Ad for Henry Halloran Lecture

To find home or how will I imagine freedom today?

"To burn. To ache. To be regrown."

Art by Amelia Mertha

In Arabic, to feel lonely is to ash’ur bel weHda. It is not just simply to feel lonely, it is to feel like the only one. There is an inherent selfishness in this definition, but on nights like this it feels justified. To be at home in a body, rejected in a world that sees me as oil and the white man as water, is how I imagine my Huriya.

I imagine my freedom — so refreshing it will feel like the kind of ice cold that burns you. My fingers will become numb when I finally grasp it and I know it will tingle and creep up, a trickling icy fire into the deepest valves of my qalb. It will sit heavy in my heart, intertwine with my veins, linger in my capillaries and ooze into my bloodstream. 

Freedom is fire because loneliness is cold. To be free is to find home in oneself, and to be the only one is to be a snowflake in a blizzard. Amongst the blizzard is often growth, realisation and heartbreak and they, swirled up in love and thrown up into the whirling air, are the moments I know that turn ice into fire. 

I imagine this freedom like Hariq. It is not just fire, it is licking, expanding, naked flames. It is a slow, slow burn. It is finally finding home in a vessel that is constantly evolving and swerving and shrinking. 

Realisation is the first step to my freedom. Realisation is knowing that no matter how many times I crash, freeze, burn, and splinter, this body is holy and one day I will worship. This love is a long drawn thawra. Revolutions have taught me that love and burning sound a lot like freedom. This Hariq is Huriya and only when it gets so cold that I burn, do I know what restoration feels like.

I am not the only one, and I will wake up every day despite my joints aching and my soul stinging because this home is the meadow that grows in the aftermath of a bushfire. This body is wildflowers blossoming in mountains that have been the protective homes of the most vulnerable. This body has gone through blizzards and then hell, and I know, more than anything, that I am tired of imagining freedom. 

I want to feel it blistering inside my mouth and traced into my thighs. I don’t want to be cold anymore. I want to burn. To ache. To be regrown. I still want to find my way back home even when he says that he doesn’t feel the same. Even when they don’t want me. Even when all the blood has spilt and all the ice has melted, I don’t want to be the only one. I just want to be free. Because I want me. 

 

Filed under: