blackmail press 31  Marginalization
Mohamad Atif Slim

Marginalization - Pauline Canlas Wu
Mohamad Atif Slim hails from Malaysia but presently calls Auckland home. Recent publication credits include Harpur Palate, Westerly, the Christian Science Monitor, and Magma.
Hello Jacques Chirac

On the human rights travesty of March 15, 2004
I can’t help but wonder

what it is about the hijab

that drives those men wild—

is it the way she wears it?

How it folds on her forehead, or reclines

on her shoulder like

a sunbather?

How much danger

can a piece of fabric be

when it wraps the mind

like a present, in harmless little

seams, simple

and assuming. It’s not Red Death’s

mantle, or sheep's

clothing, or pertussis or

toxoplasmosis; she looks more

like Mary than Medusa.

If people ask you for it,

why can't you just

give them back their clothes?

But perhaps this is what happens

when men discuss


behind closed doors.

You know I know

-you know that some people don't like the way I

pronounce diversity, my raw

red tongue jerking to

a jarring stop at the T, the sound can

sting, like a wasp, like an ant-

bite, perilously yellow. Wouldn't they like to swat

me, I, buzzing fly. They'd like

to point out that it's spelt with Ss and a double M.

They'd insist on asking, do you

speak English? Grudging to say Mazel tov

when I respond: Well, yes I do. No,

they will repeat, Do. You. Speak. English? They might

do that to make a point, like shouting Tabarnak!

when you're in Montréal. At least, I suppose, when I go

to a dairy to get a Tictac, I'm not greeted by an array

of colourful words, big as a

zeppelin cluster of stink bombs, like my friend was

in that other place. “Kata mereka, kita kita, mereka mereka”.

Note:  “Kata mereka, kita kita, mereka mereka” roughly translates to, in Malay, “They say: we are us, they are them”.