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She Must Be From Another Country

By Imtiaz Dharker



When I can’t comprehend why they’re burning books or slashing paintings, when they can’t bear to look at god’s own nakedness, when they ban the film and gut the seats to stop the play and I ask why they just smile and say, ‘She must be from another country.’ When I speak on the phone and the vowel sounds are off when the consonants are hard and they should be soft, they’ll catch on at once they’ll pin it down they’ll explain it right away to their own satisfaction, they’ll cluck their tongues and say, ‘She must be from another country.’ When my mouth goes up instead of down, when I wear a tablecloth to go to town, when they suspect I’m black or hear I’m gay they won’t be surprised, they’ll purse their lips and say, ‘She must be from another country.’ When I eat up the olives and spit out the pits when I yawn at the opera in the tragic bits when I pee in the vineyard as if it were Bombay, flaunting my bare ass covering my face laughing through my hands they’ll turn away, shake their heads quite sadly, ‘She doesn’t know any better,’ they’ll say, ‘She must be from another country.’ Maybe there is a country where all of us live, all of us freaks who aren’t able to give our loyalty to fat old fools, the crooks and thugs who wear the uniform that gives them the right to wave a flag, puff out their chests, put their feet on our necks, and break their own rules. But from where we are it doesn’t look like a country, it’s more like the cracks that grow between borders behind their backs. That’s where I live. And I’ll be happy to say, ‘I never learned your customs. I don’t remember your language or know your ways. I must be from another country.’

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