And I feel so young
Pains start growing inside of me
I begin to hear
You have to
have to
have to
I have to live with “have to.”

I have to buy a burqa and
hide the world under it
I have to forget the sun
To talk  about the moon is a risk
I have to wear clothes
people choose
The colors they dictate
I have to live with negative imperatives:
Don’t laugh!
Don’t speak loudly!
Don’t look at men!
Shut up!
I am bored hearing: “Don’t, Don’t, Don’t”

I am fifteen and
the boy I cannot forget
waits on the street
to see me with my burqa
on the way to Lala’s bakery
and gives me postcards
of birds flying in a sky
filled with freedom
he knows my smell
love is blind for him
he lives with the smell of a woman.

And Mama always says, be like other people,
be like other people
I wonder If I agree.

I have to learn how to bear
the pain of being human
the pain of being a woman
the pain if Dad discovers
the postcards hidden between the bricks of the wall
the pain if the neighbor’s naughty son steals the postcards
the pain if Dad says, never ever go to the bakery
the pain if the rain washes the mud off the wall
where his letters are hidden
The rain does wash the mud away along with his words on the letter
“I love you and I love your blue burqa.”

But the rain can’t wash his love from my heart
the rain can’t wash the pain from my heart
still I keep my blue burqa
in the museum of memos
still I paint the birds
with blue wings.

and Mama still says, be like other people, be like other people
and Mama still says, be like other people,
and Mama…

By Roya