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A Desi Girl Goes to London

Zehra - Bird on a Wire by Chris Campbell

'Bird on a wire'. Fotografía de Chris Campbell en Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0).

the desi girl got lost in london. won’t someone find her and take her home? this brown girl got lost in london. somewhere between Whitehall and White City and the White House and Whitechapel. desi tourist in trafalgar square how scandalous you look. no not hindustani. pakistani now. hindustani-indian-pakistani-desi-brown-girl posing next to the statue of general sir charles napier commander in chief for india. he gleams cold and hard bronze. you and him for the camera. smiling. don’t be absurd. run along go home. or put your ear against him. can you hear him? he’s been talking about you. he says you were too rebellious. how difficult you made things for him. The best way to quiet a country is a good thrashing, followed by great kindness afterwards. Even the wildest chaps are thus tamed. he said that about you. are you wild? or tame now? are you going to make it easy for him? do you need a good thrashing? after you’ve gone red and sore and the cuts and welts sear across your skin, you can have some peanut brittle. you look scared. i only mean to warn you. slowly walk away desi girl. did you think london was a playground or some great grand city of enchanting culture and history? slave traders shook hands at this corner. pose take a photo. here be glorified war crimes. watch out: here a paki was punched to a pulp. samosas, chicken tikka masala, and the blood of your ancestors by the pound. did you think you could go to the museums and not cry but they stole this from me. the kohi noor. that’s mine. with your hands against the protective glass put there because stealing is illegal in this country. go home desi girl.

Zehra Naqvi
Fatima Zehra Naqvi

Fatima Zehra Naqvi is a Karachi-born writer, editor and poet raised on unceded Coast Salish lands (Vancouver). She recently completed an MSc in Migration Studies at the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. She is currently an MSt candidate in World Literatures in English at Oxford. Zehra has written and edited for various publications internationally. Her poem ‘forgetting urdu’ was the winner of Room magazine’s 2016 Poetry Contest. Her work has appeared in Jaggery, Room, The New Quarterly, The Express Tribune, Dawn, and Tin House. She has a BA Honours in English Literature and Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia. She writes about borders, migration, displacement, social movements, urban spaces, the war on terror, Muslim identity, and Islamic feminism. You can find some of her work on her website She tweets @fzehran

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