Between you and I, there used to be an Us
There used to be a small room for air between our singlet fabrics as you led me on a waltz to Sinatra
There was a hardback Pinocchio book as you taught me how to pronounce the English ‘r’
Countless drops of rain when Mom had said that it was okay to play outside
And the back of my bicycle seat before you let go of your grip and release me pedaling forward slightly out of balance
But much to your reluctance, I had to grow up
I had to dance my own battle through reality’s weather with no one to say ‘I got your back’
And I had to start choreographing my own belief system since I found that the sky can shine and rain at the exact same time
So you had to regain your grip,
At first because you feared my losing control, but then because you couldn’t deal with my not asking permission to claim my own soul,
With realizing that I was never yours
And thus, began the loss of Us,
The crossing of the starting line of your unchallenged authority versus my conditioned suppressive apathy,
Of your screaming rage outside my door versus my remembering old jokes trying not to open a gateway of tears,
Of your timeless reasoning fallacy versus my premature rebuttal when ‘I can’t take this’ has built up like grey clouds, and ‘I’ve had enough’ bursts out like thunders with lightning,
Because you know what the problem is?
You never let anybody tell you otherwise.
You never let anybody tell you, “You know what, just let her go.
‘Cause if history ever tells us anything at all, it’s that force and control never result in love.
When you don’t want otherwise.
You want to be the one, who gives her away on her wedding day
To be the one, who gets to face the groom and say,
‘You know these arms have held her from within the first hour that she was born,
and the same way they felt her first breaths they will hold you at your last gasps within the first hour you ever hurt her to the bones.’
Followed by an I’m-just-joking-(but-not-really) bittersweet laugh.
But then you wouldn’t be at peace otherwise.”
The way peace has been erased from my teenage heart since the day I found that your approval stamp is only valid for wanting the things you want,
That your acceptance letter is only sent in the event of having convictions which you’ve certified ‘halal‘.
And you don’t want that.
You want a lifetime worth of father-daughter conversations that don’t sum up in your trial questioning and my failed legal defending;
That don’t end in your stating verdicts, laying down laws, and my running away like a fugitive.
I don’t want this fight.
And I don’t want my walking back with my ears constantly standing up to detect your ‘I disagree’,
My heels on stand-by mode to turn the other way around just so I could find the next stop where chains don’t bound me just to be.
And mostly, I don’t want my slaving my heart to try to embrace you freely because it shouldn’t be that hard.
To say, ‘I love you Dad’.
Because you’re the first person next to Mom who embraced me into life and whispered my welcome notes through the words of God,
“Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar.”
And God, I’ve loved that life.
Maybe ever since then I’ve listened to too much and invested faith in too many other Gods.
And I know that you despise my justification of needing to take off my blind so I can capture the whole image of our existence, unified.
And I know that it’s easier to put me in a box and label it ‘astray, and therefore reroute’;
Tightly slip my worn-out innocent childhood wool cap down my 20-something ‘been there-seen that’ scalp.
So you can remind yourself that there was a point in time where you felt that I was owned.
Because I slept under your roof, and edged away with my spoon – your spoon – the broccolis I was supposed to chew down from the plates which you bought from the same bank account you drained to put me through school.
I swear, I understand the amount of what I may not be able to repay.
But it doesn’t mean that I owe you the pledge of where I choose to pray,
The lease for where I choose to rest my head,
The liberty to be my own Man.
But maybe, what I do owe, is the choice of which side I play for,
What I exhaust my lifeline on,
And what I'd die for the sake of.
And if it matters, to all that, the answer is Kindness.
The answer is Love.
The answer is Life.
At least, I try.
So cherish me.
Not because we spell out the same letters for a last name,
But because no spell can be cast upon the same kind of persistence we both act on behalf of our ideals.
Not because we're identifiable by the same DNA make-up,
But because our carbon dioxide are made up by the same heart that would take a child into our homes and raise them as our own.
And don't condemn me. For believing in Jesus Christ, Muhammad and Buddha all at the same time.
Ring a bell in me, when I forget,
Light the fire in me, when I start to slow down,
In the leading with compassion, with tolerance, and shared wisdom.
But most of all, see me, the way I walk me,
Hear me, the way I speak me – not the way you want to make me, or the way I can never be – because, there's no other me otherwise.
And there'd be none of Us left, otherwise.