I have a face that suggests I speak languages I do not speak
—Tamil, Hindi, Tagalog and even Spanish.
Well, that’s probably more to do with my name
and frankly who cares what my name is.
It doesn’t matter today.
What matters is that my name is not Afhak—dew.
It is not Afsoon—charming, charismatic, loved by all.
Nor is it Anousheh—everlasting, immortal
for I am not an Afghan woman.
I have a room, which suggests that have a home of my own
—but I don’t.
I don’t even have a visa to live and work where I am.
And frankly what does that matter for I am where I am
—safe and protected.
For my name is not Benesh—wisdom, intellect.
It is not Esin—inspirational woman.
Nor is it Ferhana—one leading a comfortable life.
Not that anyone in Afghanistan is today.
I have a hope—peace and transformation flourishing
through educational opportunities for the under-served
in Sudan, South Africa, the Philippines, India, the world.
Yet today, I am afraid to feel the despair I feel.
But my name is not Hesther—the shining star.
It is not Hunoon—compassionate loving woman.
It is not Imama—great leader.
Nor is it Kaamisha—happy soul.
Who is happy in Kabul today? Or happy about it?
I have a fear—Afghan girls and women becoming nameless and voiceless
like I was whenever my body was a weapon used against me
by men who thought they had ownership of it.
Yet my fear is just a drop in the ocean of fear sweeping through an entire land.
But what do I know of this fear?
My name is not Larmina—the vast blue sky or Mehrbano—princess of the water.
It is not Nageenah, precious stone or Nahal—the young plant.
Nor is it Nadiaa—hope, the one you turn to in your time of need.
Who do they turn when fear of death, rape, persecution hangs around their necks?
I am struggling today, remembering the Sudanese Massacre
with hundreds raped, murdered while I stood safe in Belfast.
Hundreds injured and thousands distraught after months of peaceful protest.
Tascot Bas! Just fall, that is all!
Hurriya! Salam! Wa Adaala! Freedom! Peace! Justice!
The revolution is the choice of the people
yet choices to brandish paintbrushes were met with arms holding guns.
Choices? I did not choose my name or skin
or placement in the middle ground of racial division and privilege.
I am struggling today, remembering South Africa burning recently
with family and friends afraid, while I stood safe in Belfast.
Struggling as I watched ordinary people, who are not criminals, commit crimes.
Struggling with my name that cannot open borders to bring women and girls to safety.
Paksima—the one with the innocent face and Ramineh—quiet, peaceful woman.
Shadleen—happy soft hearted woman and Shahzadi—princess.
Sharjeela—a spark and Tabaan—splendid, glittering.
Yamna—righteous and Zaafirah—victorious and successful.
Zamaair—heart, mind, conscience.
My heart, my mind, my conscience weeps and speaks.
My struggle to struggle with you is a struggle I will never forsake!
It is a struggle born with the grace and the grit of the ground that hold our feet.
So as you fall, and I know many of you will fall—know, that we, will fly.
We fly free of bodies that say that we as women are worth less.
Free of men who could never own let alone touch our tenderness and might.
Free of societies so afraid of our power that they seek to shackle and silence us.
We fly as we fall and as we cry—we sing.
This poem was written a few minutes before joining an online Poetry Reading event on August 16th organised by the Swansea based Live Poets Society. My thoughts and feelings were centered about the safety that my name, ethnicity and physical location in Belfast grants me. We can help support the safety and survival of Afghan women and girls by supporting organisations like Beyond Skin and others who are working to help Afghan asylum seekers. Our sisters need our help.