From Hope, From Terror

The ground partitions into what will grow & what won’t.

Even nature is fractured, partitioned. I want to believe in rebirth


that what comes from death is life, but I have blood

from someone’s father’s father on my hands

& no memory of who died for me to be here.

– Fatima Asghar, If They Come For Us


“This country is beautiful,” my Lyft driver told me last Tuesday, glancing at me through the rearview mirror. He’s been to 48 states: he joked that he’s a professional driver, because his full time job is truck driving and the Lyft gig is just his side hustle. “You know? You can do anything here.”

Yes, I thought to myself, no, maybe. The pendulum swings like the most f*cked up lottery in the world, between hope and terror (a la Tony Kushner). I know I fall on the side of hope because my mother just barely got by as a child in the epidemic of Indian poverty and I have never experienced food insecurity or homelessness in my whole life, here in America. Because my father and his father before him saved everything so they could give us the gift of education without anxiety, here in America. Often I think to myself that I am the American Dream. I am a direct product of sacrifice. I carry this like a gift, a heavy one, tucked into my pocket at all times. I live in a wealth of opportunities but I’ll never forget how this came to be.

The pendulum swings, though, terror. The migrant caravan welcomed by only a sea of hatred and xenophobia. Police brutality killing scores of young black men. Rejected visa applications from refugees. Millions starving while we look the other way. Go back to your country, the American mantra, like this will keep them/us/their ___  away from them/us/our ____. There’s a liminal space between the American part and the Dream part that we don’t talk about, and in that space is the miles to cross before you can breach the border: no longer about hope but survival. It is not dream but overwhelming need. The terror overwhelms. We feel it closing in on us. We try to shut it out, divide what will grow and what won’t, who deserves to live and who deserves to die, and who deserves to set the pendulum swinging.

I want to believe in rebirth. I want to believe that I can pass on my blessings, not hope but relief. From this decaying nation, rotting in apathy, I want to believe in growth. In the face of all these wishes my biggest fear is complacence. To let the ground separate beneath my feet while refusing to look.  This land is my land… the way a child says, I want to go home, but I am long unsure where that might be. I look upwards, not in the interest of turning away but instead to ask God to guide my hands, stained by old blood and cracked with old partitions, to help me dig into soil, plant and root and make the land fertile. I want my hands to smell like earth. I want them to smell like life.


Nick posted on October 26, 2018 at 1:34 pm

This was one of the most honest and real blog posts I have read in a while. Thank you for sharing

nedayas posted on June 6, 2023 at 6:08 am

Faith is a very good thing…
It is the thing that keeps us strong against the hardships of life…

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