Behenchara

Salt By Abeera Saleem

 

Artwork by Mahenoor Raphick

When I think of the word

Empathy

I think of you

I think of you because you did not have any

I once told you why I am a feminist

How a woman lives at the edge of fear

The fear of being assaulted, harassed, killed

The fear of being another victim

The fear of being one of three women

And you said,

“Don’t worry, it won’t happen to you”

How naïve of me

To fall for someone who could not understand

That this fear, lives under my skin

I was 12 years old when my dadi draped a dupatta across my shoulders

And whispered to me

“A woman’s honor is in her body”

She told me honor is like salt

An ingredient which controls all the flavors of the handi

I kept my salt in different jars, guarded by knives I carry in my bag, covered with my scarf

I was 14 when I cried because a woman’s face was painted with acid

I was 16 when I saw how a girl in a Mumbai bus was robbed of her salt

I grew reading newspapers adorned

with incidents of honor killings and karo kari and domestic abuse

So, now when you ask me

“Why are you such an angry feminist?”

I tell you, loud and clear,

I am sick of hiding my salt

I don’t have any more tears to cry for my fellow women

And I have decided to turn my empathy

into words into poetry into stories that will avenge all those women we have lost to system

I have decided to fight.

 

Hi! I am Abeera, a 22-year-old writer. I have been writing for some time now and there is nothing that I enjoy more than translating my feelings into words. Paley said, ‘Write What Will Stop Your Breath If You Don’t Write’ so here I am. Writing is the only form of rebellion I can show. It is the fire I have to spill on pages because if contained within it would kill me.

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