The Red Djinn who lives in the shadows

Israel/Palestine
on 1 Comments

when sitti tugs on her infinite yellow apron
Malak’s heart goes:
Babum
Babum
Babum
sitti bellows:
YA Malak!
sounding like the night sirens
right before the jets come raining down!!!!
that’s when Malak knows it is time for dinner
her palms slimy and clammy
like the stubborn little fish baba catches for Friday lunch
Babum…
Babum…
Babum…
tears run down Malak’s ardent face
a face too young and too old
has had much too much
training at turning
inwards and away
from unpleasant sights
sitti makes Malak bring cucumbers
from the dark kitchen
for dinner
night after night
over and over
again and again
Babum…
Babum…
Babum…
Malak pleads and pleads
for clemency
“Please sitti!
i’m afraid
don’t send me
to the dark kitchen
the Red Djinn
will kidnap me
please sitti
don’t make me go
to the dark kitchen
The Red Djinn
is waiting in the shadows
to take me far away
where no one will find me!”
please sitti
Babum…
Babum…
Babum…
pursing her lips together
while loosening the olive jar
sitti points
to the dark kitchen
with a coy smile
Babum…
Babum…
Babum…
Malak runs as fast as she can
faster
than the fear in her legs
faster
than her mental math
that has earned her the top rank in the class
faster
than fear itself
Babum…
Babum…
Babum…
away from a battalion of shadows
beautiful/treacherous candles
that turned the children of al-Shati into
eternal flames
Babum…
Babum…
Babum…

Author’s Note: The Red Djinn who lives in the shadows was inspired by a Facebook post about Deir al-Balah, Gaza.  It is a photo of stark darkness with a few specs of lights as if distant stars of another galaxy.   The Palestinian residents have been getting only a few hours of electricity a day according to Gisha, as noted in the post.

I contacted my facebook friend for an interview; I felt as if his post had fallen on deaf ears, hence the metaphor of Gaza.  I then called his family in Gaza and spoke to them and in particular with his seven-year-old daughter who in her young life has only known wars and sieges. The poem is inspired by those narratives.
About Aida Qasim

Aida Qasim is a Palestinian American social worker.

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One Response

  1. Boo
    May 6, 2017, 8:42 am

    We pray that soon Gaza will tug on her infinite yellow apron of light
    That there will always be cool cucumbers for lunch
    And always a hot filling dinner
    Prepared in a bright happy kitchen where no djinns dwell.

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