I have been
The virgin you were promised
for good behaviour,
And a sizeable body count.
But I have left Eden (some of us do get out)
Beyond unwanted pregnancies, the Sharia police,
I have finally found,
My own little patch of apple grass. The eunuchs sing
Of ancient harems and cultural constructs, while I,
Who have traded her hijab for a scandal, climax
thinking of god.
We’ve embraced the silence of the Third World,
And multiply viciously in cardboard settlements.
Our kind is unappeasable, we spread out
Like contagion, a flurry of headscarves
And religion. We’re quite popular,
And desperate for attention, you see,
There are mouths to feed, we are, after all,
Your Other. We’re necessary.
Slowly, quite unnoticed, we’ll take over the world.
A race of Frankenstein monsters,
We’ve already begun.
I have wept on the cobbled floors of Lahore,
looking for the Pakistani Dream.
Furrowing through an endless trail of paper
in dimly-lit halls of alien embassies.
(My kingdom for a way out, if you please.)
Our history for a better accent
of a language we do not speak.
In plastic whorehouses, I sing
of foreign invasions, exploding lilacs,
unwanted refugees. In the arms of a dying race
peddling religion and pornography
(Whatever works, you see)
We laugh over the sound of children
coupling, drawing graffiti
of a generation’s collective unease
by the canal where the city ends
into more dust and traffic police.
We have moved on from visionaries, and opium,
to a militant sense of clarity.
Welcome to the land of the ideologically free!
Our beautiful postcoloniality.
With strawberry flesh in my teeth,
I smile up to the sky.
We have learnt to crane our necks
above the stink and the plastic,
to where Baba’s finger
draws silver triangles in the dark.
That’s the North Star, he says,
and we choose together
different cobbled floors
brighter neon signs.
We choose the possibility, Baba and I.
Our necks growing longer by the minute,
till we reach Heaven,
or fall off from the edge of the world,
or break and scatter
flushed off in the entrails of Hell,
with wailing children, and senile grandmothers.
The muezzin shrieks and the stars go out
in reverence to dead gods and false idols.
Baba tells me a story as we clasp hands under the breaking firmament,
and the weight of the dead we inherit.
We are the Magi of a brave new world, he tells me,
laced with rubber bullets and selfie sticks,
the looming towers of the metropolis, our only gifts
to the blood-soaked child, washed on seashores,
exploding endlessly, perpetually, into a sticky mass of blood and hair.
(We are ever so sorry!)
Yet we are redeemed as we stand, naked and sweaty,
looking for the North Star, for
we have learnt, after all, my dear
to crane our necks, beautifully
above the rot and the fish smell
of sins and human longing.
that might be as utopian as it gets,
for the lot of us.
The Magi stranded on a colossal waste,
chasing the sound of gunfire, the trails
of arms and outstretched fingers
pointing to an unreachable beyond.
Momina Masood is a literature graduate whose work has previously appeared in 3:AM Magazine, The Missing Slate, The Bombay Review and The Bombay Literary Magazine. She is 23, lives in Pakistan, and writes for the absolute necessity of it.