By Zarnab Tufail

marathon around my religion

“worship” says my mother. 

her raised palms hold buckets of wishes she’s asked God to fulfill 

and i find mine emptier than a beggar’s bowl right before the jummah prayer. 

i try to imagine my folded legs above a white cloud talking to God to let me in. 

let me fill my empty bowl. 

the silence is an assurity of fulfillment 

and sometimes, an indication of absence. 

over the burdened years,

i have stood aside and watched my righteous childhood face turn dimmer as my body turned towards womanhood. 

i have climbed down the stairs leading to heaven, one, three, five at a time. 

i am at the very bottom of the staircase. 

i almost feel my feet resting on hell’s burning ground. 

my waist and thighs have marks clawed by demonic hands. 

the mere recognition of my body makes me scream. 

i am possessed, i am possessed by darker secrets. 

i am too afraid to look them in the eye. my angelic smile now a dark frown. 

“worship” screams my virtuous mother and i take one last look before disappearing into my own darkness. 

Zarnab Tufail is a 19-year-old WoC from Lahore, Pakistan. She is the co-founder of The Walled City Journal and an incoming college freshman. Her hobbies include sketching, photography and writing poetry. 

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