The Rev. Ateek recently met young Kareem and was impressed with his writing. Sabeel published part of Kareem’s poem in the summer issue of Cornerstone. Here is the full version of the poem:
A Ramadan Tale: Why I Starve (a slang poem)
by Kareem Sawalmeh, 8th grade
Friends Boys School, Ramallah
The other day I was walking when I found my brother smoking with his friends in Ramadan so I told him to come home for iftar and he said no and said just because you like to starve yourself doesn’t mean I have to…and one of his friends jumped up and asked: why do you guys starve yourselves anyways?
I starve because of how full I am, full of these blessings that I’m blessed with. I starve because of how blind we are, see although we can see very far it’s what’s put in front of our eyes that we’re blind to. See you and I we live the good life, we don’t have to struggle to survive and we don’t have to do much to feel alive…
but what’s inside, what’s inside is where the problem lies, no not what’s inside your stomach at the moment but what’s inside your heart and your mind. Now let me re-MIND you, even though you think you’re full you need this food more than I do, food for your thoughts that digest into your soul which you don’t have which is why you my friend you are starving, you’re starving from the lack of information you fail to receive from the media, see the media decides to hide it right in front of your eyes while they instead terrorize and victimize and then blame it on some other guys, you’re starving because you don’t even care about the other guys, you fail to sympathize or even recognize what’s happening to the other guys, wait wait wait…
let me ask you something: do you even know who I mean when I say the other guys? No, that’s why I starve. I starve because of the greed that has been installed in me for living so peacefully. I starve to get rid of this disease that consumes your heart and your mind and makes you think that everything in the world is just fine. Now I’m not trying to rhyme but please listen to this next line: us living like this is a damn crime, a crime that has been going on since the beginning of our time, a crime that when we commit instead of getting prostituted for we get rewarded, rewarded with commercialist communities, sex tapes and celebrities, luxurious amenities and killing each other for some heresies (type of drug), and last but not least the freedom that is life. I starve to remind myself of these blessings, I starve to forgive myself for over indulging while life offered me a taste of its sour apples, I starve to tame the ego that was created from within, I starve because I choose to not because I have to, I starve for the other guys.
Now you know why I starve but you still don’t know who the other guys are, do you? I starve for the forgotten souls out in Somalia, I starve for every drop of blood shed out by a kid in Syria, I starve for every tear shed out by a mother in Pakistan and for every bomb blown out in Afghanistan, I starve for the war the beloved Iraq had to go through before Barak and for every stone thrown by a fallen angel in Palestine, I starve for the tens of thousands of dead men, women and children out in Burma, it’s a public genocide of a whole nation that’s been kept silent!! (pause).
So now let me ask you, why are we dying to live while they’re just living to die.
That’s why I starve.