In My Head

In my head, it’s “Eid Mubarak!”

It’s “staying still in my sleep so the henna can sink its ancient art into my skin,

eating rich biryani with my kin,

our arms linked clinking together

as our bangles

leave sparkly bruises at every angle,

a mark of celebration.”

In my head, it’s “the next day,”

It’s “not raising my hand,

while the answer is exploding inside of me, I almost can’t

when half the class is asleep, it’s so obvious “the answer is three!”

But I hold my hand and intellect down

because I don’t want anyone to see the red-brown

designs my mom so beautifully and carefully drew.”

In my head, it’s “Quran class with my dad.”

It’s “reciting and reciting and reciting until it’s memorized,

writing the scripture until perfection, and his eyes

light up when I don’t need to read anymore.”

In my head, it’s “Sunday morning.”

It’s “Islamic school,

put on my slip-on hijab,

look out the front window with a game plan.

When there are no kids

lightning strikes and I sprint,

through the door, through the garden, into the car.

I am the fastest because I don’t want anyone to see my scarf.”

In my head, it’s “suhoor with my mom.”

It’s “waking up at the crack of dawn,

the smell of paratha and haleem wafting through the vents,

encouraging me to make pray and repent,

and accidentally falling asleep

on the janamaz once Fajr is complete.”

In my head, it’s “my stomach is SO LOUD.”

As my friend’s hands are filled with cafeteria food,

and mine are empty, fidgeting, scrolling through the time,

and their eyes seem to be of confusion,

as to why I am not eating during lunch, and the knots fail to loosen.”

But that’s the thing. It’s all in my head.

Alhumdulillah, coming from where I live, I haven’t faced discrimination, but if

only the voices in my head weren’t oppressing me way back when

hyper-consciousness used to make me sin, simply sit in silence,

I pushed questions to the side, avoided their presence,

I tried my best, but the tests just kept and remembrance of my insides simply faded, my identity shaded

out.

Until I realized practically nobody cares.

Everyone just wants to breathe air,

another breath, and there’s no time left

to preoccupy, so I

keep my head held high

and forget about the voices in my head.