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From the moment a screaming woman thrusts us into the world,
Soft, bloody heads first.
We begin to deteriorate.
For some, that occurs at a faster pace than others.
I began to diminish in quality while I was still in the womb.
When THEY found out I was to be born a girl,
When THEY decided what I could and couldn’t do before I could walk.
When THEY decided what I could and couldn’t say before I could talk.
I first felt their presence when I was four and told I couldn’t play with action figures,
Then the beast grew.
Every time THEY told me
“Girls don’t do that”
“You’re becoming too American”
“Our culture is better than that”
Every word THEY said was a new laceration.
A fresh stinging sore
With every slice of that familiar jagged,
And rusty, fungus-infested knife,
I lost more and more blood.
When I turned sixteen,
I ran out of blood to give.
But THEY demanded more.
So I gave sweat,
I had no more tears,
No more saliva,
Red hot lies have replaced the blood THEY have been leaking out of me since I began to produce it.
And I feel no remorse.
When THEY told me to wear their primitive garments so people didn’t
“look at me the wrong way”,
As soon as I was beyond their field of vision,
I ripped off the heavy layers of starch-filled fabric, still rife with the smell of Pakistan,
So when THEY told me to come straight home,
I went out with a boy until one in the morning.
When THEY told me those good Pakistani-Muslim girls don’t talk to men they’re not related to
And don’t go anywhere without a chaperone,
I went downtown with that boy and let his thickly-sweet words flow into my ears like molasses.
When THEY said that good Pakistani-Muslim girls don’t touch, much less, look at boy until they’re married against their will,
Until they’re shackled down to a stranger,
I kissed him,
For far too long,
And gave him far too much.
He didn’t care that I was
That his freedom would be blown into me,
That I could emancipate myself with his lips,
That his hands would find their way up my waist,
Past my ribs,
Through my hair,
And into my mind
That I could say everything I wanted to,
While staying silent.
Now, my lips, red from biting and blood,
Only open to reveal hollow gasps because that is all THEY heard when I spoke.
My arms, sturdy and strong at birth are now branches of a decrepit willow tree.
They were trying to keep me from the monster of society,
The “plague of the west”
The “مہلک امریکی طریقوں”
Or “Deadly American ways”
But THEY fed,
And gave birth to an even bigger,
gory demon inside of me.