Creative

Poem: Dear mom, ummi, mama, Amna…Here’s everything* I never told you

This poem explores what children do not tell their parent(s), from mental and physical ups and downs starting with childhood and leading to adulthood in a conversational form, there’s always something that ends up being chewed rather than spilled.

By Maryam Al Shehhi

Image: Unpslash.

Remember back in the days, 

When my biggest concern was

Deciding on my favorite toys

Or simply crawling across?

But, I never told you 

That I loved the way I dressed

The friends I had, the first step

I understood what mama meant 

But I never told you 

That Mariam says my name is

Misspelled, mispronounced

You wanted to call me Maha

Remember back in the days

when my biggest concern was

memorizing the song we learned

the one you sang for hours 

But, I never told you 

That the happy child would

Hide under blankets, for hours

When you’d fight for hours

But I never told you 

That sometimes I would sing

The songs we learned together

When you’d …

Remember back in the days

When you made sure a towel

Sleeps under my head, after showers

Because I shouldn’t get sick

But, I never told you 

That I wanted a hundred more

Towels, that one was not enough

For years ahead of me and late showers

But I never told you 

How much henna makes my hair

Happy, and how I never wanted to

chop my hair, never was a rule

Remember back in the days

When my biggest concern was 

Winning the spelling bee competition

Or riding my bicycle safely, like Omar 

But, I never told you 

That I really wanted to win that day 

And that not winning itself still 

Accompanies me everyday

But I never told you 

How my skirt fell in class 

And how everyone laughed

Including Omar, but I didn’t, I still don’t 

Remember back in the days

When my biggest concern was 

Kissing your forehead and hugging you 

After I show you my A+ and certificate 

But, I never told you 

That some cuddles were because

I was not feeling well… 

Or because I was having feelings

But I never told you 

That I memorized do’s and don’t’s

Even the meaning of consent

Yet I never told you what happened 

Remember back in the days

When my biggest concerns were

communicated via letters, back and forth

I’d tell you about everything, and you’d respond 

But, I never told you 

How much I truly loved him 

And how up to this day 

I still do 

But I never told you 

How much he broke my heart 

And how I cried for years 

And how I should’ve listened to you 

Remember back in the days

When my biggest concern was

Making you proud, in high school

By achieving the distinction we wanted

But, I never told you 

That I cried for days and nights

Wiped me tears, smiled like I always do

And battled for that distinction

But I never told you 

How leaving school emptied me 

That I still feel that part of me

Still exists in school

Remember back in the days

When I’d come every weekend 

And answer all your calls on time

Tell you about my food and classes

But, I never told you 

How I was anorexic, depressed, 

And alone.. How the whole world 

was collapsing above my head 

But I never told you 

That your care helped me

Battle and survive everyday 

And how your love is my healer 

I’m telling you everything* today 


Maryam Al Shehhi is an Emirati writer studying Political Science and Literature Creative Writing at NYUAD. The daughter of Ras Al Khaimah’s mountains, yet, having been born and raised in Abu Dhabi, she finds herself existing in the land in between seas and mountains. Maryam is passionate about the arts and culture, as she has been invested in various forms of self-expression; she has performed in plays and a musical reality show, and she is an editor of an Arabic magazine. Maryam is currently interning at Sekka. 

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