Sameness Of Days

I have to say it annoys me when people get too personal with their poetry. Perhaps unreasonably, it feels almost as if they’re forcing the burden of their emotion on you, like that person who you meet once and they tell you every tragedy in their life. It becomes, for me, unrelatable- but that isn’t the entire point, is it?? Just one of my pet peeves. Which is why I don’t like posting poems that are too personal to me.(I guess I’m very private, and if I start complaining it means I’m really really worked up. No one in family knows or ever knew that at one point in time I was suicidally depressive, and that’s how confiding I am.) There is something very freeing about anonymity. This is about depression.

Sameness Of Days

into another and
into another and
into another and
into…….
sameness of days
grimy grey bright hot
whimpering medley
sameness of days and
into another…..
sameness of work and
sameness of leisure
words swim before my eyes
under fingers
no pleasure
and into another and
into-
waiting for someone
white hot rose
to break the momentum
of unfelt blows
and into another and
into another and
into……..

Food Talk

Eating in public. I mean, it’s simple, right? You buy the food (if you have any money, or if you don’t, sit around sadly until someone offers at least a drink)  and you usually sit down. Then most people will lift their greasy goodness or their loaded fork to their mouth and- well, you know the drill.

But what if……..your mouth………is covered up? That is, behind a veil of cloth. Light cloth you can breathe through, but………not light enough to let a fork through?

That can present a major problem- for me. (Well, only minor, because my part time job isn’t really an eating out salary and I haven’t yet mastered the art of bamboozling men into buying me food on a date. Or- okay, I don’t go on dates, but still.) Often it’s not so much the eating itself as people all watching intently to see how you eat veiled, thereby depriving you of the privacy needed to lift the veil and……..eat. (There, I said it. Lift the veil.) Not even lift it all the way, but if you want to fit a burger underneath without making a mess, it requires a pretty good flip of the niqab and everyone sees what you were covering.

So sometimes, you just can’t eat. You sit there staring at your food while the rest of the patrons stare at you, and count the sesame seeds and salt granules and wonder if the restaurant will ever empty. And then everyone gets a bit impatient. ‘I just don’t feel comfortable,’ only goes so far with other people. Even if you truly do feel uncomfortable with giving people a show when all all you wanted to do is eat- the stares are uncomfortable, the not eating is uncomfortable, and starving, I have to say, may top both.

But wait! All is not a bottomless pit of despair and starvation! There is a savior- permit me to introduce the Side Flip.

It’s not really so much a flip as an artful lift. (An artful lift of the veil- shades of Orientalism!) It’s lifting your niqab not up from the front, but open from the side. Sounds weird, but it looks fine, and if I can eat ice cream…..well, I’m weird already. I wish I could say it took a twirl of the finger, a specially timed lift, and a tilt of the head, but really you just slip it open on the side away from people (in case you always wonder why niqabis like getting a seat by the wall, it’s not because we’re afraid of being shot) and eat like everyone else. If you’re eating something big- I guess you guys can tell I like burgers- you can lift it open further and hold your hand- the hand that’s already holding it open- open a little, or in a delicate half-fist or something to provide coverage. That works. But if you’ve got a seat in the center of the arena and an audience to boot, you might not be comfortable, like I said- in which case I order a smoothie. Delicious, fulfilling, and you can always tell your friends your niqab makes you svelte. (Even thought you go home and tear off your hijab and pig a grilled cheese.)

There’s also another solution. Just put the food under your niqab and make a mess if you’re the arty careless type. Then go home, because you’ll be a mess.

A fork is in some way another story. I’m pretty sure every niqabi has at some time or other lifted a fork (probably while talking wittily to someone) and tried to put it in her mouth right through the veil. I know I’ve done it; it’s a bit awkward because people don’t understand how you can forget you have it on, and you come across as a complete airhead. (I mean, you can’t forget you have pants on, they think. Well, if they were as light as a well made niqab, you probably could!)

(I’m sure there will be some incredulous wonderers as to why on earth we go to all that trouble. Read my previous articles! )

Disclaimer: The picture does not depict me. I would never be able to eat rice with my fingers in public; so whoever you are, you have reached a talent above mine and I will refrain from claiming your accomplishment.

 

 

Since You Know Me.

You decide for me, that I’ll never ride a horse or go skydiving (ambitions of mine). You know me, straitlaced and innocent. You know me better than I know myself.

I’m what a lot of people- too many people-would call extreme. Unfathomable, maybe.

Walking down the street all I uncover is my eyes and my hands. Although I’m not walking like a dying flower, I don’t swing my hips or wear shoes that click super loud. Just eighteen. I get a smile. You’re eighteen? I’ve never even had a crush! Not even from a distance! I’ve never been to prom, never been to a movie! I mean, the closest I’ve gotten to drugs and alcohol is Dramamine and the vanilla in my grandmother’s cake! I’ve never touched a man who wasn’t related to me, never been made a pass at (understandably!) don’t listen to music, and for Pete’s sake I’ve never even taken a selfie!

So I guess people get an image. I must be really demure. Probably nice, at best, and at worst a crusader to get you to be like me. My mother is a religious teacher- wow, I must be the most straitlaced person ever. I have a soft voice unless I’m really lively; my teacher used to laugh at me because I had such a ‘soft little voice’ and people tend to shape up around me. You said a four-letter-word??? See me swoon! You walked past me without…a…shirt???? I’m forever corrupted, tumbling offended in the dirty world of shirtless men! You mentioned sex? Sure, I’m eighteen and think babies come out of a- an incubator! Yeah. Or at least I only have a faint idea!

It can be both amusing and tiresome. I don’t use curse words, and I prefer you don’t, but I’m not eternally offended and condemning you to my blacklist. It’s kind of sweet when people cover more in respect to me, but I don’t expect you to and won’t be offended if you don’t.

But you never think of the side of me that wants to get red streaks in my hair.You think it’s impossible for me to have a (slightly wicked) sense of humor.You wouldn’t guess I’m the one who sometimes says the things that make my sisters gasp.You don’t guess at the girl who plugs in her earbuds and tears it up dancing down the forest trail near my house.You don’t ever imagine that I can be a little wild in my own way, a little crazy, and still stay inside the lines Islam draws for me.

I want to get my nose pierced, but am yet summoning the moxie to charge into the town’s intimidating tat place and demand a piercing.My fashion preferences are crimson and peacock blue and black, silk and denim and cotton, elegant and restrained, but wait. I don’t know fashion, out in my fashionless hijab, and for you there is no other world for me. You decide for me, that I’ll never ride a horse or go skydiving (ambitions of mine). You know me, straitlaced and innocent. You know me better than I know myself. You know my teenage years- but wait.

You don’t. You just don’t. You don’t know the raging storm my teen years have been. They weren’t like yours, but my fight was real and painful, and loving Allah fiercely as my stay the entire time. I wasn’t in agony and rebellion because I wanted to uncover and go out to a bar. I didn’t want to break the boundaries; I wanted to break myself. (But of course, it was probably because I was so strict. Right. Remind me again, you’re the expert on my life while I take notes.)

Tell me again, all I’m missing in life.Tell me it’s so sad I cover, because I’m so beautiful. I’m ruining my life. Tell me that when I leave my mother’s house I’m going to be tearing off my hijab and turning up Beyonce in my car. You haven’t seen me dance, haven’t seen me cry, haven’t seen me love, but you know me and I’m like the others.

You think, because you read a book written by a white middle class journalist about her ‘journey into the fascinating world of Muslim women’-awww– you know me. Or maybe you happen to read Muslim Girl, and I’m the classic millennial feminist they like to portray, railing against patriarchy and bright in the world of fashion with a liberal sense of religion. Perhaps you picture me as a some kind of houri under the flowing cloth. Or I’m a radical, imported straight from the wild Middle East. Or I’m ‘just a normal girl, but covered!’

A little crazy, innocent, strict, so young, just weird, unbreakable,fragile, little, radical, sassy, extreme, unique, boring. I’ve been called nothing and everything, some of those and none of those, again and again and again.

I’m a mystery. You hate that, admit it.

I love it. And that’s what makes all the difference in the world.