Their Joined Palms

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He’s a forgotten man, in tattered clothes, searching for his home.
High piles of trash line the road he walks.
His gaze shifts uneasily. This isn’t the country he remembers.

She’s a young girl, weaving through the crowded street, unnoticed.
Eying the heavy pockets of some,
her hand slips in and out, unseen.

He is starving, like he was starving the day
He rushed home, and gathered his family to escape
from a torn world, the only home they had known.

Powerful, meaty arms shoot out, latching onto her long, raven hair.
She yells, pummeling her fists into the strong body.
No one moves forward to help a caught thief.

An empty juice bottle lies forgotten on the cracked pavement.
Seized by an impossible hope, he taps its moisture into his hand, and licks.
All he savors is grit and sweat from the cracks of his palm.

She struggles, earning punches and kicks to her bony body.
A strong blow to her head leaves her unconscious.
They drag her in roughly, no sign of mercy in their eyes.

The bottle drops to the ground, forgotten again.
He wildly looks around himself, realizing
he is standing in the ruins of his family home.

A dull pain wakes her up from a deep sleep.
She gingerly moves her body, careful of her cuts and bruises.
Her wrists burn from the biting metal of shackles.

He crumples, overwhelmed with nostalgia.
Vivid memories wash over him, of his family laughing,
of his youngest daughter, her raven locks tumbling as she scrambles into his lap.

If a single tear falls, she will lose the fight.
So she stays still, thinking furiously of a plan to escape.
But fusions of dreams and memories overwhelm her as she leans into the cold, grey wall.

He runs, away from the memories embedded within the rubble,
the screams of his family’s separation,
his youngest left to fend for herself.

One wisp of a memory shines brighter than the others.
Rough, calloused hands lift her gently after her fall,
treating her scrapes and wiping away her tears.

He staggers, out of breath, slowing to a walk.
A cold, grey prison looms ahead, the only shade in scorching heat.
Wanting relief, he trudges towards it, a heavy helplessness weighing his stomach.

She knows she can easily escape from the cell.
But weariness engulfs her, and she wishes for those calloused hands
to treat her scrapes, to wipe her tears once again.

He returned home once there was talk of peace,
although rebuilding a life seems hopeless now,
the loss of his daughter a wound that has yet to scar over time.

She is unsure if the hands are a dream or memory.
Still, she longs for the care she feels she’s never had,
a lost child nurtured by crushed hopes.

He reaches the unwelcoming prison,
placing the rough palm of his calloused hand
onto the wall’s cruel, clay bricks.

A single tear runs down her cheek
as she places her soft palm
onto the wall’s cruel, clay bricks.

The wall between their palms trembles slightly, longing to tell them how close they are.

This poem tells the story of a refugee and his daughter living two separate lives, and coincidentally touching the opposite sides of the same wall. The man comes back home after his country’s war only to find his house in rubble, something that still shocks him, regardless of how inevitable he knew it was. The familiarity of his old life is completely gone. The country he fled to was welcoming enough, but he always missed his native home, and so he came back with hopes to rebuild. After seeing his home in ruins and remembering the horrors that took place there, he runs away from that place, with no real destination in mind, and finds himself near a prison, the only relief nearby. He has no destination or purpose now, and everything seems hopeless to him.

The girl survived by stealing what little she could find from people, but that was never enough. She is caught while stealing, and imprisoned. With her set of skills, she could have found a way to break out of the prison, but she doesn’t. She vaguely remembers a time before the war, when she thought she had a family, and she finally gives into the persistent emotions pulling at her. Her will shatters, and she loses the hope she has been holding onto for years.

They both put their hands on opposite sides of the same wall, and it quivers slightly, because it knows their story. It wishes for the gift of speech, so that it can reunite them and repair their broken hope.

This poem isn’t specific to any country, or any nation of people. It just addresses injustice and corruption as a whole, and gives the reader a glimpse of a story set in a war-torn country.

This piece isn’t meant to make people lose hope. The characters in the story lost hope because they were human, and there are times when situations seem hopeless, but we should always try to have hope in Allah, because even if we aren’t given peace in this world, we will be given peace in the next. We must have faith in Allah, that He will keep his promise and requite the oppressed, and that He will not let the oppressors walk away freely on the Day of Judgement. We must be consistent in our Dua for the Ummah, and hold strong to it. It is a powerful thing, able to change the minor taqdeer of Allah. These times are not the first times the Ummah has been tested, and they will certainly not be the last. We have to hold fast onto our Iman and help our Muslim brothers and sisters that are stuck in these situations, because it is our duty to care about them.

Born in Canada to Pakistani parents, Faeza was mostly raised in the grassy green hills of Kentucky. She’s a junior in high school and a wannabe Arab, (the poetry and falafel really get to her). When she isn’t on the never-ending quest to find her glasses, she is studying (or at least trying to), reading, writing, or drawing at her cluttered desk. She loves jumping in puddles on rainy days because you’re never too old for that, and skateboards and bikes as well with her four little siblings.


  1. Beautiful ma sha Allah. Very inspiring. It portrays so eloquently an important part of the world we live in.

  2. How are u such a great writer?! :) Mashallah!!!! Keep up the great work!

    • Faeza Ashraf Reply

      Ahem, my dear, a magician never reveals her secrets! =D

      But seriously, thank you! I appreciate it =)

  3. This is beautiful, especially the way you’ve structured it and the way it all comes together in the end.

    • Faeza Ashraf Reply

      Jazakallah Khair! =) That means a lot, coming from a fellow writer.

  4. I love this piece, the weaving between their two stories, and it’s so sad at the end…only a wall between them…

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