Unspoken

By Naima Dido

I wish I could finally say to you the words stuck in my throat, 

Behind my teeth and scattered on my tongue,

With you, I live on eggshells,

I don’t know how to tell you that I noticed that your days were filled with half-veiled insults,

I was praised serving tea the right way, 

Preparing to be a wife,

Soon the ear will be pierced. 

I don’t know how to find the words to tell you,

Away from you everything is new,

Painted with memories of you and beautifully tainted with old ways, 

And yes, the missing parts.

And if I could, 

I would say to you that the missing parts of me aren’t the only parts of my body that are hurting, 

That sometimes when I sit and watch my daughter play, 

And my throat starts to constrict, 

While my tear ducts prepare for the warm flight of my pain, 

I still remember the sound of the razor blade leaving its paper cover,

And I still feel the moment the blade cuts my flesh,

How my blood sparkled against the light as it raced between my legs, 

Escaping my body, 

You watched as I wept. 

I wish I could say to you that I fantasize about telling you these words,

that are years overdue, 

And no, I’m not okay, 

I still don’t know how to find the words to tell you of my inherited sorrows, 

Of the joy of my new life, 

The last time we spoke, 

You said I didn’t care about you, 

You’re mistaken,

I do; I just don’t know how to show it. 

Maybe I’m not making any sense, 

The real words have morphed themselves into metaphors, 

Suppressed too long, 

To the root of this mess, 

I want to say that I’m sorry I wasn’t stronger for you 

And for me, 

Now as I roam the world, 

I carry with me our pain 

Crafted into tools for my success, 

They find a way—the thorns life may throw to the next in line,

My sweet B.

(Naima Dido participated in Sahiyo’s Voices to End FGM/C workshop. You can read her reflection piece here and watch her video below.)

Missing Link

Missing Link

By Anonymous

No cuts, no wounds, but deep empathy for my sisters.
I came to NY for the 4th time but for an entirely different circumstance.

Being part of the Bohra community, I have made countless connections, some of who have been integral in my life. Yet, I still felt distant from the community that often lacked logic and ran high on emotion. Weird though, since I am kind of the same way at times.
Learning about FGM for the first time at 14, everything shifted. I have always had an ability to empathize with others, but this was something utterly outside of my scope.

I bowed my head and accepted that I will never understand the magnitude of this trauma,
but I can surely become part of a movement and advocate alongside. I can use my voice.
I can use my ability to empathize as a tool to heal the traumatic wounds.

The 2nd annual Sahiyo Retreat was nothing short of inspirational bliss.
I felt recharged.
I felt motivated.
I felt empowered.
To hear each survivor’s story and understand ways to take action–
it has become a movement.
A movement that I want to walk with.

While energy can subside, the power of one weekend
still buzzes in my heart.

Knowledge, trauma, empowerment, change, community- all words
That have taken on a new meaning entirely.

As I wait for the next retreat, I continue to ask my self
What can I do, learn, ask different every day
to continue to be well-informed and a true
activist.

Thank you, Sahiyo
For bestowing this buzz of energy
And for helping me connect the
missing link
of emotion and logic.
And that link is
SISTERHOOD.

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.