I share a body with our ancestors we call women. These Muslims wore beautiful batik cloth to the river in private, berkemban. They wore it when they didn't have to worry about being presentable. They wore it to cool off on a hot afternoon. I imagine being in nature like that must have felt something like heaven.
We have robbed each other of rivers to go to for the divine gift of earth to soothe us. More and more spaces where women can relax from being presentable have been seized from us, public and private. Now every space is a space for emotional labour, to be hyperaware, to police each other in. Even our mental space, our capacity to be full khalifahs on earth is being challenged, reduced to just how simple men would see us. And so we are shamed for the danger that our bodies and collective dignity are in. Heaven is a distant reward, hell breathes down our exposed necks until then.
I berkemban here as my ancestors did, driven into an unreal digital space created by a corporation to profit in urban dystopia. I prefer a clean river, but even indigenous tribes and wildlife call on us, out of options. Why do we pave our valid anger over with patience and sacrifice, yielding to practices of penjajahs, corporations, sexist ulama, patriarchs and the mothers who raised them? What makes us smother our anger like it's irrational? Isn't what is really irrational the belief that any piece of (the) material can conceal us from our own actions in full sight of the Divine? It's the same Divine that put in us the power to do something about it. How can we get there? We talk-kok about hellfire, and our afternoons get hotter and hotter.
Liy Yusof, 32. August 2019. If you valued this, tip me with a message— that sends a clear signal of appreciation ✨ Consider also subscribing for free to login and leave comments— I only send emails when I've made something worth your time.