The Miniskirt Muslima

 

To the girl who sits outside my window reading the Quran in a miniskirt,

I have a friend for you.

She is the girl who dresses only in comfortable clothes.

She keeps her shame inside her purse.

But she is never without it.

She has rings in her nose,

And hair the shocking colour of bubblegum

Or is that her twin sister.

in the end, they both look the same

when she speaks she paints profanity

and gesticulates with censored fingers

you must know her.

surely you must.

you are both pretentious

both female

both judged by the misogynists

who have proclaimed themselves of higher opinion

by the hyper-masculine voices who decide,

like self-elected gods

what should be and what shouldn’t

 

surely you must like her

do you not?

do you not see yourself in her

do you not see how good she is for you

how well she will help you

do you not see how bad you need the help

and so I give you this friend

wrapped up in bubblegum hair and caps lock opinions

with the hope that when she speaks of miniskirt Muslimas,

you do not see that she is trying to fix you.

 

To the girl who tries very hard to fix new friends,

I have a friend for you.

she is the girl who never partakes in happy times

she has an aura the colour of coal

but her candy floss smiles are pastel pink

she has flowers in her hair

and frills in her socks

but she is always without deception.

she hates your bubble gum hair

but she keeps their colour on her lips

wears their scent on her skin

her perfect skin

her perfect lips

a perfect glimpse of how imperfect the perfect can sometimes be

surely you must know her

surely you must

she is a fixers perfect dream

she is the person that you will never get to fix

she is broken on the inside

in perfect halves

The perfect usually are

She has this way of being romantic in her loneliness

She has this way of being lonely in your company

and so i give you this friend

and all her broken pieces

with the hope that even if you never do,

you both try hard to piece her together

 

To the girl with frilly socks and pastel smiles,

I have a friend for you

She is the girl you call un-attractive

Exotic looking

Peculiar features

When you mean that she is ugly

She is not ugly

She is the person that allows you to be beautiful

She is the person who you go to for answers

Because those who are beautiful never have them

She is not the answer

She has scars

Many scars,

But not as many as they will be

She finds profession in comforting others

But she has never found comfort

She does not know what it is to be lonely

For she is always shadowed by society

Now her I am sure that you know,

Surely you must

Do you not see that she is who you fear?

Who you fear you will become

And so I give you this friend

Because I know that you will show her

That pastel smiles and bubblegum lips

Are not the answer to the question she’s been asking

I know you will show her

Even if you do not mean to

Even if she does not feel it

She is more beautiful than the world

 

To the girl who does not know what it is to be lonely

I have a friend for you

She is a girl who can teach you

She is a girl who spends her Saturday mornings

Staring outside her window

Gazing at girls in miniskirts

Reading the Quran in perfect confidence

She never says anything

She only stares

Outside her window where time stalls

She is immortal

Forever in a state of judgement

Not that which she gives

But what she receives

Judgement that is yet to happen

She sits there

And wonders if Miniskirt Muslimas

Are as happy as they seem

Surely she cannot find friendship in that book

She is the perfect lie

 

Surely everyone in the world is as lonely as I

Maybe they are just better at pretending

Now, I KNOW YOU KNOW ME HER

She is who you thought you would like to be

She is the standard she is picture on your bedroom wall

She is the magazine with dog eared pages

She is a forwarded picture of perfect skin

She is the “her” in “if only I looked like her”

She is who you’d never expect to

Sit beside her bedroom window

on wasted Saturday mornings

So I give you this friend

Because I know you will learn from her

How slowly a person can die on the inside

How well invisible girls make themselves lonely by being seen

She will teach you what it is to be lonely

But I know that you will teach her

That it is okay to be seen

That lonely is a wicked thing

It leaves you gasping

But you don’t need friends

To show you how to breathe easy

You know

Surely you must

She has no window in her lonely bedroom

She is too old now

Not to know what a mirror is

I hope that you can teach her

What it is to love her reflection

 

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On The Bus To Ajah

( Ajah is a place in Lagos, Nigeria, where I live. After this encounter, which I still believe I did in fact share with my grandfather, even if he is a little bit dead, I now look forward to taking the bus. who knows what other adventures or people i’ll meet. Take the bus today and see if you find any inspiration.)

On the Bus To Ajah 

A man sits next to me on the bus to Ajah

I do not greet him

He is dark and grey

And decked out in Islam

When he looks at me he smiles

And I nod in embarrassment

He does not falter

 

I hold salaam at the tip of my tongue

held hostage by my bare shoulders

I hide my face behind my hair as it dances in the wind

He speaks

But only to ask if I have change

For his fare

I pay his fare

 

A man sits next to me on the bus to Ajah

He has no idea how profound he is

He doesn’t look it

He doesn’t sound it

But he feels like my grandfather

 

They’ve the same aura

Same beautiful charcoal skin

Same……

This man FEELS like my grandfather

And I think, wow!

 

Of all the days I could have met him

Of all the times he could have seen me smile

He chooses a time where I am

Completely my self

And this upsets me

 

A man sleeps next to me on the bus to Ajah

I watch him closely

I hope he dreams

Of granddaughters

Who love him

Granddaughters who are

Confident in Islam

Who have warm shoulders

Covered and protected

And scarves that dance in the wind

 

A man sleeps next to me

On the bus to Ajah

When he opens his eyes

He is just a man

Not my grandfather

Who has long since run out of life

Not a reflection of the me I hope to soon be

Not nostalgia

Not… anything

He is just a man

 

I wear my hair tied up in scarves

My shoulders beneath warm clothes

I am completely myself

This does not upset me

And so when …

When a man sits next to me

On the bus to Ajah

Dark and grey and decked out in Islam,

I greet him with a hearty

Salaam