I am the oppressed

In this brilliantly perceptive piece, Zehra Khan, a science student at Mama Parsi Girls’ Secondary School, eloquently gives words to both the hidden and open struggles and resolutions faced by women even today, reminding us of the conviction and strength we each have within us.

 

My skin flaunts melanin in the bright sunshine
As I scratch the plaster off the walls that previously enslaved my history to reveal the truth.
I hear Maya Angelou’s poetry screaming for me so I don’t have to
I hear yesterday mocking you as I sweep it up and embrace it
And these rugged fingernails shall bleed at first
But these scars I shall wear as jewellery as I say my vows to your defeat
For I could spit on you instead of smiling at my scars
If I deemed you worthy enough of the effort
I shall sing not of mourning for those of mine who were suffocated to silence,
Raped repeatedly until their hands had not strength enough to pull themselves back up –
I mourn your ego which was cremated today with my past

A headscarf ornaments me as I speak to you
And I am not the rifles you so disgustingly speak of.
The Quran bears witness for the peace I symbolise
But your soldiers write down history in my blood
Impure and probably more disposable than your fragile pride
My soil continues to hide my blood within its fertility
But a day shall come when it will stop doing so
And I’m waiting for the day when streams of victorious blood will meander around my land
Because even though the living shall die every day, sunrise after sunrise
The human flesh will remind you that you never won
And the human carcases will remind my people that it is a sunrise after all

I am the clatter of kitchen utensils
For it is empty vessels that make the most noise, isn’t it?
Even as I am full of the air my unborn child breathes
I am immature protests and fancy words like ‘feminism’
Dirty words like ‘equality’
Which you so abhor the taste of as you feel them in your mouth
And quietly roll up in love notes of patriarchal responsibilities
To grow paper roses of ego so beautifully wrapped in love confessions you didn’t mean for more than a blink
But I am also the beauty of a hushed voice
So delicate, so breakable
To hide all that my manipulated body screams of
Pleading to confess what happened last night
Behind that door
Between your physical masculinity
And your disgustingly insufficient self-control

If you knew how magnificent the greys look among splatters of black on a white canvas
You will see past my one and only crime
My body has only a pair of indistinguishable genitals
Developed only as much as your opinions
And you speak of how we are defined by the choices we make
As I stand for sale
My very respect on discount
Yet, I am but a vulgar oddity
Behind which you conceal your lustful countenance
I am untouchable only until your touch starts to crave foreign skin
And after your muscles rid themselves of the tension
I am disposed of safely with hushed voices
For I am an unworthy object deserving nothing compared to the mighty human smuggler you are

And you are the oppressors
And you will remain so
But we are the oppressed
And we won’t remain so

oppressed.jpg

ARTWORK CREDITS: ZEHRA KHAN

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