I. The Period Party
The Muslim equivalent of the legal drinking age
is when a woman has her period for the first time.
It is when you become truly human, Woman
so when I first had my period:
I heard that God started a countdown.
I heard there was a party involved.
I heard that there was a giant holy pinnata labeled “religious adulthood”
and that God got really wasted and struck one of those
high-striker machines at carnivals and a pinging sound
erupted through the heavens and he won top score
and he pointed to the biggest yellow minion plushie and said
“I want that one” and I heard that my face was pinned
onto Lucifer’s dartboard
and he started a holy war against me;
and all the angels started chanting my name
to the tune of Tom Jones’ She’s A Lady.
because I was a lady.
Basically it’s kind of a big deal.
I had to start wearing sanitary pads. Like a lady.
I had to start wearing my heart on my sleeve.
I had to start wearing sleeves, the scholars told me,
cover up, start with your skin, you are mostly skin.
2. A Sinister Party
When you first have your period,
your sins would unravel, decode themselves,
they learn to walk on their own,
they run away from your childhood leash
and when you’re not looking
they fuck other sins behind the bushes
and make little baby sins that grow up
and form a sin army. (A sinarmy.)
My sins learnt new words by the time they were two.
Started talking back to me,
laughing at how silly I look, a jumble of contradictions
that don’t match, this living, breathing quilt,
shreds of old rags and blankets that made up my body.
They said things like “You are accountable for us now,
all your shedding blood
means that you are losing the weight of stars inside you.”
So I counted my sins like they were stars.
I counted the square inches of skin I exposed to each lick of hell fire.
I counted the undignified desires that knocked on my door
and barged into my bedroom and demand to be pleasured.
I counted the number of times I masturbated in a day
(Once before Zohor and twice after Isyak)
and I made promises into my pillow
that I wouldn’t do it anymore.
I broke holy promises daily. I lied to God.
I knew if I kept it up, I would get blacklisted from heaven.
4. A Pity Party
So I shroud myself in several pastel shades of cloth
around my head determined to be the complete portrait of woman
And I listened to punk rock that told me to liberate, fuck it all,
the system is sick, fight against the man, you are bigger than what you’ve been told.
I prayed five times a day, Alhamdulillahirabbil ‘alamin
kissed the prayer rug like it was a lover,
like I couldn’t rely on anything less than godly.
And I started bookmarking my favourite porn fan fiction
so I knew where to flip straight to for a mid-afternoon quickie.
And I started reading the Quran, dragged through each syllable
and inflection as if I understood every throaty word.
And I started saying “Fuck” more, flipping off more, and subscribing
to concepts that once seemed culturally absurd like…..evolution.
5. The Microaggressive Party
“Aren’t you hot in that?
“Why don’t you take it off?”
“Ohhhh you look so pretty without it!”
“Are you like, religious?”
“Oh if we give you the job you can’t, you know, wear that thing…”
“What are your thoughts on sex?”
“What are your thoughts on boyfriends?”
“What are your thoughts on men?”
“Do you wear that thing at home?”
“Do you ever, like, party?”
“What are your thoughts on masturbation?”
“Eh, minah tudung!”
“Were you forced to wear it?”
“Why aren’t you speaking Malay?”
6. The Rock Show
The first rock show I went to, I was trampled mid-way,
after throwing myself into the moshpit, sweaty,
covered in hormones, and too much cloth.
There was silent confusion by the presence of a hijabi
in their overnight queue, I could hear them thinking,
WHY WOULD YOU WEAR THAT THING
ON YOUR HEAD IF YOU LISTEN TO HARDCOREEEE MUUUUUSIC?
It’s not hardcore, bruv, it’s just My Chemical Romance, calm yourselves.
Because this scarf is cool and fancy in black around your neck
next to studs and badges of Metallica and Skinny Puppy,
but primitive around my head.
Then it hit me. That this was no mere cloth,
this thing, folded and pinned in the right way, brings with it
too much: stitched within its seams is
the silence of cerebral gears of strangers spinning, trying to reconcile
my presence with my environment, trying to understand what kind
of woman I really am without having said a word to me
because I had a quilt of untold stories draped around my head,
I was always a mismatch,
I always belonged somewhere else.
(What was I doing at the party?
With other normal people who are dressed for it?
What was I doing trying to be a newscaster or a radio deejay?
Nobody wants to see my kind on their TV screens.
What was I doing writing oral sex scenes secretly in my notebook,
reading them back and touching myself after prayer so I didn’t have to wash the sins
from my body because my body was magnet for dirty,
and I’m supposed to be clean
What was I doing in the comic book store,
shouldn’t I be at home reading about Lucifer and his diabolical plan
to ruin my life – shouldn’t I be speaking in an ethnic language,
am I even allowed to walk by a bar,
If I see a bottle of alcohol, will I start melting in horror
Shouldn’t I get a job somewhere else,
I don’t know where, but somewhere else they can’t see me
because people are not ready to be greeted by those
who look nothing like them.)
7. How to party in anything
It’s been two years since I lost God.
But I found women,
and I found men who stood by us.
And I found those in between who
were forced to pick one way or the other.
And I found love and sex and hope and fire.
And I found poetry and I found
rock and roll.
And for a long time I thought
that I never found these things
until I stripped back to my skin.
But we are not contradictions worn on our bodies.
We are not balancing acts,
we are ruined and wrong and right
at the same time,
we are the crucifix dildos and the
punk anarchist imaam,
we are carnival high-striker machines
and yellow minion plushies,
The photograph on Lucifer’s dartboard is our selfie.
We can coexist with ourselves
without battle. We can stop justifying our existence
and our tongues and the things we do to our bodies,
because we are not conflicts meant to be solved.
We are more than threads.
We are more than the lines that we tread.
We are finding our own angels
and we are throwing parties so loud that
God herself would want to gatecrash,
get drunk and steal our vodka-cranberries.
Because that’s how you throw a party.