Soaring Forever

February 27, 2008
By Mariam Siddiqui, Mason, OH

Freedom. I gently drape my wings around my head, eager to fly.
The golden leaves danced with the wind as the fresh summer breeze kissed my cheeks. My scarf flew in the direction of the wind as I pulled it around my head and hastily reached down into my jeans pocket for a safety pin.
Secured in my other hand was a wounded bird, surrounded by comforting paper towels to ease its pain. The pride I felt when I held the bird vanished as I noticed the pain in its eyes. It was the look of betrayal and bewilderment, as it surrendered itself into my anxious hands.
Birds are born to sing the colors of freedom and fly above corruption. She can make it . . . she can make it.
Releasing the control of my comforting grasp, I motioned the bird to fly. Though apprehensive, her eyes expressed fortitude. She struggled herself to stand and pushed her wings against the forceful breeze. . .
I hear the harsh whispers as I walk nervously down the school hallway—my first day wearing hijab.

. . . and it flew. Never before had I noticed the majestic movements of the wings of a bird as it gracefully draped itself above the grass, dancing with the wind—free in unison. By simply moving my hand to free the bird, I also freed my heart towards maturity and wisdom.
I keep on reciting the Quranic verse: Fainna Ma’al ‘Usri Yusra. “Surely, with every hardship there is ease.” The hateful gaze, a friend betrayed, eyes sting with tears. The tranquility in my heart remains.
Then she stopped. Her frantic wings persevered, but her body was too weak to carry on. She descended like a lonesome snowflake bidding the sky farewell—disillusioned by the kindness of the wind. The bird dropped, as did my heart, as did my hopes. I picked her up into my hands and let her breathe. Her soft painful chirps once used to sing joyful melodies, but now she struggles to express a note. I brushed her gently with my finger.
Taking a deep breath, I enter my classroom. The silent insults dart towards me, and my heart takes in each one of the arrows and lets my mind and emotions feel the pain.

The last heartbeat struggles through as the delicate wings close perpetually, tucked beside the muffled chest of the bird. My tears’ rhythmic movements resemble the bleeding wells of a sudden wound, erupting without thought, without wisdom, without control.
Fighting back the anxious tears, I dissolve the negative stares by simply smiling, expressing my confidence. Suddenly, a light shattered the darkness of confusion and judgment around me.
Her eyes were facing the sky when she died, symbolizing her undying perseverance and optimism. The wings that soared above the spirit of the sky, the wings that raced the wintry winds to protection, the wings that flew with freedom are now motionless. But her soul is liberated and will always be. She will fly forever and sing with passion. Forever.
“You are God’s soldier, Mariam,” said my mom as she wiped away my sensitive tears, “Stay strong.” I will sing my melody. I will not be afraid.
The bird is perched in my heart with expanded wings, making my heart fly towards my dreams. Every day the mirror reflects my tranquility as I wrap my hijab as it drapes over my shoulders like wings of undying confidence. And I will expand my wings and soar to my passionate desires, even though the thorns of stereotype prick my wings as I journey. The wings of freedom will never tire; they will kindle the spirit of dignity and hope. Forever.

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