Sari Blouse

Sari blouse

Some 40 years old

Each time

I wear you

I wear you out

Your sparkling bits


With moves of my body


Glue marks like rust

On glass-nylon[1]


I can’t remember

How many times

You were worn

Back then

It was

Before I was born

But in those times

There was Pride

Gleaming through

Your transparent sleeves


Like the bow

Clasping the point

Of your V-back

And the accomplished originality

Of placing

Bit by bit

Sparkling specks

In shapes of bows

On front and back

Bringing out the life

Of a black sari

Worn out of a requirement

Of love


And yet

That black glass-nylon sari

Was not quite

In line

With the chilling black burkha[2]


By the Ishnashari[3] clan

Of an Ishnashari lover

Of an Ismaili[4] lover.


It worked

It was accepted

And that was because of pride

Pride in being one’s self

And that was the accomplishment

Of my path-breaking Aunt

Killed so young

Driving her car

Between Jinja and Kampala

43 years ago.

Your black glass sari

And glimmering blouse

I wear them

Like as if I knew you

Wear them out

Like as if you had lived.

[1] Glass-nylon is a thin, light, cloth which is extremely hot to wear. It was the first synthetic cloth to be manufactured in British-free India and became a fashion-craze for South Asians everywhere.

[2] The full body and face covering worn by some women of some Muslim sects.

[3] A Shia sect of Islam.

[4] A Shia sect which does not view the burkha or hijab as requirements of Islam.  


from Voices of Resistance – Muslim Women on War, Faith and Sexuality (Seal Press: 2006, p. 204)


4 responses to “Sari Blouse

  1. Hi again Salimah,

    Honestly, I think this is one of your most powerful poems. I gives me chills to read it. And it’s even more powerful when you read it, wearing the sari.

    À bientôt

  2. Hi…
    It is a sad story, but you are wonderful to think of her.
    She is happy there.

  3. real nice flava flavour to savour

  4. Hi Salimah

    This is very touching and very well composed.


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