Every man must overcome a whiteness within himself

Neha Maqsood


By the pink draws of the quasi-
quilted curtains, the rough calluses

sluggishly lay down upon terracotta tiles,
& dappled saddles repose on

humps of camels – this isn’t home
a vicinity of ages: blue bottles &

stonefish’s; onion skins chafed against
brown skin & foreheads caressing

a plush maroon rug. Quranic verses guide
us through this loss, aware that

it’s a trillion times easier to be a man than
it is to be a woman; to be born

white than it is to be born brown. Syllables
of identity drip off the tongue, like

loosely threaded paintings & gossamer threads.
Home – where mosquitoes laze

stubbornly & oh the humidity, and oh a carton of
mangoes & spicy, spicy grapes.



Neha Maqsood is a Pakistani journalist whose writing on race, religion, Indo-Pak relations, and global feminism has been published in Metro UK, Byline Times, Al Jazeera, Foreign Policy, Business Insider, Women Under Siege, and other places. Her debut poetry book, ‘Vulnerability,’ was awarded the 2019-2020 Hellebore Poetry Scholarship Award and will be published by Hellebore Press in 2021.

Consider supporting Protean Magazine on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!