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– « I don’t know where Morocco is, but if you ride a camel and go south, the wind and the stars will lead you », « Oh and in if it’s urgent, you can always ride a flying carpet »
We all laughed, my answer was funny, we all laughed and in our laughter we shared the same ignorance and in our shared ignorance we were equal. I laughed and I made the others laugh, Today was about belonging and humiliation.
I’ve told you before that I barely know my country, I shake to the idea of defining where I come from, I feel vague and confused, but no one else knows.
Somewhere in my memory is where I come from.
My fractured sense of belonging brings me back to hide amid the crowds of children, I need to learn, I will always be a hesitant child torn between and between.
Sometimes I remember that I am accused of high treason by the same people who stole my identity, my heart shakes. It’s hard to imagine that you could be shaped and shamed by the same culture.
If the Arab identity was a puzzle, mine is made of memories, of beliefs, of
confrontations , of history classes, of religion and most importantly, of songs.
My childhood is a middle eastern song, in which God and romance and the land sound the same. Children don’t know about Jurji Zeiden nor Gamal Abdel Nasser, children don’t know about 1958, children cannot imagine the great islamic empire, children cannot believe the existence of a great God who bordered them with the Atlantic Ocean in the west and with the Indian Ocean in the east , just so they exist in the center of the world.
But Children know Oum Kalthoum and Abdel Halim and Warda and Sabah.
‘’ One beautiful word, tow beautiful words
Beautiful like you my country
One beautiful song, tow beautiful songs
Beautiful like you my country ‘’
Today I listen to the same songs again and I watch them with new eyes, I can’t help but find them European, very European , my dear songs were not mine alone, they
don’t resemble my childhood, I realise that I grew to resemble them, it took me time, it had to die.
Every song took me a little further from the elemental glory of nature, every year I died a little more, more quite, the songs never stopped playing.
My heroes were young men and beautiful women, dressed in tuxedos and evening wear , singing in harmony about people’s anger, singing about revolution.
I liked the songs immediately, without a thought. Hollywood’s magic is the most potent kind and it despises thinking.
But I know now that the singers couldn’t fight and couldn’t flee, so they were frozen in fear, they were floating in a surreal bubble, a world they created from naive youth
for naive youth; a great free united Arab nation, an illusion.
The songs lyrics are in Arabic, and it’s the only way you could recognise that it’s a production of the region. Speaking Arabic makes you an Arab then, the language can be an identity itself.
My identity is fractured beyond healing but there is beauty and sooth in the thought of coming from my mother tongue.
Does speaking fluently Spanish makes me Spanish then ? Will I become British and American and Australian and Canadian if I spoke English perfectly? Who knows?
‘’ Beautiful are our flags
Beautiful is our victory
Beautiful is our unity
A melody that resonates between tow oceans
From Marrakech to the Bahrein
In Yemen and Damascus and Jeddah
The same song for the same unity
The unity of the Arab people
My beloved nation, my great nation ’’