She was four feet , a vision in pink , eight years old , her birthday was three days ago , her father used to tell her she could be anything she wanted to be.
They had a quaint garden in the heart of city , the first act of rebellion Baba taught her. Her teacher, Mrs Azmi said that she was too loud for a little girl , her tongue was far too sharp , her words too many but Baba laughed it away, as always.
She was ten when the city splintered its spine on the bloodthirsty breath of a tyrant and the collateral damage of politics , her house quivered,her miniature garden collapsed, her father was buried under the rubble of time and blood . Her legs were torn from her body , her father ripped from her soul.
Eternities later , her name is called , her physical form is taken to a makeshift refuge, a white man with stony eyes glances at her , unfamiliar , foreign, he asks her questions she cannot understand, she stares at him. PTSD, he mouths to the nurse.
"The scarf," a lady says, " you can take it off now."
A reign of oppression has ended, is what they say of the city in smoke in the papers the next day . The bombs liberated you. Liberated you from the oppression of your religion, the oppression of your male family members, the cloth you were forced to wear around your head , we saved you.
Rage wells in her tongue , razor blade mouth they used to call her, Mrs Azmi and the kids at school , baba as he ruffled her hair but her mouth is shut forever, Mrs Azmi is probably dead, baba is locked in the afterlife , his body too torn up to recognise.
If she could speak she'd say Baba told me I could be anything I ever wanted. Baba saved me from everything , everything except the explosion that tore him to shreds. If baba were he'd say , stand up for yourself , binti.
But I lost my legs to the bomb.
Speak up for yourself.
But post traumatic stress disorder skinned the words from the roof of her mouth, churned them into gasps that dissolved at the base of her throat.
We've saved you the horrible woman insists, this is what you really wanted. An escape from your father and the system trying to strangle your voice with the hijab around your neck and your head, your head that is too brainwashed and still believes religion and god will save your broken heart even though it didn't save your dad.
No, she tries to say , baba never shushed me , the scarf around my neck didn't rip my femur bones in half and nearly kill me , you did that ,this war against my people did that, this war took my tongue and my will to live and baba told me I could be anything but I can't be anything because I can't walk and I can't be anything because I can't speak, god gave me everything in the world but you took that away from me , all she wanted was to shut her eyes and dream the white woman away , all she wanted was an escape, a bullet to the brain , like a ticket to the grave , the white woman wouldn't go away ,she wouldn't understand her scarf wasn't oppressing her as much the stench of blood on the white woman's hands, as much as the shrapnel pooled at her feet, the hole where her home and heart used to be.