You and I, my friend.
We were meant to be warriors.
Why, you ask me?
Because our bruised hearts have blood red shields,
Reinforced with hurt and betrayal,
And covered in the barbed wire of caution.
Because we have been fighting a war since we were 5 years old,
And our mothers first told us to be careful of men,
And twitched the hems of our dresses,
As low as they could go,
While we looked at her confused.
Because you and I have found every classroom,
Every job interview, every office desk,
A battlefield in which to prove that our strength is different,
From millennia of oppression,
And our courage is deeper,
Because of millennia of oppression,
And being told we can’t
Are you convinced yet? No? Then…
You and I my friend, learnt the hard way,
That swords can come in the form of tongues speaking sweet soft lies,
And arrows from loved ones hurt more than any shot by enemies,
We live to remember and bandage up every wound till they shrink to scars,
And then we take them as lessons,
And live to fight yet another day,
And the neighbor Mrs. Ahmeds comment that we are too tall,
And Mrs. Parveen, your mothers old school friend’s sly look at our dark skin,
Mr. Ali, the man who boasts up and down the office that he got his daughters married at 18,
and his disapproving sniff as our result card shows more As than his sons does,
And Madam Fatima saying no, Hamza will do it because he is a boy,
And your old class fellow Tipu saying WHAT? A pilot?! But you’re a girl!
Are just some of the opponents that you and I have ducked and swerved away from,
Have cut down and spat upon,
But never defeated because like hydra,
Where one head is cut off, three more take its place,
And you and I, my friend have cut down a lot of heads.
You and I friend are warriors of all kinds,
Like men had their weapons changed so have we,
Like they have gone from spears to swords to catapults to guns to tanks to bombs,
We went from grades to university to cigarettes to jobs to making our own goddamn choices.
Choices, my friend.
You and I are warriors because we made choices.
Chose to love and laugh and cry and make ourselves vulnerable,
Because that too is a fight when the world is so insistent that you must,
Put on jaded smiles and look with bored eyes.
We chose to stand and fight while some of our comrades laid down arms,
Saying the sword was too heavy,
Retreat was easy,
And maybe… just maybe… the enemy is right.
We chose not to listen to them my friend,
And we choose not to give in.
We choose to be here arm in arm
Heart in heart
And we choose to survive
And if that isn’t being a warrior my friend.
I don’t know what is.