From Daughter Baraka to Mother Eve
by Amirah Al Wassif
I am writing to you now without putting my right hand on my chest, quivering from cold and grief. I don’t cry anymore, Mom, just hide under our destroyed table, count my breath, a very long time holding my dirty cotton doll, watching the footsteps of the hurried passengers on our crowded road. As usual, I set my mad gaze on the wide openings of our ragged tent, wait to catch someone’s eyes, perhaps convincing me I am still alive.
I am still your sweet daughter, your lovely baby, the crawler on the sharp platforms every midnight. I am still your patience girl walking after your shadow, looking for the warmth of your heart and the smell of your face. Last night I dreamed about you. I was showering under the honey down, and you were in front of me and tried your best to touch my little belly with your warm fingers. In my dream, I was the baby girl with wavy hair and you were my immortal mother still moving her big fingers under my belly to make me laugh, but in spite of your efforts your baby still cried. I am writing to you with a flushed dirty face and also a delicious confusion which makes me whisper through the long hours of the day and night like an immigrant bird.
It is the dearest confusion of my whole life as a woman who decided to write with her foot. Everybody here in my world is still wondering how could a woman dare to write with her foot? Everybody here in my world whispers from the first light on down until the last light of twilight, my people want to catch my inner secret, they are addicted to asking each other about my upturned situation.
“Writing with your foot, how dare you?!” they cry in front of my face and behind my back. They never stop asking and asking and asking, and I conceal my heart very well because if they see it they will discover my secret immediately, they will know the only answer to “how does a woman dare?”
If you are a writer, there will be a weird rumor that will never leave you based upon stories such as you use the stars as punctuation, and the blue of skies is your immortal ink that never runs dry, and you have a deal with angels and devils, also you spy on every insect that crawls on the earth. If you are a writer, you may see the shadow of William Shakespeare every midnight above your head, explaining to you how to eat the time, how to dissolve yourself between letters, he will explain to you how to put your heart on the paper without pretending.
As a woman who decided to write with her foot, I just asked how to think differently, how to play with your imagination ball like a professional player. My name is Baraka, one of those homeless women who spent their spring age on the cold sidewalks, eating nothing, feeling nothing, tried their best to tame neediness. I have no idea about rosy dreams. All I know is scratching the trash cans every night. And about my pillow: it is not surprising to know that it is a haystack. When the honey down watered my hair, I figured out that I am in the middle of nowhere. When the headlights blocked my sight, I touched my darkness.
I am a very patient crawler on the rough edges of life, I am a naked woman because of the conspiracy of poverty, lean body stretched along with the torn papers which covered the pavement.
I am here writing in my mind, in my blood, creating my own imaginary world which doesn’t seem similar to my harsh fate. All my life I have been covered with an ecstasy of writing. I gorge my poor flesh with clay and this weird stuff, not my choice at all. Dear and poor Eve, I am dissolving under the furious sky, need your help to clean my dirty body. I am here in one of the street corners recalling your great spirit against the boys who chased me by throwing clay which forced me to run away, in fact, I couldn’t escape away from their harsh beats, but really I did, I ran away here in my imaginary world. I shed tears here under the elder tree, touching my ribs during that much time. I am not blind, I am just a half-educated woman who lives in a separate tent on one side of our hungry street, a half-educated woman who still desperately wants to finish her education, but how does an orphaned female in the third world dare to achieve any dream except getting married?
I was crawling on the floor, trying to count my breath slowly and hurry. It is my exclusive moment where I stitch my poetry piece. The very last time when I contemplate myself as a baby with a wide mouth and curious eyes. And the hours pass heavily, my poor heart couldn’t bear any more. Yes, it is me, the funniest creature you ever saw, the ocean which walks on two feet, and that idiot elephant which bitterly wishes to fit the latest crazy fashion. A mysterious voice escapes from the ticking of my watch, the voice haunts me, but my soul with a harsh weapon here in the heart of my ears, all these secrets which nights hide very well, every secret scream in the silence of space: Who am I? And I join in their mourning with nonstop repetition: Who am I?
Amirah Al Wassif is a freelance writer, poet, and novelist. Five of her books were written in Arabic and her English works have been published in magazines around the globe such as Praxis Magazine, A Gathering of the Tribes, Credo, and many others. She has two published books in English: a collection of poetry, For Those Who Don’t Know Chocolate, and a children’s book, The Cocoa Boy and Other Stories. Her English literary creative works have been translated into Spanish, Arabic, Hindi, and Kurdish.