I am not a woman of the Islamic faith. I did not grow up an orphan. I did not look different from people around me due to my skin color. I do know what it is like to be a woman in our society (and a plus sized one) but I cannot imagine the ethnic cleansing/genocide of over 14 million people during the India/Pakistan Partition and 75,000 to 100.000 of them were women.
Yes, I grew up poor. Yes, I know what the smell of a dead rodent is (once your olfactory senses have smelled and tasted that, you never forget). But I do not know what it is like to go without. Or what it feels like to have rats running around your apartment. And there were not strict religious rules for the way I dressed, groomed or how to act. I cannot imagine anything farther from my current situation. Therefore, I chose If They Come for Us by Fatimah Asghar as my Far and Away bingo square.
Asghar, in lyrical poetry, gives you a raw and gritty look at a lot of amazing things happening in her life. She also gives you a raw and gritty look at a lot of horrific things happening in her life. History and the present bleed together as she created poems about death, life, religion, friendship, sisters, family of blood and family chosen and how they deal with how one presents oneself as a woman: how she dresses, grooms herself, expected to do and say. You get a snapshot into Asghar’s life as she lives in America in the years pre-9/11 and after. Mostly, you get an image of a girl just growing up and trying to deal with the issues that come from that. Asghar is relatable on that level.
Sometimes the language feels as if she is using it for shock value. Almost as if she takes glee in the vulgar. Therefore, this collection of her work is not for everyone. Of course, language is very important to the understanding the story she is telling. The word Partition alone has at least three meanings within the context of the text. This is also most likely why she uses the more shocking wording. She paints the pictures of her life with simple, understandable language that (for me) read almost as a novel.