My Father’s Torch

“Baba turn off Aljazeera”
She was five years old
As she pleaded her request
Cycle growing old

“Baba no more Aljazeera”
She sought to feel joy
Merriment and happiness
News she could enjoy

But Aljazeera remained king
Her father’s eyes glued
Falasteen Sooriya Ordon
Naught else could intrude

So she left to play on her own
Curious but young
She was too small to understand
So she held her tongue

But she vowed to discover why
She had to compete
With the folks of Bilaad ash-Sham
Dad now a rare treat

“Baba what’s on Aljazeera?”
He surprised she asked
Took his daughter onto his lap
Filled the holes at last

He painted a vibrant picture
Wove her a grand tale
About the land of olive trees
From which he had hailed

Robbed of an earthly paradise
By men filled with hate
Representing the Haganah
1948

Al-Naksa robbed them once more and
Only God knew when
They could return to their balad
Year ‘67

They set up tents just in time for
The birth of their fourth
And Zarqa, Jordan their new home
City to the north

“Baba, when’s Aljazeera on?”
Became her new plea
She’d watch the clock hands eagerly
For 8, 12, and 3.

After some time she’d wait alone
Watch in solitude
He too distracted to engage
Or so she’d conclude

So she asked her father one night
Why he’d given up
Was her interest just not enough?
Was it too grown-up?

She begged, much to her dad’s chagrin
No want to respond
And with her father’s hesitance
Upon her it dawned

His interest lost as she’d found hers
Not because of her
But because he’d rethought where his
Priorities were

Three open bellies, bills to pay
Less time on the news
And more time on earthly affairs
Hard for him to choose

Concern not fully abandoned
Rather set aside
Until his work load had lessened
His time he would bide

“Baba, guess what I heard on
Aljazeera today?”
Four years past since his fire had dimmed
All but put away

Eyebrows raised, expression amused
He addressed his girl
“Funny how you’re still so interested
In this twisted world.”

“But Baba, you said so yourself!
Insha’Allah freedom
For Palestine and her people
Safe from their demons.”

Her father scoffed and shook his head
“Don’t you see, binti?
Stubborn as mules, no direction
Fooled you, didn’t we?”

“We Arabs,” he went on to say
“Fight with ourselves, so
What makes you think we’ll fix our faults?
Forego our egos?”

She stepped back to try and process
The remark he’d made
Her father’s image now tarnished
Hope starting to fade

So she retreated to her room
For sanity’s sake
So she could decide for herself
The path she would take

Five years’ time, and bygones are gone
She’s found her own way
Reading writing calling educating
None leads her astray

She set herself a goal in life
Armed to see it out
Believed in a freed Palestine
Despite Baba’s doubt

And Baba? Baba came around
Skeptical but kind
Seeing his girl’s fiery passion
Slowly changed his mind

He still shook his head at ev’ry
Political head
But knew his daughter would carry
On the fight ahead

No longer disillusioned, he
Passed her the baton
Fully confident, he told her
“You are the new dawn.”

“My work finished, yours just begun
So make me proud, dear.
Forgive me for my lack of faith
And past need to sneer

“Do me one favor, habibti
Talk to me, because
Despite disagreement, I’ll
Always support your cause.”

So she then relished each chance to
Turn to him and say
“Baba, guess I heard on
Aljazeera today?”

 

Dedicated to my father, a refugee from Surif, and to all disillusioned former fighters

Amal Ali

Amal Ali is an American-born Palestinian, with roots tracing back to villages in al-Khalil and al-Quds. She is a second-year undergraduate student and leader in SJP at UC Riverside, and works with several local organizations dedicated to activism and outreach education about Palestine. Amal tweets here

Comments

  1. very moving…

  2. keep up the good work amal
    palestain will be free soon inshallah ( allah ykhalik baba )

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