Belong, A Poem

standing with a mic in hand

I’ll get just about six hours of sleep if I manage to finish writing this quicker than I usually do. See, sometimes the words show up at the worst times possible. As I’m sat on my work desk tomorrow, I’ll both lament my missed hours of sleep and profusely thank my writer-self for hopefully having written something. Regardless, only for the sake of some reduction in the dark circles under my eyes, I’ll get straight to the point.

The past Monday at Tech Nottingham, I was facing an audience reading one of the first poems I wrote in 2016 as a fresh-faced International first year student in Nottingham, having traveled from then-home, Saudi Arabia. I promise you, I didn’t mean to do a lightning talk…but I have some friends whose encouragement seems to always get to me. Sure enough, next minute you know, I’m up reading a poem from the notes app of my broken-screen phone.

The poem is rather a simple and honest one.

I last read it in front of about 9 people, 3 years ago.

Even today, my hands seem to quiver once I reach the last sentence.

I like to call it, Belong.

i come from a country i didn’t grow up in
so if you ask me to name streets or
some pre-historic shops
that sold antiques or sweets
i will nod and tell you this:

i know the alley where
my grandfather built
his home
a not-at-all-posh place
once surrounded by grass
up till here
but now, bustling with
3 story unplanned buildings
built by the sons and daughters
of my grandfather’s friends,
so their offspring could
inherit a nest the size of a palace
lacking the superficial
status, the grandeur
gates replaced
by metal ones with
un-oiled hinges
so they creak so loud now
it’s considered street music

and i know
the vegetable man
and his kart
and his struggle
even today to
a vegetable man
he who screams
the 9 different
types of exquisite
in 9 different well-practiced
that jolt you awake
into an hypnotic
need to buy
dusty potatoes,

don’t even
get me started
on the kulfi
man, kulfi being
a cone shaped
frozen dairy dessert
kind of like an ice cream
if ice cream was justin biebs
and kulfi was Beyoncé.
so many days
I’ve chased the tune
that played from the kulfi
man’s kulfi
making machine,
and i know this sounds crazy
but i can hear it
with these ears
like some epic
movie soundtrack
for a backdrop
of someone
who’s found
home in a
place they didn’t
even grow up in.

Yet, I’m grateful
to my parents
and their decision
to leave a place
they did grow up in
just so they
could provide
better for me

and honestly,
this day’s quite special
standing here
even further away
from that alley

is proof they succeeded.
In fact, coming to the UK,
feels like i’m in space
and though physically
there’s more distance

the farther you go
the more home tugs
at you

and trust me,

home is a stubborn feeling.

it doesn’t need you to name shops or streets

it just knows you belong.

Until next time.


👈 Head back?