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Snapshots of the invisible


I want what's normal.

I don't want to be a brother who lies to his sister.

Oh لا لا لا ليلى

A bomb? Oh no no no Layla!

That's just the wind rocking our house

A soldier? لا لا لا حبيبتي ليلى

That's just Ammo Basem playing dress up with us

But Omar why is Ammo Basem holding a gun?

I told you Layla, that's just Ammo Basem playing dress up with us

now shhh Layla get into the closet and let's play hide and seek.

But Omar... why is Ammo Basem's gun pointing at baba's head?


I want the normal stuff.

I want a life where I don't have to cry to myself to sleep every night because the moon's silvery shine reminds me of my mom's face.

My mom who was bombed 2 minutes before I was able to kiss her on her cheek as I usually do when I come back from school.

I found her hand sprawled on the ground.

The hand that stroked my hair.

The hand that plucked the meramieh to make tea when I was feeling sick.

The hand that tucked me in at night.

And the hand that pointed up at the silvery sphere of light قمر (moon) she would say.


You see I just want the normal stuff.

I want to have a memory that hasn't been bleached.

A memory that hasn't been poisoned by the image of my little brother cut to shreds of meat when we were trying to escape Syria to get to a nearby refugee camp.


I just want the normal stuff.

I don't want to feel like I need to strip down to the tightest pencil skirt to get a job in any industry.


All I want is the normal stuff.

I want to be a teenager.

A teenager who can scream and protest and challenge without having to apologize afterwards because I'm just too young to understand politics.

Yes ma'am.

No sir.

I'm very sorry sir.


I just want the normal stuff.

I don't want there to be an April 3rd.

Because April 3rd is To Punish A Muslim Day.

A day where they get 50 points if they throw acid in my face.

Or a 100 points if they beat me up.

Or if they're brave enough, they can get 250 points if they run me over with their cars.


I want the normal stuff.

I don't want to have to convince myself that it's bad luck that gets me 'randomly' checked every single time I go to the airport.

I don't want to have to convince myself that it's not my faith or my beard or the scarf wrapper around the circumference of my face.


I just want the normal stuff.

I don't want the human inside my womb to be called a towelhead, a bomber, a terrorist, and a rag-headed female version of Osama Bin Laden... before she is born.


All I want is the normal.

I want to question authority.

I want to ask questions without having Big Brother snatching me from within the familiar arms of my home.

Without having Big Brother telling the world that I've gone missing.

That I've died of a heart attack when the blood in my coronary arteries is flowing just fine even when they beat, bash, and belt me in their torture camps.


But I've been told I'm already normal.

I'm discriminated.

I'm tortured.

I'm starved.

I'm normal.

Normal never was equality.

It never was justice.

It never was freedom.

It never was.

But maybe someday it will be.

Because الجايات أحسن من الرايحات.

But for now I am normal.


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