As the intensified aggression in Gaza continues for 40 days and counting, I can’t help but question what our world has done for my people as I sit in the comfort of my own home as a Palestinian living in Australia. We owe the people of Palestine an apology for our silence and for our ignorance. This one is for my family in Gaza, to those still alive and those that are with Allah SWT as a result of this genocide. One day I’ll get to visit my homeland, for “Free Palestine” is not a wish but a promise. For now however, I can’t help but ask for forgiveness, and only such a small portion can be captured in a writing like this. The poem “Forgive Us” reads:

Forgive us.

I didn’t figure the message I’d wake up to be was an apology from Gaza.

“Please forgive us if we don’t make it to the morning” the message from khalto read 

We are the people who owe you an apology, albi ya filasteen

 

Society has failed you my love 

How can I bare to look you in the eyes?

How can I breathe with my right lung without my left? 

The left one dying from the smell of death 

Wafting to us from the other side of the world 

Yet somehow- 

‘Neutrals’ still have their eyes blind, 

Masks on 

The ones that shield them from the wafting scent of apartheid 

 

Society has failed you my love

We left the doorbell that you keep ringing unanswered 

We hear it; I promise 

We see the pain in your eyes; I promise

We see you losing lives; I promise

We see the blood of your own on your hands; I promise

A promise made too late.

 

And silence. 

Not the peaceful type 

More like the loud rumbles that constantly play in your head 

The one that makes you wish more like you were dead 

And I’ll blow out my birthday candles for another year 

My birthday wish always: a free Palestine 

 

“Forgive us” she said 

My auntie doesn’t know that the world owes her country an apology 

My country that I call home 

The country I have not seen in 11 years 

Will I ever see it again? 

The country of whose watermelons I have not eaten in 11 years

Will I ever eat them again?   

The country whose msakhan and waft of onions you can smell from Haifa all the way from Gaza

Will I ever dare smell it again?

The olive trees whose roots ground the soil

Will we ever see an olive season again?

The country that bears my family; grandmother, cousins, aunts, uncles

Relatives that I ask Baba “who are they?” When I hear their names

Will they ever live for us to see each other for the first time?

 

“My righteous servants shall inherit the land” (21:105)

A promise made by the Lord himself

A promise made earlier than the promises of today

The day will come albi

 

I promise to see the olive trees rooted in the ground again

I promise to eat the msakhan teta makes 

I promise to memorise every one of my relatives names

I promise we will open the door with the same key we left in 1948

For “free Palestine” is not a wish, but a promise.

 

Lujane Elwan