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 

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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 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? 

This is how I understand 

I was walking down the street 

Minding my own business

When I noticed the car

Passing by was moving 

Way too slowly

Men in the front seat

Ogled my body 

Honking their horn

And making me wonder

Why 

I was wearing jeans 

And a t shirt

I wasn’t even showing off anything 

This is how I 

Start shaming myself

For no good reason 

This is how I

Become more wary 

Towards the intentions of men 

This is how I 

Realize the world 

Is very broken 

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 

Invalidated 

It’s amazing that 

You could share 

So many things 

With a person 

And they still find

Ways to hate you 

It’s amazing 

You could understand 

So many things 

About a person 

And they still find 

Ways to accuse you of misunderstanding 

It’s amazing 

you could know someone very well 

They still find 

Ways to assume bad about you 

It’s amazing 

You could

Be tolerant to many things 

People still find ways to judge 

It’s amazing 

You could not do any harm 

People still find ways 

To insist you’re evil 

It’s amazing 

The lengths 

We go 

To invalidate

Each other

Stepping on our souls 

Instead of proppelling 

Each other forwards 

Influence 

Social hierarchy 

Is such a funny thing 

Because I always see

People gravitate 

Towards the ones with 

The most money,

The best clothing style,

The most popularity.

If you always 

Listen to the kids 

Who have all the attention 

Then complain 

About receiving none

When you are 

Marginalized 

Made an outsider 

How can we create true change? 

Stop following the crowds

Make your own damn

Change 

Opinions 

I dislike 

When

Individuals 

Can’t 

Form

Their 

Own 

Opinions 

Please, 

Don’t copy off of me

Figure who you are 

Who you’re meant to be 

We don’t need carbon copies 

We need voices 

Of people who are sure 

Of who they are 

Not what they could be 

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 

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 parents 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