Fighting. Everyday about the most mundane of things. Blame it on each other, cyclically, tirelessly, unceasingly, over and over and over again until the air carries accusatory voices. You can taste the bitterness on the tip of your tongue, try to stop it from pouring out like stinging venom, and fail. Fail and then later regret what happened. Then sheepishly try to pretend like it never did.
I see the sorrow in her eyes and wonder when she stopped recognising me. I sense her failure every time I down another shot, when I wear whatever it is that I shouldn't be wearing. But most of all, when I see it in her despair. Because what she doesn't know can't hurt her, but what she does, that kills her.
And it's all stupid and pointless. There is no eloquent way to say this, and even if there was, nothing is as effective.
I'm scared of how pathetic this is becoming. Restrict clothing, restrict appearances, restrict what comes out of my mouth. How will you restrict my thoughts? I can see how she wishes at times that thoughts and convictions were genetically inherited. But don't you see, Mama? Don't you see that this inability to inherit genetically familial beliefs, this lack of opportunity for poison to permeate through your DNA is what made you who you are now? Would you rather cut me off for seventeen years, disown me and not even show up to my husband's funeral, waltzing into my home looking like you're about to shout "Eid Mubarak!!"? Would you be absolutely impervious to my suffering because Allah did not honor me with testicles? Would you blame me repeatedly for my suffering, because I married by choice? Because my husband drank? Because he had been married before?
Would you? I know you aren't cruel like that. I know that you are bent on none of this happening to your daughters. You've fought your whole life, and it saddens me to see your disappointment. Hardly easy to see your exasperated arguments falling apart, and it can't be for you either when you think I'm a shell that resembles you but doesn't do much else. Or when the woman you call your mother means nothing to me.
She asks me almost everyday why I can't give her the satisfaction of saying my prayers regularly, of wearing a dupatta even though it dangles around my neck like a useless noose, an unspoken plea to do it for her sake if not my own, to condemn everything I dismiss as people's own business and lives. And perhaps I'd have pretended, just so she'd have the satisfaction of happiness. Except that a year and a half on, when I come back home, I don't want to have to pretend. What's the point of that?