Memories of a cry: A Bohra woman’s poem on her Khatna

by Sunera Sadicali
Country: Portugal / Spain

Memories of a cry

When I was eight
was too young to complain
too old to forget.

Went to a family trip
Karachi was warm, humid, overwhelming, tasty, spicy.
Had long hair and soft brown skin.
Went to Madrassa
Learnt to recite some verses by memory.
Laughed out loud, met new friends.

It was hard, sometimes…
the crowd, the men just staring on the streets
all the compulsories.

One day
went to a certain doctor, a woman.
I was eight and healthy
My sister, my cousin and me
remember an old building, the peculiar smell…
A sliding door.
I loved the street food, the pani puri, the colourful shalwar kameez.
We waited in the hall, wooden chairs.

My cousin was first,
after some time, don’t remember how much
heard a scream, sharp sound of pain…
my cousin’s cry.

I was next
I was afraid, hesitating, felt insecure
My mother and my khala were there with me.
There was a small room,
It was hot
I was sweating.
A weak-lit room, yellowish, humid.
I was put on a gurney
then everything just went very fast, in my memories…
They told me that I had a “worm” between my legs that must be cut,
sliced
My mother and my aunty grabbed my legs strongly
I remember freshly the pain
sharp and bloody-pain.
I felt shame and did not realize what happened.

Then, my sister’s turn
and again the cry…
I still feel a knot in the stomach.
Not for the pain, rather the yell.

I was thirteen when I realized
that “the worm”, was a bit of my flesh,
The sinful bit-of-clit
and yet I was not guilty at eight,
nor my mother at 28.

We are not good enough
if we do not bow
if we do not obey
if we do not have it cut properly
if we are not modest.
If we speak too much
if we enjoy too much
if we question too much.

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