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Dreams in Pakistan

"I have a dream - I am in Pakistan again"

I remember seeing the world through your eyes. 

Your eyes turned the clouds above us,

Concrete rubbed its itchy hide against the insides of my wrists where 

two scrapes bloom, and

the air shuddered when your voice cracked its whip to the beat of time. 


Mother, I had a dream. 

No - I have a dream, it lives on, breathing rapidly like a fragile animal close

to death, I am in Pakistan again. 


A gentle pinkness, 

like the underbelly of a beautiful baby animal, fills the sky.

The air softens with breeze, like it has been touched for the first time. 

We are in front of a river, 

the water looks at you, and I want to ask you what it’s saying, 

but if it turns out words are too painful to say, you don’t have to speak to me ever again. 


By the river, a cloud of women approach us, 

they ask me a question, and I didn’t even know their language, but I said yes anyway. 


I always say yes anyway, did you know that? 


Time blushes, embarrassed to watch my over-exposed emotions 

drip all over my words. 

Pakistan was broody that evening, 

I smelled the dissonance in the river currents, 

everything is wrong because nothing is real, 

untamed magic crackling as the cicadas cry out, 

not knowing if tonight is their last. 


And in the uncertainty, in the dusk, I said yes anyways, 

moved towards the women who cried out for me like a prayer, 

and I pretended their love was real. 


Mother, I dream in Pakistan because I dream in shades of home, 

and everywhere I go, I am waiting for a sign that home is dreaming of me too. 


But the women by the rivers of Pakistan did not see me as their own, 

They told me the river vomited puddles everytime I passed. 

And tell me, when my grandmother tells me she loves me, 

Is there truth in her affection? 


Tonight, she is in a place I have never been, and after the places I’ve been, 

I know she will never really love me. 

And tell me, is it sentimental or delusional that I 

wear my country’s colors with joy, 

when it is the same country that 

said my naked body was sin, the same country 

that raked over my skin up and down with its 

searching, hungry, eyes, then gagged when 

it sought but could not find virgin 

skin - Pakistan is this: fiery breath on my neck, 

telling me a woman’s body is an invitation for scrutiny, 

an invitation for sex, my mother’s waist 

has been subject to too many sweaty 

hands, splayed out wide on a petite frame.


My grandmother knows this too, has been 

made small, engulfed by a gaze too friendly to be chaste. 

I wake up from my dream, angry at the world that bit the ankles of my mother, of her mother, 

Angry at the anecdotes I will never hear, 

the stories I know that are too painful

from the mouths of women, who do not know me enough to love me, 

or love me enough to really know me. 


Main artwork produced by South Asian Today's designer, Sathya Thavendran, @tararaemerd

About the author

Kiran Masroor is a first year at Yale University where she’s majoring in Neuroscience. On campus, she is in the performance group, TEETH Slam Poets, and she greatly enjoys writing about her Pakistani culture. Instagram: kiranmasroor_



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