A whore is pointed at 

Not because she sells herself, but

Because she sells herself for 

Far less than she is worth 

Not because she lets a strange man

Paw her breasts for money 

Sweat on her face, grunts between her thighs 

She’s not bad because she’s ‘easy’

We all have prices 

We all have sold ourselves in

Different ways

At different rates 

Some more than others 

But we all get paid eventually

A different wage 

And sometimes

You have to whore yourself

For a lesson learned that 

Will not be forgotten

Can not be denied 

You lie naked on the floor

Next to a man you thought 

you knew like your own skin

And you realize 

That if the price you paid

Was respect lost, then

That price was altogether too high 


Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone. 


Letters To No One

Dear Spence,

I’ve been meaning to talk to you for a while. Only it’s been twelve years and I don’t know where you are, anymore. The last time I looked for you, I saw that you’d done a live performance at a bar near your house that got a huge turn out and blitzed everywhere on Facebook. That made me so happy. That you were still pursuing your dream. Some dreams shouldn’t ever die.


Things have been strange for me. Recently my boyfriend got very drunk and said a lot of things, hurtful things, that have made me think, nonetheless. One of those things is that I’m an ’emotion hag’. I’m not sure if you know what one of those is. It’s like fag-hag, a gay man’s female best friend, only according to him, my area of expertise is people who want to talk about their emotions, not gay men.


And he meant it in an insulting way, because he was drunk and hurting and trying to be as hurtful to me as he could. It’s just one of the things he said, and one of the things that stayed with me, but I’m not sure it’s a bad thing at all. I tried explaining to him when he was sober that he’s right, it is a pattern of my behavior. I do ‘listen’ too much, and let people vent to me, but that’s because that’s all I can do for them. These are people who are hurting, and the least I can do is to listen to them. I don’t have the finances to help them and I don’t have any way of changing their situation- Hell, I can’t even change my own. All I can do is listen, give them someone to bounce thoughts off, so I do that. It makes him uncomfortable because he doesn’t like my ‘range of emotion’, or at least, the amount of emotion I fluctuate through on a daily basis. It’s not that he doesn’t feel the same. He does, he just doesn’t believe in acknowledging it.

He likes to think he’s above such base human tendencies such as feeling. Only he refuses to see, and I’d never point it out, but every time he gets that drunk, he does just the same thing we all do. We feel. We let ourselves feel.
I thought of you that day. It was not the first time I’d seen an angry drunk, but the frustration, the desperation to lash out at someone, to see them hurt the same way he was hurting… It made me think of you. You got just as furious every Friday, when you could drink without having to worry about work the next day. The odd beers in the week days would just leave you dour, and sometimes surly, but never full blown bitter. That was reserved for weekends, when you could drink yourself blind and blame me for being sixteen when you were forty already. For being young when you weren’t anymore, for having a future when you hated your job, for being smart, and for not moving to UK to be with you, or for having guy friends were closer to my age.

I think a lot of that went over my head at the time. I was just a girl, even though I won’t deny I was perceptive even for my age. But that only helped me handle your bad moods. It didn’t help me understand them, or understand that that the relationship was fundamentally wrong. I was not your muse. That sounds a little silly, said out loud. I was not your partner or your lover. I was a damaged young girl who was unbelievably grateful for even having anyone around me who said they loved me, or gave me any respect. Because what you gave me was not respect by anyone else’s standards, but compared to what I got from the ‘real’ people in my life, it was still one of the best things to be happening to me.


I got scared, though. Over time, I couldn’t keep blaming the beer believably enough, and I couldn’t justify your resentment of my not being there with you. And somewhere during that period I started growing a spine in secret. Still battered emotionally and physically, but a spine nonetheless. And I’m sorry. The entire situation had veered off from being a place of comfort to a place where more hurt stemmed from. I was an adult at sixteen, like I was an adult at twelve, but even adults are slow to learn their lessons sometimes. And I was afraid of you, you gave me reason to be. I should have been more afraid of you, in retrospect. But I knew then as I know now, you were never a bad man. You are a good man. You were just troubled. And a sixteen year old girl an ocean away was not the answer to anything. Except more pain. And I regret causing you that pain.

I heard the recordings of your live performance. You still brush the hair off your forehead exactly the same way. And you still smoke incessantly. Although I can’t look at you scoldingly for that anymore, given that I’ve started smoking too ( I know, right? Who would’ve thought?) And you smile more fully. And no matter what happened between us, it is so heartwarmingly, gloriously wonderful to see you smile that way.


One day, I will too.




Your friend,

What Bakreid Looks Like To An Outsider

What Bakreid at my house looks like to an outsider
… who’s been there all day.


The concept of Bakreid has three parts- sacrifice, charity, and family. Anyone who knows the Biblical version of Abraham’s offer to sacrifice his only son, basically knows the Quranic version as well, because they are almost the same narrative. The point of bakreid is the spirit of sacrifice. You rear an animal, or at least look after it for a bit, and then offer it as a sacrifice symbolical of the one Abraham was ready to make. Of the meat from that animal, one third is distributed to the poor, one third shared with relatives, and one third kept for the family. Families who can afford to keep their freezers stocked all year round sometimes give away the last one third as well. In many third world countries, this is one of the few times in the year when so many poor families who could not otherwise dream of such lavish spreads, eat curries and stews where meat plays the main role, not just a guest appearance. People who suffer from too much food live next door to people who suffer from too little. Sometimes, even the ones who don’t want to share, must share. Bakreid is supposed to be one of those days.


Emphasis on ‘supposed to be’. For the most part, it turns into a ‘my-goat-is-bigger-than-yours’ all over the damned place. The ideal equation, if you can afford it, is a goat per person in your family. If you have enough money you can go right ahead and give two per, the extra meat will just go to poor people anyway. But instead of stocking up the freezer at orphanages and soup kitchens, we have literal bidding wars on goats.


Let that sink in for a bit, that’s right. My father’s friends show up regularly every night for 3-4 days preceding bakreid. One proclaims he bought a ram that put him back $1200. He’s immediately countered by “Ha, the biggest one I bought was $1400!” Of course, there’s plenty of sanctimonious nodding and agreeing that so much meat is going to the poor. We hear most of these conversations while serving the food or the tea or the coffee, since women actually in the discussion would make these indefeatable men of the world too uncomfortable to even swallow. There’s just polite silences and some mental stripping while we serve and we leave. And then they go back to the pompous little circle jerk.


Which wouldn’t have been so distasteful, really, if some good even came of this extravagant expenditure on lambs to the slaughter. Sure they all *say* that this is all going to feed poor people, but in reality, these pony sized rams just end up getting circulated between affluent houses. Someone sends us a leg of mutton as big as my entire arm. Courtesy dictates we send an equally big one back; to do anything else is social suicide. Their freezers are overflowing, our freezers are overflowing, and neither could physically consume that much meat unless they had a half year to do it. Yet this is what happens, year after year. The meat sits in the freezer for a month before, in a fit of seasonal cleaning, it gets distributed to the maids or the staff who don’t mind the off taste. Or, like my aunt, they throw a massive BBQ. In fact we’ve begun timing these BBQs. They happen in a cluster 6-10 weeks after Bakreid because, obviously, you don’t know what to do with the damned meat. The meat that was supposed to go to poor people. The sacrifice that was supposed to be your devotion to God. The animal that was supposed to feed an improverished house at least for a couple of days.


Oh, and then you have some other beautifully two faced set ups, like ours. The day starts earlier than usual, because you have special morning prayers- which actually is a good start to the day, because my father fucks off to pray with the rest of the men at the community centers, and we can pray in peace at home. Then the morning flurries into afternoon and evening, because the butchers (who rake in the money in this couple of days) prepare mountains of cubed and diced meat, shanks, sirlions, my knowledge of cuts is woefully deficient, sorry. The whole time we are packing up the meat in 1-2 lb bags, sealing them and stacking them, while the cooks begin prep for the evening’s dinner party. Most houses hire people for this part of the work but in our case, ‘we’ ( read, dad) don’t like spending extra money when there’s easy labor at home. Distribution takes most of the day well into evening, and the cook’s prep reaches its culmination at this juncture. My mother generally goes unholy insane trying to coordinate everything and not give into temptation and murder dad, who’s in his element, screaming and bellowing at everyone in sight, shouting instructions and moral platitudes. Once he’s sufficiently shouted out, he goes to nap before the party while we finally clear up the house and prepare for the onslaught of guests. We get dressed first, because the cooks can’t spare mom, plus we do the serving initially so we should be ready to receive the thrice blasted fucks who come to inflict their benevolent company on us. Mom gets dressed at top speed after us, putting on prominent display all the trappings of luxury. There’s crystal vases overflowing with fresh flowers, cheery arrangements, little trays dotted with hors d’oeuvre and fruity cocktails. All the tables are full of tiny bites fighting for space, and the various assorted daughters and wives mingle and talk ernestly with us about new collections and watered down politics and how ‘dehplaaawrable’ the downtown’s becoming. Once upon a time I gave them reason to look down their long noses at me, with my hair I stubbornly cut myself, or toerings with skulls on them, for the sake of some show of rebellion, without which I’d go insane in this bleached, pastel crowd.



Fact of the matter is, half of them aren’t worth enough to be given that opportunity. Not that it’s torture to have to discuss the new McQueen, or how Pravda is always in vogue- but it’s not the least bit intelligent or illuminating, and after five minutes of rhapsodizing, you can’t anymore. And the other half, for all their brainwashed blandness, are actually sweet enough, even well meaning, and they don’t deserve the disdain. In any case, we see them for a few hours, and then our worlds segregate again. Like tonight, for instance, a newly minted follower of my father brought his wife along, and she was so obviously discomfited by the thick-as-treacle pretentiousness in the room. But even though the husband was clearly an ass, the wife was a kindred spirit, and we had an unprecedently pleasant Eid night. Who knows, maybe this dysfunctional approach to ‘family’ and ‘community’ hasn’t wrecked every pseudo Orthodox home. There might just be some ‘pillars of the community’ that aren’t rotten inside. Idealism and hope and all that, etc.


Despite having grown up in this atmosphere, I still watch and experience all this with the detachment of an impartial outsider (okay, more embittered than impartial). Maybe it’s because where we grow is also what we know, and I’ve grown in more than one place. We’ve known more than one country, we’ve known more than one home. OR maybe my mother’s right and I am just a bit of a deviant, demanding logic and spirituality in religion, secretly drowning my sorrows in whiskey while my father bangs on the door a few hours later, telling me to get up and pray because I’m going to Hell. But at the end of the day, of this day, it’s still some comfort knowing that my maid took home enough extra food to last her family a week. And maybe, after every act is played, a little good is done… and that’s good enough.

Even for an outsider on Bakreid.

To Kill A Man

To Kill A Man

Too many ways to kill a man
Not enough ways to save him
Too much pain brought on by his own hand
How could the prognosis be anything, but grim?
Be accused of prejudice, fat shaming,
When you advise a patient to lose some weight
A society that works for weekend alcohol
Is not easily convinced to moderate
Point to sky high cholesterol on charts
And you’re looked at with sullen or unconvinced eyes
Threats of liver cirrhosis fall flat
Unlike liver enzymes, which soon upwards rise
That jaundice isn’t merely you feeling yellow, my dear
– At this stage, it could be carcinoma in disguise

But red wine’s good for you! the specialists say
And it is, so is beer – but a little a day
Your liquid weight in vodka might help your depression
But it’s not going to keep the doctors too far away
And what of a nice steak? Mash taters, rashers, et al?
They protest – it’s just protein, GoogleDoc said it’s okay!
-In small portions, and lean is still better protein
Not, though, if you’re going to chase it with a souffle

And don’t even get me started on these diet fads
Ketotic, acidotic, kidneys almost failing
Still pushing away no-carb or no-fat, insistent
All the while, pulse irregular, or vitals flailing
The problem’s that there is no cure for ignorance
Fragments of info will give you fractured health
Would you take your sick cat to a plumber?
No, right? – then why do we invite this stealth
This truculence, resistance. We know it’s online
And please do read up on your illness, that’s fine
But don’t self medicate a horse for a zebra
You can’t fix erectile dysfunction with Clozapine
You can’t be obese and think that you’re still fit
‘Fit’ means ‘in fitness’ – there are dimensions to it
And yes, we have sleep meds we will not prescribe
Till we know that you’re clean, that you’ve really quit

It’s not a petty thrill – we have a moral code
It’s not that we’ll throw pills at you by the boat load
That’ll fix all your problems- no, we are looking out
For what’s best for you, it’s part of our oath
There’s too many ways to kill a man, and
Not nearly enough to save him
But with a little luck, and a little cooperation
The prognosis doesn’t really have to be grim



Day 17. Maybe I cheated a little on this one, because I write from the medical dictionary pretty often (Broken Heart Syndrome, anyone?). This prompt was still fun to write, though. And made for a terrific break from studying.

And now *grand flourish* coffee time. Hope y’all are having an amazing day!


Ode to Kalo 



To the seat of demonic possession 

Vortex of spinning energy 

Glittering, malicious verbal whips and 

Maker of aching, muscular maladies 
To the bounder, the founder of faithlessness 

The font of driving endless suffering 

Disciple of the Beast, you, who feasts 

On the masses of the writhing and sweating 

Devouring our hopes and bodily ambitions

Leaving all hearts and limbs quaking 
Abode of restlessness, presumably kind, probably mean

Pushing forty eight hours a day on methamphetamine 

Cyclone in the hall, all of us fall to your feet,

There not one straight spine to be seen 

Every movement eliciting moans and groans

The machines thanking The Lord that He 

Made them machines 


Pinnacle of human and satanic synergy 

Zenith of endurance, wrath of a thousand angry seas 

Revered, most feared trainer

You might just be the death of me



It’s healthy to leave the gym feeling slightly murderous… 😜

Nanny Come Home

Nanny Come Home
Our old nanny came back to visit us today. She’s ninety five years old now, and she was with our family for more than twenty five years. She was a cook before my parents got married, and got promoted to nanny when I came along. With over seventy years of cooking experience, you can imagine how amazing a chef she is. I grew up playing with her grandchildren and great grandchildren, and she’s witnessed all of us growing up. She witnessed too much, in fact. That was the reason she left is, because she couldn’t bear the way my dad treated us anymore. We lost an important ally that day.. But wow. The memories are a huge jumble now.

I still remember how me and my best friend while growing up, Sherrie, would constantly be under her feet. In the end, she’d give us butter knives and set us peeling potatoes to keep us busy. As you can imagine, we’d butcher more potatoes than we peeled. But the whole idea of playing ‘kitchen’ in a real kitchen, with real vegetables and real French fries at the end, was awesome. Eventually ‘kitchen’ gave way to water pistol fights, and football and cricket with my brother and his friends, but there was always a pitcher of orange juice or lemonade waiting for us, at the end of the day. Then my sister had her beans phase. Green beans for about six months, every day. And our nanny dutifully made the same exact boiled green beans breakfast, lunch, and dinner, for that time period. My sister refused to eat anything unless there were beans on her plate too. Our nanny has a mortal terror of reheating frozen food, it always had to be freshly made. And then came the okra phase. And then the tater tots phase. The tater tots phase was a mass delusion, because all three of us were obsessed with them during that time period. And not just us. All our school friends, too. Back in middle school I’d have someone or the other over for lunch every week that dad wasn’t home.

She’s actually been a parent to us more than my father has ever been. She stayed up every night one of us was sick, giving my mom company. She’s ‘accompanied’ us to various birthday parties when my dad wasn’t okay with us going alone. That actually translated into ‘he didn’t want us going at all’, but she took that excuse away from him. She stayed home all night with us on the night when the gate and a part of our wall caved in, because of a terrible, terrible storm. My sister and brother was just toddlers, I was very young, and my mom and her sat in the patio all night long, ready to make a run for it if the rest of the house start coming down too. Her son came down to sleep in our yard the day my dad’s brother came to our house in a drunken rage, demanding that my mom give him money. When she didn’t, he promised to return with friends to ‘teach’ us a lesson. None of us slept that night. She even got hit by my dad a few times, when she and my mom jumped into shelter us during dad’s blind frenzies. It’s not surprising why she left, none of those is part of any nanny’s job descriptions. And her heart wasn’t up to the constant exposure to dad, either. It was too stressful for her, especially at her age, so she left.
I’m glad she did. When she came today, it took her a few moments to realize that absolutely nothing has changed in my house. Sure, I’m a doctor now, and my brother and sister are all grown up, but nothing has changed in essence. We’ve gone from being the kids who hid behind the curtain and watched when she pretended to watch tv for our sakes, to being adults who don’t even have the time to watch tv anymore. Not that we could, I suspect. It still annoys dad too much, unless we’re watching news or one of his religious programming programs. Nothing’s changed, it’s a sad reminder. But even though she lectured me on the importance of finding a good husband before I get too old, it was still absolutely lovely to see her. One of the few people who cared.

(c) CM/20.10.2015