I imagined [hoped beyond hope] you would have your paternal grandfather’s striking blue eyes. I knew my genetics but still convinced myself buried in my Tafili DNA were recessive blue genes from the Arabian Peninsula that skipped a hundred generations for my child.
It was not that long ago when I shared a heartfelt congratulatory post on your high school graduation. Uncharacteristically, the sermon was not too soppy. I was especially proud of this thoughtful, deep piece of advice: “Wear flats. They will keep you on the dance floor,” typed while my sore feet were bleeding from a late night in painfully uncomfortable heels. The more I thought about it, the more brilliant I saw myself. How lucky you were to choose a wise mother to walk you through life’s tribulations, especially hard when you have brown skin and non-blue eyes, was the general theme of the time.
That was a life-time ago. And I am not brilliant. You are the wise one. And you walk me through life’s suffocating weight.
Also, the congratulations on your university graduation are really owed to me. My feet are blister-free, resting comfortably in flat shoes. My heart is alive, sad but also full, throbbing with hope I thought I lost.
I finally understand.
My precious, generous child,
I prayed for blue eyes and got the gift of mirrors. Gently and patiently, with the weight of thousands of years of wisdom holding you up, you have given me lifetimes of education. “Mabrouk” to me on this monumental passage.
Mabrouk to all of us.
Your non-blue eyes have reflected back to me everything I needed to see to fully exist: my biases, my homophobia, my fears and my bypassing. Your generation only needed to be. That’s all. In your being, you have softly illuminated our misguided beliefs, the careless and often thoughtless language we use, and the hopelessness and helplessness that have paralyzed us. Your wise old soul makes me —us— think.
In your being, you continued to reflect back to me how blind I was to my own racism both around our kitchen table and public spaces in the “peace-loving” Arab world. Soon after I prayed for peace and mercy for all five times a day, I would ask our housekeeper to call the “Egyptian” to pick up some leftovers for his dinner because I am compassionate and peaceful and will go out of my way to show I am clearly committed to the All Lives Matter narrative.
After obviously some badly needed introspection, you gifted me the wisdom of silence. And contemplation.
I was also scared, mostly because I felt unworthy to be your parent.
It is not the water and the [plant] compost that grow a tree. It is your roots.They are as old as humanity and as unstoppable as justice. They rise from the bosom of God.
I watched 23-year-old Muna Al Kurd last night speak so eloquently and passionately about the plight of her family and the other 27 families threatened with expulsion from their homes since 1972. It was not sympathy for her plight or the painful injustice of world-sanctioned terrorism and theft that made me cry. It was pride.
She is you. I saw those mirrors in her eyes too; divine beauty bluer than the bluest of oceans.
You are her.
Every night when I close my eyes, my mind immediately settles on the image of the Palestinian girl your sister’s age. I call her Amal (hope). Her beautiful face glows under the colourless boot of a brutal occupier. I call him Jaban (coward). She cannot breathe. Her life matters. Her cause is liberation. And she forever stands in solidarity with all liberation movements across the world.
Congratulations to me and to every parent of Amal’s, Muna’s, and Karima’s moving mountains today. We have been taught lessons on resilience, inclusion, and true compassion.
I thought liberation for Palestine was hoping beyond hope. I did not realize hope was suckling on my bosom all along.
P.S. You still need to cut your nails. And keep your home tidy. Your procrastination drives me crazy.