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Ghar ke Kaam

in between washing the dishes
Ammi yells at me
curses her life
all I did was accidentally leave the
glass by the tv
I roll my eyes and lock myself in the bathroom
until she’s done the cooking in the kitchen
I come back outside
and plug my brain into the tv
so she can’t throw more side comments my way
Her anger is for me not becoming the person she wished I be
My anger is for her never defending me
but we push it down
we swallow it, chug it down like a bottle of whiskey
let the damage be done inside
all we notice is the burning madness
showing in our swollen eyes
from crying all night
from betrayal

 

Photography Credit: Chip Johnston

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High School Days

It went from bad days
to bad weeks
until it was years of melancholy
dark patches of guilt and regret
all night long crying
and hating every morning
not having the energy
i lacked the energy
to love myself
to love living
i felt shame
i felt fear
i felt anger
i didn’t feel like living
it was circling around me
it became the only best friend of mine
it knew me so well
it became my companion
it was depression.

 

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Photo Credit: Lanaya

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Since You’ve Been Gone

Lying on the carpet

the color deep sea

As my tears fall down my face

I don’t know if it’s from Adele’s angelic voice

or the fact that you’re not here anymore.

So I lie there, and I listen to Adele singing about

my broken heart

and I want to call you,

I want to tell you to come back,

even though I know you’ll hang up on me,

and tell me to move on.

So I listen to Adele

and I cry.

 

 

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Photo Credit: Jon Bright, Jr.

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No More Explaining

Some lunatic decided to kill 22 people

And it breaks my heart hearing those stories all over the news

it breaks to know the trauma all of those are going through

a mother lost her child

a child lost her mother

friends lost each other

But I won’t say sorry

I won’t condemn his actions

because it’s not my job

not after condemning them for so long

I am tired of the articles that pour in right after

talking about Islam being misogynistic and extreme

And then the worry about all of the mosques that get burnt

all of the hijabis that get attacked

the kids that get bullied

the Muslim men harassed.

One attack and a whole group get double the harm.

Have you thought of the countless Muslims helping?

The doctors, cab drivers, the ones who donate blood

not to mention the ones who were probably in the attacks

going through the same trauma as you

So no more worries, no more explaining

I don’t have ISIS as a contact on my phone

neither do any of the other billions of Muslims worldwide

it’s time you take off those ignorant glasses you’re looking through.

 

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Promise Land

When I was born, my Ammi was full of promises. I was born with promises. I was born to be in this country full of light. But some people made me feel like a burden. They shamed me, made fun of my name, of our differences, of our accents, of our skin, our clothes, our hair, our body. They clambered on me, they stomped on me and left their prints on my heart. So I started saying sorry a bit more. So I started to wear some American clothes hoping I belong more. So I started to feel ashamed of my parent’s language, stopped eating samosas and biryani and food that exploded with flavors from the hands of my mothers. Then a few years passed and I realized they were all wrong. Who were they to mock me? I too was just as much American, even in my cotton kurtas and my floral hijabs. Now I put my hands into fists and get up, not to stomp on them but to walk away from the crowd. I’m my own, I’m not ashamed, I’m a new promising land for my parents, I’m their better future, I’m their hope their dreams, and I will settle down and plant myself and they will be able to rest there.

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The Last Summer of Our Childhood

It was getting a bit cooler and the sun didn’t hit so hard. We sat on the stairs with sweat running down our necks. Cold vanilla ice cream cones with the rainbow sprinkles, from the Mister Softee Ice Cream truck: everyone’s favorite. We ate and laughed and giggled and rested. The jump ropes resting by us. The wind came by to say hello, and the park was waving goodbye to us. Us four girls wearing our sweats, our shalwars, our sneakers, or flats. Our hair tied back in braids and ponytails. We had an innocence and we had silliness. None of us thought of the misery coming up. That was the summer before we all would enter the reality. The last summer of our childhood.

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Amreekan Pakistani

I lay on the soft grass
sounds of rickshaws
the smell of sweet mangoes
laal dupatta tickling my face.
This is my home.
The sounds of the subway
the smell of gyros
and loud New York streets
kissing my feet as I walk.
This is my home.
if only the two merged
if only they weren’t seas apart.
Two separate worlds,
both calling
longing for me.
They’re both my homes
the ones that kiss my head
shape me, teach me, welcome me in.
Both are my home
but divided with a deep ocean
with ignorance, with politics.
Sometimes I wear a kurta
with jeans
somehow creating a world within me
where both live perfectly in harmony.
Other times I am forced to chose between the two.
Which one do I belong to more?
Sometimes I have to hide the Pakistani
In order to not be criminalized
to not be seen as other.
Sometimes I have to hide the American
to show I too understand,
to show I’m not whitewashed
and sometimes I just wish it wasn’t so complicated.

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Hit Me

His words

viciously slash me

as his anger sheds another layer

of someone I now fear

It won’t happen again

But wait it does,

and again and again

till I am no longer

myself

till I am the punching bag

till I am ripped open

They say abuse is physical

they forget to warn

about the verbal.

They don’t tell you

how a sharp tongue

can slice open a person

create wounds

scars that aren’t visible

only suppressed, bottled in.

Words that beat me mercilessly

I sit here apologizing

for something that isn’t my fault.

Help me lose these chains.