I wrote this when I was 16 yo, I have always thought about the land of my dreams and its main features.

Now I’m 36, I believe that the most treasured characteristic of this land is “JUSTICE”.

A Quest For Dream Land By: Ehab Shawky.


While I was on my way looking for a better place where I can forever stay

A place for which all of my generation always pray

Passing by a beautiful pasturage east to Tabarya Lake

A beautiful place were I can rest for a while & have a break

I saw a very old man leaning his head on his stick sitting under a tree

He sat still as if he were dead & I thought to my self could it be

I got closer to check on him but the way his chest moved slowly made me realize he was just asleep

Around him were the long trees, the yellowish green grass & his sheep

When I reached him he raised his head up slowly

I panicked as he looked directly at me & his looks were holy

May ALLAH’S peace & mercy be upon you old man

I said trying to hide my fear as much as I can

May ALLAH’S peace & mercy be upon you my son

He looked at me mysteriously as if asking me from what you run

He said: “To where is the traveler headed in this beautiful day?”

I answered cautiously: “To a better part of the world & finding it I may”

His eyes glowed & he smiled a long silent smile without saying a word

His silence & sharp look shredded my courage’s veil apart as if they were a sword

He then said: “& no doubt that this better place is from your home far & away”

I answered: “Yes that’s right old man it’s exactly as you say”

For a while his eyes were like a very deep &wide well

I felt hypnotized & my self in it’s darkness I’ve fell

Why don’t you dine with me & have some rest?

I shall roast you some meat & when it comes to roasting I’m the best

I was really hungry & though I was afraid of the old man I was hopping for this offer

So I agreed with out hesitation especially that the pain in my feet anymore I couldn’t suffer

The old man started preparing the food

& I thought that I should try to get as much rest as I could

I sat down under the tree next to me having shelter in its shadow

Silence took over for a while which brought me back to my sorrow

I closed my eyes & images from the past started to pass by my mind

“Any where but here, your dream land son you shall never find”

That’s what my parents had always said

The only ones whom more than my self I’ve always loved

I remembered my father’s death and how he has died of oppression

& how this has brought me down to depression

All of my hopes were now gone

& all of my dreams away from me have run

Behind the bars of desperation I was caught

& I realized that the pain of hope is some times stronger than all of what I’ve thought

In desperation’s deep dark well I’ve fell

& for me there is no way out, of that there is no doubt

In my life there was no more guiding light

& worst of all no more strength to try to fight

I’ve collapsed from above the skies of faith down to the raging seas of hopelessness

My heart grows weaker & weaker of bore & sickness

As I’ve been collapsing for a very long time

& the weaker & more bored one gets, the faster is the collapsing rhyme

I was feeling dizzy now & I couldn’t resist the spinning in my head

I fell asleep & I think that it was me then who looked dead

I don’t know for how long I slept but I woke up on a voice saying: “Wake up, hey lunch is ready, let’s eat”

I opened my eyes slowly; in front of my face was a plate of roasted meat

The old man sat in front of me leaning his back to another tree

We ate then the old man poured us some warm milk in two tin cups and said while handing me mine

“How do you imagine that place that you seek?”

The warm milk after this good meal made me feel just fine

So I closed my eyes, float in my imagination & I started to speak

It’s a place in which children’s laughter could always be heard, a place where they would never cry

A place where they can always happily & securely play

A place where smiles would make all tears dry

A place where no matter how old you grow the youth in your heart would never die

A place where you & your beloved ones would never say goodbye

A place where people’s rights no one can deny

A place where peacefully one can live & in its sky doves will always fly

No more smoky grey images

Colors cover the nature in all fields & villages

Mine, yours & theirs too

I can hear the laughter of happiness each & every time the wind blew

I can see the horse rides between the cedar trees in the forest

The blue clear skies above & the yellowish brown trees ahead are the tallest

The grass all around & its yellowish green color

The crops in the fields & the wonderful soil’s odor

The beautiful small house by the side of the stream

Every detail & all of what I have & haven’t seen in my awakness dream

This is the land of my dreams old man, the land that I’m looking for

The land that I can have in my dreams at any time & having it for real to myself I swore


I opened my eyes & still was the old man fearfully gazing at me

I felt captured by his eyes & hoped he would look away & set me free

Which he never did & asked again: “What about your home land? The land from which you flee”

Can you describe it & tell me what you see?

I didn’t want to talk about it so I said

Let’s not talk about what’s long gone now, let’s not talk about what’s dead

Again he looked at me with that fearful mysterious angry look

I was afraid enough that I didn’t notice how long it took

Till my tongue’s seal finally broke

& to his look I surrendered & started to talk

I see a family working day & night to cultivate the dead sand

I see my families work turning to dust, I see our burned land

I see my father standing against tyranny face to face

I see him defending his land with no fear on his place

I see children screaming & crying

I see them getting shot, I see them dying

I still see the frightened looks in their eyes

I can still hear all of their help cries

I still see the youth being tortured for having the courage to resist

& being killed for having the courage to insist

You must submit or die

& your freedom’s pursuit you must never try

I see all the mottoes of freedom being burned

I see all of the people’s backs even friends to our help cries being turned

I still remember my demolished house

I still remember my little sister’s burial & my father’s vengeance promise

I still remember my father’s painful death

& how he was killed for being a real man till his last breath

I remember my younger brother’s body that up on my shoulder I carried

I remember his bleeding corpse that with my own hands I buried

& how my mother followed him shortly

Leaving me for my sorrows totally lonely

I see all rights being denied

& I remember how I always felt myself dying down deep inside


I stopped to catch my breath as I felt I was choking & still was the old man looking at me with his fearful look

I wanted him to stop looking at me this way

So I pulled my eyes away from his, looked around me & said: “look how these two lamps together play”

Look how secure & happy they feel

My words seem to have succeeded and finally broke his look’s seal

As he looked around at his flock

Then he turned to me & said “I wonder if I weren’t here how they would look?

They look this way because they can see me & they know that while I’m here the wolves dare not them attack

But believe me they won’t look so the moment that I turn my back

For the wolves are always watching & waiting for the right moment

In which they can attack & destroy their opponent

& in to my pasturage they want to jump

& turn it in to a destroyed dump

After making my sheep their victim

& they shall never rest till they eat the last one of them

But I assure you” It’s all up to the Shepherd”

His presence keeps his valley with serenity covered

For his flock always know that no matter what happens he’s there for their defense

& that he’ll do his best to prevent the wolves from jumping his fence

It has always been this way since eternity, it’s an everlasting brawl

& it shall never stop till death has gathered us all

Believe me even the sheep & lamps know so

& I know that inside your self you believe it too

You & lots of others who are just like you

But you’re afraid to let your beliefs & feelings show

Especially after the coercion & forcing that in your past you saw

But you must never forget who you are or let your self with misguidance go

& all of what has happened in your past life behind your back you must throw

You must get up quickly after each & every blow

& stronger each time by faith & patience you will grow

In your enemies’ face you must always stand tall

& never allow your self by your pains & wounds to fall

Know that it’s your enemies dream to see you crawl

But you must never let them destroy your striving soul

& against demons’ temptations for ALLAH’s help always call

This will protect you & between you & them build an unreachable wall

Don’t you think that if you run away you’ll live a happy life

Happiness you shall never feel except when in your cause you strive

Go back or else your father’s deeds were all in vain

Go back & break your fear’s chain

Go back before you grow older & it’s too late

Go back, May this be your twist of fate

Know that dying peacefully as a stranger is worse than dying young

Or even for a scream of freedom being hung

Know that you are the bridge between your real world & your dream

You must never lose hope or the freedom of your land who else would redeem”

I suddenly felt as if I were stung by a snake

& from my long unconsciousness I started to wake

As the old man’s words reminded me of my father’s last words

He said: “Never forget our home & our land or who else would redeem”


The old man got up and started gathering some pasture for his flock leaving me with one theme

I must go back; I must not keep on running like this

My only legacy from my father was the courage to face my enemies

So was it his legacy before & his father’s & his father’s father

& from what I’ve seen they have succeeded in fulfilling their duty towards it

& so must I; this is my land, this fact I must never forget

For no matter how hard my enemy shall try to make me forget; this fact shall forever remain

As truth travels inside us from father to son, from brother to brother, from place to place & it sticks on our minds like a stain

It was only now that I noticed that the old man’s eyes weren’t only holy but they looked exactly like my father’s

That’s why I was really afraid when the old man looked at me, it’s as if they were brothers

Or from the same roots they both decline

& I don’t know how but now I feel that in my way; lights once again shine

I decided to go back & take matters in to my own hand

I shall never live as an emigrant & let strangers rule my own land

I got up, turned around & I was surprised

As the old man wasn’t there nor was his flock as if they were vaporized

I looked all around, cried hey old man, hey shepherd

But I got no response & my self I felt shattered

I thought to my self was this for real, or was I sleeping?

& why do I have this shameful feeling?

The feeling of defeat

Not by my enemies, but by loosing hope & the weakness in my heart failing to treat

Though all things now in my mind clearly glow

That is the truth that up till the moment I never saw

As if I’ve lost the capability to differentiate between what’s wrong & what’s right

For a man may see with his eyes, but loose his heart’s sight

& when this happens seeing through your eyes doesn’t really matter

For only the truthful faithful heart knows what to do & will his enemies batter

Was the old man a ghost or a spirit or a real mentor?

Lot‘s of questions were now passing by my mind & any of them I couldn’t answer

Then the voice of the old man kept on repeating his words in my head urging me not to wait

Go back before it’s too late, go back may it be your twist of fate

I thought to myself, the old man was a shepherd all right

He’s a shepherd for me & others who are just like me, we are his real herd

I looked around one last time, then started my journey back to my home land.


In response to:



2 thoughts on “THE SHEPHERD

    • This was the oldest poetic story I ever wrote. I wrote it 18 years ago.
      I even used to print it, and distribute it on my colleagues in Cairo university when I was studying Engineering there.
      In a metaphoric way, this is my life; and so it is the life of millions living in the middle east like me. It is always the heaviest piece on my heart to re-read from among my writings.
      By all means, thank you Asma; your kind comment is truly heartfelt.
      May Allah reward you magnificently for your big heart, and beautiful feelings.

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