For Omar

There are 168 people who have been away from their homes for 11 Ramadhans.

There is a young man who was taken away from his home when he was 15. Just 15.

I know how I was when I was 15. I had fallen in love with life at 15, I had snapped myself out of it at 15, I found peace, truth and love at 15.

As I write this my hands are shaking. I do not know how I can manage writing 168 letters to the 168 prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, but I will try. That is promise.

Do you know how heartbeats get lost in the sound of these screams? Do you wonder what it is like to not be allowed to see your mother’s face?

You don’t. You haven’t been where they are. You haven’t been in captivity for as long as they have. You have a bed you can plop onto and fall asleep in within minutes. You have a table where you can sit and turn around with the comfort of knowing that you will find your father reading a newspaper. You have a school which as much as you miss you know you will return to. And soon. You have friends you can visit by hopping onto the next rickshaw. They don’t. Not now, not there.

I know you wonder why I think of these things. You are scared for me. You think I could get harmed by involving myself in projects such as For Ramadan, Write to the Forgotten Prisoners in Guantánamo. You are scared, I know. I understand.

If there was some way to rip my heart from my sleeve and hand it to you so that you may hold it up to the light and see the truth in these words, I would have done it by now. I am years from where I was at 15. Finding a home in a ruin has been embedded since a long time ago, but the knowledge that there are those who die and live in cold, unfriendly and toxic atmospheres is what stings. The old wounds which I had tied up so gently are all reawakening. The need to write has returned. That you had been avoiding it is nothing short of pointless.

They call it “paroxysms of moral outrage, a Canadian specialty” – but we’d rather have that than this sickening level of double standards.

I want to sometimes scream across a rooftop that I am done here, that I have had enough. That this world can hurt so bad, and that there is nothing left for me to express hope over.

But that would be wrong.

As long as there is a new dawn, you can hope. Yes it may seem ridiculous and stupid and outrageously naive but you can hope.


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