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By Mohadesa Najumi
Dedicated to my Mother, Kateryna, Hala, Kim, Gabby and @buonasahra
Dear woman who has been told to quieten down, speak softer and be less angry all of her life,
You thought if you spoke less, and in a softer voice he wouldn’t notice the anger oozing out of your lungs in the form of words.
You feel like fire in an ocean.
Most days you question yourself. Interrogate yourself as if you are a felon on trial for having a big mouth.
You question whether you are too loud, too opinionated and too damn angry.
You have been taught to accommodate, absorb, and the back of your neck aches sometimes from nodding so much.
Every question you ask in class begins with “sorry.”
You are always made to feel like you are infringing with your opinions, as if your words are a burden to bear.
I know you. I know who you are, how you feel, and what goes through your intricate mind. I am you.
You’ve been told that your anger is counter-productive. That you’re just wasting your energies and that (this part hurts the most) you have too much passion.
You don’t understand how anyone could have too much passion.
You wonder if your brother, male colleagues, and friends are told that they are too passionate.
You recall your mother telling you to speak less while your brother dominated the dinner table discussion. They called him “confident” and you, “fiery.” You wondered why he had to be ocean, and you had to be the fire.
You’ve practiced speaking softly in the mirror, but even then you didn’t recognize yourself in the reflection and hated yourself for trying to change.
This way you’ll find a man. You said. No one wants a girl who’s all fire. You told yourself.
You promised yourself that you wouldn’t get so angry so quickly.
You fixed a vapid smile on your face, but even your cat wasn’t convinced of it.
You made goals that you’d exhale and re-think before you said something that sounds angry. It never worked.
One day you met a man who smiled when you raised your voice and watched your tongue as it rolled around inside your mouth as though he was watching artwork. He loved your fire.
But, even he questioned your loudness. Asked you to be less rough around his mother and friends. He shouts at you now and then. But, you tell yourself that you deserve it.
No one can contain your passion, anger, and spirit. It is yours and it adorns you. You hate having to stifle it for anyone.
The worst part about being less angry is all the hard work it would take. Anger is a permanent tenant in your body. All the years of having to suppress your sexuality for others, the doubts about your body, the pressure from everyone around you to be a lesser version of yourself. How can you not be angry?
Were you expected to watch with glistening eyes as your father planted bombshells in the heart of your mother? The shrapnel hit you hard and you cried every time you saw your mother wince from the injury.
Your teacher, your congregation leader, your uncle, they all said you were too much to handle. How will she possibly hold down a husband with that kind of attitude? They mocked. You just stood there thinking about how you would prove them all wrong.
All the arguments with men who insist that you are overreacting.
The countless times you’ve been called “dramatic.”
The exclusion. The loneliness. The isolation.
But, your spirit, your fire, your anger always prevails.
To the woman who has been told to quieten down, speak softer and be less angry all of her life, you are my heart in human form. I wouldn’t want to be in a world where you don’t exist.