Afghan Blood is Cheap

Afghan blood is cheap

Is it a spill on a rug.

The type that let seep in and say,

“It’s okay, that rug is old. No one will see the stain.”

Your mom would probably notice it.

She bought the rug.

Your dad will probably notice it too.

He loves that rug.

But your friends,

The guests that embrace your house every other year won’t.

It’s okay.

You’ll buy a new one.

Ha.

But you can’t buy a new motherland.

One that is free of invasion.

Occupation.

Free of bombs and bloodshed.

Afghan blood is cheap they say.

A stain on a rug.

The type you let seep in.

The white man says “shoot their savage asses.”

He spills blood.

The stain gets bigger.

The brown man shrugs,

and says “other places go through the same, why should i care?”

He allows the blood to be spilled

The stain gets bigger.

The man in the suit reports on it like it was expected of us.

Your passive aggressiveness is infectious.

The stain gets bigger.

The man leading prayer at the masjid skips over us in his closing duas.

You’re silent.

The stain just got bigger.

My mother notices it.

My father notices it.

I begin to notice too.

Afghan blood is cheap.

A spill on a rug.

A stain.

The type you let seep in.

#KabulStrong May Allah preserve the motherland. May Allah give my people strength, patience and safety. Ameen.

The male ego.

I met a man who claimed to be the sun

He told me he shines bright in the sky

He is the source

and he is the reason others grow

I whispered into his ear and told him he is more like the clouds

Gloomy and hard to read

A bad day to be foreseen

“You hide the sun actually,”

He then told me rain comes from the clouds

so he is the reason he makes others grow

He told me I was a flower

“I am the sun and the clouds and you are my flower”

I told him I was not a flower

I was not something seasonal

Something temporary

Something that dies

When the skies bleed the most

“I am not your casualty”

He told me flowers were beautiful

“They’re colorful and bright, you are colorful and bright”

No.

I am strong as a tree bark

I am the source of breath

Not a flower with limited time to its own death

I am a tree but you are not the sun

You are not the clouds

You are Cherry Blossoms on my branches

Once a year you show yourself

But within a week you deplete

You are a flower

So colorful and bright

Easy on the eyes

But nothing else.

 

 

 

Silent Observations.

Silent observations.

Man sitting next to woman.
Woman does not know man.
Man drops something.
Woman picks it up.
Man and woman speak.
They went to the same school.
Man and woman exchange numbers.
I wonder what happens next.
Silent observations.
16 or 17 year old has a crumbled paper in one hand the other holding onto the subway pole.
What is she studying for?
I see numbers.
Maybe her regents?
No those aren’t till next month.
Maybe her APs?
Does it look like calculus?
Is it stats?
Silent Observations.
Man with guitar plays a song.
People listen.
People pretend not to hear.
Some enjoyed.
Didn’t give a tip.
“Thank you ladies and gentlemen,” he says.
Silent Observations.
Woman with bad highlights.
Puts on makeup.
Subway brakes.
So does her makeup.
Man tired on subway cart sleeping.
Was it a late night shift?
Early morning class?
Do you need coffee?
Silent Observations
Girls and boys enter on the next stop.
Two girls share headphones and listen to music.
One girl and boy in the corner touching.
Is the public your private because your private is too public?
I wonder what your families are like.
Silent Observations.
Woman sits on subway.
Observing.
Wonders if she can relate to any of the passengers.
Silent observations.
Woman gets off stop.
Buys a cup of coffee.
Cheers to the sleepless man on the 7.
I learned something today.
Wear your makeup at home.
Silent Observations.

I am numb 

I can sit in the middle of the grass
On a cold day

With a tshirt on

And a pair of sweatpants 

And stare at my fingers as they turn purple

And the hair on my arms standing up

Yet for some reason it doesn’t bother me

I am suddenly numb to the things that cause me discomfort 

I can be on line for coffee and a man suddenly taps my shoulder because I am

Next in line

“sorry” he says.

“No worries that’s fine,” I say 

I am suddenly numb to the things that cause me discomfort

A man told me that he liked calling ladies he didn’t know pretty. But they never say thank you.

“Maam you’re beautiful. I mean it. Now what do you say?”

“…uhm. Thanks? I guess.”

I am suddenly numb to the things that cause me discomfort .

I used to leave my home with a full face of makeup

I stopped.

I am suddenly numb to the things that cause me discomfort 

I visited his grave a few times. 

“Remember death” they say.

And I remembered

But to be honest now I forget

And the tears have dried out

I am suddenly numb to the things that cause me discomfort 

He touched my leg 

I moved it away and he smiled, so I just nodded.

I am suddenly numb to the things that cause me discomfort 

“Fuck your religion man,” I overheard 

I didn’t step in. I left.

I am suddenly numb to the things that cause me discomfort

I heard a man say “come home with me” while crossing the street

I turned the volume of my music higher

I am suddenly numb to the things that cause me discomfort 

I sat on the grass and let the storm kick in

I wanted to leave.

I stayed. Got soaked.

I don’t know if I was numb to this thing that caused me discomfort but I stayed.

Child Of Immigrants Entry Submissions

Hello all!
Currently working on a short book based on hyphenated identities, the immigrant experience, as well as Islamophobia Post 9-11. The entries take the form of monologues, and commentary on experiences from personal life. I am adding a section in which “children of immigrants” can submit their narratives, in any shape or form, in any language ( as long as it’s translated into English), on anything related to those topics.  The book will be published some time mid October through CreateSpace and credit will be given to the author. Those who have submitted will receive a copy of the book as well! You can email your submissions to neghena23@gmail.com with the Subject line “Child of Immigrants” or fill out this Google form. ://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdsw5h1lgTdFwq4fQ_UqN0zykTQj5weBLdvRpRx6lFj2tklkA/viewform

Here are examples of narratives.

Ramadan Reflection: Allah, Anxiety, Spirituality, oh MY!

 

I remember one night in Turkey I couldn’t go to sleep because of this weird feeling in my chest. It was 4 A.M, my roommates were asleep, and I had absolutely no service to talk to anyone about the way I was feeling at the moment. I couldn’t breathe. My body was facing the ceiling, paralyzed in bed, wanting to get up and soak myself in cold water to get out of it. I couldn’t breathe at all. I kept on taking huge breaths of air to make the feeling in my chest go away but it ended up making it worse. I just started breaking down silently so no one would wake up. “Why am I here, why can’t I pray properly, I’m in a country with the call to prayer being read aloud 5 times a day, why is this not the best Ramadan,” were all questions in my head as I tried to figure out a way to control my breathing. I felt as if I was going to die, I wanted to leave this country, I wanted to go home and so I did. I called Turkish Airlines the next morning and changed my departure to two weeks earlier. Perhaps it is being away from home that affected iman in such a great length. Perhaps I should be around more family, perhaps it was because I was surrounded by a culture that was not familiar to me and I could not understand the lectures in Turkish. What was the point of being in a country for Ramadan when you can’t even grasp knowledge in your own tongue?  Why did I have this anxiety and why did it not go away even during this Holy month?

Two years later, and I realized that I do not have anxiety because of my lack of iman. I do not have anxiety because I’m a “bad Muslim.” It is not because of my struggle to establish the prayers. It is not because of my struggle to have patience.  I have anxiety. It affects my spirituality greatly. There is a difference.

This Ramadan, I felt as if I was stuck in a dark tunnel, just waiting for the days to be over to see the light at the end. Everyone around me had this high, had this excitement, they had the time to do the things they wanted to do.They attended lectures, they read Quran, they prayed night prayers, they went to Iftars. They had their goals, they had this community they felt like they were a part of, as I always felt as if my fast was not accepted because there was more I could have done but did not do.   It wasn’t because of laziness, it wasn’t because of this lack of interest in the religion, or being close to Allah, to be honest, I did not know what it was. It was if I had a wall in front of me, and a wall in back of me, and wall from my left side and my right side, boxing me in, limiting me in what my capacity was. It was as if I was not capable of being this person with spirituality.

It was the first time in about 7 years I missed Taraweeh prayers because of work. So I blamed it on the lack of connectivity with the Masjid and the people. “This is why my Ramadan is lame, because I’m not in the Masjid,” I told myself. So I went to the Masjid one night right after work, and I wanted to leave right away. The fear of breaking fast with others and being in the same room for with everyone became all too familiar so I left.This was not my community, this was not my home, I needed to leave.

I told myself, “hey, maybe its because of knowledge, maybe you should gain more knowledge and read upon the religion more.” So I did, but there was no love in it. There wasn’t an attachment to know more. I bought books, read a few chapters, and left them on my desk to collect dust. I downloaded lectures, listened to them on the train, took notes, but I was not affected by them as I once was when I had this iman high when  I was 16 or 17. What is going on? Why is this year so different? Why can’t I have this connection with Allah anymore?

I do not have that answer even til now. The end of Ramadan is near, and do I feel like a changed person? Do I feel like I am recharged with iman? No. Sadly no. I tried. Or, at least I think I tried. I broke into more panic attacks this Ramadan than the voluntarily ibadaah I could have engaged in. I had more depressing thoughts than zikr on my mind this year.But I realized one thing, and if it was not for Ramadan, I probably would not have realized it to the fullest. Your iman is never going to be the same. Your iman is never going to be at the highest. Life is going to come at you, and the only thing you can do is protect your iman and prevent it from getting lower. Yes, it might be low. Yes, the thoughts might eat you up inside. Yes, waking up for Fajr sometimes is physically impossible, not because of your sleep but because you physically feel paralyzed facing your ceiling indulged in thoughts. Protect it. Be aware. Try. Explore your heart, what works for you, what engages you. Allah sees efforts and what you did to get to your goal not the actual goal itself. Ramadan is a month of recharge, but its also a month of reflection. I reflected on myself and my relationship with Allah alot this month, and although, it maybe rocky, it may lack a lot of connection as compared to previous years, I reflected, and I am ready to recharge.

May Allah make us among those who worship Him as if we see Him. May Allah give us hearts that allow us to be conscious of His mercy. May Allah protect our hearts and our iman and allow us to become closer to him. Ameen ya Rab!

 

 

 

 

Oh white boy.

 

“I don’t understand why you get mad about the government surveillance? Your kind usually does this stuff, if anything it’s a good thing, making us more safe.”
I was in utter shock
“Makes YOU feel more safe” I said
AND WHAT ABOUT ME?
Must I open my bag all the time when a cop asks?
Must I watch my back every second after 6 just to make sure no one follows me?
Must I have to explain to people why I wear this on my head?
Must I wear a hat when I feel unsafe
Or walk with a buddy till I know I’m in good faith
Must I be paranoid all the time when I turn on the news?
In hopes of my name not being tainted by Trump or Ted CruZ?
What exactly makes you feel unsafe oh white boy with so much privilege?
Oh, do you get stopped a lot?
Stopped and frisked?
Do they stop you?
Because you have too many textbooks in your bag?
From studying all day?
Do they ever stop you?
What exactly makes you feel unsafe?
Are you afraid any moment I might get violent for religious purposes?
Perhaps I may, but on the grounds of your ignorance to be honest
Oh white boy
Tell me
Just tell me
Who is your government making safe?
Cause I feel threatened by your mere appearance right now
What if I assume you have a gun in your bag?
Should I wear a bullet proof vest from now on to be on the safe side?
That’ll make me feel safe
But I’m sure you would whine and such
Of how discriminatory that is?
Oh white boy, so please please
Enlighten me
Why should I be surveillanced while your kind gets to roam around freely?
Oh white boy
I just don’t understand
Why you think my rights should be violated
As you get to enjoy this land
Oh white boy I guess it makes sense
Your history in this land
Is based on stealing for gains
Without being reprimanded

When it hits you

When it hits you

There are actual people
In this world

Who don’t know their history

and think it’s okay

To tell us

We are the bad ones

We are the evil ones

We need to be gone

When it was their kind

Who created wars

Who have guns

Who shout racial slurs

All just for fun

Who regulate the business of a women inside her

Who think they own our rights to live

Who can’t differentiate from a Kurds and the Quds

Who think it’s okay to come into my place of worship and have us be on high alert

Who place a group into one big box

And stamp their labels creating this huge American paradox

Who tell us what to do

And when to speak out

And tell us we represent a minority

When it hits you that there is someone with so much hate in the world

Who despises you

Without knowing you

Who thinks it’s morally okay to kill you if you were 1000 miles away

There are people out there representing a whole ideology of hate

From what I know

It’s not from my side

But from the side of the nation state

They systematically work against you

For just being alive

For being true to your beliefs

It makes you wonder

Why.

What did I do to deserve this?

Just breathing makes you want to see me gone.

I know the drill

 

“Go home”
So I did

I walked four blocks to my house

Opened the door

And went inside

Isn’t that what he meant?

“the rag on her head doesn’t belong here”

Yet, they appropriate it when it’s fun

And even have “turban headbands” in forever21

I sat on the train in silence as there were two seats empty from my left and my right

Even though the train was packed

Maybe they were looking out for my comfort?

“Don’t your people kill for fun? How many have you killed?”

Is an actual question

Every part of me wants to give you a finger

But I know I can’t be angry

So I smile

And laugh.

“None. It’s against our beliefs.”

And I walk away

“You’re ruining us and this country.”

But I took out loans. I work two jobs just to pay for my education. So I can be something. I don’t get it.

“We have soldiers ready to shoot your ass to where you came from”

I was born here.

My parents fled here because of a proxy war.

Where would I go.

“Be safe.”

Is what I hear everyday when I leave home because now that’s a reality.

“Wear a hoodie. Your hijab is too visible”

Is actually a piece of advice I take now.

“Don’t stand too close to the platform of the train.”

I know. I know the drill.

I know the drill.

I know it way too well.

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