When you are a Palestinian


A poem by Shadi Abdul-Kareem

Translation by Nahida Exiled Palestinian

When you are a Palestinian 
You would need daily practice of hiding tears 
And swallowing huge chunk of wishes 
 Overflowing from your reality
 In front of which you stand flabbergasted 
Wondering who’d find the genie’s lamp 
That would bring back your olive tree, 
the straw tray and the sea fragrance? 

When you are a Palestinian 
You wouldn’t dare to broaden your smile 
The ghosts of Alaqsa would encircle you 
And the blood of Saladin which runs in your veins 
Would remind you whenever you attempt to smile 
That your smile is a betrayal… punishable by history 

 

When you are a Palestinian 
You cannot dream solo 
There is always someone with you 
Rather taking control 
And whilst others dream of wealth, power, wife, children 
Your dream is 
A nap beneath an orange tree in Haifa 
A cup of coffee by the shore of Tabareya 
A prayer that rises up to heaven
 Following the footsteps of the beloved 
When you are a Palestinian 
You’d live in a state of unceasing absence of normal life
 No wakefulness… no sleep 
No work… no rest 
No awareness… no unconsciousness 
Without the remembrance of Palestine;
 
How was Palestine!
What became of Palestine!
And what will happen to Palestine?
When you are a Palestinian 
You would live a stranger in your homeland 
And a stranger outside your homeland 
 You would provoke all kinds of feelings
You’d be an instigator of pity, some times 
An instigator of sadness, some times 
An instigator of curiosity, some times 
An instigator of admiration, many times 
When you are a Palestinian 
You’d work tirelessly 
Promoting a redundant commodity 
Called DIGNITY
No longer in circulation 
Since new dictionaries of morality have been invented 
When you are a Palestinian 
 You will unavoidably get an illness called melancholy 
You will infect all those who know you
 And those who gaze at the caged tears in your eyes 
And those who’d listen to the howl of mosques, churches and stones in your voice 
When you are a Palestinian 
You would enjoy an extraordinary memory 
You’d remember the number of sand grains under the sea
 The voice of every muezzin 
The laughter of every child 
You’d remember the colour of dawn 
The flavour of sleep
 The scent of rain 
You’d also remember those black nights 
The voices of their monsters and their moves 
You would remember the smell of death mixed with gunfire 
You’d remember the wailing of widows
 And the moaning of little girls 
You’d remember your footsteps towards the oblivion 
Every tear, and over which soil granule it fell 
When you are a Palestinian 
You’d discover the value of numbers 
You’d fall in love with them 
Or hate them 
A strong bond will anchor you 
Since your name became a number 
Your history, a number 
Your home address, a number 
Your lost-family members, a number 
Those who died, who imprisoned, who were torn to pieces… numbers 
The days you squandered -or squandered by- in refugee camps… a number 
Your dreams and failed prophecies of the day of your return… a number
 You’d appreciate indeed the value of numbers 
You’d be filled with gratitude to those who invented numbers 
Otherwise your life would’ve been lifeless, and numberless 
When you are a Palestinian 
You’d live in chronic yearning to a past you never knew 
And to future you would never know

 

When you are a Palestinian 
Words of love would not matter to you 
Nor the stock market
 Nor festival celebrations here and there
 It would not matter to you if nights became endless 
Or if days disappeared forever
 It would not matter to you if the year is twelve months 
Or twelve watermelons 
It would not matter to you if people ascended to the moon 
Or if the moon descended to them 
It would not matter to you if a party loses the election and another wins 
It would not matter to you if a country is triumphant and another defeated 
All what matters to you is that PALESTINE WAS STOLEN
And IT MUST BE OBTAINED BACK 

 

When you are a Palestinian 
You would abruptly stop talking
 And leave the story unfinished 
The poem without an ending 
As most likely the ideas in your head would become overcrowded 
So much so that they’d run over each other 
And you’d have to stop writing or talking immediately 
To attend the funeral of those thoughts which have been squashed 
And died before even being born 
Therefore
I will cut short my speech 
Leave to give my condolences in exile
 Where thoughts pass away 
Because they refuse to survive 
Without a HOMELAND

3 Responses

  1. Like

    • Thank you Genie for sharing this heartrending documentary.

      Like

      • I am thankful that it hasn’t been taken down by google.
        It’s a film that I have wanted to see for a long time in its entirety but didn’t find it until recently.

        Like

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