new issue
- by manzu islam
total read - 2256

On a plane at Doha airport
I’m clueless, a tense voyager, fumbling the cold buckle
next to a black hijab-clad, blue track-suited
looking over her shoulders,  for the pounce of a tiger
the crawling stealth, the fatal leap
Who is she?

Who am I? Who am I, Mister?
Fancy unwrapping the black and the blue of my skin?
Are you some sahib’s eyes, a pervert, a harem peeper?
Or are you looking for a fundy, Allah Akbar, grenades
dangling from my tits?

Do I care, Mister? Never mind
Slide your head inside, deep down the black and the blue
See, how they sized me, greased me, wrapped the skin
on me like you sahibs do a cock socks
Yes, rip it I will like they do a goat’s skin
Wrap I will with my own skin like a baboon mother in her skin
God dammit. Shame on the shame.

Do you think me a whore, a village girl, unlettered
speaking like this?
Born into hunger on Brahmaputra’s banks
a whore I rather be, selling my baboon skin, than doing time
in a fancy-dream, gold-paved, dinar-strewn shit-hole
somewhere in the Middle East.

Are you listening, Mister?
Yes, day and night from five in the morning till well past
midnight, seven days a week
Cleaned their shit holes & piss I did
Washed the clothes, mountain-high, I did
Sill the owner lady, very nice, red leather-shoed, kicked my ribs
dragged me by the hair on the floor I cleaned
She screamed the scream ‘Filth, Filth, Filth’
Behind high walls for fourteen months, locked in the house
ah the time, put to a cutlass died on my throat, groaning.

Babies, three of them, fed, washed and cradled I did
No wash for me, though, only rotting fish rained from my pores
Food they fed me was fouler than their dogs’ in the yard
Oh, how I envied the dogs, but the babies I loved them
cradling and cradling I dreamt of ripping them off
one by one like my black & blue skin.

Are we over Dhaka now, mister?
Are you still dreaming a sahib’s dream of a harem?
For my sins I have been a domestic in the Middle East
Not a slave but worst than a slave
Yes, remember it, Jorina is my name.

was published in November 2018
    Flash Fiction
    Short Story
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