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from Daughter Baraka to mother Eve

I am writing to you now without putting my right hand on my chest, quivering from cold and grief. I don’t cry any more, Mom, just hide under our destroyed table, count my breath, a very long time holding my dirty cotton doll, watching the footsteps of the hurry passengers on our crowded road. As usual, I am putting my mad eyes into the wide openings of our ragged tent, waiting to catch someone’s eyes, perhaps seeing those eyes 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 her baby’s belly to make her laughing, but in spite of her great job, her baby still crying. I am writing to you with a flushed dirty face and also a delicious confusion which make me whisper through the long hours of the day and night like an immigrant bird. 

It is my dearest confusion of my whole life as a woman who decided to write with her foot. Everybody here in my world 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 seriously to catch my inner secret, they 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 in the case of they saw it, they will discover immediately my secret, they will know the only answer of “how a woman dare writing with her foot?” 

If you are a writer, there will be a weird rumor, never leave you, based upon some upper 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 crawled on the earth. If you are a writer, you may see the shadow of William Shakespeare every midnight above your head explain 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 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 the rosy dreams and all I know is scratching the trash cans every night. And about my pillow, it is not surprising to be a haystack. When the honey downwatered 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, create my own imaginary world which doesn’t seem similar to my harsh fate. All my whole 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 do it, I ran away here in my imaginary world. I have 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 dreams to finish her education, but how an orphaned female in the third world dares to demand 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 see ever, the ocean which walks on two feet, and that idiot elephant which bitterly wish to fit the crazy fashion. There is a mysterious voice escaping away from the ticking of my watch, the voice haunted me, but my soul with a harsh weapon, here in the heart of my ears all these secrets which nights hide them very well, every secret scream in the silence of space Who am I? and I join in their mourning now with nonstop of repeating Who am I? 


Amirah Al Wassif is an Egyptian writer. Five of her books were written in Arabic and many of her English works have been published in international literary journals, including Praxis Magazine, A Gathering of Tribes, and The Bosphorus Review of Books. She has published two 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 work has been translated into Spanish, Arabic, Hindi, and Kurdish.

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