Sumya Abida (she/her) is a current research fellow & arts education consultant at WolfBrown, an arts research and planning agency. Her interests include the integration of socio-political research with the practice of the arts. She uses documentary film, personal narrative writing, and poetry to explore topics in Asian & Middle Eastern culture and politics, religious studies, immigrant histories, and systems of education. She is the recipient of a few awards including: Islamic Fund-Hashmi Family Scholarship (2023), Global Co Lab-Smithsonian Institution Global Video Competition (2021), Turkish-American Television Award (2021), NYC Scholastics Arts & Writing Award (2021), The Danielle and Larry Nyman Family Project Award (2021). Sumya is currently an undergraduate student at the City College of New York studying English Literature & Creative Writing with a minor in Asian studies.
Blue Scrubs & Baby Blue Walls
I wake up every morning to the sound of the adhan, the vibrations of God’s calling bounce back
between the baby blue walls of our home,
lifting us from our last dreams
and into the break of dawn.
Milk tea is brewing in the kitchen,
the fabric of cardamom, ginger, cinnamon
becomes an armor on my mother’s tongue
before she enters the battlefield in her blue scrubs to spend the next seven hours treating sickly patients.
I complete my morning prayers
as streaks of sunlight leak through our veranda doors and caress my cheeks as a gentle reminder
that the shadows of my darkest hours cannot hold me, that my breaking points are only temporary,
and another morning will come again
where milk tea is brewing in the kitchen
and my mother is putting on her blue scrubs
inside the baby blue walls of our home.
Essence of Being
What is a human being?
All but a walking, talking, moving body of bones and flesh?
Yeah sure, we have a personality
exposed to a “reality”,
filled with good treasuries,
tender memories relieve us like remedies,
derived from a unique trajectory
of what we think
this one life is all about
what we think
is our ultimate concern.
Nah, Hinduism disagrees
This life is just one of many entities.
Let us not be pained by the prerequisites of our gains. This obsession comes known opposition
like addictions, attached to fake depictions
lost visions from mass distractions,
love riddled with truths hidden,
our world is trippin.
Let us take a step back.
Focus on our breathing.
Unearth the beauty – that simple delight of just being. Let us meditate.
Rest upon a serene state.
Center the mind and focus.
Soon magic happens like hocus pocus.
Let’s do Bhakti yoga shall we?
And feel the surreal elevation to an alternate dimension release all tension and center our attention.
Let’s recall the hymn of Purusha.
Recall gods taking the body of this thousand pieced figure, dicing into precise slices for sacrifices.
Recognize that Purusa’s mind rendered The Moon,
and when the mind opens up like a cocoon,
you see light.
It’s Time to Open That Damn Door
after Momina Masood 1
How do you say “cunt” in Arabic?
Does BDSM talk exist in Urdu or do people murmur
when explaining sexual fetishes?
What do you call a “whore” in Bengali?
Is transfeminine part of the Egyptian lexicon or
do Egyptian-speaking individuals borrow the term from
a different language?
Is the room quiet when a Pakistani couple is having sex
or are they verbally expressing
in gibberish? Or rather,
are they code switching?
We ever only know half
Profanity doesn’t know Arabic and
Indian kids won’t ever get the sex talk.
These electric-shock words and raw experiences
exist, beyond language.
Yet are sealed in a room some dare to enter,
inside Pandora's box, yet to be opened.
Our parents won’t open it,
their parents didn’t open it,
their parents’ parents certainly didn’t
open the door.
But aren’t you curious?
What happens when we peel the deepest, subcutaneous layer of our language’s skin?
Sure, it’ll sting and burn the first few moments
But this is just another step closer to a world
we didn’t think could be real,
a world we didn't think was needed
until we opened
1 Masood, Momina. Of Dark Rooms and Foreign Languages