passed on to me by my father,
do you know that?

You would be so proud of your kid.
You encouraged my father to go to college,
and without that, I would not have the strong family that holds me,
even if it meant going to another continent to pursue education.

I would like to thank you.
You gave me the opportunity to connect
to a historical heritage I have never seen,
despite the tough times of quarantine

You embody the strong Amazigh womanhood, Nanna.
I look forward to seeing you again in my dreams,
dressed in silk and pink,
and we exchange an eye smile.

Mounia Mnouer

Mounia Mnouer

Mounia Mnouer is a senior lecturer of Arabic in the department of Global Languages and Cultures at Northern Arizona University. She is originally from Morocco. Both her parents and their families are Indigenous people of Morocco, Imazighen. Mounia grew up in Meknes, Morocco and she identifies as Indigenous North African. She graduated with an English degree in Moulay Ismail University in Meknes, Morocco. She was active in human rights’ matters, as she worked with the Moroccan Organization of Human Rights during her college time in Morocco. After obtaining her Bachelors, she went to the United States to pursue her Masters degree in TESL. She finished her PhD in Education at Northern Arizona University in 2018. Her dissertation focus was on the embodied narratives of study abroad and intercultural understanding. She works on autoethnographies that pertain to Amazigh identities in the diaspora, issues of decolonizing the Arabic classroom and engaging in social justice education.
Mounia Mnouer

Latest posts by Mounia Mnouer (see all)