I would look left and right.
As if I wanted to cross a busy road.
Maybe those were roads
That I built in my frail mind.
I saw invisible eyes staring deep at my back.
But they weren’t. It was my imagination.
The other day,
as I pushed the gate open,
My legs wouldn’t move. People were inside.
“They will stare at me again.
I am not dressing right, I’m sure. My veil isn’t used correctly.
No, I don’t look good enough. They may laugh at me.”
I wouldn’t enter. I held onto the gate.
Then, she came behind me.
“Follow me”, she said, holding my hands tightly.
“Nobody will look at you”, she continued. “They are busy, minding their business.”
“So, don’t be afraid next time
And walk in and out without fear”.
(Dedicated to Ummu Imtinān Fowosere: “Aunty Shukura” in my tone)