Decorate my hijab

Muslim. Woman.

Oppressed; must-be.

Ignorant, for sure.

You slap those labels on me.

I let the words stick.

Decorate my hijab.

I can see your eyes follow me.

The distrust, mistrust.

The confusion that comes when you hear me speak.

(Yes, I do have a voice.)

Women should be allowed to wear what they want, you say.

(I agree.)

You say; so take that thing of your head.

I reply; “But I-“

Must be brainwashed.


Written in response to the daily prompt Label

(Some background: I am a Muslim woman who has chosen to wear the hijab out of my own accord and have done so for over seven or eight years.) No pressure from my parents, extended family etc. etc. I find it incredibly ironic that there are people who claim they believe a woman should have the freedom to dress as she wants, but also argue that women like me shouldn’t be allowed to wear a headscarf and then claim it is a way of protecting us from oppression…)

 

Family: a tale

Part I

No need for plans.

See you whenever.

Doors are always open.

Walk in, put on the kettle.

You know where the biscuits stay.

Look at them, it’s so great that cousins can be so close.

Can’t imagine them apart.

Part II

Turn friends away, Saturdays are for family.

Laughter, teasing, bike rides

Uncle, don’t ruffle my hair.

Need any help with homework?

Take up whole rows in the cinema.

Barbecue, anyone?

Let’s plan a family holiday.

Part III

Has it been a month?

School takes up time, it’s great to catch up.

Lighthearted teasing – know where to stop.

I feel like fireworks.

Give the sparklers to the younger ones.

They have so much fun.

They make so much mess.

Part IV

Family dinners, once in a while

Questions at the dinner table.

Life-update, please.

Genuine smiles, friendly competition.

Teasing that cuts just below the rib;

All in good faith.

We should make plans soon. Definitely. Definitely.

Part IV

It’s so great that you’ve come to visit.

Put on the tea, let’s get some take-away.

Better not.

You know, I heard you said…

That loan…Of course, of course.

The fair’s coming to town – are you planning to go?

We haven’t decided yet. And you?

Part V

Big celebrations call for big tense smiles.

Something feels different this year or is it just me?

Kids, go outside.

Egg shells, snide comments, a retort.

Word vomit. Stupidity. Unfounded accusations.

The cause? Who knows.

I think it would be better if we stayed out of each others lives.

Part VI

Tentative reconciliations and nervous encounters.

No apologies.

But those aren’t needed in families. Right?

Gossip through the kitchen windows. The whole town is talking.

Have they been saying it’s our fault?

Blood boiling. Forget it. It’s over.

We can go back to the way things were. Right?

Part VII

Re-connection attempted (weakly).

Let’s just pretend everything is okay.

Polite greetings. Impersonal teasing.

Appearances shall be kept.

Big events celebrated together (awkwardly).

Dread this day each year.

Mummy, can we go home yet?

Part VIII

Been a while.

Not sure what you’re up to.

Don’t want to pry. None of my business.

Still celebrate together.For one day each year, fake smiles.

How many more years are we going to keep up this pretense?

And the younger ones dread it; such a bore. They don’t know what they’ve lost;

Impromptu outings, loving teasing, spontaneous water fights,  late-night road trips

A second-home.

 

 

It’s okay.

Some days are good.

Some days are rough.

Stinging eyes.

Pale face.

Shaking hands.

They ask why.

You have no reason.

Just.

Just what?

Just.

Not an answer.

Shrug.

Sigh.

Disappointment, you are.

Nod. Acceptance.

You take it in.

Engrave it. Believe it.

Disappointment. 

Dis-

-dis-app-

disapp-

disapp-oint-

disappoint-ment

Disappointment.

Feel the words.

Listen to the letters.

Accept it.

Live your life by it.

Some days are good.

Some days are rough.

Stinging eyes.

Pale face.

Shaking hands.

They ask why.

You have no reason.

Just.

Just what?

Just.

Not an answer.

Shrug.

Pause.

That’s okay.

O-kay.

Okay.

Okay.

Engrave it. Believe it.

Use it as a rubber.

Scrub it out…

Disappointment.

Disappoint-

Disapp-

Dis-

Di

.

Replace it.

It’s okay.

 

 

Toothbrushes kissing

It’s the small things, that she misses.

The toothbrushes kissing,

on the windowsill.

The two pairs of keys,

dancing in the hall way.

The shoes fighting;

his trainers army straight,

her heels tumbling,

on their sides.

The sounds of two alarm clocks,

fighting for attention.

The phone chargers,

keeping each other company.

She misses listening to the conversations,

of his coffee machine,

and her kettle.

She misses the childish behaviour,

of the television,

she misses how it used to disturb her peace.

(Keep it down!)

Mud stains.

Tapping feet.

Overflowing cupboards.

Extra washing.

She misses it all.

Most days though, it’s not too bad,

She can ignore the fact that toothbrush is lonely,

ignores the fact that the keys,

are doing a solo performance.

Most days, she can put the heels up straight,

she can tell herself that she’s okay,

convince herself that she’s thankful.

for one alarm

for tea in peace,

for the absence of annoyances.

But then that day comes around,

and her house won’t let her have peace.

It fights against her.

The single set of keys,

jingles

louder

and

louder

and cries

for

it’s partner.

The single alarm,

wails.

The kettle grieves.

She hides under her duvet.

And tells herself to

Stop.

Stop thinking.

But the TV roars.

And the memories come back.

And it’s all kissing toothbrushes, dancing keys, footwear fighting, alarm clocks singing,

It’s ‘I love you’

It’s ‘I’ll see you later’

It’s a

knock on a door

It’s a

scene from a movie

Not real.

Not real.

 

It’s ‘I’m sorry for your loss’

Not real

Not real.

Too real. 

 

Cold Burn

Her mother told her to stay away from fire.

‘Don’t get too close.”

It wasn’t a problem,

she was never a daredevil,

the fire didn’t call to her,

the warmth wasn’t alluring.

The chances of the flames touching her,

were slim to none.

She stuck to the outskirts,

stood far away from it,

content in her isolation.

She was stronger than the others,

resisted the temptation.

Someone should have told her,

there was more than one way,

to be burned.

It started slowly,

the cold,

then began to sit in her bones.

All alone, she started to shrink.

There was no warmth,

there was no heat.

The fire felt Oh, so far away.

She could spot it in the distance,

its’ red and orange halo,

surrounding the crowds,

all huddled together.

They looked smug…

and snug.

But she pitied them all the same;

didn’t they know,

how dangerous it was?

Fools.

Yes, the were fools,

she thought,

as her teeth began chattering.

The flames were at a safe distance,

far

far

away

but there was some-

thing,

some-

thing

occur-r

-ing,

it started at the t-t-tips,

and made it’s way up,

it burnt,

it burnt,

it burnt.

 

The fire suddenly looked inciting.


 

Not sure about this poem- a big experiment!

Daily prompt: Burn

My mother

My mother is warmth.

I watch her in Awe.

How she exudes her love,

her kindness,

her humour.

My mother and I,

are very different.

She is good with people.

(I am not).

She is resilient.

(I am not).

 

My mother is strength.

She’s the comfort to childhood nightmares,

she holds my dreams,

she knows my fears.

I never knew it before.

We argued.

We had disagreements.

I always said,

she wouldn’t understand.

I misunderstood

her warnings,

her advice,

for…

dictatorship.

I was a teenager,

(synonym for stupid).

 

My mother is empathy.

She forgives my transgressions,

she showers me with her love,

her concern,

and I…

I push back and say

“gosh, I’m twenty-one”.

 

My mother is not perfect,

she is over-protective,

a perfectionist,

she is too sensitive

and we argue,

we argue,

but these arguments,

are becoming

further

and

further

apart.

More and more,

we spend time

talking.

And more and more

I am in awe.

 

 

The abandoned

They made for a beautiful picture,

your Abandoned dreams.

Neglectfully discarded,

they still managed to scatter

beautifully on the ground.

It was strange watching them.

Each time you looked,

you saw something new.

Another piece of the story,

of the dreams and their shattering.

It was strange.

And sometimes,

when the light reflected harshly,

painful.

The glare was too strong.

You had to turn away.

Sometimes you could walk,

among them,

understand the reasoning,

for their abandonment.

 

On most occasions, the

shattered fragments lay dormant

and buried.

Abandoned under a sea of other choices,

until you step on one of the sharp corners,

and they prick you.

Angry at their abandonment,

they stab you.

It’s uncomfortable,

to say the least.

And then they start to reflect the tales,

of what could have been.

This bit’s the hardest.

If only you’d tried.

 

If only you’d tried.