(content warning: reference to sexual harrassment)
last night i woke up screaming. there was someone standing over me. someone with my face– if you scratched out my eyes. one of these days we'll exchange places and then i'll wake up without a name. the thing about my parents is they wouldn't like the way i dress. when no one is watching. in the bathroom. my watery reflection taunting me, telling me to put this chest away. where no one would see it. where no one would look. i swear, there's an abyss down my shirt waiting to swallow me whole. on the street, strangers’ stares pierce through my orna*. the blue-black gauze more bruised than a bandaid. i don't even call myself a girl except maybe on the full moon but no one wants to let me forget my body. i swear my skin clings to me, tight enough to suffocate– like the voices of the shadows that follow me home. dhaka streetlights and cigarette smoke. one of these days i'll wake up with claws and then maybe they'll leave me alone. sometimes when men look at me i can hear them think of prey. but i only pray at night, with the windows closed. on the street, moonlight bleaches all the girls to ghosts. the thing about my parents is they know too much. the thing about me is that i don't. i swear, the dark is beautiful if you don't look too close. if you don't see the eyes. scratched out. one of these days i'll wake up a monster, tainting all i touch. i've been touched. where i didn't want. right above the heart. exactly where it hurts. and i don't even call myself a girl except once or twice a monsoon but no one wants to let me forget they own me. there's a sort of living darkness in my chest that keeps me bundled in full-sleeved clothes. a warning that echoes. lost in my throat. and then, there's this body i don't know. the thing about my parents is, their voices are parading as my own. the thing about the men is they are everywhere. waiting to swallow me whole. one of these days i'll wake up a monster and someone else will scream. in this prayer, i don't have a name.
i know nobody. i swear. nobody knows me.
* orna (in bangla): a type of scarf worn by women, generally worn draped over the chest
Editors: Cathay L., Joyce P., Rachel C.
Photo Credits: Dadu Shin