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beti

Maa makes a salan for each son

because they like different things

 

but the beti needs to learn to make her own food

kyun ki uski age pe shaadi aur bachey hotey hain

 

larka jaan per be jaiy, jaise bi rai

maa ankh band karke osko kabi kuch boley gi nahi

 

beti aik galti kare

uski izzat zaban per aja ti hai

 

the sons can go out and party get a girl pregnant

but they’ll still be able to move on and find a good girl to marry

 

the girl stays out a bit later than 8 pm

might wear a t-shirt,

and the whole mohalla is calling her a slut, saying she’s no longer a virgin

 

truth is

we don’t love our girls as much as our sons

 

truth is

you have failed us girls

 

truth is

us girls are tired of walking on eggshells

of being thrown around, walked all over

and expected to have sabr

 

kehte hain betiyaan sab se bari rehmat hain

toh aaj hum ko kyun torey ho

 

Picture Credit: @thepakistanimarthastewart

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Apologies

The world heard your sorrowful apologies
the one with the tears
how you truly meant it wouldn’t happen again

 

I heard the lies
I heard the sorry that really was saying
I really don’t mean any of this crap
I just don’t want to look like the bad guy
I really meant to do all that shit
and I will continue it

 

Because we both know
you hated for anyone to
tell you what to do

 

I heard your plastic words
I heard you slither
I felt the stab with every
pathetic apology of yours

 

I heard your abuse
I heard your ego crush a bit
I heard you fake cry
I heard you lie

 

I heard the true you
through the mask

 

I heard what I was trying to quit

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Chupna

You come home from an aggressive day
when it feels like even the walls are barking at you
and you go to your room
take off your clothes, strip away the armor of outside
and sit, and sit and try to not cry
till it all rains out
it rains and it rains

 

and I just wonder
how long
how long can this go on
and so I sit there leaning my back against the wall
trying to not scream, not let the fire burn me too much

 

because I don’t have a house all to myself
because this is still life and I can’t
let out these inner cuts show too much

 

and I remember the past
the words come back to me
and cut me more
my heart bleeds a bit more

 

bus, mere dil ne jawab de diya
maine jawab de diya
aaj ke liye bus
ab takh gai hoon
not today

 

Kambal do
aur mujhe chup ne do
thori der ke liye
thori der me apne dhook me bhet jaoon

 

tonight I’m calling it quits for a little bit
not breakaway
just quit
just be on my own island
and drown in my exhaustion
in my sorrow

 

aaj mere dil mere badan ne jawab de diya

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Nahi

I survived an earthquake
and my soul is still shaking inside
bones rattling
my heart beating too fast

 

what if I just trapped myself into a bigger mess
I survived an earthquake
I fought the earth
and the stars
I changed my way
I saved myself

 

and yet here I am
with hope hiding behind me
hoping to not be taken away
from the monstrous beast
depression that keeps
taunting me
telling me
stupid girl,
you were never meant to be happy
you were never meant to
have love that treated you right

 

and I don’t think I have it in me
to stand up again
to fight back
so I just whisper
I just whisper to myself
nahi nahi nahi

 

and someday I might
hold my self together
sew my self back up
and fight

 

but for now, I just whisper nahi

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Top 10 Posts of 2017—No. 6

Chitiyaan Kaliyaan

IG: @heavensanar

Read other work by Roomana at:

GenreUrbanArts.com

 

Meri chittiyaan kaliyaan ve, oh baby meri chitiyaan kaliyaan ve….*
Aisha rolled her eyes as she stared at the huge tv screen in front of her while waiting for Asma to get her eyebrows done. Continue reading Top 10 Posts of 2017—No. 6

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Cage

I took one step forward
and your words
pulled me thirty steps back
In every moment
your words pulled me more back
pushed me more to the edge
made the hole a little bit deeper
and I just didn’t seem to know how to stop

until I lit the bridge on fire
made sure only ashes remained
I cut the string
and the voices stopped
your voice stopped
you stopped hurting me
and suddenly the walls came down

and I saw you were the reason I was in a cage
and I had the key to free myself this whole time
and I felt freedom welcoming me back
I saw the demons vanish away

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Fool

It started with him
calling her beautiful, sexy
admiring her body
telling her how she fulfilled his fantasy
and so she thought it was love

then he started the insults
to get her to lose weight
to get her to change and form into
what he wanted

foolish girl fell for it
because she didn’t want to hurt him
didn’t know how to stand up on her own
thought it all comes with being in love

he then took it a bit further
wanted her to check in with him throughout the day
but never told her a word about what he was doing
only messaged her when he felt like it
but was furious when she did the same

she still stuck
she thought it was in the name of love

he never listened to her ideas, her thoughts
told her to stop making him sound dumb
so she stopped, she didn’t want to mess it up

she thought it was all love
and slowly she gave in to
every abuse he threw at her
into every game he played with her
slowly she was no longer herself
she was a fool
she was in a foolish love
a fake love
a toxin that killed her soul

 

photography by @chadmadden

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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.

 

____________

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.

 

 

______________

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.