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To my yet-to-be-conceived daughter.
When they tell you that you have a void in your pants in place of your independence, you will tell them that your independence lies in the creases of your fingertips and at the tip of your tongue.
When they tell you that there’s a bulge in your chest in place of your freedom, you will tell them that freedom beats at a steady lub dub beneath your ribs.
When they tell you that you are a forbidden entity and bound you to chains shaped by their sick society, you will tell them you are as holy as a baby’s first breath.
When they tell you that you are one third of your male counterpart, you will tell them that your head will always be held as high as your brothers’.
Never sheepish, never hesitant.
You will be stronger than a lightening bolt. You will not be blind. You will wave away diamond rings and find your own shine. You will marry your dreams and solemnly swear I do to the stars nestled behind your eyelids. You will be fearless.
Your passionate nature will not disable you. The length of your hair will not define you. The curves of your silhouette will not make or unmake you. Your voice will be as loud as a lioness’s roar. Your hands will always keep slaving away for more. For better.
You will be better. You will not be afraid; you will not depend on luck or your ancestors’ names. You will not be degraded; you will not stand down. You will make something of yourself and always stand your ground. You will never know what it means to be thought of as “less”
– like I did. Like my mother and my sisters did.
My little girl, promise me that you will never be silenced. Swear that you will never allow your tribe’s honor to burden your back. And when the whole world rests on your shoulders, never allow your knees to kiss the floor. Invite it in wholly. Let it sink into your skin. It will disappear in shame once it sees the universes you hold within.
I don’t know you yet. And we may never get to meet.
But I know that if you come to be, you will get to bathe in your own brilliance. You will dress yourself in grace. You will care more about your future than the color of your nails.
I will watch you soar up into the sky using wings you’ve built up all on your own. You will show everyone that there is wisdom in your voice; not shame, and that there is beauty in your face; not disgrace. I will build you up with bricks I’ve had thrown at my face.
I will teach you to be human. I will teach you to be kind.
I will give you all the strength in me that I have had to hide.
And when they feed you hideous lies, darling, and when they tell you that you are a diamond or a pearl in their eyes, tell them that’s not what you want to be.
Tell them your mother taught you that you are a woman.
Hala Abdullah is a twenty-something spoken word poet and a feminist from Saudi Arabia. She has founded and is currently the co-president of the Writing Club in Riyadh – a project that aims to help young men and women find their voice through writing.