In the Land of Shattered Windows
In the Land of Shattered Windows
Young Voices from a Broken Yemen

Intergenerational Dialogue

Jala’a Abdallah
Manal Al-Adawi

Manal Al-Adawi


I am a child, like any child in the world, who loves to play in the street.
I told my father that when I am older he will see me cultivating my grandfather’s farm.
But my father wanted me to be a doctor, or a skilled engineer.
But I do not like blood, and a doctor must be good at using the scalpel.
And I do not want to be an engineer, building high houses
That will be destroyed by the missiles of the seventh
neighbor *
My father said: I promise you, my child!
Things will change when you grow up and become a young man.
But I cried with a husky voice:
Oh my father! Will those, whose pictures are all around the street, come back?
I mean the ones they say they are martyrs?

Do you remember my friend Mohammed Shafi?
They brought his father, lying on a bed soaked with a bright red liquid.
His eyes were closed but his lips were moving with words that we could not understand.
They told us to keep away from him. They told us he was dying.
Mohammed’s mother was crying. She told me to take Mohammed to the street.
“I do not want him to see his father like this,” she said.
Why are you fighting my father? All of you are either dead or killers! Why is blood spilled in every street?
Why, every day, do we wake up to the sound of tragedies?
I will run fast through the days my father.
So that days pass quickly and peace comes.
It is only then the children can sleep - as you promised me when I was a young boy.
I am sorry, father! I do not want to be a doctor or a skilled engineer.
I want to be, as I told you, a farmer,
Planting trees in this street with branches under which the children can sit and play.

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Jala’a Abdallah


In front of me now
Thousands of neglected dreams.
Their fragments ask me:
Why are we in a homeland where dreams are in exile?
Why is love as impossible as a forgotten country ?
Answer me this!

For the sake of our betrayed and bloody spring [i.e. the Arab Spring],
We have grown older, the flowers have died,
Longing has run dry,
And our nostalgia has melted.
This heart has been dragging his fear and deprivation
Year after year.

For God’s sake, gentlemen!
We have the right to live as we like;
As we ever wanted, 
As the sunshine is reflected on the mountains of our county,
Without any clouds obscuring its sweet light,
Without a war that tears up the remnants
Of our precious dream.

Oh, guardians, parents and gentlemen!
Oh, warlords and honorable leaders!
Leave us alone!
Our destiny, tomorrow, makes my hopes worry.
Our lifetime is wasted, 
And no one is feeling sorry for me.

You must deny this war, and agree…
Deny death! For the migration doors are so wide open. 
Save us!
The blood of my friends has become cheap,
And their voices have become husky.

I repeat my appeals to you,
Let our dreams grow,
So that they shake your heart with pride.
Let them be an echo of a guitar dancing joyfully on  the horizon.
So that the sun and the wind will be tempted
And the dawn will come soon.

Our arms promise you,
We will build the dream as complete as a full moon,
We will gather all the scattering fragments,
And we will raise the banner of victory.

Our conscience promises you,
We will water the seeds of our hopes,
And bring them to life .
We will draw a smile on the face of the homeland,
We will cherish it in order to live our dream forever,
And to make the generations after us smile.
We will live our dream confidently,
And the generations after us will be glorious.

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Manal Al-Adawi


Did you know Sir?
What has been going on, and what has been said?
There is a martyr who died for no reason, died wastefully.
And behind you is a humanity that is starving,
Its pain mixed with the blood that has been shed,
A nation that is dying every day and every moment,
A persistent poverty and a vanishing wealth.
Under your eyes lie the people who stole the crumbs
Of the leftover money in my country.

So, Sir!
Will you save those who are still alive ,
So that they seed the remnants of hope for the
generation to come?
Or is it that death has been forced upon us?
Or rather has been an easy demand?

Oh Sir!
Like any citizen on this earth,
I like to roam around,
But I no longer desire to live in this country anymore,
I have decided to travel away,
Seeking a safe and peaceful homeland,
Where all my hopes and dreams come true.For a homeland, Sir, does not exist in the stones or the trees,
But it exists in the smile of a child,
Sketched in the wellbeing that used to be in our neighbourhood,
And in the happiness of those men.

But, Sir!
In my homeland, children were killed,
As well as the best of men.

So, Sir!
Is it true that you do not know about this?
Despite all this I am still dreaming,
That all that  is happening in my country will vanish one day,
And that I will come back to you, my country,
And we will embrace one another.

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Jala’a Abdallah


Certainly, our pain will not last forever,
For the laws of the universe, since the beginning of creation,
Have stated so,
And the sun and the clouds are witnesses.

Every night we long to see the sunshine,
And the stars console our distracted gazes.

And I think, out of my desperate longing,
That my sun will never come,
So I get disappointed,
And my smiles keep waiting to shine.

Oh we! Oh this country!
Our survival is in ourselves.
The aggressors will not care about our dreams,
Those with great power will not save us,
And the murderers will never show mercy.

The statesmen do not know who I am,
They do not know my anxiety,
Nor the loss that is sweeping over me.
In my homeland,
The loss is so dreadful.

We are the rescuers of our land,
We need some peace to move on together,
We need a relentless determination.

My honourable fathers, please help!
You are the light in our dark road,
And you are the anchor of our certainty.

We have lost, my father, what we have lost.
The graves of the loved ones bear witness, so do the prisons.
I mean enough!
For your differences are consuming us,
Scattering the dream we long for,
And increasing our pain and the pain of years.

Life goes on and peace is our ally,
So you must dispose of ignorance, and put the weapons down.
The life of farming needs us,
The life in which everyone is equal.
How pathetic is this lifetime that - at the peak of hope -
Leads us towards the void!

Oh my father!
The eyes of the night are full of anxiety,
And tears are soaked with the sorrow of the sleepless people.

How woeful is the frail silence!
What happened, my country?
The corrupt officials have crucified you along our dreams,
They have crucified our youth.

I am not here to regret my misfortune, oh my father!
For I, despite my defeat,
I believe it [the defeat] is just a passing cloud,
That will be pushed away by the wind of determination.

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Manal Al-Adawi


We must wake up,
We must burn hatred and turn the page,
Let us hold our hands together and walk towards the awakening.

Come with me, my brothers, my cousins, to change
With our will and the unity of our goals, we will
open a new road to dignity.
Do you know what kept us in the dark?
It was our fear of the unknown,
Our enduring problem of not accepting anything new,
And our anxiety at losing what’s left of our grace.
But you do not know, or you pretend you do not understand,
That what we are in now is the most outrageous curse.

North, south, west and east,
We all suffer from the curse of the crisis:
High prices and changing conditions,
As if we were inside a hurricane,
As if we receive from all sides the honor of a slap.
The victim is from our side, the murderer from yours,

Or vice versa, all is true and shamefully wrong.
None of us is a loser, none of you is a winner,
We all pay for the losses!

Come with me, oh you Yemeni, let us unite the goals,
For you and I are the ones with tearful eyes.
It does not matter if your beliefs or rituals differ,
What is important is that we all celebrate Fridays.

The land where I am now,
And the land where you are now,
Is the same land where our grandfathers celebrated their unification,
And together they made the glory of this nation.

For the sake of “Athan” [the call for prayer] sounding from the minarets of our mosques,
And for the sake of every sacred speck of dust in our country,
Let us stand together for one moment, and let there be a renaissance.

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Jala’a Abdallah


Oh my rihanna!*
The echo of words are full of wishes,
And the words are embellished,
Despite the moan of exhausted women.

It was a homeland,
They messed with its soil.
Our footsteps got lost in the path of migration.

We were deceived by the mirage,
We followed it,
We did for many miles,
Searching for the remains of signs.

The truth was in front of us,
But it was foolishness that we trusted.
We were deceiving ourselves under the temptation of the mirage.

No time for dull regrets, so let us start,
Oh my gentlemen! To find solutions
For our land that has become wasted.

No time to worry,
For anxiety is trying to inject our chests with its poison,
And to kill the breath of people.

I wish your confession, oh my sister, is recognised!
For controversy can be dissolved by some words.

It is our spirit that is withering, wasted by the war.
But it is that same spirit that becomes superior if peace prevails.

Oh you Yemeni, enough!
We are tired.
Our generation has not lived the right life,
Has not got what it hoped for.
Instead, the leaders ruined its dreams
Even rights seemed to us as a dream,
As something that was too expensive, and hard to achieve.

The misery has spread all around the country,
The killing is always before us.
The fear that has spread throughout the country
Became our leader,
It has moved from the suffering of the south
To the pain of the north.

Everyone here is crying, our father!
The tears are blood indeed.
The land of Arabia Felix [Yemen] is bleeding,
And so are the mountains.

Now, all hearts must unite!
Love glances at us tenderly,
We are those who have always disagreed.
Love defeats the impossibilities.

Never stumble!
All paths, except the path of love, are astray.
All paths, except the path of love, areastray.

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