Under the Burqa

I have seen you before, hovering at the edge of the crowd, watching as if I was a rare specimen in a zoo. Does my burqa frighten you? Do you know under this black cloth that I am fifteen? I like to dance and listen to music with my friend Marim.

Marim’s father is rich and will send her to England in two years to study engineering at University. I ask Mama if I will go to University too, but she only sighs. I have heard her talking to Khalid Faizul. He is old and fat, and he stares at me. Marim says I should come with her to University, but I know I will never be allowed to make that choice. Khalid Faizul is rich, and he wants a young bride to bear him sons.

Take my picture and know that underneath this burqa I am not so different from you. But my life will never be my own.

 

Listen to Mother

You were warned.

Decades ago when the temperatures began to creep up in the summers and winters became extreme, you were told to protect me, and you laughed. All those people shouting about the environment were nut cases, you said. What do they know? Who cares?

You laughed until the oceans swallowed your beachfront homes, and the rivers turned to streams then trickles. And soon water was rationed into little jugs. But you created big plants to desalinate the oceans and slowly the seas began to dry up because people needed water. More and more water. But there was never enough. So the plagues and hunger came. Then the looting. And death. So much death.

Now your homes belong to me. My winds sigh through the shattered windows as sand pours into the rooms. To see your homes now, you would never realize they were once palaces built to honor your vanity.

Did you think I would endure your wanton recklessness forever?

You were warned: Honor your Mother.