This is a programmatic musical piece based on a tragic event in my mom’s family history. In 1950, a bus carrying my mom’s family (the Verjee family) returning home from her brother’s wedding plunged off Likoni Ferry into the waters of Kilindini Harbour in Mombasa, Kenya. Fifteen family members and three labourers drowned, eighteen survived, including eleven who escaped from the water plus seven others who had disembarked moments earlier at the ferry terminal’s jetty.
The Gujarati garba song near the opening of the piece was being sung on the bus before it plunged. What started out as a joyous wedding celebration turned into a great tragedy. To find peace and healing I re-imagined the wedding as a spiritual wedding, all souls returning home to their maker.
The contemplative section expresses the longing of the soul to return to the divine Beloved through layers of interfaith texts.
This commemorative piece tells a story of intergenerational communal healing, faith and hope from great sudden loss and mass tragedy.
Gujarati folk song Taaliyo na taale, gori garbe ghoomi gayre Punam ni raat chhe
Oh, where is my love? (Adapted from Song of Solomon 3:3)
Arabic Awwal, Akhir, Zahir, Batin (Quran 57:3)
I seek, I call (Translated from Persian Qasida Bi Ruz-u Shab)
Oh when begin you to swell so high that I may drown me in you? (John Bennet)
Indic Ismaili devotional poem
Chaalo saaheli var jova jaiye, so peeya mene paaya Sharan tamare
O friends! Come, let us go and see the Lord; I have obtained that Lord.
Singers: University of Alberta Madrigal Singers (Timothy Shantz, conductor)
Composed by Hussein Janmohamed
Video and Editing Erik Visser
Choreographer Janita Fransi
Filmed at University of Alberta Botanical Garden, Aga Khan Garden