Ramdan diary: day 9

The first 10 days of Ramadan focus on mercy. One of the biggest mercies Allah grants us is our mothers. Mothers who sacrifice all they have for their children. But migrant mothers in particular are simultaneously rocks and pillows.

Our mothers moved through mountains. Literally. They left everything they know – the greenary they grew up around, the families they grew up with, the cultures they grew up in. Spat in the face. Ridiculed in the street. Ignored by the state. The trauma.

They taught us maths and they taught us to write neatly. They bought us books whilst they wore less. They taught us our values – patience, humility, respect. They shared the things they knew – kameez, plaits, curries, oils. We rejected. Straighteners and jeans, pizza and chips. English is cool. The trauma.

They stay with violent and controlling men. Continued to suppress their dreams to feed ours. Unable to leave and destined to stay. For us. So we could have the things we need and the things we want. The trauma.

All the trauma they face. The anxiety and depressions they suffer with silently. How many of them describe physical heart pain? Unable to distinguish the anguish in their heart.

And yet we are so harsh of their minor omissions. So unforgiving of their misunderstanding. So impatient when they call us.

Ami tumrar lagi shoba korsi (I did it all for you). – my mother

Ammu I can never tell you often enough. All the beatings you took so we could eat. Using the little money he would give you to use as our tutoring money. Turning him away for our safety even when the community talked trash about you. Pushing me to never quit – at college, at university, from work. My rock and my pillow. Reminding me constantly of who I am, what is important, what will always matter. Everything I gratefully am and everything I am gratefully not is because of you. Our mercy.

Even a few days ago my taxi driver gave me a recipt without the total on it. I had partially shared a journey so only had to pay half. Of course the expenses team do not know this even the driver hinted I could make back £20. Cash money – easy. My friend said I deserved it, it’s taking from the rich, think of it like a little blessing. My mum reminded me that every penny I take that does not belong to me is money that can never bring me any good. My mercy.

Oh Allah. Have mercy on our mothers. Let us be coolness of their eyes. Let us be the righteous children they deserve. 

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Domestic Queen?

My mum will be going on holiday for a whole 5 weeks on Saturday. With her gone, as the eldest child, I will essentially be the ruler of the house. My sister – three years my junior – is more housekeeping-responsible. She knows when it’s the right time to have dinner (not when you’re simply hungry), when the little ones need to get to bed (apparently not when they’re sleepy) and how often to clean the bathroom (when it looks dirty should be replaced with a wipe down every night and a more thorough clean every week). So when my mum last went on holiday, the house was still standing and – more importantly to my mum – clean. This time, my sister is going with her, so it’s time for me to step up.

Now, this doesn’t sound like that hard a task. I am 23 years old, I have lived out for a few months here and there and travel around (the UK – not the world as I would wish) a lot. So I know how to look after myself. Unfortunately, looking after oneself isn’t the same as looking after a house.  Continue reading

Brown Beauty

She sat up, briefly glancing at her reflection. An action she could not avoid every morning since it hang opposite her bed. Most mornings she would avoid looking in that direction. And should her lazy eyes focus for too long, she’d turn her head. Her skin too dark, her hair too frizzy, her nose too pointy. Too many faults to be beautiful. Too much to deal with first thing in the morning.  Continue reading

Being Woke

Thought I’d write a quick post on why I chose the name of my blog. Perhaps this should have come first – but I didn’t feel the need at the time and it’s here now.

Recently a friend and I were talking about the struggles of finding other Bengali friends who are woke. The context behind the conversation: traditionally, Bengali parents (and families in general) would prefer it if their child married someone who is also Bengali. In some families this is more than just preference and more of a requirement.

This angered me a lot as I was growing up. I could see the local boys hurting my friends, being immature and I guess being like all other boys at the age. But I internalised this as a Bengali thing and was determined not to marry a Bengali person. And slowly, as I realised my father would probably never allow me marry the mixed-race, tattoo covered revert of my dreams*, I decided I would never get married.  Continue reading