blackmail press 21
Mehpara Khan
New Zealand/ Pakistan

Mehpara Khan 19 years old. One of her many talents is expressing her feelings in poetic form. Although Mehpara has written poems on various themes, most of her poems are on race and culture. Being of Pakistani origin, born and brought up in New Zealand, she has experienced chauvinism across ages, races and genders which she expresses honestly and with courage.
Featured Artist Fiona Holding
crossed cultures - special issue
It started with you.

Don’t you remember being hated?
Being accused of eating man’s flesh and forced underground
Out of sight, out of mind.
Don’t you remember the holes ripped into your palms
Into your feet
And then being burnt alive like a streetlight?
Don’t you remember the putrid stench?

Don’t you remember being ridiculed?
Being broken and bruised?
Being tortured and experimented on like some animal
Like some sick thing from the bottom of the drain that people never wanted to see.

Don’t you remember being burned, being beaten to death?
Being gassed and being naked to the world?
Don’t you remember the shame?
Being scalped and raped and tormented till you were mad with hunger and pain?

Don’t you remember the white fire?
That burned the flesh from your face and your hands and made you cry out in pain
While words of propaganda littered your minds?
Don’t you remember retching till your innards bled through your skin
And made your body convulse and haemorrhage and they just watched you?
Don’t you remember being scum?

Don’t you remember the time when they said it was your fault
the world was an ash tray, and you were filth?
Don’t you remember when all the hands on the clock pointed to you
And blamed you.

Do you remember when those same hands accused me?
Blamed me?
And you called it justice.


You see me as a grey mist
Unrecognisable and you hate me.
You hate me because they did something to you
And I look like those that hurt you.

You hate not seeing my face
You want me to expose my flesh
My soul. .My inner parts to the world
So that they may make their judgements and leer at me.

My humiliation
My rape
But all you see is your own hate.

And you expose me with hot light
Cold metal and tools that would make me scream
The humiliation, torment
It’s inhuman

And you’re not happy till the fury inside you
Fuelled by fear
Consumes the world and rids it of
My plague.

You see me like a virus
The aids you cannot get rid of
And you disinfect me with gas machines and fires.
And I scream let me live.

But you say: let there be justice.
And the people rejoice.

You’re no friend of mine

It’s funny how you know me,
Well, not know me,
But see me,
And how you think that you’re a friend of mine.

But if I change my outward appearance
Made obvious my hidden side,
Would you continue to say
That you’re a friend of mine?

You would question my decision
Not for understanding
But to make your judgement known,
To make me realise that you disapprove.

You would not try to comprehend
My dilemma of hypocrisy,
You would not try to be
That familiar friend of mine.

You would simply turn your nose up
Out of arrogance and ignorance
And make it very clear
That you’re no friend of mine.

Should I remain forever silent
For your peace of mind
Should I quieten my conscious
And close my knowing eyes

Should I let you treat her like that
A maid to be despised
A child now and ever
Guarded for all of life

I'm so tired of this quarrel
That never has an end
You never look inside yourself
So your reasoning is dead

It is dead to all logic
And morality
You preach me about culture
But its insecurity

You ask me: what will others say?
I ask you why you care
Then you say if I'm to marry
It is their words I must hear

I am caught in the cycle
Of twisted lies and deceit
Of a culture I don't understand,
Which opposes my beliefs

I wish that I could hold their tongues
And be brave before their lies
But my reputation is at stake
My reputation in their eyes

I wish I didn't have to care
About what others say
About what they may think of me
And the blame that they may place

But my position and my status
Compels me to hear their words
To smile and to agree with them
And ultimately conform.