You Cannot Know the Fears I Have - A poem by Shabbir Banoobhai

The Poem

you cannot know the fears i have
as i think about you

i fear that i shall live only at your laughter
lie awake long nights while you sleep
so loneliness does not trouble you
nor hunger, nor thirst

overwhelm your waking world with wonder
with the music of other worlds, your earlier home
read to you poems written the night before
while you smiled bewildered

or just when my very breathing begins to depend on you
even as your tiny fingers close around mine
some insensitive thing
crushes your butterfly spirit

shadows of a sun-darkened land
flow over you
and the eclipse
closes your eyes

i cannot live with the thought of having you, loving you
any other way
a day without such care
has no meaning

we shall find for you a name
your name shall bring light


Shabbir wrote this poem to his future child. The poem is all about a hypothetical argument with himself as to whether he should have the child. Shabbir is scared that his child won't get an education and will be oppressed by Apartheid. In the end, Shabbir makes the decision that he will have the child for the child could change the world.