Local poet’s thought-provoking work

Juwairiyah Khan

Today I Am
Yesterday you held me in your arms and looked at me as I built the sun.
You promised me I was untouchable;
no meteor will crash into me and steal my light.
I was the queen of the galaxy
–a nebula with the ability to change the world.

Yesterday I painted a picture for you Papa,
my heart poured into every stroke of hue
But you told me I could improve and I thought,
okay I’ll try harder next time.
But the next time came
and went,
and you swept me aside like I was a dust bunny in the corner of your room.

Yesterday was my first recital and I practised so hard Papa,
strummed the chords until my fingers numbed
because I thought you’d be in the crowd.
But as I bled the blues,
you became deaf
to my cries of loneliness.
Papa, I was only 8 years old.

Yesterday you yelled at me
because I wanted to try on the lipstick I found in Mama’s bureau.

You had rattled me to the core,
a lion let out of his cage
and your roar disintegrated
my heart
as you growled,
“You’ll still be ugly anyway.”

My tears were acid on your skin
and the pure,
unadulterated hatred in your eyes let me know
you were not the man who raised me
It was my 13th birthday.
You only said it because I look just like her.

Yesterday your words morphed into punches
and I learnt how to paint my face with a façade and Revlon cover-up

It’s my best work of art to this day.

But blue was not the hue for you,
So you hit harder,
hoping it would take away the anger in your already blackened heart
and blacken my body instead.

Yesterday you almost killed me.

Yesterday you said I was worthless
-I believed you.
Yesterday you said no one will ever love me
-I believed you.
Yesterday you stole the light you promised nobody could ever take away.

Yesterday you beat me to the ground and
Today I am a pillar of broken dreams surrounded by the debris of lost love.

Today I am the wives of Nigeria,
abused by their husbands 24/7.
I am the daughters of India sold to slavery,
touched by men who hold no bars.
I am the CEO slandered by her male colleagues,
constantly put down for being strong and independent.
I am the young mother in Australia protecting her so from the man she once called,
“my love.”
I am the sister in Brazil whose innocence was snatched by her own brother every night
when everybody was asleep.
I am the woman in America, who wears the hijab because she loves her religion,
but is abused by the ignorant.
I am the girl in South Africa, sitting in a clinic trying to heal her broken parts
because she tried to kill herself believing her father’s words.

I am these women
and over 2 billion more.

I am strength and light and beauty,
fulfilling my duty to be the constant reminder,
reassuring you that everything will be okay.
I am the song in your head as you hum to my melody of
I love you
I love you
I love you

I love you.
And I promise you that everything will be okay.
Today at 18 I realised I am not what I thought I was;
I am not your punching bag.
I am not your scapegoat.
I was not brought into this world by my mother just for you to bring me down

I am flesh
and blood
and bone
with thoughts of my own

I am a woman of colour, of culture and religion.
I am a woman of intelligence,
who will not let herself be defined my her past.

And today Papa,
despite everything you’ve done,
I still love you.

But you are now the spot I see in my rearview mirror
as I drive towards my pursuit of happiness,
as the pieces of my broken mausoleum are picked up by the ones I call my friends.

Because Papa,
I am.
Juwairiyah Khan

Juwairiyah Khan

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