Why I Write: A Spoken Word Piece

TOMORROW MARKS ONE YEAR SINCE BABA’S TRANSITION TO ANOTHER LIFE.

 of the million and one stories that this picture can tell, my favorite one is that baba is holding me while i'm holding a pencil. #whyiwrite

of the million and one stories that this picture can tell, my favorite one is that baba is holding me while i'm holding a pencil. #whyiwrite

It's so mind-blowing to think that, exactly a year ago today, I was unknowingly spending my last moments with the love of my life. Honestly, looking back, I wouldn't change that fact if I could: I'm glad that I didn't know he would leave so suddenly. It allows me to look at our final moments peacefully because I was showering him with so, so, so much love. just because. 

i always drowned in my devotion for my dad.

Anyone who has ever had an extended conversation with me knows i love Baba. he is quite literally the man of my dreams. I once performed an entire spoken word poem (with him in the audience) talking about how much i adored him. today, i am so eternally thankful that i expressed my love for him as much as i did.

Yet somehow, someway, I spent the past year secretly feeling guilty and remorseful because I felt like I didn't tell him enough. 

It makes me emotional even typing these words because I was putting myself through so much unnecessary pain thinking i should have said and done more to show him how i truly felt. looking back though, this is simply untrue. baba definitely knew - he had to. 

I wrote a spoken word piece a couple weeks ago while I was on the plane, and this piece helped me identify and work through some of the pain and unresolved emotions i was left with in his passing. this poem was groundbreaking for many reasons: I learned so much about who I am, who Baba will always be to me, and why writing is revolutionary. This poem is the rawest, most uncut thing I have ever written, and its performance is even more authentic. the performance helped me step outside of my comfort zone and be the girl i always knew i could be - the girl baba always saw me as.

so, with this blog post, I wanted to try something a bit different, to honor Baba and to honor the legacy he left me with. 

BELOW IS THE VIDEO PERFORMANCE, ACCOMPANIED BY THE WRITTEN POEM:

WHY I WRITE

BY RIMA IMAD FADLALLAH

---

i have so many questions 

like “why do i get so emotional on planes” 

maybe it’s because flying is time travel

and something about traveling back in time

makes me feel that much closer to you 

like maybe 

one day i’ll hop on a plane 

and on my ticket

the destination will read 

“march 12th, 2017”

and i’ll travel back in time 

to our last day together 

and ask you all of these questions

---

i have so many questions. 

like did you know i came back to you?

for you, specifically. 

i said it was for me but i think we both knew  

i came back for you

Baba, i need to know that you knew.

---

I have so many questions

like, did you know i learned to love myself for you?

you see

you loved me more than i loved me

you saw me like i couldn’t see myself. 

to this day i don’t understand 

how they try to tell me your heart failed

when

at my worst,

your heart changed my heart. 

your love saved my life Baba

coming back for you 

was the least i could do. 

I am dying to know if you knew. 

---

maybe 

planes make me emotional 

because my only conception of heaven 

is somewhere in the clouds 

swimming in skies i’ve never seen

maybe I’m emotional because 

flying makes me feel

so close yet so far away

even though that’s how i feel all the time now

or maybe 

it’s because i used to be terrified of planes

but somehow 

my fear of flying disappeared

right around the time you took off 

and maybe that’s because your love is the wind

beneath these wings 

and the peace that has infiltrated even my most irrational fears

your presence always made me feel so safe. 

but even in your absence, my angel, you send prayer after prayer to protect me 

---

or maybe, 

just maybe,

it’s because i imagine that time 

years ago

when you were flying solo 

across the mediterranean 

and i gave you those letters. 

and the envelope said 

“don’t open until on airplane” 

i had so much to say but somehow 

I kept it down to eight pages.

maybe it’s because i imagine

you a passenger in this very seat processing 

the pieces of my heart that i positioned perfectly

on those pages for you 

resisting all urges to let my heart spill open and drown you in its love

because you didn’t know how to swim Baba

and i promised you years ago

in another life

in another poem 

that i would make that trip across the ocean

to meet you where you were at. 

so i did just that.

---

I positioned purposefully the pieces of my heart on paper for you. 

I left them in your possession

and told you to process them on a plane.

and wow. 

how my heart must have changed your heart 

because when you landed, 

you called to tell me that

you cried from detroit to beirut 

you created your very own sea of tears and you learned to swim in it

and I cried too

I couldn’t have been more proud of you

and of me

especially when i realized years later that 

you kept those letters with you since

---

that is, 

until that one time when

I hurt you 

like first born daughters often do

and you threw them back at me 

and you said

they didn’t mean anything to you 

and my heart didn’t know how to feel 

because it was then when i realized that

my words mean everything

so i rushed upstairs crying and hid the letters in a safe place 

determined to give them back to you

when the time was right 

when i made my way back home to you

did you know i would always come back home to you?

---

maybe I’m so emotional 

because i finally came back home to you

this time for good 

and though i feel like you knew

I wanted to seal the deal

by giving you your letters 

But little did i know i came back home 

Right in time for you to go

Little did i know that i wanted to give you back my heart

Right around the time yours stopped beating

And after beating myself up for the past year about it,

i realize now that i needed those letters with me more than you did.

I needed evidence of my everlasting expressions of love for you

because if I’m honest

the thing i most regret is that

I never asked you if you knew. 

I had so many questions but

i never did muster up the strength to ask why you cried when you read them

because i bawl even thinking about it Baba

i have always melted in your presence 

so can you imagine what I’m doing in your absence?

and to this day 

i wonder if you ever knew

If i ever knew  

that the reason i write

is because, in front of you

the words never did come out right 

at least not without the flood of tears that 

would surely drown you in their deepest devotion

and you needed to learn to swim on your own time Baba

besides,

it is any father’s least favorite sight 

to see his daughter cry

---

and Baba you were my Superman 

But the only times i ever saw you weak

were when you saw me weep

but it all makes sense now

you see

you and me? 

we were interchangeably 

Clark Kent and kryptonite 

and this heroic exchange of surrender and strength

is precisely why i write. 


I truly hope you enjoyed reading the poem and watching the performance.

I am honestly so proud of myself for getting past the mental barriers standing in my way and pushing myself to publish something so personal and vulnerable. Tomorrow will mark one year since baba's passing. I plan to spend the day with my family and feel every single thing i am meant to feel. 

& MY LOVE, REGARDLESS WHAT YOU'RE GOING THROUGH, I HOPE MY VULNERABILITY ENCOURAGES YOU TO LET YOURSELF HEAL, TOO.

only love,

ri

Rima Fadlallah6 Comments