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Friday, January 29, 2016

My Scarf

They think they know me well to analyze or offer advice,
Maybe to improve what they see,
Maybe in anger against what I say,
Or they just want a better me.

I listen to them, politely smile back, and walk away,
But I keep wondering: what is there to change?
Are they annoyed by the way I dress?
                    Jeans and tops
Boots or trainers
And a head-scarf,
Not a stereotype.

(I think, maybe I need to smile less).

Day and night, I roam London streets,
I smile and smile back
when a head-scarfed woman comes ahead:
“Assalam alykum” is expected by both,
Coded greeting to know our own:
We are one community who believe in peace,
“assalam alykum” “wa alyakum alsalam”.
No shia or sunni needs to interfere.
It is a secret language,
Of stereotypes.

They ask me to remove the scarf:
                    Angry maybe
Or they say it with love.
I don’t give it religious sanctity,
But I don’t throw my hair in the wind
Nor let free a suppressed beauty.

They don’t understand what it means,
To throw colors on
Black hair:
Pink and blue,
Sometimes cream.

They don’t get how it makes me feel:
At home, while living nomad in a strange world
It is my mother’s Abaya and my sisters’ familiar eyes
It is the country I have left
                              In fear.

N. F. Mohammed 


Friday, January 22, 2016

Between Here and There

"I don't want to go back,
I am staying here; this is my life goal now",
She said sipping her European coffee,
with eyes set on London's busiest street.

"If all of us abandoned our land,
and decided to enjoy the life we miss there,
then who would guide our people through,
who would lead them out toward the light?"
He wondered, enjoying hot coco.

She looked deep into his small eyes,
she was confused what to say:
he was enjoying the freedom of the foreign land,
but still his heart was left there,
in the country he abandoned.

(Was she a traitor to her people,
did she turned her back in their hardest time?
Do they really need her? Does she have to go back?)

"Then pack your bags and return,
to the land that needs you most.
Why you are still here, while they cry for you there?"

"ah, I can't go back, no one appreciates my talent there,
I can't go back, because I have a life here",

He looked at his watch, "Break is over,
"Time to get back to work",
She saw him hurrying out of the cafe,
Sinking in the crowds,

Her mind still wondering
between life here and there.

Nadia F. Mohammed