Both My Homes

a poem by Roomana Shaikh

I lay on the soft grass
sounds of rickshaws
the smell of sweet mangoes
lal dupatta tickling my face.
This is my home.
the sounds of the subway
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.
If only they weren’t divided by colonizer and colonized
But one is a power, ready to conquer
And another is a misunderstood place
Painted with stereotypes
Two separate worlds,
both calling
longing for me.
They’re both my homes
The ones that kiss my head
love my body,
shape me, teach me, welcome me in.

They’re my homes
but divided with a deep ocean.
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 choose 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.

Coming to you from the archives of Genre: Urban Arts issue No.3

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