Poem: Mother May I?

By S. NADIA HUSSAIN, for Muslima, Global Fund for Women

I wrote this poem "Mother, May I?" because it was a game I used to play as a child. There is a game called “Mother, May I?” where someone plays the mother whose back is turned to the other players. The “Mother” tells a player to take a few steps, and the player must ask, “Mother, May I?” before taking any steps; if they do not then they must stay in place. It is a bit like the game “Simon Says”. I thought about how this game reflected upon my life as a young woman, and how frustrated I would feel when it seemed like there were so many rules to being a woman, particularly a South Asian Muslim woman. I felt that my male cousins and other Muslim young men I saw could be free and do what they wanted, but I could not. It seemed like the older I became, the more restrictions were put on me. As an adult, I feel that I have fought and questioned these restrictions for most of my life. I hope for a day when our daughters will not have to ask if they are allowed take part in implicit freedoms we should all have, whether we are male or female.



Mother may I

take a step

to set my path upon the world?


Mother may I

wander on my own

like my brothers do?


Mother may I

skip, laugh and smile

as long as my laughter is not too loud

nor my smile too wide


Mother may I

pursue my dreams

as long as I have not placed them too high?


Mother may I

take another step forward




Mother may I

have the world within my reach

as long as that reach

is not outside the boundaries of my home?


Mother may I

grow beautiful

to only tempt the eyes of a husband

and hope that the world is blind to me


Mother may I

pick up the pieces of glass

from the floor

when I try to step forward


Mother may I

have a man to keep me safe


and always

have something to keep me safe from a man?


Mother may I

hide my sins from a world

that only sees my sins?

Mother may I

have babies to love

and children to hold?


Mother may I

not suffer…

or is that one too many steps

Am I too quick

to reach my destination?


Mother may I

love myself

without being selfish

Mother may I

love others

without losing myself


Mother may I

never have daughters

who look up to me

and ask

Mother may I?

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Muslim World Today.

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