11 Years

For 11 years,
I have lived in this city of mine
My city of birth
I inhabit it as a stranger – as a guest –
as one who simply never lived there.

I have always been a stranger:
my speech always unfamiliar
my habits always particular.

These kids grew up together
but I never did…

I know so little about Fayha,
that sweet scent of orange trees –
to me, it’s simply a legend

The names of streets
beyond the one I live in,
I have only now begun to learn.

For 11 years,
I have lived in this city of mine
My city of birth
I inhabit it as an eccentric – as a mystery –
as one who suddenly appears
and just as suddenly – disappear

I have always been an eccentric:
my ideas always unrestrained
my thoughts always free

These kids learned to be afraid
but I never did…

I know so little of the danger
that awaits me and my thoughts –
to me, it’s simply superstition

The history of bloodshed,
the bribery of the poor by the rich
as one neighbor hugged another,
“Habibi! Please don’t shoot at my house”
I have only now begun to learn.

For 11 years,
I have lived in this city of mine
My city of birth
I inhabit it as a dreamer – as a sleepwalker –
as one who walks in a state of trance

I have always been a dreamer:
my imagination always alive
my head always cloudy

These kids learned to be “realistic”
but I never did…

I knows so little about entrepreneurship –
this talk of business and innovation.
To me, it’s simply a lie

This world of work hard and
you will one day be rich
I have only now begun to learn
is nothing but a lie
a lie designed to shift the blame –
from the corrupt
from the unscrupulous
from the lazy
from the conceited
from the murderers

to the incorruptible
to the scrupulous
to the motivated
to the honest
to the life-givers

For 11 years,
I have lived here as a stranger,
a guest, an eccentric, a mystery, a dreamer, and a sleepwalker –
I’m all of these things
and my home – my true home
is in
my head.

By Omar Jamal

Originally written 16 October, 2018

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