Hiba Schahbaz’s Self Portrait / Weighing a girl
Every day when the sun hides behind trees A girl rides past my house I look at her through the windows of my room. She goes around again and again until she gets tired. She does too many things at once, bark back at the dog following her greet salam to the strangers walking by stop to smell the yellow flower and I wonder what scent it bears for her? As she pushes on her pedals her head sways back and forth as if a song stuck inside her head. She completes half another lap, abandon her smile on the ground and goes home.
I drink my Sulaimani and do not wash my cup for a day. I am a woman— I do not know how to cook food not dream about husbands and weddings I have not smelled enough flowers or held enough lovers on my breasts. I am half-man half-woman, they mocked. My god does not love me, I am told because I lighted cigarettes Harami, I was called. My sujoods were incomplete I was branded khafir to my Lord. My worth is the dirty cups stacked in my room, the outlawed ink under my bra line, the hairs that crawled out my underwear.
Every single day for twenty-three years A mother– who runs around the house morning, evening and night doing too many things at once. checking if everyone ate enough making gharam chai four times a day carrying dirty plates in both hands and naked regret among putrid stench of fish soaking khajoor every night to feed health into her husband cleaning every dusty furniture so that her daughter doesn’t sneeze too much at night and wakes the sleeping man. I wonder when was the last time she stopped and listened to her favourite ghazal, the last time Ammi smelled the flowers in her Gulshan, the last time she looked at her daughter and caressed the dust settling at the sickness of her pale heart, the last time she weighed her dil for more than one fertile womb, six cents of land and ten sovereign gold.