Summers at Home | Hala Abdullah

Published as part of “The Gendered Economy: Between the Constant and the Changing” which was held on August 25, 2016 at Coffee Republic in Riffa. 

Nothing grows here in the summer.
The trees, once tall and proud now
droop over sideways, sunburnt and
dizzy with delirium. The birds have
forgotten how to sing; too tired to
tweet their favorite symphonies.
Nothing grows here in the summer.
Even the buildings shrink with the
heat, for once despising their near-
ness to the sky. They don’t look
up to pray anymore: their heads
hanging down avoiding god.
Nothing grows here in the summer.
The grass has learnt that and every
year shrivels in anticipation. And
the flowers: they hang themselves
from their branches – would rather
take matters into their own hands.
Nothing grows here. Mostly in the
summer, but oftentimes the whole
year through. The stench of still-
ness fills the air and drowns our
lungs in stagnation. We have all
gotten used to it. Ask anyone.
Nothing grows here in the summer.
My spine, once tall and proud now
droops downwards. My body shrinks
with the heat. My lungs are filled with
waiting for a better day, but my
head hangs loose from my shoulders-
I’ve gotten used to it. Oftentimes
it lasts the whole year through.
Nothing grows here – the law
strictly forbids it – no matter
our efforts. Now we’ve put our
gardening tools away, and our
bird-houses, and we are no longer
fascinated with tall buildings or
pretty flowers. Nothing grows here,
we’ve learned. So even our dreams
we’ve learned to nip quietly in the bud
before anyone sees them..


Hala Abdullah is a poet and a feminist from Saudi Arabia. She is the founder and is currently the co-president of the Writing Club in Riyadh – a project that aims to help young men and women find their voice through writing. You can read more of Hala’s writing on her website (http://7alaabdullah.com) and follow her on Twitter at @7allo.
حلا عبدالله شاعرة ونسويّة من المملكة العربية السعودية، أسست وترأست رئاسة نادي الكتابة بالرياض وهو مشروع يهدف إلى مساعدة الشباب والشابات في إيجاد أصواتهم/ن عن طريق الكتابة. يمكنك قراءة المزيد من كتاباتها على موقعها والتواصل معها عبر حسابها على تويتر.

Reply (or ‘to anyone who has ever told me to “man up”‘)

by Hala Abdullah

 لكل من قال لي “ترجّلِ

بقلم حلا عبدالله


 

To everyone who has ever asked me to “man up”:

please,

take another fucking look at me.

I am all woman,
all double-x,
all lower-your-voice,
all cover-yourself,
all flash-a-smile,
be delicate,
all survival,
survival,
all surviving,
all fight.

In my conditioned silence all I had been
fighting
for years
is my own instinct.

Every feeling of inferiority planted underneath
my skin.

But I will no longer be victim to this.

I will no longer be subjected to the
sickening degradation of my sex.

I am more than this.

I am centuries of women being beaten up
and burnt at the stakes,
the silent screams held behind their
clenched teeth,
I am the black and blue circles on their
covered faces,
the reincarnation of every girl buried
before ever being able to breathe,

I am the woman I will teach my daughter to be
and I too, promise to not be silenced.

Will not have my gender dragged through the
mud in the name of their righteousness.

We know we are more than this.

But the men in my country have thrown us into open
graves.

Like their ancestors before them, they have
found it best to stifle our whimpers before
they grew into screams.

But I have been clawing my way out of dirt
for so long and I will not rest until I feel
the sun on my face again,

until I am standing on the same steady ground
that they parade on so full of feigned piety.

I am coming back for all the rights that were
dragged away from me.

Before you tell me to “man up”,

know that my womanhood has been stolen away
from me.

Has been turned into something
so perverse,
so wrung with evil,

I had spent years wishing I wasn’t so unholy,

but I’m taking it back.

I do not wish to be anything other than what
I am,

so believe me when I tell you that I will never
“man” up.

I will reclaim the force of my gender,

Realize the holiness of my existence,
rekindle the ashen fires of my passions.

I am a woman reclaiming the sacredness of the
disgraced term

“woman”.

So the next time you want to remind me of my strength,
tell me of our history. Of the women who have waged wars
against all this ignorance before me.

The next time you want to remind me of my strength,

don’t you dare tell me to “man up”.

Just remind me that:

I am all woman,
all double-x, all oestrogen,

I am a force to be reckoned with,
a movement within myself,

all woman,
all power,
all power,
all power.


 

Hala Abdullah

Hala Abdullah is a poet and a feminist from Saudi Arabia. She is the founder and is currently the co-president of the Writing Club in Riyadh – a project that aims to help young men and women find their voice through writing. You can read more of Hala’s writing on her website (http://7alaabdullah.com) and follow her on Twitter at @7allo.

حلا عبدالله شاعرة ونسويّة من المملكة العربية السعودية. حلا مؤسسة ونائبة رئيس نادي الكتابة بالرياض وهو مشروع يهدف إلى مساعدة الشباب والشابات إيجاد صوتهم من خلال الكتابة. يمكنك قراءة المزيد من كتاباتها على موقعها والتواصل معها عبر صفحتها على تويتر