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Al-Aqsa’s Letter to a Palestinian Mother

Aiman Rahman

You were always too generous in the kitchen

Kneading a taboon here, frying a falafel there

What is it I hear these days?

Is it your watermelons that stain the streets of Rimal?

The beetle-eye seeds that you flicked pelting the children of Jabalia?

The crescent rind you left that helmets the head of Beit Hanoon’s plunderer?

You wouldn’t even dream of it, you say?

I agree—you couldn't even chase off a caramel cat sitting in my courtyard

Besides, you were besieged by other dreams as you knelt by my olive tree

You were concocting other recipes;

Tricks and measures to salvage the embroidered napkin made by your daughter

(O Amm, she left you a final crimson flower on its border; disregard its likeness to your flesh)

Or, the trail of white marbles beelining to your son’s whereabouts

(O Amm, weep not if they turn out to be his crystallized tears; only angels leave rungs to heaven)

Or, your father’s chequered keffiyeh rustling in the deserted Al-Zahra streets

(O Amm, adorn it with pride; he left you a prayer crouching within its folds)

Or, your mother’s ashen fist wrapped around the bronze key passed down by a line of mothers

(O Amm, be gentle as you pry it into your own hand; you’re holding the weight of 75 years)

Scooping olives in your scarf, you were too busy dreaming

Yearning for a family feasting under the olive tree

And you standing right next to me

Artwork by Maryam Baniasadi


Aiman Rahman is a published literature aficionado who has written for The Aleph Review, The Galliard International Review and others publications. An English graduate from LUMS and a former Erasmus+ICM student, Aiman is almost as enamoured with literature, writing and editing as she is with binge-watching TV shows and going on long, introspective walks. Her personal research focuses on Turkish literature and modernism. She has served as an English tutor at the LUMS Learning and Mentoring Center and a writing specialist at a consulting company. She is currently working on a historical fiction novel. You can catch Aiman tucked away in a corner reading Tennessee Williams or sipping boba tea(s).

Maryam Baniasadi is an Iranian artist based in Lahore and is a graduate of the National College of Arts (Lahore). She has displayed her work in Pakistan, Iran and elsewhere. Maryam also teaches short courses and has undertaken residencies in Europe.


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