What is it about water that is so pertinent to the experiences of the diaspora? Is it because of the oceans that we’ve crossed- in reality or in spirit? Is it because water takes on the shape of its container, a sort of morphing that we find ourselves so often doing? Or perhaps the surface mirrors the hopes and dreams that glint golden in sunlight, and just below lie the darkness of centuries. All I know is that the vastness of a storm and the rage of a sea are the only things that come close to describing what it feels like to search and search and search for a home unknown.
Shalimar Gardens, Kashmir
i really feel this no liez
As a Muslim woman and also a feminist, I feel thoroughly alienated when others of my faith are so laudatory of a man like Dr. Bilal Philips (he’s on all social media rn) who holds the view that there can be no rape in a marriage and AIDS is proof that homosexuality is a sin. I find it so hard to reconcile the notion of Islam that is about peace and community when its supposed prominent figures spew this kind of misogynistic and hateful preach…
— Maya Angelou (via thatkindofwoman)
Chances are if you’e lived in Bangladesh or visited perhaps during the pre-monsoon season (if I remember correctly..), you’re familiar with the art of stealing mangoes from your neighbours. This is perfectly common amongst youngsters from varying social strata and it is a hell of a lot of fun. When I was a kid my aunts (who were then teenagers) would fashion a sort of mango-stealing device out of a long stick and old rags and we would head up to the roof. The poor neighbours- they had a gorgeous old tree which still stands to this day, lost many of their best fruit to us. When I think back, there was really no reason for it, I think there were mango trees our own garden, but that was a thrill back then. And for a reason unknown, those mangoes always tasted sweeter.
Your first job
is to always be
Deep inside you,
you have the strength
and capacity to be selfless
and to love others
and expect nothing
first and foremost,
that’s always what
you should be
is the most important thing
you could ever accomplish
with your life.
Claude Monet - Bassin d’Argenteuil, detail.
India by matt bower
Sometimes he’ll tell me about his college days, about an Afghanistan I have never known and very few people would believe ever existed.
"In the College of Engineering, there was this lecture hall, with seats for 1,000 students," his says as eyes begin to get bigger. "At the end of the lecture, the seats would move. The whole auditorium would shift as you spun along the diameter. The engineering of the building itself was very interesting." He continues to describe the construction details, then sighs. "I wonder if it’s still around?"
There is a pause. For 25 years I have tried to fill that silence, but I have never quite figured out what to say. I guess silence goes best there. He is the next one to speak. “You see, even your old-aged father was once part of something important.”
When he says things like that I want to scream. I don’t want to believe that the years can beat away at you like that. I don’t want to know that if enough time passes, you begin to question what was real or who you are. I am unconcerned with what the world thinks of him, but it is devastating to know that he at times thinks less of himself.
We are the same, but we are separated. People don’t see him in me. I wish they would. I walk in with a doctor’s white coat or a suit or my Berkeley sweatshirt and jeans. High heels or sneakers, it doesn’t matter, people always seem impressed with me. “Pediatrician, eh?” they say. “Well, good for you.”
I wonder what people see when they look at him. They don’t see what I see in his smile. Perhaps they see a brown man with a thick accent; perhaps they think, another immigrant cabdriver. Or perhaps it is much worse: Maybe he is a profile-matched terrorist, aligned with some axis of evil. “Another Abd-ool f——-g foreigner,” I once heard someone say.
Sometimes the worst things are not what people say to your face or what they say at all, it is the things that are assumed. I am in line at the grocery store, studying at a cafe, on a plane flying somewhere.
"Her English is excellent; she must have grown up here," I hear a lady whisper. "But why on earth does she wear that thing on her head?"
"Oh, that’s not her fault," someone replies. "Her father probably forces her to wear that."
I am still searching for a quick, biting response to comments like that. The trouble is that things I’d like to say aren’t quick. So I say nothing. I want to take their hands and pull them home with me. Come, meet my father. Don’t look at the wrinkles; don’t look at the scars; don’t mind the hearing aid, or the thick accent. Don’t look at the world’s effect on him; look at his effect on the world. Come into my childhood and hear the lullabies, the warm hand on your shoulder on the worst of days, the silly jokes on mundane afternoons. Come meet the woman he has loved and respected his whole life; witness the confidence he has nurtured in his three daughters. Stay the night; hear his footsteps come in at midnight after a long day’s work. That sound in the middle of the night is his head bowing in prayer although he is exhausted. Granted, the wealth is gone and the legacy unknown, but look at what the bombs did not destroy. Now tell me, am I really oppressed? The question makes me want to laugh. Now tell me, is he really the oppressor? The question makes me want to cry.
At times, I want to throw it all away: the education, the opportunities, the potential. I want to slip into the passenger seat of his cab and say: This is who I am. If he is going to be labeled, then give me those labels too. If you are going to look down on him, than you might as well peer down on me as well. Close this gap. Erase this line. There is no differentiation here. Of all the things I am, of all the things I could ever be, I will never be prouder than to say that I am of him.
I am this cabdriver’s daughter.❞
— David Levithan, The Lover’s Dictionary (via avvfvl)
At some point our lives become a series of numbers and usernames and passwords. There are digits to commit to memory and security questions that ask us our mother’s maiden name or the first school that we attended. There are accounts to check, payments that stare at us in red. At some point there is a disillusionment, a sort of disenchantment with the rapid rigor of life; after all who cares how a number feels anyway…