It was a Strange Time

It was a strange time, a time for sorrow and fake laughter, a time for violence and greed, a time where profit ruled the world, the Lord of all small and mighty things, the God of slaves chained to it. It was a strange time, a time where life had no meaning except when it came to controlling people’s bodies, where words like peace came loaded with ugly meaning, where justice came hand in hand with security, void of their meaning, turned into weapons of corruption and discrimination.

It was a strange time, a time where a mini skirt could get you raped and a veil on your head killed, a time of lies made by wolves not even bothering to hide their teeth anymore, a time where bare feet were aplenty, pounding the soil of a spoiled soiled earth in search of something long gone, dignity.

It was a strange time, a time where culture was to be flaunted and not cultivated, a time where books needed to bring money and not knowledge, a time where the magic of words had been trapped and replaced by the nauseating prose of publicity.

It was a strange time, a time where how much you earned and where you worked were more important than the amount of blood you had on your hands, a time where elders rot in their desolated homes for weeks before the stench bothered their neighbours, a time where your life was glittery on computer and your inside putrid with loneliness.

It was a strange time, a time where sex had stopped being beautiful to become dangerous and threatening, a time where love was a quaint notion measured by the size of the ring of your finger , a time where family ties were frayed and broken by the lightings of bombs and selfishness and superficiality.

It was a strange time, a time where happiness was a dare, resistance the only means of existence, where rediscovering feelings of solidarity and equality stopped being dreamers’ luxuries to turn into necessary realities.

It was a time for standing up, it was a time for refusals, it was a time for strength and courage and drive. It was a time to replace charity by justice, it was a time to reoccupy bodies and minds, it was a time to oust tyrants and fight opportunists, it was a time for change. It was a time for a global revolution, it was a time to find back our voice, it was a time to escape manipulation and go back to the realms of reason. 

It was a strange time, my time, but I chose my side. 

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Er7al!

My fist clenched around a rock, sweat dripping from my brow I know no foe.  The only thing that matters is the rhythm of my heart slowly telling me I’m not dead yet, that I’m there, truly alive, each pulsation quietly reminding me that their time has not come yet, their time to play God with me and decide when  I shall depart my sacred land.

Er7al!

At that very moment nothing exists except the pure trajectory of my arm slowly drawing arabesques above my head, of my whole being folding on itself, my hand alone stretched out, reaching out to the sun, to the glorious victory of freedom. I count seconds and release the rock, leaving it to deliver my message of despair and hope and as I do so, my shirt is lifted, revealing my thin frame, my ribs apparent, my rage, intact and corrosive.

Er7al!

For a split second, noises become liquid and I drown into them, plunging into my fate, happily. My rock still in the air, I fully stand up, releasing my body from years of tyranny, giving it back its long lost humanity, I want to stand up straight for once and see what I’ve hit, see the dent my small act has made on the concrete walls around me.

Er7al!

The feet of the seemingly unmovable iron idol with clay feet absorbs the tiny projectile but as I look up and emerge from within myself I see hundreds and thousands tiny rocks attacking it, relentlessly bringing it down.  Thousands of hands outstretched, and screams and demands, our rights, we want nothing more than what is rightly ours, our rights, and we won’t be waiting in a corner until you decide to give us scraps of your feast, until you decide that we’d rather be fed than freed.

Er7al!

What you don’t give us we will take. When you silence us we will speak, kill one, see hundreds bloom, torture one, hear thousands scream.

Er7al!

And here I am, while some of us fall as I carry on, wearing my flag and clenching my fists, here I am shouting out to the sun that one day, yes one day, we will be enough, that one day, yes one day, I’ll throw flowers instead of rocks, waving my flag high in the sky instead of wrapping it so closely to my body, as if to protect it from all the insults it has already borne.

Er7al!

 

 

On Shadows and Secrets

I know a woman who doesn’t want to know herself. I’ve been wanting to write about her for a while now, but never really got the full grasp of her, never felt I could use her reality to dress my fiction. It always felt too personal, I always felt as if I were cheating her, revealing part of her life without giving HER the opportunity to do so.

And yet the thought of writing about her, the force that drives me to write these very words is so overwhelming that I simply can’t resist.

Forgive me, my sister from the shadows, for I know not what I do.

Here you sit all day, your hands on your lap and your eyelids semi closed, labouring on, carrying on, a composed smile on your beautiful face, your kindness and serenity shields to prevent people from guessing about the turmoil within, those voices that won’t leave you alone.

It’s while watching you that I’ve come to realise that your struggle is every woman’s struggle, for how many of us just sit there a smile on our faces and a laugh in our eyes to prevent people from digging deeper into our wounds? I’m Not Crying, Therefore I’m OK.

You’re always there for everyone, my sister from the shadows, you’re always humming a tune whose rythm only you know, engrossed in your own frequency, oblivious to the dirtiness of the world around you, your integrity the backbone of all your actions and words.

You sit there, your hands on your lap on your eyelids semi closed, and you thank all your Gods for the relief of friends to whom only sometimes you confide in, for the utter relief you feel when you open up and share the tightly knit knot of woes and worries you carry with you everywhere you go.

There is so much more to you than what you let on, so much more to you than apparent peace of mind and carelessness, so much more to you than your daily work, your daily routine, the same actions repeated ad nauseam while you try to fight the evils and intolerance preventing you to break free.

Within you I know there’s freedom and pride and love and joy waiting to burst out. Within you I know there are questions waiting to be answered, questions you don’t want to look at, questions you can’t live without answering. I sometimes wonder how long you’ll be able to keep it together, until how long you’ll carry on with the act.

Few people know you’re a poet, few people know your history, few people know the only times you truly can be yourself is when you’re completely alone, or when the vapours of alcohol take you to realms unknown to us where you can stop pretending.

Sometimes I look at you, your hands on your lap and your eyelids semi closed, and I see the despair of generations of women and men who have been violated in their very soul by societies who bestowed their loves only to those who abide by their laws and played by the rules tyrants made for fools.

Sometimes I look at you, your hands on your lap and your eyelids semi closed, and I wonder, you see, my beautiful sister, I wonder who you could be if only you’d allow yourself.

Dear Bob,

                               

You don’t know me, but many were the times when you saved me from insanity and inanity.

Let us rewind, if you’d allow me. I was a teenager, firmly believing that Noel Gallagher was the height of musical genius, convinced that Oasis was the answer to the grim-faced middle aged people who assured me rock’n’roll was dead. Those were the days when I wore oh so proudly my Che Guevara t-shirts, when I had paint up to my hair, when I used to say that I was born way too late. I wanted “music in the cafés at night and revolution in the air” (allow me to quote you, My dear, dear Bob, your songs have entered my blood stream a long time ago, and Tangled up in Blue is just one of my many you-related obsession).

Then someone (whom I will never be able to thank enough) introduced you to me, and something shifted. Quite literally. I could never get over your lyrics, your out of key voice, your mystic touch, your political stance, your love letters, your pure joy, your out of this world melancholy.  The sad thing in life is that you never know when something important is happening to you, you go along quite happily along the lines of your day, thinking this is just another normal moment in my normal life, you go along and you just don’t pay attention, only to blame this forgetfulness and lack of focus, as I’m blaming my own carelessness at this very moment, cursing myself for not paying attention to your first song that was ever played to me. As things go, I can’t say, my dear Bob, if it was Never Say Goodbye (“you’re beautiful beyond words, you’re beautiful to me, you can make me cry, never say good bye), or Mr. Tambourine Man, or one of your hundreds of amazing songs.

However, what I do remember, is my everlasting emotion when listening to Tomorrow is a long time, my feverish enthusiasm to the Times They Are A-Changing, my giggles when listening to your young, fresh, so out of tune voice on All I Really Want to Do. What I do remember is how I thought for a very long time that Just Like a Woman was the sexiest song that was ever written, your voice caressing the words, turning them into a sugary lullaby.

What I do remember are A Hard Way’s Gonna Fall lyrics. I’m sure you remember them too:

And what did you hear, my blue-eyed son?
And what did you hear, my darling young one?
I heard the sound of a thunder, it roared out a warnin’,
Heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world,
Heard one hundred drummers whose hands were a-blazin’,
Heard ten thousand whisperin’ and nobody listenin’,
Heard one person starve, I heard many people laughin’,
Heard the song of a poet who died in the gutter,
Heard the sound of a clown who cried in the alley,
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard,
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.

Today in Palestine, my dear Bob, and around the world, hundreds of thousands are whispering, their plea growing louder: Please, do not go and play in Israel in June. Please, like Elvis Costello and Gil Scott-Heron, take one last stand against an oppressive regime that is, everyday, killing, starving, discriminating, threatening and scaring an entire population. Israel has and still is violating Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, its executionneer’s face well hidden by the complacency of the International Community.

Civil society, on the other hand my dear Bob, is no fool and a whole movement is standing up against oppression.Thousands of people will be asking you on your birthday not to go and play in Tel Aviv, not until the Separation Wall (deemed unlawful by the International Court of Justice in 2004) is taken down, not until your palestinian fans are allowed to come and see your concert without passing through dozens of checkpoints, if they make it at all.

So join us. And tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it.

Thank you.

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