For a long time
I did not write you this poem …

I dreamt of a quiet moment
in which I would stand at the forefront of the world
or at least at the forefront of Ibn Khaldun
and cry out towards the silent Arab world, which has lost its ability to express itself.
That I love you, but
the problems arising between us, and the barbaric Israeli attack on the south of
my heart
has ignited Grapes of Wrath in my pencil and I sat down to my desk,
to write.
Perhaps in a fit of anger I shall tear apart these words, or perhaps that will be left to you,
Yet there are still outstretched arms that say I love you.
Always on your birthday Manal, your twentieth birthday, I shall write in red, the color of the workers’ flag, I shall sing to you the song of Sheikh Imam
in memory of the birthday of a child from Palestine, I love you, yes I love you
in the act of the creation and formation of a wonderful person that is being born in front of my eyes, a different and wonderful person is being created, is forming in front of your and my eyes.

I cannot bear all of this distance any longer.
This heat wave.
All this resentment.
I am still not back from my journey of self-integration, I am drowning in a sea of aspirations and home work, drowning in thoughts about by stance towards the Zionist state and the way you dress and above all I am drowning in debt.

So after this long preface (which I believe) is more difficult than
the preface of Ibn Khaldun,
I present you on your birthday with this bouquet (on the following page):

This is what I think about you in the following matters:

Beauty: you have two parts, a pretty girl and a woman whose beauty plays with the strings of the sun.

Love: sometimes I wonder how you love me so much, even though you don’t love most people forever.

Art: you were born to be an artist.

Fidelity: this term in particular bows before you, for you are its highest ideal.

Stupidity: returning to fidelity, but with some reservation.

Friendship: you need to know what to give, so that you don’t get back things you don’t want.

Books: I have three books, which happen to be in Hebrew. I would like very much for you to read them, and hope you will ask for them.

Food: he who doesn’t” respect food, does not respect He who created. (Start gorging yourself).

Fatness: not fat, Ya Manal Alabadallah, not fat.

Expression: (going back to the book with some reservation)

Prayer: do you really pray?

Gossip: It’s likely you and my mother will create a strategic allegiance.

Trips: no… you’re fine!

Insanity: insane.

Goodness of heart: despite it all you’re an innocent child.

Generosity: not a great deal.

I don’t mind that you’re good at some things and imperfect in other respects, but what’s important in any case is that I love you anyway. I hope this year you will try to change the negative things and above all that you will keep loving me forever.