1 Bmo-2

I have many names. Some call me Malaika.

bmo-3 IMG_7214

Others call me Malak al-mawt.


Some call me Red, or the Angel of Death.


Others call me Azraela.


Who calls me that? Gabriella, Raphaëla, Mikaëla. We are the Angelas. Angelas? Not Angels? Yes. I ‘m afraid some things were lost in translation.


Have no fear, dear Reader. We are just the Messengers.

This is another 40 year old sketch revisited. Stayed in pencil and ink all that time. She had no name or eyes then. Yet, when I started adding eyes and watercolour, her name came to me. Obvious. Azraela. The Angel(a) of Death and a main character in several of my stories.

If you want to know more, and have not yet read this story, click on “Doc”:

Now, the name Malaika? Comes from the Arabic “Malek” or “Malak”. It means Angel in Swahili, and was the title of a great hit of the sixties in Africa. Writen by Fadili William, Myriam Makeba sang it; a bit slow for my taste. Here is a modern interpretation by Lisa, Trina and Kendi, who, judging by the uniform, are probably high school students in Kenya:

“Malaika, nakupenda Malaika”. Angel, I love you Angel…

Kwaheri sassa. See you soon.





94 thoughts on “Malaika

    • Here! Here! Use that towel. Dry yourself up. 🙂 All those names come from a research I did when I was writing a novel featuring the Angelas. A twist on the traditional view of Angels. Now I know her as Azra. 😉
      Thank you about the “art”. As I have mentioned before, I have started drawing and painting again after a long-long time… Quite a pleasant sensation. The hand remembers. Thanks for your visit and comment.

    • Glad you lied it. I don’t think it made it to the European charts, but when I lived in Kenya it was top of the billboard. I don’t think there’s anyone in East Africa who doesn’t know the song. I have another, faster, version which I like better, but it’s on tape. Yes. Tape. 😉
      Buona sera Flavia.

      • It must have been amazing living in Kenya! I would love to live there. It opens your eyes and let you in another dimension 😍 even for music, yes! Be proud of your tape version☺️it is something that not everybody can understand nowadays but it has a very peculiar charm😊💪

      • It was amazing indeed. But then I spent most of my childhood in Africa. I even finished high school in Ethiopia, in the days of the Emperor, Hailé Selassié, aka Ras Tafari. Ethiopia is where I picked some Italian. Thanks for the visit and comment. Buona sera.

      • This is soooo cool 😎 I am extremely fascinated from this kind of stories and people who lived abroad since their childhood have so much to say and a different aptitude to everyday life. Then of course we cannot generalize for everybody but I really think that you had the chance to live an amazing and unique experience!

      • I did. Which sometimes makes it both difficult to fit in. And easier: I tend to learn local codes pretty fast. Or languages. I never took a single class of Italian, but I sort of picked it up in the classroom. There were still a lot of Italians in “Abyssinia” and most of the Ethiopians spoke Italian. So, listen and learn. 🙂
        You’re the one learning Greek if I’m not mistaken? Kali nichta!

      • Exact ! I am. Καληνύχτα 💪bravissimo! I am learning some basic Albanian here and I also wanted to take classes but I have decided to keep on with Greek. Isn’t it musical? I just love it! Good night for real now! 😂

      • I know very little Greek. From Greek friends of my parents when I was a kid in West Africa, but yes, it sounds neat. And yes, you probably need to stay with Greek for the moment. Albanian will come along the way. 🙂

      • Hi Dragos. Good to see you my friend. How have you been? All is well? Your 24 (by now?) cats have not yet torn the house down?
        Yeah, when I was looking for a video of Malaika, I had to turn down Myriam Makeba, good but too slow, and I did see one by Boney M. I will check it out. Multumesc.
        Bon week-end.

      • I’m relatively fine, mon ami, just swamped and tired.
        Cats are actually 25 considering the five newborn from two days ago. A few just dissapeared, in time. The older ones wander away through neighbors’ yards, crossing streets… The house still stands but I got flees and they’re killing me, must find some strong insect killer soon.

        As mentioned below we’ve already covered Malaika some time ago, maybe you already watched Boney M’s version back then.

        Bon weekend a toi aussi! 🙂

      • 25?! What the bananas! That’s the problem once you get over 2 cats, they multiply almost instantly. Fleas? You need to fumigate. Fleas can bring a lot of bad disease. The Plague among others. 😉
        And yes, you were right about Malaika. Answered that somewhere else.

      • Well, I think I lost one of the younger ones already, he wasn’t around yesterday and neither today. Not sure about the one that had surgery, he’s been missing too yesterday but maybe I just wasn’t around when he came home to eat.

        People keep telling me to have them (the girls, at least) neutered, but as much as I’m not a religious person I still wouldn’t want to play God with these poor creatures.

        I’ve had fleas before, I’m not afraid of diseases and such but it’s disturbing to keep scratching all over all day long. I already sprayed some repeller, need to repeat a few times.

        You know I’m usually right. 🙂 Saw the reply. No idea how my memory works but I gave up trying to find out. 😀
        Take care.

      • Haha! I know you’re (often) right. 😉 You do have a much better memory than most. Compliments. Regardless of disease, it’s an inconvenience to scratch all the time. I understand there are some anti-flea collars? BUt maybe they’re too free for a collar?
        And w/o playing God, you would limit your own population. Otherwise the growth might be exponential…

      • Actually I have a horrible memory. For some reason though, I do remember certain details about your past articles much better that things I did yesterday, for example. Go figure! 🙂

        Those collars are worth nothing, at least out here. Not even the special drops can do a decent job unless one knows exactly what to ask for. They sell a lot of garbage because that’s capitalism.

        Looks like God – if such thing really exists – does take care of my overgrown cat population: yesterday I buried the last of the five kittens of my youngest girl. Fleas killed the first four at the age of five days due to my negligence, and their mother dropped the last one on the concrete floor from about one metre high while trying to relocate him. I’m devastated. 😦

      • I think it’s age, my friend? What are you? 80 going 90? 😉 Long term memory can be much better than recent memory.
        You need to do something about those fleas. Ask the vet. You must know a vet right? I seem to remember a powder to spray in the fur? But it has to be non-toxic cats wash themselves with their tongue. Really. Ask a vet of a pharmacist. That way you won’t be devastated.
        Chin up.

      • Actually I’ve been feeling like 80 looooong time ago, even as a child sometimes.
        My long-term memory is not so great either, unfortunately.

        I’ve already applied some drops to the back of the cats’ necks three days ago but it doesn’t seem effective. It’s extremely hot here these days and fleas thrive. Yesterday I sprayed – for the fifth time, I guess – some fleas-repeller all around the house and still couldn’t sleep all night. I guess those goddamn creatures are adapting much faster to those chemicals than the specialists can develop new ones. 😦

        Problem is, I have four kittens that are less than two months old and there’s no chemicals allowed for such youngsters. The other seven (they were eight, one has gone missing a week ago) will be three months tomorrow and they already received treatment, but ineffective as mentioned above.

        I do have another appointment at the vet on Monday but I’m not sure another dose of (different) chemicals would be allowed in such a short time. I’ll ask though.

        Enjoy a fine weekend, cher ami!

      • In my heart, yes. 🙂 But physically, no. What am I, crazy?! I only took nine or ten at once, a couple times when they needed checkup and vaccines. 🙂
        Oh and now they’re only 19, since the five little ones are dead and one of the eight brothers has been missing for a week.

      • Haha! ten at once? Oh my. In a box? Sorry about the little brother. My parents had up to 5-6 cats, not sure. But they all disappeared one by one. Until only one was left when my father died. We took her in, and called Miao DzeDong. (But you remember her right?)

      • I had two transport boxes and most of them were very young at the time.

        How could I ever forget Miao? She was lovely. May her soul rest in peace.

    • Haha! I tend to write stories with strong elements of fantasy. “Doc” is the preamble to my first novel in English, called “Foglines”. A mysterious fog appears in the streets of Babylon, the largest city on the Eastern seaboard, inspired by New York and other places. Not published.

      • Sounds interesting, mysteries just are always more inspiring than simple truths. Reminds me to getting lost in thick fogs in the Slovenian Alps at around 2,200 m late in the afternoon 20 years ago. Fortunately, we found an old military path from WW I which saved us from this real calamity.

    • Thank you ma’amji. It’s just an old sketch revisited. But I have been applying myself, and drawing regularly. A great pleasure to see the hand has not forgotten. 🙂
      And the song, well, it’s simple. And universal. The guy loves Angel, Malaika, but he can’t pay the dowry… And those three young girls are both pretty and with beautiful voices. And well… trained I think because they do some tricky things. (Songs in East and South Africa tend to use several cannons. Layers?) Glad you enjoyed it. A bientôt.

      • Talent is ingrained. You cannot forget it. The fingers remember. I bet they pick up where they left, in a manner of speaking.

        What a bittersweet song! Those girls are special. When you can keep an audience who do not know the language, yet they appreciate it enough to listen, you know you’ve got it. In Bengali, we call those layers ‘kaaj’. Training is so crucial. I spent half my growing up life playing an instrument called the harmonium (do you know of it?) and singing, and I appreciated it only much much later. Naturally, I get what you mean about the tricky part of it all. 🙂

      • ‘Layers’ sounds interesting. I will have to ponder about what those layers may be.
        I thought I knew what a harmonium was but now I know. And the Indian Harmonium looks different. Playing and singing? Wow. In that high-pitched tone I’ve heard in Hindi music? 🙂 Don’t give it up. It is a lovely talent. (Chalia mera naam…)

      • I did not know the Indian harmonium is different, but now I know better. Indians love sitting cross-legged. Must be it? 🙂 Though I do not care much for the aftermath of it — pins and needles.

        No no, I cannot do very high-pitched notes. I learnt Rabindra Sangeet which is essentially all about putting Tagore’s songs to music. I gave up some time ago — when I was about 19. But I remember it alright and can pick up tunes without notations. The harmonium is still there in Calcutta, sitting in my library room. Looking all worn and sad.

        This is one of the first songs I learnt:

        Lines by an ageing poet nostalgic for the early days of childhood when he led the simple life… spending time with friends till they were suddenly parted… now he yearns to just go back in time.

      • Rabindra Sangeet (songs?). Wow. Tagore was and is definitely a major figure in your neck of the woods. I bet you ask any Westerner, 9 out of 10 don’t know about him. Don’t ask Americans they won’t know where Bengal is. 😉
        You could probably buy a harmonium over there in NJ. Keep practicing.
        Lemme see the link.

      • Tell me about it. When I mention Bengal/Calcutta to Americans, I get Blank Looks. Let’s say 11 out of 10 have no idea about it.
        Tagore is Bengal’s staple. Like rice and fish. 😀
        Imagine looking for a harmonium in Umrica. I once used ‘harmonium’ for phonetical purposes in the UK. The girl I was addressing thought I was speaking another language. Adi meanwhile went into splits because he found it ridiculous that I sprung ‘Harmonium’ upon the poor girl.

      • Americans have many positive sides. (I don’t regret a day of my 2 years there at Grad school) but geography is definitely not their forte. A harmonium is not exactly your most common instrument. In her defence… 😉

      • They do. There are misnomers about them and they are not a bad lot at all.

        Harmonium, British, a common past…you cannot blame me for subconsciously falling back upon it. 😛

      • Yes, they’re not a bad lot.
        And there is a common past. Did we mention Enid Blyton’s Fabulous five? Or Club des cinq in its French version? It seems to me Indians – or some – have integrated what they liked from the English, and moved on.

      • No. The link worked fine from my mail, but when I opened it form WP, it sent me there. Never mind, this was a feast. I must have watched – and listened to – half a dozen videos… I’m sure it brings back memories of my early days in Pakistan. Even if for you there must be dozens of obvious differences, for me… well, it’s Indian music. (Shades od Satyajit Ray…)

      • No hallucination. 🙂 And again thank you for the Rabindra sangeet. I learned something new. Week-end over, moving on to therapy for my feet… three times a week. A strange nerve condition that makes walking painful. So you can imagine, three weeks from flying to Paris… OMG! But I will not be defeated.
        B. good.

      • I am sorry to hear about this nerve condition that is troubling you. Here’s to hoping that the therapy eases the pain away and you can get back to sauntering around Paris. And that wonderful spirit, Brianji, is everything.

      • Shukriya ma’amji. Unfortunately the machine dates back to the last century and is beginning to fail here and there. Not many spare parts available I’m afraid. I have to go the Boree Bazar in Karachi and have the craftsmen there polish some new parts I guess. They used to be a able to craft anything. 🙂 (Hey, that could be a story). I’m doing therapy every day and I should be all right. Chhers.

      • Will look forward to the feature on Boree Bazar. 😀 As for the parts, that is okay, we are human. Plus if we were invincible, imagine this, where would the gods stand?

      • Hey! It worked. From my mail, not WP. What a delight. As in Chalia mera naam, I find these old Indian movies have an esthetic ressemblance with the Golden age of Mexican cinema. Kapoor makes me think of Pedro Infante! A beautiful song, though I’m not sure about the wife untying the husband’s shoes. 🙂 Other times. And I was then transported to “Tumi robe Nirobe.”, another Rabindra sangeet. And that “high-pitched” voice of the woman. Great. Thank you ma’amji. Off to watch bodhu Kon Aalo. 🙂

  1. Original version feels more intriguing: is she blind? are her eyes closed? did she roll up her eyes while in trance, during an incantation or prayer? 😉

    The subject of Malaika came up before, if I recall correctly. I think you even linked to Miriam Makemba’s video (and I probably mentioned Boney M’s version).

    • You’re probably right on all counts. I must search my own blog. (Can’t remember all…) 😉 And You probably mentioned Boney M. already. Rings a bell.
      Now, which original version are you referring to? In the school girls version I put this time, none is blind I think. 🙂 They actually have very pretty eyes, especially the one in the middle.

      • Ok. You got me. Fact is I have always had trouble with two things: shadows and eyes. Shadows can be worked on, but the eyes! The eyes! Are the most difficult to draw. One minute movement and the expression changes. Which, with pencil is fine. You don’t like the eyes, erase and do it again. But once inked, it is done. And if you look closely, there are 3 different eye expressions.
        Have a nice sunday Dargos.

      • True, the eyes – the look – require a great deal of attention and a good hand. Maybe that’s why many ancient statues had only placeholders for the eyes. 😉

        Being a tad late I can only wish you a good week ahead. 🙂

      • Thank you. Likewise. hadn’t thought of that about ancient statues. You must be right. Any way, since they are a challenge, it’s nice to look at a sketch and think: the eyes are OK. This time. Will soon post a sketch that cost me blood, but let’s see if you approve of the results.

      • Merci. 🙂

        Yes, the satisfaction of a well done job regarding the capturing of the perfect look in a drawing is great.

        Hmm, what would that blood-thirsty sketch be? 🙂

      • Or rather hop away from your desk, suicidally jumping down on the floor. 😆

      • Nobody forces you to think of him. 🙂

        happy thoughts… happy thoughts… happy thoughts… 😀

    • You are so right! What a memory. The Makeba video I put at the end of the first part of Crows reloaded… Just watched the Boney M version again. Not bad. One pronunciation mistake. 😉 Thanks for reminding me. Bon week-end.

    • Merci. Is that a passion? Too soon to tell. Let’s say I have found another vehicle of expression. 🙂 Words. Photos. Sketch/painting. It is also a very sooting process. As I draw, the hand takes command and guides my mind. Not the other way round. I have a stone ledge by the staircase. I leave a drawing. A pencil and an eraser. I pass by. draw a few lines. A shadow. Go back to my desk. Then draw a few more lines. Beats yoga! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s