Maryam Malik | January 18 2017
On the day I was born, I was destined to be a twig in a cage, whereas I wanted to be an owl in the vast darkness, watching and waiting. I want to be many things that my mother said I couldn’t be and my father scolded me for touching. I want to be a hat, resting on top of people’s heads as I bob up and down roads, witness hectic traffic lights and stare at the clouds. I want to be a pen, gently touching and caressing pages with such ease a new born baby would be envious of. I want to be everything, but I was told not to be selfish. I was told good girls don’t stand, trot, talk, laugh or breathe around boys, because that would make me a slut, and that good girls don’t show their legs, their chests or their arms, because they’re seeking attention from boys which would make them sluts as well. I was told good girls don’t retort back and keep quiet. I was told good girls don’t question their elders. I was told good girls don’t raise their voices to deliver their opinions, but I watched my mother yell insults at anyone who accidentally wronged her. I was told girls can’t walk around by themselves and are expected to behave as platonic as possible, hijabis even more than non-hijabi girls, who were shamed for not covering up, yet I saw other hijabi girls whose words were volumes of hell and paradise. I wanted to be like them, I craved reaching their strength. I wanted to express myself with the piece of cloth that covered my head freely, not being limited to a certain language, certain pose, certain wardrobe, certain opinion, certain belief, certain oppression. I was told good girls don’t correct their mothers, fathers, aunts or uncles, and that good girls definitely don’t leave the house for long hours; you are a girl, you don’t know. But I do know. I have a steaming pot of knowledge and since they always say that because I am a girl and I don’t know, they could be puppeteers. They didn’t know the threads were loose and I’m holding scissors. I have a raging thunderstorm for a mouth and my hands are loaded guns. Like a film of dust, the sweetness of my heart will restore and the vortexes in my mind will become vapors of what they used to be.
Illustration by Abeer Al-Shaye.
Maryam Malik is a freshman at university with high hopes to end the patriarchy while jamming to broadway musicals. When she’s not rapping and daydreaming about meeting her idols, she’s ranting about something on twitter.