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AP Photo/Heba Khamis
The funeral procession of Shaimaa el-Sabagh.
POETRY

The activist killed in Tahrir Square on Jan. 25 was a poet—here’s one of her works

Shaimaa El-Sabbagh
By Shaimaa El-Sabbagh

Shaimaa El-Sabbagh, the activist who was shot dead at a rally in Tahrir Square on Jan. 25, was also a poet. Here is one of her works, translated into English by Maged Zaher.

مش عارفة

هيَّ صحيح مش أكتر من شنطة

بس لما ضاعت كان فيه مشكلة

إزاي أواجه العالم من غيرها

خصوصًا

والشوارع حافظانا سوا

المحلات عارفاها أكتر مني

إكمن هيَّ اللي بتحاسب

عارفة ريحة عرقي وحابّاها

عارفة المواصلات

وعاملة علاقة مع السواقين

حافظة الأجرة

ودايمًا جراب للفكّة

مرّة اشتريت برفان ما عجبهاش

كبّته كله ورفضت إني أستعمله

على فكرة

هيَّ كمان بتحب عيلتي

ودايما كانت شايلة صورة

لكل واحد بتحبه

ياترى هيَّ عاملة إيه دلوقت

حاسّة بالخوف!

قرفانة من ريحة عرق حد ما تعرفهوش!

متضايقة من الشوارع الجديدة!

لو وقفت على محل من المحلات اللي روحناها سوا

هتعجبها نفس الحاجة!

على العموم هيَّ معاها مفتاح الشقة

وانا مستنياها.

A letter in my purse

I am not sure
Truly, she was nothing more than just a purse
But when lost, there was a problem
How to face the world without her
Especially
Because the streets remember us together
The shops know her more than me
Because she is the one who pays
She knows the smell of my sweat and she loves it
She knows the different buses
And has her own relationship with their drivers
She memorizes the ticket price
And always has the exact change
Once I bought a perfume she didn’t like
She spilled all of it and refused to let me use it
By the way
She also loves my family
And she always carried a picture
Of each one she loves

What might she be feeling right now
Maybe scared?
Or disgusted from the sweat of someone she doesn’t know
Annoyed by the new streets?
If she stopped by one of the stores we visited together
Would she like the same items?
Anyway, she has the house keys
And I am waiting for her

This post originally appeared at Arablit.org. The arabic version is from Kataba.org.