Thursday, January 2, 2020

Your daughters

We are the women in black. Your namesakes. We grew up soaking in your stories. We'd write you letters, sealed in glass bottles, taken to the river. And when they asked us to draw our role models, it was always you. Sometimes with others, five under a cloak, sometimes alone. Yellow crayons used to capture you shining bright stained our fingers.

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680 AD, Damascus

You stand in the court of Yazid, ruler of the Ummayad Caliphate. To say that you have just been through a difficult journey is an understatement. Yet here you are, despite everything. Or because of it.

I think of all the images that would've flashed in your mind. Images that would've haunted you for every day after that morning. And I think of your sixteen-day long journey to Damascus. Taken captive, with all the newly-orphaned children who had only you to look up to.

They tell us you were consistently kind. That you remembered to ask the others how they were doing, that you took turns to speak to each child through their confusion. That you tried to avert their eyes from looking at the severed heads of their loved ones, held on spikes at the front of the caravan.
When your caravan reached the city of Damascus, you saw celebrations. People didn't know, fake news goes that far back. But you were about to change it all. You were about to let everyone know of the seventy two who laid their lives down and stood up to a corrupt leader. Saved our faith by making it plain as day where the truth lies.

And now you stand tall, facing the man responsible. The ruler of the so-called Islamic Caliphate and his group of leering, sneering men. He thinks he has taken everything away from you. At some point, Yazid asks his men who "the arrogant woman is". You answer "Why are you asking them? Ask me. I'll tell you."

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632 AD, Medina

It's been a difficult year for you. When your father passed away, people began behaving very differently. First, they wouldn't let you mourn him. "Her weeping is too loud," they said. Then the men came holding torches, threatening to burn your house down. It was your husband, they said. He had to pledge allegiance to the new Caliph, acknowledge his authority. Then they took away your land, Fadak. A piece of land gifted to you by your father. They tried to make excuses, saying it was an inheritance which you weren't entitled to.

It wasn't even about the land to you. You had bigger things on your mind when you set out to speak in front of them. They call women emotional, but it was you who responded to angry men carrying torches with calm, eloquent, powerful words. You stood there and gave beautiful praises to our Creator. You spoke out, loud and clear, on what had wrongfully been taken from you. Probably knowing full well how history will later be twisted to bury this. And you ended with the haunting words, Act, and we too act, and wait, indeed, we too are waiting.

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We are the women in black. We yearn to be your daughters, we want anything you can give us. A crumb of your unwavering strength. A crumb of your empowering modesty. A crumb of the wisdom in your words. A crumb of what made you bow down in the face of all your adversity and say
I see nothing but beauty.




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