Colored

 

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I overheard something amusing earlier today. A patient’s attender had apparently asked for me, but she didn’t know my name. She asked the nurse on duty where that ‘fair, brown haired’ doctor was. The nurses conveyed the message across in the exact same terms, and it amused me to no end, because I’ve never been referred to as ‘fair’. What made me chuckle louder internally was that if my father ever heard anyone calling me ‘fair’ within earshot, he’d probably have a coronary.

I’m a mix of colors. I suppose I was a standard fat white baby when I was born, but a lifetime of playing too much in the sun, horse riding, a fair smattering of assorted sports and swimming, and the ever present tropical sun, have ensured that I never went back to the baby’s pink bottom thing I was back in the toothless days. Which has always been a particular thorn in my father’s side, him of the bone white complexion. He always had issues enough that my mother wasn’t as white as him. Add to that the shame of a daughter who was clearly headed to the other end of the skin spectrum, and it was one blow too many for his fragile ego. My entire childhood was peppered with a steady upkeep of comments about how dark I was, and naturally in succession, how ugly. There was this one particular incident, an Eid party when I was twelve, where he called me out to say hello to his friends. They all asked the standard ‘how is school’ questions, and my father answered for me, saying, ”Oh, she’s just an average student. Everything about her is average. At least if she’d inherited my looks or color, she’d have something good about her.” The comment was met with laughter from some of his friends, and awkward smiles from the others. And I stood there, in all my twelve year old offended pride, and announced, ”What’s wrong with my color? I like my color!” This time, all of them laughed. My father pulled me out to stand in the middle of the room, and said something from his usual repertoire of back-in-his-modelling-days, if-only-you-had-my-color-you’d-be-worth-something- spiel. Followed up with his standard ”See, what you look like right now, nobody likes that. Nobody’s ever going to want that.” But I was properly worked up at this point, and I informed him that I happened to be a very nice color. There were tons of white people who went to the beach trying to get to my precise color. And I still remember the faces of each and every one of his friends chortling at that statement. Including my uncle, who’d had enough of my embarrassment, and goodnaturedly told my father to shut up and leave me alone.

I guess it’s more than a little strange that I’ve made a full, full circle from that point, and come back to where I was then. I was only allowed clothes in certain shades of beige, brown, and gray, because I couldn’t ‘pull other colors off’. I think I was sixteen, when my aunt, exasperated with the contents of my suitcase, tossed half my clothes in the Salvation Army bin and replaced every one with popping reds and pinks and purples. ”You dress her like a medieval widow!”, she told my parents, to which my father replied calmly, ”it’s what she can wear, with her coloring.” And then confiscated the brightly colored clothes, when we flew back home.

I remember coveting red, and blue. I wanted blues so much. The first time I bought my own clothes, I bought four dresses in the same shade of blue, because I loved that cerulean so much. Overkill, I know, but it made sense. And unsurprisingly enough, the same shades still peekaboo in my closet now. Only more normally interspersed with other, more taboo colors. Maroons and emeralds and royal purples, lots and lots of glossy black, some pink (even though I loathe it), and even the occasional bumblebee-butt yellow.

But more than anything, I’ve settled into a peaceful coexistence with my own color. My father, I think, never will. He went off  last month and bought me a ‘designer’ dress worth a comfortable $300, in the same drab beige as the curtains in my house, the same tired color I wore almost as a uniform at home.  But at some point, we stop being the broken children of broken parents, and start repairing ourselves, because we cannot repair them. His logic is still the same. His daughter’s too dark for actual colors to look anywhere good on her. By someone else’s reckoning, I am, amusingly enough, ‘that fair doctor’. And somewhere in the middle, I am my own spotty, tan-armed and pale-legged, dark circled and healthily scarred color.

Just that I like my version of it. Because I’m more than my color. And I happen to like that.

 

Until next rant,

Your ever lovin’ Cookie ❤

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Day Twelve : The Smell of Sunset

The grey canal empties
sluggishly into the backwaters
meandering beyond the third balcony
on the seventh floor. The wind
smells like forgotten fish
and sometimes like jasmine
My neighbour smells like that, too.

Voices carry from the parking lot. Sharp
tones cut through the general clamour of
traffic and jackdaws. My father is flirting
with the cook. She’s repulsed, but she
needs this job. We watch till we can’t.

The ocean is very close, the salt taste
lingers in my room, I can’t resist the urge
to let the ocean into my room
when I’m so close. Every evening I let it
roll onto my tongue.

The water stays murky.

The sky doesn’t care
Colours wash over my face
They smell of sunset

©️Yusra

12.04.2018

I forget sometimes, that there is no end to hate.

I don’t like that word. Hate. It implies weight. It is a burden. It is a two-edged sword that you cut yourself on, when you hold it. Like a snake that’s poisonous from the non-bitey butt end too.

Hate is important. It gives you reason. At the very blind white hot rage edges of sanity, when anger consumes you and your nerves are spitting fire trying to hold your composure, it’s Hate that sustains you, not love. Love comes later, to be sure. But in that moment, hate is very, very important.

My father was talking to a person who’d visited our house for the very first time today. By means of introducing me, he said, “This is my oldest daughter. I’m going to hire a driver for her soon, to take her to a park so that she can run. Look at how fat she is.” The man stared at the ground, embarassed and mumbling that I wasn’t all thaaat fat. I stared at my beast of a father, beyond a boiling fury and yet, completely still. In that moment, I realised that I was always find reason to hate him more. Hate. With a singularity and purity that I only have for one other thing in my life: Love.

I love me. I love this whole utterly fucked, unspeakably glorious and splendid world I live in. I love the sunsets in the third balcony on the seventh floor, even if they reflect prism-like over a brackish and smelly stream. I love my friends who forget me, I love my friends who don’t, I love my battered family units, I love that wonder who holds my heart, I love books and words and music and -me. I love me. Madly so, because they and we and he and I deserve it.

And I hate him. He deserves it.

Day Twelve of NaPoWriMo. I’ve written a Haibun for the prompt, with prose, followed by a Haiku, that briefest of forms I seem to shake hands with only every NaPoWriMo.

Did I forget to say, I love you all too?

And man, do you deserve it!

Membranes

Reality, as a membrane

is so very thin

It stretches over my probing fingers

I breach the taut whisper

And in the moment it

replaces my skin

pushing into nonexistence, across

The barrier I blindly feel

between time and place, flaws

ripple, faults splinter, I

cannot hear the walls implode

My middle ear collapses and

I pause on the lip, pigeon toed

Perched on the rift

Jumping adrift

hanging out of a wound in the sky

I can almost touch you- almost

Maybe just one step more?

-Where does this road go?

Membranes

16.11.2017

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Where does this road go? Hang me from the torn clouds, string me up from the stars, rip a hole in the fabric of reality, I pushed myself face first into the unknown for you and I don’t even know where you are. Somewhere at a desk, where the window on the right has a potted plant with a drooping yellow flower, you’re leaning back in your chair, letting the noise of the room wash over you like the cold processed air spewing from the vent across the fat girl’s glittery table- it fills your ears, it’s filling your lungs, it’s filling your eyes, you choose not to care. Once upon a time, you tore the fabric of reality for me. You laughed and you shredded the meanings of what I held true into pieces into words and fantasies and utter absurdity. And then you shut the door. Your ink blue fingers flowed back together and poured themselves into crevices I hadn’t dared to expose.

Can you blame me, for tearing my mind apart, breaking windows into every wall I meet? Can you blame me for setting fire to every road behind me, looking for you, and trying to understand why I even do?

Wait. Here’s a fork. Where does this road go? .

.

.

.

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Membranes | yusra

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And the cookies. Love. ❤️

The True Face of Assholery 

We’d gone to watch Annabelle at the IMAX here today, and these guys were sitting behind us. How did we come to know that it was these guys sitting behind us? Because we turned around to glare at them, oh, I don’t know, about a MILLION times.
Going to a movie and having to listen to frontbenchers whistling is okay, somewhat expected, especially if it’s a heavy Bollywood or masala movie. Clapping isn’t unusual in action movies either. But, motherfucker, in a god damned horror movie, these two women would NOT SHUT UP. It’s like they were actually cursed, that their lips would start sprouting tumors if they shut their mouths for one god forsaken minute. And I kid you not, I’m not exaggerating, they didn’t shut up throughout the damn movie.
It’s a horror movie. It’s supposed to be quiet in the theater, there’s supposed to be an element of surprise or at least the opportunity to be scared. Holy mother of god, not one person probably was able to focus on the screen with the nonstop babbling pouring forth from the manhole that this girl’s mouth was. The taller one repeated every single dialogue in the movie, as if she needed to desperately prove to the entire world that glory be, she’d finally learnt how to read! She repeated dialogues after the characters, read every single printed thing on the screen- it says ‘come in’ on a sign, she spells it out loud. A character tries to confess, she’s yakking in response to it. Like I don’t know if she was coked up beyond control or what, she was on word vomit mode throughout the damn film. And not just talking like a normal person. SHRIEKING, like a demented harpy, shrieking at the screen. And the other one, not talking as much but laughing like she was the possessed one, not the damn doll on the screen, at every line her incontinent friend was leaking.
I think they should give awards to audiences who don’t shower people like these with shoes.
What’s infinitely more irritating is that these failed abortions were clearly educated, well dressed, and looked like they’d duped some sorry ass into giving them a job. There’s a blonde on the screen? Let’s quote Harry Potter at the top of your voice. There’s a child in absolute darkness, waiting for a demon to turn the corner? Let’s talk AT THE TOP OF OUR VOICES ABOUT HOW THE DEMON CHANGED HIS CLOTHES. Or idk, maybe they were so surprised at being admitted into a public place with Normal people again that they were losing their collective shit.
And i suspect, trolling. They knew everyone around them was getting legitimately annoyed. Everyone kept shushing them and muttering audible swear words in their direction, and they knew it. People in their general radius were all moving away from them throughout the damn movie, to salvage whatever was left of the film away from their squalling voices. We changed seats twice, and sat way down in front. Had to crane our necks a little but at least the demon was louder than these bitches in the second half of the movie. The theater was empty enough for it. You could see them self consciously standing outside after the movie, too, trying to avoid the eyes of all the people who’d suffered through the movie because of them. Two hours in a theater with these bitches? Can the demon posses me next? Hell’s gotta be more peaceful than anywhere in hearing distance these guys.
Actually, come to think of it, that’s the only reason they sat through the film. If the theater had been any fuller, someone or the other would have gotten them thrown out on their sorry loud asses. The guy, to his credit, was not talking like the pair of buzzards he was with, but he didn’t shut them up either. Not once.
Or the lot of them were too drunk/stoned to realize that they weren’t actually sitting in their living rooms, idk. I’ve never wanted to slap the ever living shit out of a complete stranger’s face before.
Rant over. Smh.

I really don’t know…

Some days, I am a hundred percent sure that I won’t make it out of this hell hole. Other days, I bristle with enough rebelliousness to want to walk out right this moment, no heed to sense or money. Some days- most days- I retreat to my corner and lick my wounds.

We had a party yesterday. Twenty five people came over for lunch, two of whom I know at all. Just more people to show off for. My aunt brought the entire troop of her in-laws with her, each woman wearing at least four gold chains per flabby neck, and four fat gold rings per stubby fingered hand. And I truly hold them no grudge. It’s not like they showed up, we invited them formally. They were nice enough and simple enough, in fact some of them were downright sweet. The husbands, who I spoke to while serving the food and seating everyone around, were so normal that it threw me for a loop. I’ve literally forgotten how normal people can be, how normal families can be together. They kept insisting that we join them for lunch too, instead of scurrying around and serving. Because they don’t know the ground rules of our existence in this shithole. We serve. We clean. We usually dress up and keep the paper thin illusions alive. Usually.

Except facades tend to tear, as they are wont to. Two girls, one of whom isn’t twenty yet, can only fake so much after they’ve been forced to get up at 5.30 am to go for driving lessons (because if not at 5.30, then you don’t have enough dedication to drive a car, and so don’t need to learn anyway). After that you have to come home and pretend that the lessons were life-changing and/or you had the time of your life, because otherwise you too ungrateful to take them again, or study anything else, really. And if it’s just one or two things every day, you still manage. But things, in this godforsaken house, they tend to keep coming.

We wanted to shower and get presentable enough before the guests came, because between the house cleaning and helping the maids with the cooking, we’d gotten pretty dishevelled and food streaked. Obviously, we’d have to take turns, because we share one bathroom. We got our clothes ready and were putting the last touches to the living room, when the Decree came. Go to the Supermarket and buy soda. Okay, fine. That’d take half an hour but okay. Since Dad is always ‘busy’ on Facebook and Skype, we’d obviously have to. He can’t have us getting ready for a party now, can he. So we took the car and went.

Except ten minutes in, at the Supermarket, I turned a corner walked into my father. He’d followed us to the supermarket and spent the entire time eavesdropping on what we were talking about (specifically, whether or not we’d been talking about him). He jumped when I spotted him- clearly, he’d not thought that we’d spot him so soon. He babbled some nonsense about having forgotten to tell us to get chips, threw literally the first bag in front of him into my cart, and walked out again. When we came back home, mom told me that he was concerned we might be discussing him being unfair or something, and decided to go watch us.

And since guests had already shown up, there was no time to get dressed. In fact one of the grandma types even told us to go freshen up, but dad quickly interjected with a ‘my girls like to stay simple’. Or bedraggled, I suppose. We didn’t have a moment of peace till the guests left, the extra food was all packed and frozen for him just in case he has to leave soon, and the house scrubbed down to remove all traces of a party. Even then, even though I was dog tired and ready to pass out the minute I lay down, I couldn’t sleep.

I cannot tell you how disturbed I’ve been since yesterday afternoon. I keep replaying the exact moment I spotted him over and over again. It is just so viscerally disturbing, so bizarre. Even with the absolutely fucked up household I live in, it’s still way off the radar. When will this fucking nightmare end? I already double bolt the doors to my room before I sleep. I don’t shower or change when he’s in the house because I just can’t be sure. How am I supposed to spend every moment even away from home looking over my shoulder, to see if he’s come to spy again? Because now that he’s done this once, he will do it again, for sure. This man has a pattern. Once he loses his inhibition for something, it becomes open season on that front. And for the life of me, I cannot imagine more rules and restrictions that I already live by.

I barely have time for Facebook anymore, or for writing. I’m working the whole goddamn day doing nothing of consequence and everything of obsequience. I’m working like a slave, rinsing out bowls that are ‘still damp’ turning sofas upside down because my dad suspected ‘there might be some food under the cushions’. The three meals we sit down to eat are piles of food that would do a restaurant proud, but we can barely swallow down, because we have to ‘serve’ him while we eat and listen to him criticise everything from our faces to our personalities, the rest of the time. As if none of this were enough, he keeps clamping down tighter and tighter because he’s so sure, we’re trying to rebel on some front.

I.. don’t know. I’m twenty seven years old. I’m a doctor, and have an IQ that sits in the genius spectrum. I have love and friends and family but more than anything, I cannot breathe here anymore, and I’m afraid.