pain on the thanksgiving table

It’s an incredibly eerie feeling to be celebrating a holiday that literally commemorates the genocide of an indigenous peoples. Coming from a refugee family whose current countrymen are systematically threatened in the same way, and especially being of Pashtun descent, a diaspora peoples whose self-determination and agency has literally been strangled by imperial and colonial powers, I can’t help but feel disgusted partaking in this day. simultaneously, I am stung with the remembrance of my privilege; that I should be so lucky to even despair about having an incredible feast on my table; that who am I to consciously object to this event when there are individuals literally starving to death. So I better fucking eat that food and sit down and shut-up and forget why I have this incredibly hypocritical gut wrenching feeling, knowing I am on Tongva land, that the San Fernando Valley has for millennia – NOT been my home, and that my spirit is still somewhere on the Durand Line while my body is lost & confused as a hyphenated child. This is the rage of being an American, of knowing your life is owed to the natives and blacks murdered to give us space. How can I eat this food in joy, while my ancestral brethren are being slaughtered across the sea, and while the real Americans are being murdered at Standing Rock? All while a misogynistic, racist despot in now the leader of this “free world” and his words are the validation for thousands of lost white youth to violate the bodies of black and brown people just like me? I can’t help but feel paralyzed over the millions of lives I will never live, over the trail of tears, I’ll never see. What a debilitating pain.

From Pakhtunkhwa, to Palestine, to Standing Rock, we are one. Our struggles are interconnected. Our enemy is the same oppressor. I beg you, wake up. Wake up and contribute to the cause. For safe water, for self-determination, for the right to live and breathe with dignity.


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most people do not want to become shells

or shadows

but what if you wanted to purge yourself of who you once were?

if you couldn’t stand the empty eyes staring back at you?

what if you could never solve your own problems, so you extended your hand out for everyone else?

then being a shell wouldn’t be such a bad thing

if i could empty out my rib cage

create a cavity for everyones sorrow

because mine; i couldn’t just unpack

then i could be a shell

for everyone to visit

to place close to their ear

to see if they could hear the ocean

when they wished they could empty their hearts out too.

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the woman who burns

I always burned. From the bottoms of my feet

To the hair on my head, I burned.

Whether it was love or pleasure or pain or joy that drove me insane.

I burned with it.
People who are shells
Cannot handle the woman that burns

When your heart is an ember

It will melt the man who is hollow.

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small spaces

The small spaces in between my ribs Are where I keep the lies you told me

Every breath I take 

The lies expand and collapse

Because I believed you,

I kept them near my heart 

And thought I’d unpack them 

Every time our love was supposed to grow 

But now they sustain me 

Because I know 

I could take your lies 

And your deceit 

And I could use them to fuel the fire

That burns so deep

I have no choice but to change.

My body sheltered your fraud 
I gave it to you every night

But now those lies are mine.

I feel strong
Because I know I can go on

Even when my body

Was a house for your lies. 

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Election 2016

I remember when they said this man became president, I fell to my knees in the back of the Zara stock room (where I worked) and cried tears of joy. My first time voting as an adult was for our first African American president.

Now I am extremely apathetic and indifferent to it all. It doesn’t matter what face is on the commander in chief, Bc people who look like me and speak my language will still get killed everyday at the hands of this government. I am extremely distraught and internally torn when it comes to whether or not our votes mean anything. Whether a candidate will do anything for my people here and my counterparts back home. 
I am only voting tomorrow Bc my mom is making me drive her to our polling place. I can’t help but admire her for believing in the political process, after fleeing her country, after living life as a refugee, after living in a nation that is complicit in the destruction of her motherland. How she can be optimistic and believe in the power of the people is an ideal that I currently do not possess. 
Whatever the outcome, I pray for our citizenry to remain safe. I pray that my fellow Muslims do not have to walk in fear. That immigrants can still call America a beacon of hope. That diversity is celebrated and compassion is multiplied. 
God bless America, and the places it bombs. 

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Day of the Girl 


I am constantly in awe of the power of women

When a sister suffers, the whole community of women

Come together 

Care for this sister

Like she is their own 

Hold her as she cries and wipes her tears away

All of the wombs of many women ache for this sister 

They see themselves in her eyes


If I didn’t have the sisters in my life,

The many sisters from every desert, every mountain, my sisters from the east and my sisters from the west.

How easily I would crumble.

Thank you for being my legs 

When I could not walk any further. 

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Sit in your pain

I sit in the pain.

I don’t make crowns of plastic flowers.

I don’t cover up the void in my chest and quell the dull ache in my womb.

I sit in it. 

I learned long ago that there is no rushing healing. 

And that denying yourself the walks through dark halls and the sleepless nights, or even the times when you don’t get out of bed – I know that denying that is more destructive than faking a smile.

So I sit in my pain.

I burn in my pain.

I make a home in my hell.

Because diamonds are only made after a process of pressure. 

And phoenixes only exist if there are ashes. 

Stop denying yourself the mastery of your pain. 

Live it. Own it. And pack it away in your chest.

To remind you of your resilience;



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Pakistan’s Plan To Forcibly Expel Afghans

I cannot imagine the repercussions of this. The irony? The infant nation they are being kicked out from has historically been indigenous Afghan land.

Prayers with the victims of this atrocious policy.


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Losing Jamshid

For those of us who are from Afghanistan, we know loving Afghanistan is different than loving someplace else. I never thought I could hate it though. I know how strong of a word hate is, but there have been two times that I hated it. When Farkhunda was murdered, and when Jamshid Zafar was killed in last weeks terrorist attack at the American University of Kabul.

Jamshid came into my sisters home already with a smile on. I still remember meeting him in her hallway, blushing and speaking in between stutters. Jamshid must have been nervous, but outside of the initial superficial hello’s and how are you’s, I knew right then how easy he could be loved, and how eager he was to love in return.

I was always so impressed by how much he loved Afghanistan. Born in the early 90’s, he grew up in an environment that I was saved from. His stories were supposed to be my stories as well, but my parents fled, and his parents stayed.

I think that’s what impressed me the most. That despite growing up in war, Jamshid believed in Afghanistan’s potential. In my case, I grew up miles away, safe in my home – it was easy for me to believe. But Jamshid came to age in the eye of the storm, during the Taliban, and during the American invasion. And he still believed.

He worked tirelessly to perfect his already fluent English. He greeted every family member of mine with kindness and open-arms. He played with my sisters children like they were his own siblings back home. He followed me around and asked me about pop-culture like an eager little brother. And he always ended every sentence with a smile.

And now he’s gone. Another victim of Afghanistan. Another name in a list. Another bruise on the heart of Afghanistan. Just sitting at school, wanting to learn. Wanting to help in the fight to save our nation.

Our nation. Right now I don’t even want to claim Afghanistan as my own. My heart feels tired. My heart feels helpless. How long can we love a place that burns in rage? How long are we supposed to persevere, and fight through it? Jamshid was my hope for Afghanistan, and now he’s gone.

I am so disappointed. My heart is broken into pieces. I wish I could hug Jammy one more time. I wish I kept in touch with him more. I miss the boy who was my little brother, who painted my room and came with me to In-N-Out, who played with my nephews and spoke politics with my parents, who loved my sister like she was his own mother.

I’m tired and I want to rest, but because Jamshid believed in a free Afghanistan, I can’t let his death be in vain. Those of us who lost him knew how much he believed. We have to believe too, for his sake. We have to believe that every Afghan in our motherland has the right to self-determine. That children have the right to wake up to birds and not bombs. That every mother who births an Afghan does not do so just to bury them after. We will create a free Afghanistan. Insurgents and terrorists are cowards and will receive their punishment for selfishly taking away our children. But Jamshid believed in a free Afghanistan. Jamshid loved Afghanistan from the bottom of his heart and with the fire from his soul. Because we love Jamshid, we will continue the fight with him in spirit. Jamshid fought his whole life, he fought more diligently than 12,000 soldiers. With pride and with him in mind, body, and soul, we will continue where he left off, and he will remain in our hearts until we meet him again.


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for my sisters who stay long after their hearts are broken

One day you will learn that their lies can’t hold you hostage anymore

One day you will be so fed up with empty promises


And when he promises you a sandcastle

you will know the wind can sweep it away


you will sit there with empty hands and a dull pain in your womb


you will look in a mirror and recognize a spark of hope


look deep into your eyes and dig out the little girl you were


before he came into your life


and buried you so deep in self-doubt and pain that you forgot how to laugh without sighing at the end.


I believe in your resilience. You put a phoenix to shame.


One day you will burn with a fire so deep. And you will blow their lies away.


Like a sandcastle in the wind.



for my sisters who stay long after their hearts are broken

Madinah Wardak Noorai

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