From my tears to yours, Baba

by Aqeela Naqvi

in this world
there are fathers
who love their daughters
and daughters
who love their fathers

(but none have loved each other
like you have loved me, Baba
like I have loved you, Baba)

there are fathers
who protect the hearts of their daughters
and daughters
who soothe the hearts of their fathers
two hearts loving another endlessly
but our hearts exist differently than this
they are not two – but existed always as one
(for I am your heart, Baba
and you are my heart, Baba)

there are fathers
who smile when looking at their daughters
and daughters
whose eyes light up when seeing their fathers
after absences meeting again with a tender embrace
but for us there is no need of ‘meeting again’
because even when we’re apart we are still together
(for with eyes closed you still see my smile, Baba
and in your absence I still smell your fragrance, Baba)

there are fathers
who tuck their daughters into bed
and daughters
who fall asleep to their father’s lullabies
each bidding farewell until the dawn of a new day
but with the moon as my witness,
the night has never seen our farewells
(because I am even the laughter of your dreams, Baba
for my head rests on your chest when I sleep, Baba)

in this world
there are fathers
who love their daughters
and daughters
who love their fathers

but none have loved like we have
isn’t that right, Baba?

Baba?

do you hear me calling you, Baba?
why don’t you answer me, Baba?

anytime I would call your name
whether in the early hours of morning
or silent depths of night
you would respond,
I am right by your side, my daughter
but where are you now, Baba?

the night is so cold in this desert
your arms used to keep me warm
but now I stand here alone in shivers
gazing at a forlorn and starless sky
where is the warmth of your embrace, Baba?
don’t you hear the gasping of my breaths, Baba?

the desert floor is unyielding and hard
no matter which way my small body turns
my mother calls me to sleep by her side
but it’s by your side I want to lay
where is the sweetness of your chest, Baba?
I weep all through the night, Baba…

the fire’s tongue is hot against my skin
around me the tents are falling to ash
everyone is running far from its heat
but I am too small and can’t run as fast
you used to carry me in your arms, Baba
why don’t you come save me from this blaze, Baba?

strange men look at me with a cruel gaze
their twisted smiles send fear through my skin
I hide behind ‘Amati Zaynab when they are near
she is strong and her voice drives them away
but she and I both miss your voice, Baba
why won’t you come to protect us, Baba?

they are making us walk through the streets
and people are laughing as we pass by, Baba

they throw dust and stones in our direction
don’t they know whose children we are, Baba?

they taunt us with my brother Ali Akbar’s head on a spear
don’t they know that face is the face of the Prophet, Baba?

they treat us like prisoners then hurry to prayer
calling adhaan with our grandfather’s name, Baba…

as they take us into dungeons won’t you hear my cries
won’t you answer your sweet daughter, Baba?
existence without you is ripping me to shreds
why did you leave me here all alone, Baba?

I call ‘I miss you’ so they bring me your head on a plate
and I scream and kiss your face
wishing for your kiss once more —

but there is blood on your lips, Baba
how could they take you from me, Baba
(they’ve ripped my heart from my chest, Baba…)

*Baba – father

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