by Fatima Elmahgoub
I’m tired of these warped images. Of these stories I can’t hold on to. These eyes, that have grown accustomed to seeing ugly, this heart that begs for mercy, this thing that lives inside me. This thing, I cannot tame.
We’re all broken in ways that we’re too afraid to speak of. Together, we create a stained glass mosaic, and forget that there is beauty here, that there are flaws here. That perfection does exist within imperfections. We forget that we are human here. That this earth belongs to no one, and everyone.
Too often, I’ve been told I trust too much. My weakness has been laid out before me, beaten and battered, and handed back bruised, enough to have me convinced that there’s no room for trust, in a world that kills every ounce of hope within you. These black and white pictures have been trying to teach me, not to trust men I do not know, not to trust men I do know, and not to trust women I do or don’t know either. Never trust anyone but yourself. I wake up with the constant reminder that somehow, someone is bound to hurt you in some way, if you let them. I’ve been told to walk close to walls and become one if I had to, still and silent, and guarded; the world is a horrible place, and some humans are filthy creatures, yet I still listen to my gut instincts. My gut instincts tell me to follow my heart and my heart is the stupidest organ. It roams the sky in search of light, returns to me in the dead of night, forcing stories through my veins convincing me the world’s still alright.
And one day I learned to love the parts of me that I’ve been taught to hate, the parts that I’ve been told to hide because they make me weak in ways that I should be ashamed of. Those weak parts, they help me find myself within this rock solid self I’m trying to be, within this monster that life is trying to make of me, I spend nights pleading my demons please don’t take those parts of me. They’re all I have left in a world that kills every ounce of hope within you, in a world that robs you of yourself, a world that scares me half to death and sometimes I wonder, what will become of our unborn children then? When we kill their innocence from a young age, lock their hearts up in a cage, teach them hate and teach them rage, convince them that the world won’t change. Ask them what they want to be, then murder all their hopes and dreams, tell them to hide who they really are cause that’s the only way they’ll go so far. Tell them they’re grown and can lead the way after you’re sure you’ve led them astray. Leave them blind, and leave them hazed, then point a finger at the people you raised.
We learn to forget grace, to stand tall and tread hard even if it means treading on another soul, even if it means breaking our backbones. They convince us that we will collapse to form gold. There’s darkness inside me, I can feel it calling out for God. This piece is a prayer, an attempt to drain away the bitter and the ugly. It is a calling out of my soul to free me from my self because I’m tired.I don’t want to take up space. I’ve seen what happens when people forget they’re merely human. Forget that being human is enough. That all the angels have been ordered to bow down before our race, that we’ve been blessed with so much grace, we’re sacred. We are stars in waiting. One day we’ll form constellations that make us wonder why we ever doubted. Piecing together pieces we were too blind to see. For now, our hearts will bleed in silence, our veins will carry stories to remind us of who really are.
Beneath these pretenses, our similarities show. Our hearts beat to the drumming in unison. The veils are lifted off our eyes as we hand in pieces of this broken trust, these parts that rusted long ago, and realise that we are nothing more than just mirror images of each other, made of blood and skin and bones, taught to hate, and hurt and judge and misinterpret one another. Here, in these dark alleyways, in these cracks and crevices, lie unspoken words that can silence silence itself, and here I’ve grown to learn something: everywhere I go I see mirrors, I see reflections of myself, I am reminded of who I am, I am human above all else.