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Followers in the GTA! Event happening tonight!

This is just a reminder that our event, “Intersections of Identity” is happening tonight! There will performances, presentations, and an open forum to discuss elimination of violence against women in Scarborough. 

The event will be held at:

Bendale Library (1515 Danforth Road, Scarborough)

6:00pm - 8:30pm 

We hope to see you there! 

More information, at our Facebook page.

For any followers in the Toronto/GTA area, we have a new event coming up! 

For any followers in the Toronto/GTA area, we have a new event coming up! 

...and I refuse to use my right to remain silent.: 9/11 by Neha Ray


flightofadragonfly:

Five years ago I would have never imagined myself doing this, mentally and emotionally reminding myself to remain calm, conscious and careful simply because today is September eleventh.

The people killed in the incident eleven years ago were not related to me. The people involved in the…

My far away land By Veronica Diaz

 

My far away land

a diasporic journey 

 

What I don’t see is my faraway land

with longing eyes

I dont dwell among this beautiful land

Since I left I only have treasured memories

 

What I do see are dreams

nostalgic reality which remind me

to be proud as my colourful heritage,

my Mexicanlanguage

with the chamacos, and the escuincles,

to let my colours shine

 with the purples of Tenochtitlan,

and the hot pinks of the cactus flower,

 the greens of Chiapas

 letting the yellow bloom with the sunny essence of our Banda music,

with mariachi songs like:

 Ayayayay,cantaynollores…..

letting my orange be as delicious as my mangos and

red and spicy as my chillies and my native blood.

 

I only desire to keep the vision of my land

 the lovely plum mountains of the fall with nutritious apples

close my eyelids and encounter a place of arches and historic houses

buildings made of stones

the stones stolen from our ancestors,

those who sang to the golden sun,

to Shivalva, the Mayan underworld and

prayed to Chicomecóatl, goddess of subsistence and fertility

those whom held respect of our mother Earth

whom believed we were one and shared with other creatures

Those who valued the power of dance, women wisdom and two-spirited

 

 I want eternity to listen to the melody of our birds and our crickets,

 the prickly pears giving rest to that furious thirst of my mighty dessert,

I want infinity to feel the rays of our mighty Aztec gods

filling our lost memories

Quetzacoatl, Coatlicue

 Tlaloc y Meztli

Feminine and Masculine

those broken, stolen, imprisoned philosophies

tiny images of cultured times where oral history thrived

and human sacrifices were around

  stars were measured

and nature was within us.

 I want Señor Bosque, Mr. Forest give us welcome to our forests

 and Mrs. Wind, Señora Viento give us aliento,

the passion for every breath.

 

 

Lets not forget the moonlight melody of the lost battle

 near el arboldelanochetriste

 Cry with my grandparents

with the lost battles

The rebels, the survivors, the conquerors, the ambitious

Yes. I am Mestiza, Métis, half blood

I bare the pain of different sides

I am the unity of two bloods

Two continents

I have a bitter historic battle in my inner being,

 what do I resemble…

Revenge, Forgiveness, Redemption?

 

I want to honour the union of memories

Have a language of melting ideas

That when I speak it caresses many realities of roots

The roots of my Nahuatl and Cora past and present

The stories of my escaping and ambitious European grandfathers

 

WE, my people

 are fighting, thriving to be one blood, one body

To be Mexican blood,

 I am finally strong, proud, confident

I put away flags and sing to honour la tricolor

Green, white, red

Fields, liberty and blood

Fighting for unity

To make our homeland a proud independent nation

 

But now in Canada I only want

to sing and draw our migration stories

 Be proud of my far away land

my grounds and my roots

So we can start to feel home.

 live, work and play

 Home

 

By Veronica Diaz Garduno

Created and edited since Dec 2010- Nov 2011-April 2012-May 2012

Trapped Beneath Expectations By Thiviyaa Mohanaraj

Trapped Beneath Expectations
Written by: Thiviyaa Mohanaraj

I’m trapped inside of you, imprisoned by these expectations. You’re expected to be a cooking, cleaning, decent, quiet, housewife, but I’ve been here for too long I’m breaking out of this prison and following my dreams to equality.

I will not stay home and clean, but go to school and study.
I will not be a housewife, but I will get a job and have my own living.
I will not get abused and stay quiet, I will speak out for we all have the same rights… do we not?

Most importantly I will become my true self, with my own identity. I will not live up to expectations, where my true self is hiding beneath your made up layer. I will become myself and no one can change who I am.


 

 

Blind leading the sighted? By Raksha Kumar

Blind leading the sighted?

Chandini is only about four feet, nine inches tall. Her body seems to have naturally bent leftward from all the strain of having carried four children, one after another, on her waist for about a decade now. She had her first child when she was 17 years old. “I took one look at the child, and I couldn’t stop my tears,” she ruefully pointed, “it was he,” at her first born who was desperately trying to reattach the broken arm to the doll’s body.  She had wanted a daughter.

Jagat, Chandini’s husband, earns his living by screening the trash and selling what is possible to the scarp dealers. “He earns about Rs 60 a day, when he decides to go to work,” Chandini sobbed.

Sobbing is one of the only things Chandini would be able to use her pair of eyes for, in a few years time. She suffers from progressive vision loss that will result in blindness and is almost half blind now.  “I trip over vessels, bundles of clothes and sometimes even my kids,” she laughs. A laugh that has more pain in it than humour.

Yet, Chandini was sure enough that she wanted a daughter. She had tried three times and was lucky the fourth time, when she gave birth to Suhana a year ago. I asked the obvious question, “Why?!” I half-exclaimed, “Why would you conceive again and again with the hope of delivering a daughter?”

“Why not?” she counter-questioned and paused.

Chandini lives in the Valmiki Nagar slum of West Bangalore. With rising prices, it is almost impossible for a family of six with no income to live in a city like Bangalore. In such a situation, I was very curious to know why Chandini was so desperate for a girl child.

“People want a son these days, Chandini,” I ventured, “they feel a son would fend for them, a daughter would be a burden, I am therefore curious to know why you wanted a daughter?” All the while regretfully thinking about India’s irreparably skewed sex ratio. 

Chandini pointed at her house – a small, 10 feet wide shack with bare, wet walls made of mud. She had a few utensils that she’d use for cooking when there were enough grains in the house. There were three small bundles of clothes and one earthern pot in the corner, which stored drinking water for the family. Presumably, the family slept outside the undersized hovel. “Do you think we can ever live in a better condition?” she asked in a voice that expected a sincere answer from me.

With deep guilt, I looked at her, not knowing an answer to that question.

“That is why I want a girl child,” she uttered. “What we need is a little bit of care, some love and affection and some respect. A girl is more sensitive, I am hoping that my daughter will take care of me one day.”

She did not mean to suggest that sons are insensitive; she felt that her daughter would be more of a support to her. So happy was I when she answered, that words failed me. I smiled, knowing fully well that she would go on. “These days girls go out and earn a decent living and they also take care of us at home,” her voice sounded genuine, “I can give my daughter nothing but life, I am hoping she will be my life to me.”

In my job as a journalist, we are so used to picking faults with the society that we live in that we are overwhelmed and dumbstruck when we see positive trends.

When I left Chandini’s tiny house, I think, I sensed the changing times. 

The Club by Ragini Bhuyan

The Club

 The attendant came looking for her. “Little ma’m, your mother is on the phone, she wants to talk to you”. She looked up at the man in the white uniform and followed him out of the children’s room to the phone that was right outside the bar. 

Listen, said her mother’s voice on the phone, go to your father and ask him what time he will be back. Keep the line on hold. Run fast and ask him. Go. 

So she walked in to the bar room of the club house. In the dim light that reflected off the dark wood walls, she spotted her father on a bar stool, talking with another man who she couldn’t recognise and who she hadn’t seen before, but who she thought must be his boss, his new boss, the one that he had been telling her mother about the other day, worrying that since the boss was Bengali, he might favour his Bengali colleague more, telling her mother that after-office socialising was so important because he had to keep his boss happy to get promotions, telling her that this was why he had to attend all the parties at the officer’s club, telling her that this was why he stayed late at parties. This dark room looked menacing to her, and smelled strange. It was a smell that she had never encountered anywhere else, that smell of grapes gone sour that was peculiar to this room, wafting out through the open door into the garden outside. She felt even smaller here, amidst all the tall men and the tall tables and the men sitting in the tall swivelling bar stools. But her mother was on the line, and she had to talk to Papa. She had done this before, walking into this room that the women generally did not frequent, and hardly any children came in. Always, Papa would quickly nod at her or say a hurried word or two, and then urge her to go and play with her friends. She never seemed to be able to get his attention in this room. He was a different man here. She walked up to him and asked, “Papa, what time are we going home?”

 Her father didn’t seem to have heard her. She asked once again, “Papa, when are we going home?” Her father and the man laughed out aloud. Were they laughing at her? Had she said something funny?

"Papa" 

But no, her father and the man were still talking. They looked strangely happy, the light from the lamp hanging above gleaming on the bald head of the other man, on the sweat droplets on her father’s forehead. There was something about this room. People always seemed very happy in this room. Always, bursts of loud laughter emanated from here and into the far corners of the garden. Sometimes, they were so happy they even threw a glass or two on the ground. Of course, she had only heard this, heard this from Shireen in school that Anup’s father did this often, and whenever this happened, auntie would be called to the room, and she would take him home. Shireen said that this was the reason why Anup’s mother always sent him home early, why auntie, his mother, had come to the children’s room when they were playing and said he had to go home, even though Anup did not want to leave and shouted and stamped his foot. She imagined the shards of glass must look like small bright drops, gleaming on the dark carpet like diamonds that everyone’s mothers so desired. 

She readied herself to make one last attempt. Her mother was on the phone and she had to go and tell her something - 10, 11, 12 o’clock? Last time she had said 12, her mother had shouted at her on the phone and asked her to call Papa. Afterwards, there had been that big fight when they had returned home. There had been her mother screaming, shouting at her father, her father telling her to keep quiet lest the servants heard her, her mother continuing to argue, her father raising his voice, finally raising his arm and slapping her mother on the face, her mother slapping him back, her father hitting her again, so that this time her mother was pushed onto the floor, where she broke down and buried her face in her knees and cried. Her long hair had come loose and covered her completely, the black strands like ribbons, so her mother’s body had seemed like a sack tied with dark threads, an alien convulsing thing. She had stood frozen and rooted to the spot, watching all this while, her father having stormed out of the room by then. Her parents had seemed even more like strangers then. She had summoned all her courage and walked up to the shrunken shape of her mother and put her hand on her shoulder. But her mother had only slapped her hand away, screamed at her, and her father had come in then and picked her up and tucked her to sleep in the bedroom that was far away, and when he had gone and the room was dark, she had held on tightly onto the pillow, bunched her hands into tight fists and dug her nails into her palm and clamped her teeth together. She couldn’t sleep. The old wood floors and old wooden cabinet creaked at night. 

"Papa!" 

But her father only leant closer to the man sitting opposite him and continued talking. They didn’t look so happy now. What were they talking about? She heard the words ULFA, SULFA, tea estates. Was he telling this man the same thing he had been telling her mother two days back? That there were bombings in places she had never been to, only heard their names when grown-ups talked about them? She had heard her parents talking about people in the nearby tea estates who had received something called extortion threats. They had heard that the parties there had decreased. People were trying to leave, or at least send their families away. She heard that the Choudhury’s were planning on sending their two kids off to boarding school, in Dehradun, Shimla, Darjeeling, any place distant. 

We should send her as well, she had heard her mother say.

 Send her? No, no. I will get a transfer to some other place, don’t worry. We won’t send her to boarding school, she will be miserable. How will she manage? She’s too young. Can’t let her go.

 Of course, her father couldn’t let her go. 

"Papa!" 

She paused for only a second when she felt the pain in her throat like a death grip, and the watering in her eyes. She turned as normally as she could and walked as normally as she could, for by now she couldn’t see much. As soon as she was out of the door, and she thought none of her father’s friends could see her, she raced to the washroom, hearing and seeing nothing of the people milling around, hearing only the sharp tapping sound of her running feet on the wooden floor. Past the chatting ladies fixing their saris and mekhela chadors and the maids with their wards for a toilet break, she stumbled in, locked herself in a cubicle, and flushed the toilet, breaking into sobs even as she pressed the handle. The white wooden door, the white chamber pot, the white walls, the white tiles, the white ceiling, her frilly white frock - the world dissolved in a white blur. Swiftly, she snatched paper from the toilet roll and blew her nose. She couldn’t let anybody know she was crying. She blew her nose while the toilet bowl flushed, hoping the sound of the running water would mask the sound of her stifled sobbing. 

 

She wiped her tears on the sleeve of her white frock, stared at it, and remembered the shivering, dirty white kitten she had seen in the morning that day on the walk to school. She had wanted to touch it, and then felt scared. What if it snapped at her the way her mother had when she tried to comfort her crying mother, the shrunken shape of her crying mother whose arm she had touched and who had screamed at her and knocked her away with her elbow? 

She wanted to run away. But she wondered where she could run to. The world outside didn’t seem such a nice place. It seemed full of the dirty men in the market place whose gaze she shrank from whenever she saw them from her car window. And what would she eat, what would she live on? She wished her father would send her away, wished that things would go so bad that Papa would have to send her away to boarding school, wherever it was, just somewhere far. But Papa wouldn’t let her go.

 —————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————- 

On the drive back to their bungalow on the hillock, Papa is cheerful. So did you have fun, daughter? What did you play with your friends, he asks her, lifting her up to put her in the front car seat, though she knows that he knows she is perfectly capable of getting into the seat on her own. It’s only when she doesn’t answer for quite some time that he thinks she has slept off.

 

 

 

Living on the Outside: A Memoir By Nazifeh Ardus

 Living on the Outside: A Memoir

In High School I felt like an outsider. I was the only Muslim girl in my class. You wouldn’t think that for a school in Mississauga, but it was a Catholic school. I went to mass and all the assemblies that required me to cross my arms around my chest and sinfully stare into the priest’s eyes.  Sometimes I would just stay in my seat while classmates walked to the front of the gym and ate from the Holy Communion. In the mornings we stood for the daily prayer and signed the cross.

My mother insisted we go to John Cabot Catholic S.S, and not the public school all my friends went to. We were not to associate with the thugs and “street kids”. It was her attempt to anglicize us-something she strove to do all her life.  When we moved to Canada in 1994 we had a pretty good command of English, most of the schools in Pakistan encourage English speaking. My mother fit right in. She renewed her closet with denim jeans and woolen sweaters, started smoking cigarettes and bought a Bee Gees album. When we started speaking English with relatives, they would criticize my mother for not teaching us proper Urdu.

 “Look, your children have forgotten their mother tongue! How terrible Shahida, why don’t you speak to them in Urdu more, you don’t want your grandkids to be completely Canadian!”  

“What’s the use, they live in Canada, might as well know English to get a proper education and career. What good will Urdu do for them?”

After 9/11 we were all supposed to be Arab. Mama would tell everyone we’re Lebanese, and I even believed it for a while. My best friends were all from the Middle East, we listened to Arabic music, I learned how to curse and got blonde highlights. I remember going to South Asian grocery stores with mama, something I refuse to do even today. She insists on speaking English to the butchers; when it is obvious they are having a difficult time understanding her. They would respond back in broken tongue, while everyone in the store stared wondering why white people want halal meat.

When I was in grade seven we moved to Virginia where my father got a job with one of his cousins. Most kids at school thought I was Hispanic and I loved it.   In seventh grade I saw a girl wearing a thong that was peeking out from under her jeans. That same day I went to the mall and bought 3 for 15 dollars at La Senza. In order to accentuate my curves I wore them with extra tight jeans and felt grown up and sexy, swayed my hips when I walked and spoke to guys in a sultry way. Mama found them in the laundry and threw them out the next week.

What I remember most about growing up is having this longing for something. I still don’t know what it is, but I know my parents have it too. It’s in their eyes, in the way they take a compliment, looking down and never fully accepting, in the way they pray, with misty eyes. Baba used to tell me that money was everything, and without it you’re nobody. As a child sitting on his lap I made sure he knew all that matters is love. They still live paycheck to paycheck, my father working in Virginia, and us living here as eager recipients of monthly email transfers.

I don’t remember much about living in Pakistan, I moved here when I was four. It’s still concerning- watching home videos of myself running around and not remembering it even happening. Almost like you have another past that is out of reach, and not matter how far you extend your arms it’s unattainable. My past is not for me to understand. Sometimes I feel like something tragic happened to me in Pakistan and I’m still suffering from the trauma, so my mind has blocked all passageways as a means of coping.

There is a term used in Urdu ; “apis se bahir”, which literally translates into “outside of yourself”.  My mother would use it if I stayed out too late or wore something too revealing, and she definitely said it when she found my thongs in the laundry basket. The term is problematic in so many ways and invokes feelings of discomfort. Don’t be too outside of yourself; it assumes that you are part of the larger community, and forces a set of values upon you. You cannot reclaim a self because of the conditions which you carry. You must wear the weight of the community like a back pack fastened tight onto your body.

I have acquired the status of “therapist” in the family, trying to learn what my parents long for. I thought it would help, but instead uncovered a whole barrage of intimacy issues and marital conflict that makes matters worse. The other day I was talking with Baba and asked him what it was like growing up and moving here, how he handles living away from us. He recalled having to go to food banks so we could have food in our bellies, and working odd jobs for us. I was trying to maintain professionalism and was pleased with my skills.

“So, you’re suffering?” I asked with finger tips joined together,

I didn’t expect him to start crying and repeat “yes, I’m suffering” at least 5 times, sobbing holding his head in his hands. That was an interesting experience, seeing Baba cry like that. I’ve seen his eyes teary, when I do well in school or get a job that I really want, but never like that. Since then I have revoked my title, and am on a quest to explore my own longing.

 

 

 

 

 

You are my nightmare. Anonymous

Nothingness. surrounded by darkness.

I lie on my bed naked. I see nothing.

I hear a whisper against my ears, “I love you. Don’t I have the right to hug you?”

My body freezes at the cold chilling voice. I cannot move.

I want to open my mouth to scream, “Appa! Appa!” but there is no voice.

I feel a pair of hands violating my body. Touching me.  Hurting me.

I am in pain. My ice cold tears rolls down my cheeks dripping on my pillow.

My pillow wet. My body cold.

My body does not belong to me. I want to leave it behind. I want to fly away.

My body is disgusting, tainted.

My body continues to be violated. I am in pain. I am helpless.

 

I wake up shivering from the nightmare. My body still cold. I fall off my bed and land on the carpet. I cover my mouth with my hands and let out a silent scream, ensuring that no one can hear me. A voice inside me says, “He is your uncle! He is your uncle! How could you? He will never hurt you. How could you think such dirty thoughts about your uncle? He will never hurt you. He loves you like a daughter.”

“No, he is evil. He is disgusting. He does not think of me as his daughter. He is not safe. Listen to me Anjali!” screams Priyan

“No! He is my uncle. He loves me.”

 


You are my nightmare

I can feel the cold chill of your breathe making its way slowly from the side of my neck, down towards my chest. “Ahhh,” my heart leaps as I catch my breath. I open my mouth to scream “Appa, Appa,” but the words do not come out. It is pointless to yell as he is completely intoxicated. He cannot hear my cries of desperation. You pull me closer gripping my hips making an unusual noise glaring at my chest.  I feel as if I stand before you with no strand of clothes covering my body. I move my arms in between us in an attempt to cover my naked chest. I stand humiliated and small before you stripped naked of my pride. I feel your cold hands moving up against the side of my body, moving slowing from my hips towards my chest. I gasp unable to hold my breath any longer.  I slowly move away from you as you grab my hips once again. You say,

“I love you. I missed you. Give me a hug. Don’t I have a right to hug you?” 

Guilt takes over me as I force myself to move closer towards you. I repeat to myself, “You love me. You will never hurt me. You love me. You will never hurt me.” Your hands rub the side of my breast working your way down back towards my hips. You slide your hands below my hips rubbing your hands against my buttocks. I can feel your breath becoming heavier each second as you desperately and aggressively pull me closer and closer towards you. You continue to make an unusual noise as you rub your chest against mine. Your love feels cold. It renders me an object, an object without feelings, existing only for your mere deviant desires.

Haunted by tainted love

I roll restless on my bed

Wishing Saturday morning never comes.

 

I can smell your scent as you are near me

Your scent smells horrible

It reeks of tainted love

 

I can feel your touch as you are holding me

Your touch degrades my soul

It feels like tainted love

No! You couldn’t possibly hurt me

You love me, but your presence weakens my soul.

 

I awaken to the sunlight of Saturday morning

As Darkness fills my soul tainted by your love

I am haunted by tainted love……..

 

***************

            I reek of your scent as if you were still standing close to me. It makes me nauseous. I lie beneath my blanket yet I still feel naked. I curl up on my bed bring my knee closer towards my chest. I slide my hands in between my thighs as quick visions of your body rubbing against my buttocks flashes before me. I quickly remove my hands in disgust. I reach over and grab the compass and slide my hand back into the blanket. I tightly grip the compass closing my eyes and positioning the sharp edge of the compass on the side of my thighs. I let out a huge sigh of relief as I feel the sharp edge of the compass scratching against my thighs.

I rush to the washroom and close the door behind me. I sit near the toilet bowl and start to throw up. I hear my Amma’s footsteps coming up the stairs. I panic and lock the door not wanting to face Amma. I hear Amma call out to me, “Anjali, are you okay?”

“Yea, I am fine.” 

“Open the door? Should I make some you some ginger tea?”

“No, I am going to take a bath. Leave me alone,” I said annoyed. I hear Amma go back down the stairs.

            I clean my mouth and wash my face. I stop as I get distracted by the reflection of a pair of puffy red eyes in the mirror. They look ashamed but I could not say why. I step back from the mirror and hit the wall. I crash to the floor bursting out in tears. I bring my arms and legs closer to my chest in an attempt to stop myself from shaking from this odd chill I feel. I frantically remove my clothes and get into the bathtub. I turn on the tap and grab the soap. I continue to cry as I rub soap on my breast, between my legs, my hips and my arms anxiously trying to remove your scent from my body. The soap does nothing. I still feel and smell disgusting.  The soap and water sinks into my wound and creates a sharp painful burning sensation. I close my eyes as my anger slowly dissolves into the water and sets me free from this pain.

*******************

            I stand in front of the mirror staring at my naked body. The image infront of me is so gruesome, too ugly to be seen. It is a horrible image of an ugly naked child drowning in solitude. Her body scarred and covered with imprints of hands all over her. Her eyes look so pathetic so big and red. I turn away from this image unable to view this grotesque child.

I find myself barricaded within the four walls of my room, a place of solitude. The pale white colours on the wall, looks like dull grey in the darkness surrounding my room. The colours are so sad and lifeless like the image of this child.  It is a place where my cries remain inside from others to hear, a place of utter solitude.

*******************

            I walk into my akka’s room. She is watching a Tamil movie online. “Hey.” Her eyes dart to me quickly and back to the movie.

            “I am watching a movie.” Maybe this isn’t a good time to talk to her. She looks distracted.

            “I just wanted to talk to you about Ramesh mama.”

            “What about him. Hurry up I am watching a movie. He is just a weirdo” She pauses the movie. She continues on about Ramesh mama repeating everything our aunt complaint to us about. Our aunt often tells us how selfish he is and that he only cares about his wife and kids and not about his siblings. I look at my akka with irritation trying not to burst into tears.

            “He behaves inappropriately with me. He is my uncle.”I burst into tears.

            “You are just too easy.” She plays the movie.

            My heart drops as my fear became a reality. I am drowning further into the darkness surrounding me. She treated it like I just told her a stranger stolen my candy. My voice stuck in my throat I walk out of her room and into mine. I burst into tears once again. I cry and cry. I feel lonely and helpless stuck in this room of solitude. 

I cry,

My tears hold no meaning to you

They are just water drops

Falling one by one

Hitting the carpet below

Staining it black with eyeliner

 

A stain that you must cover

From the eyes of others

It is our little secret

No one will ever know

 

I speak,

My words hold no meaning to you

They are just sounds

Vibrations that hit the four corners of the wall

Fading away with time

 

Vibrations that you must stop

From reaching the ears of others

It is our little secret

No one will ever know

 

I scream,

My pain holds no meaning to you

They are just needless reactions

To situations exaggerated by my hallucinating mind

 

Situations that you must hide from others

Has if it has never occurred

It is our little secret

No one will ever know

 

But I tell you,

My tears have meaning

My words have meaning

My pains have meaning

 

So I refuse,

I refuse to hold our little secret any longer

For I am a proud woman

A woman with self love and dignity

So I forever break the silence…

 

 

****

            “Thiyani aunty wants to talk to you,” Said akka as she gave me the phone.

            “Hello?”

            “Hello, what are you doing?”said Thiyani aunty.

            “I am playing games on the computer. I am so bored.”

            “How is tutoring Rameya going? Is Ramesh mama nice to you.?”

            “Yea…He is fine.” I say nervously.

            “Suresh mama called me and asked me to talk to you.”

            “Oh, about what?”

            “At the last birthday party Ramesh mama was sitting very close to you and holding your hand in a way that didn’t look appropriate.” My heart sank. “Other people at the party might think something. Is everything okay?”

            “Yea, he is my uncle. What are you saying?” I say these words more so to convince myself.

            “Just be careful, men are men even if they are your uncle. Don’t tell this to anyone. Promise me.”

            “Okay I won’t”

            “When we were younger in our preteens Ramesh mama touched me inappropriately.”

            “He is your brother.”

            “I know. Just becareful. You can tell me anything. Is he okay with you?”

            “Yea he is fine.” I lie. Once she hands up I call Suresh mama. My hands shake with anger?

            “Hello,” said my cousin sister.

            “Hey, how are you?”

            “Heyy, I am fine. How are you?

            “I am fine. Is your dad home?”

            “Yes, hold on.”

            “Hello?” said Suresh mama.

            “I need to talk to you. Is there anyone beside you?”

            “No, what is it?”

            “Thiyani aunty just called me. She asked me about Ramesh mama and said that you asked her to call me. Why couldn’t you have just called me instead? That was so awkward. You know she has a big mouth. I am not comfortable talking to her.”

            “I am your uncle I can’t ask you these questions. I thought you will feel werid.”

            “No, I felt weird when she called.” I burst into tears. “I lied to thiyani aunty. Ramesh mama is so inappropriate. He would talk to me about his affairs with his cousin sister and ask me if that was right or wrong.”

            “Yes, I know about that affair.”

            “He would hug me inappropriately. He would find any excuses to talk to me about sex. He is my uncle. I feel uncomfortable.” I dare not say the whole thing. This should be enough.

            “Stop tutoring his daughter then. Call and cancel”

            “What if she needs someone to talk to? I wanted to quit but I was worried about her. She is the only child and she is very quite. She is not even close to any of the other cousins. So it though that I can keep tutoring her just to see if she was okay.”

            “That is not your responsibility. Just call and cancel.”

            “What do I say if he asks me why?”

            “You got that job at the factory right? Just say you can’t tutor because of that.”

            “Okay.”

            “Don’t think about anything. Okay?”

 

Why Open the Door? By Veronica Diaz

Why Open the Door? By Veronica Diaz

 Why open the doors to your wooden house

if its dwelling on native land?

 Your walls hold up the stench

of twisted laws that you share with no shame

the words calculating, discriminating, criminalizing

Laws that allow our forests to be scrapped

our land to be raped

Laws that not allowing all Peoples to have

basic education, or access clean water

laws that encourage assimilation…

more like assassinations of our Original and coloured Peoples

Laws that did not welcome the Kamagata Maru or many other boats

 Why open the door of your home

if its still placed on stolen land?

 The ceiling hangs to the screams that fight and

succumb to memories of genocidal schemes

The wall paper shows the blood stains

hidden withing the red roses

of international peace keeping pride

 I see water stains, the tears shed

of all those of us who are constantly reminded

we dont belong

and reminded we only have broken expectations

failed environmental protections 

I see languages drained through the leaking window sills

and accents left at the kitchen sink

 Why open the doors to your house

if you are going to shove me to the side?

 The floor have tiles of written stories

being pushed to do the dirtiest jobs, the taxis, the nanies, the timmies drives

Why live through doctor shortages?

we are here! with our degrees and years of experience

never leaving us

 The tiles show stories of us ignored

at the classroom, ignored in books, ignored in history

placed in stereotypes but given great parts

the terrorist, ignorant, uncivilized, unwanted

but mostly just silenced, unexistant

 Why open your house

if you hide your bloody hands and wave your racist multicultural flag? 

I was not invited to the table

No welcoming feast

I was not invited with the law makers

nor invited to eat with the old settlers

But I was made an accomplice in colonial practice and realities

 Am I only your chess piece

in your capitalist agenda?

Why did you open the doors to immigration

when you hide your real intentions? 

I found a table where to share

With Javeria, Kaneisha, Niyati and Chan

A table to the side

were it seems is where we hide

We share Histories Herstories

sharing the broken hopes

of a better future for our children……

but with their names and their skin

we see them falling dripping through the cracks

..of the system….or even leaving their lives

 I feel the ghosts in the basement

I feel their sorrows

of all those broken souls

denied citizenship

denied rights to land, children

denied their language

culture

beauty

and voice  

Why did you let me in

if you didn’t want me here?


South Asian Women’s Action Collective works with self-identified women in the Scarborough-area to come up with creative strategies to end systemic and domestic Violence Against Women (VAW). We are a working group under the Council of Agencies Serving South Asians (CASSA).