Akulah Hajar para immigran

Turunlah wahyu kepadaku
tentang air

Kutinggalkan negeri Ibrahim
dengan kendilnya yang tertutup,
dan minyak untuk memasak
dan api yang terjaga
di dapur Sarah.

Kususuri cakrawala setajam belati
lempeng bumi, endapan
lautan purba

demi sendiri di negeri baru:
di mana cangkir pagi tampak ganjil
dan kubah langit, alas bumi telah bergeser,
di mana Tuhan belum berrumah
dan waktu sembayang belum ditetapkan,

di mana air masih terpendam
di bawah tanah keras yang harus kugali
atau anakku mati, kaumku
belum terlahir
Tugas pertama
pendiri negeri adalah
mencari air

Akulah Hajar, ibu
suatu kaum
Di sini aku berjaga
dari akhir hingga awal

Setiap batu menusuk kaki seperti Tuhan
Setiap langkah adalah darah, adalah bahaya:

adalah doa.

(Diterjemahkan oleh Wawan Eko Yulianto dari “The First Thing” – Mohja Kahf dari buku “Hagar Poems” halaman 4-5)

Mohja Kahf  was born in Damascus, Syria. Her family moved to the United States in 1971, and Kahf grew up in the Midwest. She earned a PhD in comparative literature from Rutgers University and is the author of the poetry collection Emails from Scheherazad (2003) and the novel The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf (2006).

Kahf’s experiences growing up in the United States shaped her perceptions of the differences and similarities between the cultures of her home and adopted countries. Her poetry is an amalgam of both Syrian and American influences; Lisa Suhair Majaj commented in ArteNews that Kahf’s work “draws on American colloquialisms and Quranic suras; it is informed not only by American free verse … but also by a lush energy that draws on the heart of the Arabic oral tradition and Arabic poetry.” Kahf sometimes satirizes stereotypes about Muslim women—she has tackled hairstyles, sex, and clothing. In Emails from Scheherazad, she locates Scheherazad in 21st-century Hackensack, New Jersey. Majaj observed that Kahf “unsettles assumptions about Scheherazad while also emphasizing aspects of the traditional tale that often get overlooked in western portrayals.” Kahf has also written about the hardships of immigration; The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf depicts a Muslim girl’s coming of age in Indiana.

Kahf co-writes a column on sexuality for the website Muslim Wake Up. Her nonfiction work includes Western Representation of the Muslim Woman: From Termagant to Odalisque (1999). Kahf is a professor of English at the University of Arkansas.