The Tusk Blog

Dear Country

Artwork by Alaa Satir

Artwork by Alaa Satir

by Enas Suleiman

 

A black t-shirt
and ripped jeans
hugging my waist with a belt

Wear vibrant (white) colours to camouflage your (black) skin!

Hair tied back
with an old scrunchie
in a lazy bun

Discipline your curly hair (straighten it)!

My mother tongue
swallowed
by a foreign language

Speak the language you know (you're embarrassing us)!

Dear country,
I was 16
when I thought you would
تسلميني وتباركي فيني
a million and one times on my shoulder
but instead it felt like I was being slapped and pushed
a million and one times
for who I am.

Dear country,
I was 16
when I thought you would
forgive me
for drinking bottled water
instead of quenching my thirst
in the abundance of the Nile.

Dear country,
I was 16
when I thought you would
tell me all the stories I'd missed
as I lie in my grandfather's angaraib
and gradually drift into a serene sleep
until stubborn flies buzz me awake.

Dear country,
That was then.
Today I'm here to remind you that
the black skin you're ashamed of
is the colour of the hands
that dug this land green
and fed you its succulent produce.

Dear country,
The curls on my head are my father's
and as they spring and bounce
bounce and spring
and tangle themselves in self love and self acceptance
I too, tap my feet to the same dance of love andacceptance.

Dear country,
I learned a language that told me it was ok
when I couldn't pronounce letters like خ
from the right مخرج
and learned another language that my forefathers never spoke
because they were battling to save a hundred other dialects
from vanishing into haboobs.

Dear country,
Embrace those who try to find you when they're lost
Stamp their identity with your diverse tribes
that spill over neighbouring countries
Engrave their culture on cheeks and lips
with your beautifying shulookh and tattoos
Recite their religion
with your mesmerising zikr and tasbeeh
Chant along to the sweet sounds
of your ouds and loud dalookas
So they can wrap it securely
around their wrinkled immas and colourful toubs
and proudly call their country...home.