The Power of Words Issue

Poem: A Relationship with my Dad

'I did not wish his death that day.'

By Shaikha Sabti

This poem won first place in the poetry category of the Sekka Literary Prize 2022.

Shaikha Sabti. Illustration by Alexandre Troin.

A relationship with my dad

is him asking me to make tea, and the tea is forgotten on the stove on fire—he had to check whilst I pretended I was in control. I was not. I panicked.

A relationship with my dad

is baking four boiled eggs for him. He asked if it’s enough for all of us. I didn’t plan ahead because the rest were eating last night’s dinner. KFC.

A relationship with my dad

is repeating our argument every single day.

‘Did you bring the keys with you?’

But you’re dropping me to work.

‘Why did you wake up so late?’

Because I hate my job.

A relationship with my dad

is refusing my help to drive in the midst of silent signs of a heart attack, watching him and trying to keep the conversation going.

‘The nearest hospital, here this way.’

‘No, we can make it home.’

‘But you’re in pain it’s—’

‘We’re near, this pain…usually…goes away…in few minutes…it’ll go.’

It didn’t. And I did not wish his death that day.

A relationship with my dad

is me translating for him from English to Arabic, Tagalog to Arabic, or sometimes between all three of them at the same time, and most of the time I don’t need to.

Nurse: ‘Is he your father?’

Me: ‘Yes.’

Nurse: ‘Talaga! Mama mo sya no, panganay ka?’

Me: ‘Yes, I’m half. Kung pwede po—’

Irritated, my dad asks what she’s saying. I tell him that they want mom’s Civil ID for the medical report.

‘La Endihom Kel Shay, lysh na’tihum?’

And I try to compromise.

This poem is part of The Power of Words Issue. To continue reading this poem and to read the issue in its entirety, click here to buy a digital copy of the issue.  

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