Sahira Q / Canada
“’As an adult, I’ve come to the realization that I no longer have time to put on masks that make other people comfortable.’ – Sahira Q
It was discipline, that aided in the construction of so many masks, hiding my true self deep within. Within me, I hold memories. Memories of me entrapped in an ideal of a mold I would never fit. Memories are so precious and so weird, sometimes all you remember is a feeling, or a scent, or a song, and your brain kind of just fills in the gaps.
I was 17. My dad and I were walking by the East Don River in Toronto. As we approached the bridge under the DVP before it hits Overlea, he stopped, turned to me and said, ‘You know when I look at women, I love looking at their breasts.’
The air was thick with the humidity of the summer day and I felt it tighten around my neck. The mosquitos biting my exposed arms and legs paled in comparison to the feeling of uncomfortability that instantly arose in the pit of my stomach. I sat in the awkward silence and heard his next words ring sharply in my ears.
‘What about you? Do you like women’s breasts, or ass?’
It echoed in my head. My tongue went dry. I felt trapped. I wanted to hide. I wanted to scream. His words clung in the humidity and every syllable slowly clasped around my neck. My heart rate lowered to beat-match with the sun lowering in the afternoon sky. My dad had caught me doing a number of things up until now that I knew he knew the answer to his question before he even asked. Behaviours I had learned to mask. Yet here we were.”