A Depiction

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A Palestine-inspired painting that I painted and gifted to my father.

News channels, newspapers, Twitter and other social media platforms have been busy. Nothing unusual. Media is always busy with the usual stuff – feeds of similar story lines and repetitive political gossip, or an overload of one specific story over another – depending on what draws the most human attention (or hopefully conscience) and ignites the curiosity of certain media-addicted sedentary masses. Some is undoubtedly interesting, some heartbreaking, and others sheer comedy. Most of it is (controversially-speaking) clever and entertaining, not necessarily worth following.

However, a particular media feed this week caught my attention. It is of great importance to me – firstly as a human being, and secondly as an Arab.  As most of you are aware, this week – 2nd of November to be exact – marks 100 years since The Balfour Declaration in 1917. The Declaration that had impacted millions of Palestinian lives, determining the destiny of my father’s generation, my generation, and my nieces’ generation and probably the unborn generations yet to come.

A few years after The Balfour Declaration, my father was born. Not long after that, Palestinian families were forced to leave Palestine and live in exile (most left by force and others by choice – justified by fear, by desperation and in pursuit of life preservation). They left not knowing it would be their last sacred glimpse of their holy land – the land which generously gave to their ancestors. Not knowing it would be their last traditional meal together around their generous Palestinian table in their Palestinian home, where their childhood spirit came into being, and (I guarantee) still lurks, undefeated. Not knowing their house key would never again find its keyhole. Not knowing they would be robbed of their lawful right ‘The Right of Return’. And somewhere in the midst of the ‘Not Knowing’, Palestinian homes were destroyed. Lives were stolen.  Thousands became refugees, the thousands doubled and tripled until millions became displaced. All in a span of 100 years.

I painted this simple yet special painting eight years ago and gifted it to my father. It depicts the hardship of Palestinian life through the eyes of an old worn-out Palestinian man, broken by tragedies yet strong and living. His white and black كوفية (a traditional gender-neutral scarf pronounced Koofiyyeh) represents his Palestinian pride. The Palestinian flag colours in the background including the Koofiyyeh’s white (which also happen to be the UAE’s flag colours) represent his determination and hope. I hung the painting on my father’s office wall in his Dubai home (he had no choice in the matter!) and said to him, ‘I painted this for you baba so you will always remember Palestine, and me’. The look he returned with his eyes revealed all.

I Empty Myself

 

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I empty myself
Of all my fears
The paralysis of all my years
The reasons for all my tears.

I empty myself
Of inner chaos
and self-doubt
I empty myself
Of secrets that I kept
Of decades that I spent
waiting like a weakling
for cowardice
to clear.

I empty myself
Of all the ‘shoulds’
and all the patronizing ‘musts’
Of all my useless ‘buts’
Their lessons about what is best
How I should dress
What I should say less
and not confess.

I empty myself of their obsession with success
The anxiety about a future they hardly possess
The superficiality they wear as garments
The very things I detest
I empty myself of all kinds of stress
I no longer want to impress
It is time I rest.

I empty myself of reoccurring thoughts
of words resembling everyone’s words
I empty myself of anything remotely absurd
Of conformity and social acceptance
Of ridiculous moral lessons
Of conventionality or unoriginality
Of grand plans
Of overrated choices
Of preaching voices
in my head
Of contradictory things
they have said
that could have easily been misread
That sometimes robbed me of my dreams
and made me doubt myself instead.

I empty myself
Of the art of wowing creation
I am so bored and tired
of constantly seeking inspiration
Enough tantalizing temptation
There is an overload of sensation
We are overly stimulated
and easily deflated
All in the name of proof
to show we exist
to flatter
and prove we matter.

I empty myself
Of networking
and connections
Of fake ties
Of meaningless attachments
that weigh me down.

I empty myself
Of self-inflicted crimes
Of self-compromise
or any kind of sacrifice
I want to live again.

Oh how I regret
Wasting my time
Living in fear
Waiting for it to disappear

I empty myself
I empty myself
Courage is finally here!

Solitude

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The greatest sensation
absences can give
is a mind
sculpted with lucidity
Able to shift
back and forth
between reality and dreams
And an imagination that dances
between oceans
free to drift.

Solitude is a gift.

According to the whim
of each living moment
I stray from banality
With every pore of my body
I dream and travel
through my mind
With eyes closed
I sleep
I unwind
I doze
The outside world
in an indefinite pause
I make room for silence.

I am alone
Inside the labyrinth of my mind
Amid the known and unknown
Barricaded by rugged rawness
In a swarm of wilderness
Wherein I turn all my sterile hours
into pure consciousness.

I wear the crown of bliss
On some exotic land
I am a happy captive
Soothed by a foreign hand
Empty of a future plan
Empty of noise
Abundant in poise
Separated from man
Consciously I stand
Tall
Whole.

Overlooking infinity
A horizon of divinity
Beneath emerging stars
Beyond the shadows
of the sky’s intimacy
I dream up dreams
of dramatic scenes
Of long journeys
to unimaginable
and impossible countries.

In that deep place
of untouched landscape
Men are scarce
One man less, less complexity
Two men less, less flagrant envy
Three men, less vulgar vanity
In general,
Less men, less vengeance
Less abominable lack of elegance
There is just the earth
And the colourful universe
Amused me
and my silent mindful mirth.

In my most heightened absence
and my imaginative fancy
I dream
I sleep and I dream
I dream and I dream
I even dream about dreams
And I am spared
from the myth of familiarity
from the sharp razor of reality.

It is exactly there
In my wide and vast dominion
That I am the world’s wealthiest recipient
of an everlasting income
without wants and needs
It is there that I found
my serenity
And became the ruler
of my mind’s territory
It is there that I diminished
The tortures of anxiety
that I divorced worry
It is there
that I proudly want to be
the woman I recognize as me.

Through the scattered rays of my imagination
The haven of my existence
Wearing my garment of relief
In my brilliant feeling of ownership
I fend off thieves
I fence off danger
No one can dare
step on my vibrant grass
nor trespass
my land of aloneness
my ground of deliverance.

It is only when
Reality can no longer be avoided
And my empire is invaded
When my implicit dreams are captured
and silence is ruptured
It is only then
That I,
With great reluctance
return home
with nothing to atone
And with much resistance
I leave behind
my solitude
I reenter
the unwholesomeness of normal life.

Shine

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My Father. The best human being I have ever known and will ever know.

I am Palestine
I wait in line
I yearn and pine
I seek a sign
I count on time
I leave behind
All that is mine
Except my dignity
Despite captivity
Except my pride
Despite your tyranny
Except my wealth
Which is my mind
I have my Self
A saviour in itself.

I am Palestine
I am fine
In time
I shall shine.

I am Palestine
I am stranded
A desolate island
Melancholic and silent
Stranger here
Stranger there
Everywhere
A burden
I am almost certain.

I am Palestine
I long for connection
Some human affection
No attention
Only detention
Sanction after sanction
No remorse
Only chores
And bolted doors
No harmony
Only fatality
No tranquility
Only hostility
No equality
Nor eligibility
Only agony
Where is sanity?
I am alchemy
The begetter of unity
I shall breed humanity.

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