Here is a salute to creative selfies!
BuzzFeed recently featured Yasmeen, an American-Muslim’s tongue-in-cheek Tumblr take on being a hijabi in America.
Hailing from California, this eighteen-year-old developed the prefect social media response to those questions: “Is it, like, hot to wear that?” and “Do you take it off to shower?”
Lately, I think in the shape of maps. Cartography is a relevant metaphor as my boundaries are bending yet again. My tongue wags in the direction of due East. I am revisiting old languages while my writing hand rests.
The immigrants gather together in my coffee shop, no matter the country of their origin. They call personal grammars from the air. The Persians gesture with palms towards the heavens; the Arabs stretch arms out wide as if to catch a word before it leaves the sentence; Indians write postcolonial diatribes with cigarette smoke. Some drink to lost memories hidden in their tea or coffee cups. A few read their stories from beer foam. They all remember somewhere else and some time from before.
He tells me that he would be disappointed if he returned home after thirty years of absence. Nothing will be as I remember, he says. He wasn’t supposed to stay here after the degree, but a political revolution changed the map of his world. He shrugs his shoulders. Now, his American-born children can’t speak the language well enough to understand the stories of their grandparents.
Like you, I say to him, I often have to choose which parts of myself I reveal to whom. We are always in the process of censuring our stories, speaking in languages half-mastered, or retreating to cultural corners where our imagined identities are safe and comfortable. He nods his head in agreement.
If one seeks stories of loss and regret, then that is what one will find, I remind him.
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Your Mother Needs a Foot Massage
"Heaven," Muslims say, "lies at the feet of mothers." But dear mothers, I have seen your bare feet, blackened by the parking lot as you fetch your sandals after salat. Your whole lives in India and Pakistan, in the Middle East and Africa spent shoeless, walking through deserts and jungles, gravel roads, across river beds to scrub laundry in the rapids. And the damage is severe: the chipped dry skin of your heels flake like old wood infested with termites— the scales of your feet like crushed lizards— the dark soles like tires after a drag race across broken glass. Read the rest of this entry »