Tuesday, 4 September 2012

When you are a Palestinian

A poem by Shadi Abdul-Kareem
Translation and illustration 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 


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 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 




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


The Prodigal Son said...

Here's a better version of the image 'All United for a Free Palestine'...

Feel free to use it:


The Prodigal Son said...

Better version of the bottom image 'Palestine':


You can also just delete these two comments now if you wish.