I never met that medieval Moroccan explorer Ibn Battuta, for I would have beset his world travels with heartache crueler than the sea storms that unsettled him,
Known as a travel document, I am more document than travel,
For I am not of the blessed.
They played with my ancestry: I went from world to third-world, developing world, and global south,
As if colourful names ever granted me admission to the geographies of privilege.
I catch a glimpse of my compatriots squeezed between sweaty nervous human hands at passport controls where humanity sheds the pretense of fraternity and re-glues inequalities,
I watch desk officers execute the parochial wave of the times,
A predatory international relations system telescoped into an arbitrary being void of thought,
I am reminded that I have so much power of disdain,
I keep security needlessly occupied and transits an end in themselves,
I make borders out of iron and visas out of alchemy,
I prolong queues into creeping anacondas,
while turning immigration controls into life stations,
Did you know I can unravel life’s plans?
I make families miss their flights,
Laborers forgo their grandmother’s funerals,
Couples reschedule their honeymoons,
Students skip their graduations,
Scholars show up late to conferences,
Journalists lose their story,
Merchants scale back their dreams,
I turn Africa into Alcatraz with no parole,
remake Asia into arcades with no fire exits,
Cast the undesired Americas into an ailment with no remedy,
while watching Europe send her Marco Polo tribes to a playground called Earth.
I dance with fate, whispering in her ear: who can fall in love with whom, who can discover a new realm where, who can seek sanctuary when, who can question their very being and why.
I am the butcher of stories, curiosities, aspirations and encounters.
I am the sorcerer that makes the Indian backpacker invisible,
I am the heirloom of the troubled nation-state, the algebra of colonial logic, the archangel of a geopolitical apartheid,
Bordering. Ordering. Bothering. Othering.
I trigger a silent cry across the planet: “We never asked for this world.”
This prose poem was inspired by the stories and witnessing of countless friends and strangers traveling on less mobile passports and the torment they have had to endure at airports and consulates. I originally published it on my blog: http://amroali.com/2018/07/passport-the-fallen/