Canines and Hijabs

I keep thinking how remarkable it is that a being with no audible voice in my life, with no tangible dexterity of any human language is capable of teaching me so much of Love. I am referring to Flush, Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s pet spaniel who Virginia Woolf wrote a book about after reading the Browning’s love letters.

I watched many interesting talks today about Muslim women; whether the hijab is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ (Personally, I no longer believe in ‘right’ or ‘wrong’- just kind and unkind, happy and unhappy- these things warp and change day to day, but they do not pretend to be as monolithic and grand as ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ try to be), about the visibility of Muslim women and what it even means to be Muslim anymore in all the lies and stereotypes we are fed every day for the ends of perpetuating profit, blood money.

Just in case anyone’s interested, here are the talks I listened to-

  • What does the Quran really say about a Muslim woman’s hijab? | Samina Ali | TEDxUniversityofNevada

  • What We Don’t Know About Europe’s Muslim Kids and Why We Should Care | Deeyah Khan | TEDxExeter

  • The Muslims You Cannot See | Sahar Habib Ghazi | TEDxStanford

 

  • The Muslim on the airplane | Amal Kassir | TEDxMileHighWomen

I think we should all try to be a bit more like Flush in these times when myth pervades over smiling at strangers in the street. When I watch my dogs on our walks, they never slow down to a pace of shyness when a new puppy lollops out on our horizon- my dogs sniff, they they circle and play; I like to imagine in human terms they would be saying “Hello fellow Soul, how do you do?

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The only reason monsters exist is because we make them. Which means we can also un-make them, and I guess that must start with ending fear. Understanding that each human, regardless and yet resulting from colour creed gender age etc ect, is a plethora of nerves and arbitrary intellects. No one is a closed book ending, we must stop conducting this society as if we are robots; we must think like dogs. I treasure what Virginia says: “Flush knew what man can never know- love pure; love simple, love entire; love that brings no train of care in its wake; that has no shame; no remorse; that is here, that is gone, as the bee on the flower is here and gone.” 

Today’s poem is by a Farsi poetess, Forough Farrokhzad- an Iranian modernist thinker whose poem ‘Born Again‘ is so beautiful and strong she gave me shivers, my arm hairs stood up on the tube. ‘Born Again‘ is rather long, so I didn’t want to include it here; instead here is ‘Gift‘… xoxoxoxoxoxooxox

Gift

I speak out of the deep of night
out of the deep of darkness
and out of the deep of night I speak.

If you come to my house, friend
bring me a lamp and a window I can look through
at the crowd in the happy alley. 

Forough Farrokhzad

Spectrum Hearts

Today is when love was first legalised in glorious Britannia. By love I mean freedom- I mean not being afraid if you wanna kiss your neighbour’s lips- the boy who likes cricket and has freckles like strawberry seeds. Or your girl next door; her hair crimson at dusk and webbed topaz at dawn lolling shoulder blades. Love means bodies without fear: it means we see ourselves truly, without pretence or glamour.

It makes me feel such shame that we locked this away and threw away the key in ‘honour’s’ name for too fucking long. The glitter was dulling behind bars, and feet that should have been slow-dancing on wedding floors were stagnating in cells instead.

I am of the opinion that we are all a little bit gay on the inside: that people who deny themselves a little taste of colour are so mopey and angry at others because they’re jealous. So the old saying goes- happiness is the best revenge. What happier revenge than love; what do people try to stifle more in this world than compassion? I am only young, but I have my opinions. Thus says my brain: Love, desire; they’re persecuted because they are needed more than wanted, they are powerful beyond definition of language.

I am so proud with of the punk/prog/ gay pride progressions my country has made since it’s (fluctuating and never truly ending) dark ages. But other countries still deny their citizens the right to hold hands with beloveds in summer bloomed parks. To kiss in front of cinema screens; or to wed, that gold ring and memory forever. My love and thoughts go out all the way to those still trapped and afraid- I use my freedom of expression to hope, to will for yours. LGBTQ+ community: you are loved, please don’t feel ashamed or wrong or deadly. You are beautiful like festival colours and flower smells. You are beloved unto this soil, and please don’t let yourselves go down due to ignorance. You are seeded strong- will last out all winters.

Today’s poem was written when I was 16 and at a Pride March with all my friends. I remember feeling so alive, so liberated and joyful to be in the sun without fear on that pavement, holding up banners and shouting aloud into the sky and shop window faces. Happy LOVE. That’s all there is to it; LOVE, LOVE, LOVE xoxoxoxoxox

 

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PRIDE

I belonged there, dancing.
I belonged there- in the sherbet
fizzing July sun; laughter
and drums spectrumreaching
ears as second nature.  Pavements
baked in this crowd, excitement.

A carnival of colours marrying hope
with young fuckery on London’s
summer seasoned walkways.

Gimps and holy men and
inflorescence of old dykes holding
hands- our people glittering.
Mirages of possibility finally conjured
into warm heavythumped blood.
Souls sing “FUCK YOU”
and peace- no longer a classroom fantasy
but flesh, a commitment or kiss.

Dancing did so I whole
belong. Sweaty palms agripped
placard as grail- awakening,
awakening childlike loving
glee and must never be lost.
We shuffle with crowds, not noticing
how every step, each movement
is only a dust-breadth;
resembling twigs floating down
greenweeded river in this concrete
jumble- we pay no mind to swans staring
out shop windows or the dwindling
of scaffoled hours. The present was a
Present- and that’s where I
belonged.

The repetitions of her in my life-
collapsing yet again into crossed legs
on park floor fuzz in old trainers,
smiling as she starts off the roll-up,
sunning ourselves as strawberries
would. (If we had time to contemplate
such metaphors.)

We are enraptured in NOW,
this gay teenage fantasy-
warm wine swigged straight from the bottle
and we not yet 18, sparkling giggles down
our throats; rucksacks
smuggled on rails.
Face-paint smudged by
caresses- smiles and shouts;
this delicate stasis.

No worries of beating red
sticking to teeth like glue-
No terrified of myself dissolving,
dissolving…

It was my pride-
our pride of all hopes,
We belonged there
all the heart long.