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What it's like to be Arab (for those of you who aren't)

Updated: Jan 24, 2020

It’s practicing your p’s and b’s in front of a mirror

so that the word ‘pitch’ doesn’t become the words ‘bitch’

It’s telling people to call you Sarah (s AIR ah) not Sarah (s AHR uh)

so they don’t know who you are, but your big nose insists on giving it away

It’s scouring the internet to check if DJ Khalid is like you,

but getting confused when you discover he is

It’s reading a book by a Palestinian Jordanian author born in Syria,

It’s getting angry because a person who could be no Arab than she, names her characters Sally instead of Salma, Oscar instead of Omar, and Amy instead of Aya

It’s feeling guilt, a gelatinous tar layering your tissues as they decompose with toxicity

It’s overdosing on regret, and the letters of a language not yours are the pills you take,

It’s taking 26 tablets, and your body sagging afterwards on the checkered bathroom floor, folding inwards like the pages of the books read from right to left when you sent them to fire's masquerade, where their brittle papers were masked with towering embers of a vermillion haze

It’s wishing you could turn back the clock, so your diaphragm could push Arabic air from your lungs into your voice box to tremble the words of your mother language who you dropped at the asylum, because you don’t have time to care for her while you practice your p’s and b’s

It’s wishing you could have written this piece in your mother’s language rather than the language of a stranger, but your pool of words is shallow and you can’t swim in puddles

It’s going back to the asylum.

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