I am driving through the desert, sparkling white in the morning sun. I am listening to the music from an mp4.
I ask my guide to translate this song. It has been sung for Jerusalem and seems to be about children. I try to use my urdu to decipher the individual arabic words, as the heartrending voice of Julia pours into my ears……….a message from all mothers or perhaps all parents, who are fraught with anxiety, fear, desire to protect their children but are finally helpless and submit …….to the cruel forces of time, greed and power.
I can feel what would arise from the depths of the soul of a parent who is in constant fear of harm to her child. In between the lines of the song is a prayer embedded in the heart of every mother as she sees her child thrown to the lions of greed and power dressed in the uniforms of warlords and adorned with the medals of patriotism.
The rough translation of the first stanza of the song is:
I fear for my children
In those fearful days (and)
For my land and my dreams.
I don’t know where I am going
And when will I arrive.
The eye does not sleep
Nor does the heart
Julia Boutros, Lebanon
As the desert in all its purity unravels in front of my eyes and I see the pristine buttery white pillars of Palmyra, little do I know that what is happening in Palestine has happened here, many centuries ago. Neither the opressor nor the opressed remain.
Only when I walk through the avenue flanked by the pillars and my guide tells me the story of the mother and queen, poignant, in his soft, haltingly measured English, does the true meaning of the song sink into me.
Do you know the story of Queen Zenobia? Check out my guides version on the next post inshallah!