The Untitled Revolution
By Salma HQ
I sang to my mother while she sat on the floor addressing a mural of notes from medical school lectures, I sang to my uncle on the bench of a hockey rink as he jumped head first into a box of tissues hoping for a temporary fix for his broken nose, I sang to my father tripping over my words as I sat mesmerized by the movement of his fingers over the keys of our piano, I sang harmonies to the swaying of the needle on my grandmother’s sewing machine, and I sang to my first crush at lollipop summer camp when he lost a race to me, a girl.
In first grade, I was the loudest and most blunt little grenade of optimism Miss Najwa ever met. I was sent to the principal’s office six times that year because I wouldn’t shut up when the mean gym teacher bullied the less athletic girls and made them cry.
and as my scholastic misadventures went on, so did the decline of my melodic nature.
“Salma, lower your voice, you’re not a boy playing soccer in the street.”
“Salma, shut up, you don’t always have to tell people what you actually think.”
“Salma, be quiet, it’s unladylike to speak so candidly.”
To the dismay of the long line of strong women that raised me, I trained my tongue to speak only when spoken to and never to let the inner workings of my life escape my lips.
They say you’ll know when it happens, that all you need to do is say no. They say it’s violent, that you’ll feel the hatred in your veins. They lied.
I was ten years old when it started. A vibrant kid that only wanted to make people happy. He seemed happy. Like misplaced affection invading my skin still sunburnt from planting watermelon seeds in the garden with the three year old next door, all I saw was love. From his eyes to his fingertips, every cell radiated with care and concern.
It made me nauseous.
Frozen in time, my world went dark. Every fiber of my being stood limbs stretched to the sky, vibrating with anger, screaming at me.
Eyes rolled back, fists clenched, my throat went dry.
It’s amazing how intricate my ceiling tiles are. The stain in the right corner seems almost artistic, what a beautifully crafted—
My loud-mouthed, fervent, hot blood stood still for 8 years.
I was not silenced by a roaring demand, I was not silenced by corporal ultimatums, the melody in my mind danced on its own to the sound of my heart beating in fear.
Touch transcends physical forms and alter-egos. The meeting of atoms in uninvited friction goes beyond my own being. A hand on me is a hand on my mother and her mother after her. The cycle of the interfamilial scar and silence comes to a screeching halt at the shattering of glass one voice can foster.
Seventeen women in my direct bloodline have been robbed the same and have stood where I stand now.
The constant cracking of my innocent bones echos though centuries of women that’ve been silenced before me.
The silence stops here.
صوت المرأة ثورة
We are not only amidst a social war, no, we are the revolution and we will be heard.
I will sing once again.
An American-born North African woman, Salma HQ writes about what it’s like navigating the sociopolitically driven seams of the world around her as a Muslim woman. She is an aspiring multi-media artist who channels her passion for domestic violence and mental health awareness into her spoken word poetry in attempts to tell the stories of the people she meets along her journey. Follow her on Instagram and VSCO for photography and writing @itstandsforhighquality.