Grain Of Salt: Naeem

Grain Of Salt: Naeem

A story on captivity, torture, and internal trauma.
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NAEEM

An infinity of love,

An infinity of grace,

An infinity of pain,

An infinity shaped like 2 chains.

Mother used to always mutter this.

Like a verse that helped her keep her sanity, a verse of hope, a verse of reason; I never really understood what that meant until...

To be born a girl is the worst thing that could happen to you.

I overheard them say this to Nadia the person standing two feet away from me.

The only difference between a girl and a boy, I remember mummy say, was that a girl had two private, always closed parts--up and down, and the boys had two too--down physically and one metaphysically--their ego. Both of which are never hidden sadly. They dangle it to continuously prove that difference.

But why mummy? Why them and not us? Why do they do it?.......

At the tender age of 15 not only was this physically proved over and over again but I was made a participant as well. Mummy didn't prepare me for this. I might as well save you the grace of them not ripping the identity I give you as you will invariably take on the identity they give you of being nothing more than a girl. What you don't have in the 1st place they can't take. I can protect you to that extent.

But physically I'm helpless. She said all this with a straight face, showing nothing more than resilience.

Nothing more than a girl? But mummy you already told me that we are better than boys as we have greater control and power over ourselves and don't seek it externally to be proven to us on a continuous basis like those, what was the word she used? ah yes! Nycompoops.

Ever since daddy left us to join a cause of the greater good and getting a better seat at the hand of "God", mummy got even stronger. He was basically protecting himself, coward! These tiny snippets of wisdom keep coming back to me as "they" hose us down, yet again to prepare us as they keep shouting. None of the girls around me know what that entails and resort to crying to keep them company and give them a kind of shelter, but my mind doesn't stop whirring around the what of it all. Mummy had definitely included it in one of her talks.

A new/fresh batch was brought in today. There were 40 this time. The batch keeps getting bigger and bigger and the room more jammed making no room for the physical. The men in black trash-can clothes give us the command to strip, hose us down, scream long live God, throw morsels of food at us and leave us in the dark as we fight for whatever tiny bits of life we can grab, like ravenous ravens. Yet again!

Day 5. Either my time hadn't come or I was a log for the common pyre to burn harder and brighter to send a strong message to the “non-believers”. The stubborn. But not until your purpose is fulfilled they kept reassuring us with the smug grin of a trained assassin.

We were SPECIAL they told us, every aspect our physicality having meaning. Hair to be used as a handle, our faces beautiful to remind the perpetrators that what they were doing in the form of rape/child bearing was a beautiful thing for the larger purpose of breeding a new generation of militants. And our bodies devoid of souls that we gave unto them for the greater good of purifying their land. We were the catalysts they kept reminding us, as they threw us out to either bleed to death or cry to death or even starve to death as we were crumpled like tissue papers after they wiped themselves on us.

Coming from a small town in Iraq-Silcus, I was named Naeem by my parents as an anti-symbol of turmoil, struggle and war surrounding us always, even as the greatest struggle stared them in the face over and over again—I was a girl. And girls more or less had the same path laid out for them even before they were born, to be Khums—tax money, if the family ever wanted to live with the peace of knowing that they would be kept alive and they should be glad as there is no greater purpose in this world than to be a vessel of pleasure unto God and His loyal “sons”. And my mother took a combat to this line of thought by raising me in strict Yazidi traditions and cultures, using the fire against fire approach as she refused to give me any other identity other than this one that I’ll need when the time comes. And so I was Yazidi, a Yazidi with an uncertain future but a definite end.

Lumm Sayaaf reminded me of my mother at times as she tried her best to be a strong protective mother-hen of the coop, protecting us whenever she could from abuse and sometimes even offering herself up as sacrifice--but the “they” made sure that the division between married and unmarried was as demarcated as the distinction between men and women--rescinding to the rooster of her husband as he pecked at us from the orders of the “them”.

Sayaafa abba entered that day with three girls who looked like they came from another part of the world, white as milk, dressed in the garb of men of trousers and a jacket, they had their hair pulled up into a bun on top of their heads as opposed to veil covered heads that I was used to and spoke in a tongue that I couldn’t make head or tail of. Abba spoke to one of them in our language who seemed to get the gist of it as she translated the same to her friends in the foreign tongue and accent. Even though they clearly were the crème of our existing group and exotic as Nadia whispered to me, the one thing we all had in common was fear. Not fear of the unknown but fear of the devil in what was about to come. And the only thing that stuck as I strained my ears to listen was the word Nina.

Cover Image Credit: pexels

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Lately, I have felt lost at what God wants for my life. Ever since I've come back to UWG everything has been horrible. It seems that I can't catch a break. I'm trying my best to focus on school, work, and extracurricular activities. But it's hard when I'm having issues with my apartment/roommates and knowing my family back home is struggling and needs many prayers. All, I keep thinking is maybe Carrollton isn't where I belong anymore. I've asked God if He can guide me in the right direction. Below, I have found Bible verses that have helped get me through these rough, past couple of weeks.

1. Isaiah 43:2

"When you go through deep waters, I will be with you."

2. Psalm 37:5

"Commit your way to the Lord. Trust in Him, and He will act."

3. Romans 8:18

"The pain that you've been feeling, can't compare to the joy that's coming."

4. Proverbs 31:25

"She is clothed in strength, and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future."

5. Joshua 1:9

"Be bold. Be brave. Be courageous."

6. Ecclesiastes 3:1

"There is a time for everything and a reason for every activity under the heavens."

7. Isaiah 41:10

"Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Don't be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand."

8. Isaiah 66:9

"I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born, says the Lord."

9. Psalm 91:4

"He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings, you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart."

10. Psalm 62:1-2

"My soul finds rest in God alone, my salvation comes from Him, He alone is my rock and my salvation."

11. Philippians 4:13

"I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength."

12. Jeremiah 29:11

"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Cover Image Credit: pixabay.com

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Dear Desi community, The Struggles of diaspora Kids are valid

Yes, we know that our struggles are different from those of "back home," but that doesn't mean they don't exist.

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"What's your name?" asks the warm teacher in the pointed glasses, bending down to reach my miniature stature. Recognizing her assuring voice but baffled by her foreign tongue, I cowered behind my mother's legs, unable to respond.

While I did feel alone in that moment, I now know that I am not alone in this experience; in fact, many South Asian kids underwent the same first-day-of-school experience. Our parents, in an attempt to preserve the culture of their homeland, only taught us our native languages of Hindi, Urdu, Gujarati, or Tamil and assuming that we would "pick up" English upon entering the classroom. And, although there was a method to the madness (I did learn English within my first year of school), there was also a price: my mother tongue, my pride in my roots, and my cultural identity.

After the mildly traumatizing experience of not being able to communicate with my classmates, I became determined to shed the shackles that socially isolated me in the first place -- starting with Hindi and Gujarati. My family didn't protest at the time as, in attempts to make my English better, they also traded "paneer do" to "pass the paneer" within our dinner-table-exchanges. Now, at eighteen years old, I only have a fairly smooth understanding of these languages and a bank of broken, heavily-accented phrases to respond back with.

My experience with language, however, did not end with lapses in communication; instead, it stripped me of the cultural identity I longed for later in my life. The loss of such a major part of my culture, coupled with my sudden distaste for anything remotely Indian, prevented me from fully embracing who I am.

When my mom tried to enroll me in classical Indian dance classes as a kid, I objected wholeheartedly in attempt to fit in with my peers, who attended soccer practice instead (regardless of the fact that I had zero athletic ability). Upon unzipping my lunchbox to find pav bhaji, I would quickly zip it back up to avoid comments from my peers on its smell or appearance, and proceed to beg my mom for the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches I had absolutely no taste for.

However, as I ventured into my teenage years that are so lovingly coined as years of "finding yourself," I found that I was missing a big part of myself: my culture. Suddenly, I was yearning for the cultural identity I had struggled to free myself from for years -- an experience I noticed my desi friends going through as well. I found myself overcompensating for years of lost time, refusing to miss a single night of garba, working Hindi slang into my daily vocabulary, and binging Bollywood like it was my job.

Regardless of how desperately I tried to immerse myself in the roots I once neglected, I've come to face the reality that us diaspora kids will always have a different relationship with our roots than our parents -- and that is not necessarily a bad thing. Balancing two very different cultural environments, the one within the safe confines of my home and the one outside, we are bound to adopt parts of both worlds.

So, dear desi families, we are not "uncultured," -- we are simply trying our best.

Cover Image Credit:

Zoya Wazir

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