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 

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 and aunts and uncles 

That have created their homes 

Is a bitter reminder 

The struggles faced will never be the same.

To be faraway 

From a country where patriarchal views 

Dominate

And education while Present 

Is lacking of quality

It 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 

We sail away from our country 

To be faraway from the land 

Known as a terrorist hub.

Misguided and misinformed 

Aplenty by media,

A bitter reminder 

To be cautious and careful

Of where we 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.

It’s a bittersweet reminder 

That all freedom comes with sacrifice.

And I sit still 

In the land of the free

The home of the brave 

I wonder if 

We even deserve these names?

For I too, 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? 

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 

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 

A naive young woman 

Is what I thought I was not 

It’s all false 

I am young 

I am innocent 

I still have much to learn 

From the world 

Cruelty at its finest 

Is believing in equality

Based off of feminism 

But forgetting 

That only my white girlfriends 

Get the benefit 

From the uproar 

I am amidst 

Black and brown 

Women of color 

As we are quelled by 

The force of a pristine 

White pump 

We cry for justice 

And representation 

Yet all we get is hair flips 

And dry mascara 

Pulled on purposely 

Our sisters 

Our white swans 

Have our blood on their beaks 

There is no reprieve 

Of suffering 

For the ducklings 

That don’t share 

The fair skin 

Of their family 

Intersectionality

I believe,

No, I am sure 

There is an 

Intersection 

On the roads of Equality 

Where you could meet 

A woman 

Who doesn’t wear makeup 

And she fights for social justice 

You could meet 

A woman of color 

Who fights to end police brutality 

You could meet

A transgender female 

Who rocks those pants

You could meet

A bisexual girl

Who is super sweet to know 

I’m just saying 

That this crossroads 

Is where equality exists 

Not just the straight 

Narrow road 

That forgets about the gender spectrum 

That forgets the narrative of race 

In this godforsaken 

White washed world 

Pronounciation 

Say my name.

Say it right. 

It deserves to be learned.

Just like all the others.

It is not that hard.

It’s just a mixture of letters 

Put together to create a sound.

If you can say 

‘Abracadabra’, ‘Luxembourg’, ‘zenith’

You can say my name.

You can say it

Right.

Fear

I am as sharp as a blade 

Yet I hold no threat 

To your life

And yet, 

You call me 

A terrorist.

An invasive species. 

When all I wanted was

[life]

Self-Recrimination

I did tasks for you 

That weren’t a part of my job description 

I washed your dirty dishes 

And related your messages 

Once I also gave you water like a waiter

Takes orders from his customers 

Then I was shocked later to realize

That I had let myself become your servant 

Who am I kidding? 

There was no emotional manipulation 

From you and your charming ways 

I did it all with my free will 

And that’s how 

I created my own insanity 

In the midst of your company 

I lost my true identity 

I conformed to some unnamed ideals 

And bowed easily 

I can’t cry and scream

Because I still let myself be 

All the things I hoped not to be

Why did I lose myself 

So easily? 
Did I ever know myself at all?

My free will 

Tells it’s own story 

I’m a people pleaser 

Too emotionally attached 

Too easily 

I thought of everyone as my family 

Without considering any boundaries 

Despite the fact we were all strangers 

I wanted others not by blood around me 

So I compromised and let myself have this

 community like it was a special commodity

But, I actually thought it was 

I had myself had 

Because there were problems aplenty 

Miscommunication and mistrust 

Bandwagons of people who 

Left others in the dust

Riding off in the hope of a sunrise

That I’m not too sure will ever come 

In the midst of all the dust 

I’m left standing wondering 

Did I ever know myself at all?