Friday, July 01, 2005


Nothing new to report except that I've been thinking about family relationships a lot lately. Mostly dysfunctional ones, but relationships nonetheless. I'm also Looking For a White Elephant. Started working at a summer day camp this week, it's "proper" fun, as those crazy brits would say. My thoughts: "I can't believe I'm getting paid for this." Anyways, I thought I'd post a poem that I wrote last year, some of you have already read it. This poem started as a short story, and morphed into what it is now, a poem and piece of prose at the same time - proem? It's not that good, but it's something I've written that is important to me. (and surprisingly, it's got nothing to do with nerds, cereal boxes, or bouncy balls.) I have wanted to edit this poem many times, but when I write something in a moment, I know exactly what I mean and how I want to say it. Once that moment is gone, the poem becomes its own entity, untouchable. Naive, I know. Lines I fidgeted in my seat inside the plane, and looked down at the vast sands of Egypt. The beauty of this wasteland was shocking; who knew a bare land such as this could be beautiful in its own right? As I stepped off the plane and into this intense heat, I couldn't help but wish I was back in Toronto, where the heat wasn't suffocating, and the language familiar. Making the trip from Cairo to Alexandria was exhausting: A five hour trip on a crowded bus with the same annoying Arabic songs repeating themselves on the speaker. We arrived at our apartment late at night, jet-lagged and hungry. The days passed and we entertained relatives I remembered from our last visit, ones I did not, and some I didn’t even know existed. I saw my nephew for the first time. We served our guests tea in small cups without handles; I burned myself several times. I liked waking from sleep to the piercing echoes of the Adhan being reciting by Muadhins from several different masajid. We didn't need a prayer chart. Friday prayers were crowded; people prayed in the streets and the markets were empty, shops were deserted during the one hour period on Fridays. There was an internet cafe near where we were staying I talked to my friend Sara for half an hour once. And I showed her the crowded Egyptian streets outside the cafe with a webcam. Most men in Egypt smoke; in cafes, in malls, in the street, and wherever they please, making it hard for me to breathe. My grandfather smokes too. The nights passed quickly, and our flight date quietly inched closer. I started packing my suitcase the day before we were to leave. The next day we were typically very late and almost missed our bus. We jumped onto the bus to Cairo, waving to cousins and miscellaneous relatives that happened to be around at the time, and then five hours later boarded our plane with heavy hearts. In a while we were home; tired, sad, and irritable, but home. Though it has been a while since my return, the image that remains vivid in my mind is that of my two-year-old cousin, Mu'awiya, being knocked out in a matter of minutes by the intense sweetness of a bite of basbousa. I remember the white sands of Sidi Crere sliding apart under my weight and making way for my feet. And the blue blue water splashing against the shore in intimidating waves, wiping the uppermost layer of sand into its blue vastness, reminding me of how God wipes away sins when He forgives. I guess, maybe I just miss the chaos that comes along with an enormous family. As I live and experience, I add to the puzzle that is my life, continuously forming a more complex and complete picture of who I am. My trip added a piece to the ever-growing puzzle, but there are still so many pieces that have not been placed. I feel there is so much of life to live, yet so little, for it is God who has decided our fates and when we will leave this life. Some evidence of my journey does remain: a solitary small jar filled with softly coloured seashells sitting on my shelf, and a stack of photographs. Frozen images in my mind.


Safiyyah said...

I like it, I really do! This from a girl who vows she hates poems. Maybe it's because this is a proem? ;-)

brotherhood said...

1) salaam & jummah mubarak :D
2) safiyyah beat me to the first comment :mad: :o how dare u :p
3) cool proem mashallah!! :D i wanna go to there too now :(

Dodo said...

Why is this poem so important to you?

and Why did you feel like editing it at times?

Squeeky said...

Assalaamu Alaikum :D

aww That was so great, masha'Allah! And you've been to Egypt ... aww lucky. I've always wanted to visit. Anyhoo, I think you should look into your 'ayah of the day' haha you've gotten 2 notices already!

Catch ya next time :D

Hajera said...

I know exactly what you mean about a poem being an untouchable entity. Sometimes when I write, I can revisit the poem a hundred times and even though I may change a word or two, I read it again and then change it back. Its like it has this unpenetrable forcefield around it that you can't deactivate after a poem's done!

Asmaa said...

This poem is important to me because it's the product of my visit to Egypt after 10 years of absence. I think my identity has a lot to do with it, Canadian vs. Egyptian. How does one reconcile the differences between the two cultures? It's difficult, but this is my attempt.

I feel like editing it at times simply because my writing evolves. I read it now, and some sections sound...juvenile. Although at the same time, I don't really think my writing has become more mature. It has just changed.

Oh well :)

Abdul-Rahim said...

Salaam Aleikum wr wb,
Can't think of anything that will honour this poem and it's nature without sounding trite, so I won't. khubsurat-e-ghazaal (the beauty of poetry).
Khuda Hafiz

dot said...


I will also be visiting my homeland in less than two weeks (inshaAllah), but it will be the very first time for myself.

The things I am most looking to are seeing my family after 15yrs and waking up to the adhan in the morning, subhanaAllah, I cannot even begin to imagine the feeling, I just know it will be magical.. inshaAllah.

brother nerd said...

salaam hey u aint updated either :p

Ahmed said...