a story of atoms

This is where I document thoughts that race through my head and swim through my veins.


When speaking to young women, one of the most commonly used ice-breakers in the Arab world is:

“Are you married or are you still a girl?”

In other words, are you still a virgin or not. A man’s touch makes you a woman. Not the spreading of your hips of the blooming of your chest. The mark of puberty is meaningless, without the touch of a man.

You are not a woman, even if men look and talk to you like you are a woman.

You are not a woman, even if your mother reminds you to dress like one.

Even if your aunts remind you to sit like one. Like your legs have a secret.

You are not a woman. You must become a doll.  A red bow for lips.

Don’t speak too softly, do you want the men to fall in love?

Don’t speak at all. A woman’s voice is awra (something can stir desire\ must be kept hidden)

Wallah, into el awra



I can hear the wind talking to the trees about you.
The way she says your name.



i want to extract my tongue from my body.
remove this creature
only then will i begin to speak

Yesterday  i was at my uncle’s house prepping for school. Laptop open, jotting into my notebook.

My uncle’s wife looks over while drying the dishes, “You know,  seeing you so focused  encourages me to want to go back to school. A7la eshi el-t3leem. (Education is the best.) “

I stayed for night there.

Today over breakfast, she she tells me with nostalgia in her eyes;

“You know, when I was in college, I didn’t think in a practical way. Like getting a job. I didn’t have much direction or ambition. But now I am re-considering this.”


“You’re leaving to get your Master’s? Why?” was the question I often had to address when telling people about my plans.

“Lina, you’re lucky your father is allowing you to travel and study” A best friend reminds me. “There are so many girls I know whose fathers didn’t allow them to study abroad.”

“You know Lina, there are people who don’t have this option. There are people who’s circumstances don’t allow them to continue studying right after undergrad. You have to remember.” Mama stamps this into my mind a week before traveling.


While chatting with an old friend, I ask her when is she going to return to the US to finish her last semester for her Associates’ degree.

“I don’t know, Lina. I need a reason to go back.

Maybe if I get pregnant again, I’ll travel when I’m six months in.”

“Wait what, so you’re not going back next semester?”

“No. I need a reason to go back.”

“Hold up. I’m confused.”

“Lina, I can’t go back to study. My husband won’t let me.”


Alhamdulilah for everything.

Your face. Your face. Your goddamn face.

and a mosaic of emotions



All these stories jabbed between my bones-
and yet I only spit out your name.


Poem Published!

Alhamdulilah- Check out my poem published on the Rising Phoenix Review 🙂

Questions I Ask Over Religious Facebook Groups By Lina Abdul-Samad