Accent 

Without the timbre

And cadence of my native language,

I feel lost

In a sea of people who

wish to conform to superficial ideals.

I wish to speak in a tongue

That brings me closer

To the ones that I love,

To the land I was born in.

I wish to express the joy

In sharing stories and

Sharing woes

For language unites us all.

I feel expressively distant

From the culture and the roots

That helped me grow.

I feel tethered to the land I’m in,

Only because I speak the same tongue.

I wish I could express

My diversity,

My compassion for my identity

In a cadence

In a timbre

That is all my own.

Hidden in the recesses of my parent’s pasts

And their struggles moving to a new land,

This compassion,

This identity I seek is

Derived from my mother tongue

Left behind on this new land

Which is not truly my home.

For I have lost

Understanding of my family.

My cousins and my grandmother

Live at a distance,

And we only have faces

To remind us of our ancestry.

I wish I could speak

My native language!

I wish I had the accent

Of a girl who has just arrived

From the place she would have stayed

When born,

But left, because opportunity

Seemed more inviting.

I never knew

How much sacrifice

And compromise this change

Would make

To my identity.

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Blessings and Lessons

To be faraway

From the land that

My mother and my father know,

As if it were the back of their hand

Is a bittersweet reminder

Of all the sacrifices

We have made.

To be faraway

From the cousins, aunts, and uncles

That have created their homes

Is a bitter reminder

That our struggles will never be the same.

To be faraway

From a country where patriarchal views

Dominate

And education while present

Is lacking quality

Is a sweet reminder

Of what I have gained.

To be faraway

From the land where

Our religion is prominent,

And the language is spoken

As if the wind and the air carried it

Is a bittersweet reminder

Of all that could be lost.

A sea so vast and treacherous separates us,

We sail away from our country

To be faraway from the land

Known as a terrorist hub.

Misguided opinions and misinformation

Aplenty by the media,

I swallow a bitter pill and

Become cautious and careful

Of where I come from.

I must not show pride.

I must not show care.

For I don’t belong there

Any longer.

To be faraway

From the place where

Traditions and customs are so ingrained

That breaking the mold is not an option

Is a bittersweet reminder

That all freedom comes with sacrifice.

As I sit still,

In the land of the free

And the home of the brave,

I wonder if

We even deserve these names?

For I have family,

I have loved ones

In a land faraway.

I hope to God

They are safe and sound

As we throw threats and assumptions,

Destroying the home

And destroying the lives of plenty.

For who am I

Without the knowledge

That I come from

Faraway?

Pakistan

Peaceful nights are 
Awaiting ahead
My momma tells Me 
the whistle man
Is nowhere close by
To take my slumber 
I fall asleep to humid fans
The smell of dust 
And of clothing coming out 
Of suitcases after long days
Not sure when
Wretched heat will take over
I sleep close to a withering body
And a youngster 
Trying to find that thread 
Between reality and peace 
Slowly sinking 
The smell of cooked Bryani 
Hovering over my brown skin 
My belly full
Humid air circulating 
Across the wide bed 
With Limbs splayed 
Here is the hearth 
Where I was born 
Here is the language of 
My ancestors 
Here is the land 
We have drawn blood and arms for
To cleave ourselves from 
The motherland 
To claim a home 
For the downtrodden 
A crescent moon shines in the sky 
The stars hidden still 
By smog and pollution
I know they shine upon 
This green land 
This prideful country 
Still I stay 
In the midst of sleep and wake 
It’s a land far from imagination 
If I just open an old suitcase
I’m once again 
In the place I could’ve been 
Yet I’m farther away now 
Than I’ve ever been 
A blessing 
And a lesson 

Naked Yet Clothed

And while my adorned shalwar kameez 

Drapes around my body 

It’s not an invitation to admire me 

While my long Niqab  

Covers me completely 

It’s not an invitation to judge me 

While my hijab covers my hair 

From plain sight 

It’s not an invitation to assume about me 

While I wear shirts and jeans 

It’s not an invitation to catcall me 

While I wear dresses and heels

It’s not an invitation to grope me 

While I wear a saree

It’s not an invitation to ogle me

My body is not: 

A viewing pleasure

A touching pleasure

Your pleasure

An object 

Reality of Asian Representation 

Someone mentioned 

That they thought 

Representation 

For Asians 

Is so hard 

Because as a community 

We will never have enough 

People to represent our 

Social Justice Causes 

It’s so sad because 

That’s true.

It’s all due to 

Model Minority 

Creating so few of the scholars

And activists 

We need to inspire change 

Life and Death 

I have been close enough 

To death 

To feel it infiltrate my thoughts 

On more than one occasion

I have felt the fear of losing 

And letting go 

And sinking into eternal slumber 

Yet Death is so charismatic 

And whilst terrifying 

Presents a lusty thought 

Of escape 

And the part of me

Anchored to reality 

Anchored to my life 

And my family 

Drops me to my knees 

Not in surrender 

But pleading for mercy 

I believe that only One 

Who has borne you and created you 

From mud and clay 

Can return you to a grave 

When it is your time 

And it is one of the many reasons 

I am still here 

Today 

Colors

Today, without meaning to 

Someone reminded me 

That the color of my skin 

Made me a foreigner 

Made me an outsider 

It’s a bittersweet reminder 

That I don’t belong 

Even in a place that is now home 

Sajdah 

And I stand in the direction of Mecca 

Praying towards the Qibla 

I stand straight and tall 

My confidence unwavering 

And I bow

My hands to my knees 

Wishing for reprieve 

From the most Merciful 

I move into sajdah 

To show my love 

My devotion to God 

I am vulnerable 

My hands beside my head 

My face down on a sigdigah 

Made of the same mud clay as I 

And as I raise up I begin 

To realize I came from the soil 

Of the Earth Created by One 

Again I move into sajdah 

I will return to whence I came from 

And as I raise my head 

I acknowledge 

I will rise on the Day of Judgment 

From my resting place 

Summoned

نماز [prayer]

I pray 

That I will see the fruits of my labor 

Come to light 

I pray 

That I will find the faith 

That I have lost 

I pray 

Wishing to feel

More than pain

I pray 

for reprieve 

From my thoughts 

I pray and I pray 

My eyes  unseeing 

My heart unbelieving 

I pray 

Standing still 

My prayer is 

I hope to regain 

The faith that I’ve lost