“For Those Who Don’t Fit Into Boxes,” by Shagufe Hossain


Growing up
I never lived
in houses with lawns or little gardens or backyards,
with weeping willows or wooden benches.

 I lived,
in a city
where pedestrian walkways,
‘footpaths’ they were called,
were resting places for those who couldn’t afford rooftops
over their heads.

 I lived in apartment buildings,
boxes stacked one on top of the other
to save space
in overpopulated cities—
in lands
sliced up
with sharp blades of politics, religion and language
and distributed
like a decadent dessert (not enough)
amongst gluttons, never satisfied.

 But these spaces for living?
They constructed and constricted
and made it difficult to breathe
in boxes,
with each wall
closing in,
a divide,
made of those very same blades.

 Now these boxes stand
stacked one on top of the other
with one wall, standing tall,
the wall of class
(check box: rich/poor)
one wall, standing tall,
the wall of gender
(check box: male/female)
one wall, standing tall,
the wall of body
(check box: abled/disabled)
one wall, standing tall,
the wall of beauty
(check box: fair-skinned/dark-skinned)
one wall, standing tall,
the wall of knowledge
(check box: valid/invalid)
Mighty walls, standing tall, solid
with edges like blades.

 I lived,
crossing over to the other side.
But these walls with their sharp edges
would cut into my flesh
so I grew up

 And these boxes?
They worked
for those who lived in black-and-white worlds.
Lazy minds, refusing to see colours or greys,
fitting themselves into moulds
as others saw fit,
gift-wrapping themselves in societal expectations
and presenting themselves
to a world
that was ready
for no more.

 But not you and I.
You and I
stood either somewhere in the middle, bleeding,
or outside,
in a corner
of a verandah
looking at the skies, limitless,
using boxes with pinholes,
projecting realities,
our own,
to capture the essence of life.


these words by Shagufe Hossain were inspired by the work of Marcin Wolski

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words inspired by colour wordandcolour.com

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