Letter to my Unborn Son

Upon my parting of this world
When I will take off my worn leather shoes
And step barefoot onto mounds of soil from which I was fashioned.
There is a possibility that you my child will never know the hue of eyes that love you more than sight itself,
And you will linger on a lifetimes’s curb seeking out questions that have no satisfactory answer.

So, I will leave you with this letter.
I leave with you this letter and a shoebox of trinkets
I leave with you this letter and a shoebox of trinkets and a lesson you must embrace even after the reminiscence of a father fades.

Go to the attic
Look in the chest beneath the painting Uncle Samir sent
Take out these 4 items I leave you
Let your eyes hold their image captive
Let Your fingers find meaning like a blind child pawing over the Quran in braille

The first a jar, crystal clear, plane and pure .
Filled with soil and seeds, the very fabric of your fatherland: PALESTINE.
Very much a part of you as the shed aftermath of haircuts I would have given you.
This earth and you are the same.
Grew crops that sustained you even before the inception of a great grandson
Same eyes, same legs, same hands same skin
A tree who’s roots know routes to places they don’t show in brochures
Hold onto this jar
This earth and you are the same.

The second a Key
They may take your land, your bed, your towel and your spine
But take this key and know there is a home who’s lights you forgot to turn off.
A place that is ours that might be veneered with glistening white settlements
But the grape vines in the garden can testify for you.
You are key without a keyhole, without a door or a place to hang our coats
Rustic corroded but heavy in your hand and warm to the touch.
If I can teach you anything about keys it’s:
Don’t let them jingle at the thigh of a prison guard
But in the precious hands of your daughters as you write your own letters.
Though you may try to cut new keys – they will scrape edges and never quite fit the same
And it might be hard to imagine heights of keyholes or the width of unfamiliar doors but there will always be a place to hang your coat
We make our own keyholes
Make your bricks from the land ground from our bones
Pile them high like stacks of plates to make clay walls
Opposing their cold apartheid walls
Never settle for halves but wholes
We make our own keyholes

Take the third item: a Kuffiyeh
And run it through your fingers like zamzam water
Wear it around your neck, my arms embraced
Soak up the smells of dust and soil, perfume and olive oil
Wear your colours not for the sake of nationalistic pride but to inspire
You my son will inspire
When missiles bombs and bullets cast the sky in fire
Through massacres and exterminations,
warped statistics and annihilations
Past road blocks and fences,
Humiliation through colonisation
You will practice your p’s so your homeland will be tattooed on the tip of your tongue
Read books and write poems
You are from Kalil where champions among men blessed the land with their burial
Ibrahim, Ishaac and Yakub
Abrahm, Isac, and Jacob
You my son will inspire

The last item is but a mirror
A mirror I bought at a market still filled with the sound of optimistic laughter and Life
Where people who have close to nothing can still spare a smile
A mirror to remind you that all that I am is in you
Same eyes, same nose, same mouth
That you are in every way possible loved
And that the refugee status passed onto you will not serve as an unwanted mutation
But as a reminder that you walk hand in hand with hope
You are Palestinian

By Kamil Mahmood


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