Talk of the Town Poetry: Can You See The Light

A poem written by a member of the Grenfell community in response to the coronavirus crisis emphasising kindness has struck a chord for people undergoing social distancing, writes Julia Gregory.

Nour-eddine Aboudihaj is busy helping the community in North Kensington collect and deliver food to those in need during the coronavirus crisis after his involvement in the Grenfell Inquiry paused when the hearings were put on hold.

Now he has written a poem about the crisis and how the community has responded which has received high praise.

The poem Can You See The Light describes how frightened people initially responded to the crisis:

“That sent smart people in buying panic
It would have been comic if it was not so tragic
That in this fight or flight mood,
Intelligent human beings lose their cool and all logic”.

In the poem, Nour said the virus has made people re-evaluate their values and look after each other.

“Opportunities upon us to nurture our old, sick and pregnant women
Our duties are to live in harmony with nature
Reject and cast away the Throw- away culture
In the Corona age it made us aware
We are all connected and we all care”.

The poem has been published on the website of the Al-Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre in north Kensington.

Kapitan Arts and Nour are recording a reading of the poem to share with people remotely.

Nour studied literature at university and has been inspired by Shakespeare throughout his life.

He works as a life coach as well as volunteering in the community and wrote about his life lessons in his book The Straight Path to Success: from the fire of London Grenfell Tower back to the Waters of Casablanca Beach, which was published last year.

Nour said he has not written poetry for many years but sat down at dawn. He said: “In the early hours of the morning. I used to write poems when I was younger but I just thought this is the moment where people have to go back to different ways of life.”

He said the coronavirus pandemic has really put the important things in life under the spotlight. “What’s important is that we learn from adversity so that we can come back with a better resilience. What’s happening is a lesson – the same with Grenfell.

“There’s a parallel between the good things and also some of the less good things. People have acknowledged that we have lost our way and have to look at our way of doing things.”

Measures to prevent the spread of the virus means people can’t hug, or touch to support each other.

Nour said these kinds of gestures have been very important with the North Kensington community in the days and years after Grenfell.

We can’t be close to each other right now,” he said. “However the lessons of kindness learnt after Grenfell and during the pandemic should be enduring.

“I believe that we will have a paradigm shift.”

He said people need to make sure they hold onto the important things in life including community and kindness and value them, rather than the “wrong assumptions” such as competitiveness.

Instead he suggested that the lessons could mean that “Our bright future is our in compassionate togetherness.”

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